Feb 21, 2016
Does Your Sales Training Program Address Your Sales Performance Issues? Part 2

In Part 1, we went over the steps to uncover sales performance issues and decide which are applicable at a high priority for pin-point sales skill training.  We first documented the main sales performance issues.  There are (4) distinct sales performance silos that will effect the overall outcome of any sales team, year in and year out.  They are:

•    % of Sales reps to Quota
•    Average New-hire Ramp-to-Quota in months
•    Sales Employee Turnover rate
•    Time spent versus Result achieved

Next we, listed (4) steps to find out if you have any sales performance issues in each individual sales performance silo and if so to what degree.  They were:

Step 1:  ‘Run the Numbers’ for any realistic ROI opportunity
Step 2:  ‘Run the Numbers’ hypothetically for a ‘Specific’ improvement
Step 3:  ‘Run the Numbers’ for a ‘Reality Check’
Step 4:  Set the Goal and ‘Train to It’

In our first example, we looked at a sales organization’s performance silo of ‘New-hire Ramp-to-Quota and determined (1) a sales performance issue and (2) a worthy sales training objective and (3) a realistic sales training return on investment.

Let’s take that same sales force and utilizing our (4) step process look at the remaining two Sales performance issues; ‘Sales Employee Turnover rate’ and ‘Time spent versus Result achieved’ to see what the X2 Evaluator™ system turns up.

Step 1:  ‘Run the Numbers’ for any realistic ROI opportunity

Our example sales force has 350 sales reps that are responsible for securing new business each month.  They currently have a sales employee turnover rate of 45%, or 155 reps per year.  I’ve found in the sales industries I partner with, my clients average between 30%-70% sales employee turnover per year, so these folks are right in norm.
But the ‘norm’ doesn’t have to be the ‘Future’.

Here’s another important point.  In the sales arena, 95% of sales employee turnover is due to Low 1st appointment activity.  And in our example sales force, it was nearly 100%.  Simply, if you’re not creating enough sales appointments each month, you either go out the door or you are ‘Shown the door’.
Now let’s run the numbers to see exactly what this sales employee turnover is costing them and attach a weight of priority to consider ‘pin-point’ sales performance training.

Here are the numbers relevant to costs:

•    Average Salary:          $30,000
•    Recruiting Costs:         $ 2,000
•    Training Costs:            $ 3,500
•    Monthly Sales Quota:   $ 3,500

In sum, this sales management team is looking eye to eye to a total of $4,512,200 going out the door each year, a combination of revenue ramp up costs on the front end, revenue production loss on the back end, salaries and benefits, then again revenue ramp up costs and salary for the replacement new hire.  It’s a vicious circle.
And once again that total ‘Penalty cost’ number is an attention getter.
Simply put, each sales rep going out the door, due to low sales appointment activity, is costing the company $29,300 of lost revenue.

Does that portray a legitimate sales training Return on investment opportunity?  Well, in less you need to invest $29,300 per sales rep in the training of choice to remedy the sales performance issue… it certainly does.

Step 2:  ‘Run the Numbers’ hypothetically for a 50% improvement
In this case, I showed the sales management team what return on investment they would get by retaining just half of the sales reps going out the door due to low sales appointment activity. 
Using their numbers my diagnostic system showed them a ROI of $2,256,100 just by reducing their sales employee turnover due to low sales appointment activity from 44% down to 22%.  That’s keeping 77 sales reps from going out the door and adding to the sales productivity pool.

Step 3:  ‘Run the Numbers’ for a Reality Check

Remember in Part 1 of ‘Does Your Sales Training Program Address Your Sales Performance Issues?’ we ran this sales force team’s key sales performance indicator numbers in the X2 system to see ‘if and where’ there were leaks in the ‘KPI ship’.  And we discovered not a leak, but a big ‘ole fire hose. 

Two ‘KPI issues’ were apparent.  First, their ramp-to-quota for a new-hire took 7 months when the average sales cycle is 17 days?  Second, they were only setting 3 new appointments per week when they needed to set 6, based on their other KPIs and a subsequent sales appointment activity number. 
Thus, their sales appointment ‘activity barometer’ was only running at 50%.  And that we determined dictates a longer ramp-to-quota.

Then we dug a bit deeper in the X2 system and out popped a 6% conversation-to-appointment ratio; they had to conduct 15 prospect conversations to get 1 new appointment.

We then asked the ‘Reality Check’ question.  Is it realistic to focus on reducing the sales rep turnover due to low sales appointment activity in half, from 44% to 22% for a sales training ROI of $2,256,100 or $29,300 per rep? 

And we answered ‘yes’ if they addressed the front-end of their sales process; setting targeted sales appointments.  Again as before, they needed to (1) establish an activity standard to reach quota based off of individual KPIs and (2) develop a sales prospecting methodology and supporting system to spend less time in achieving it.

Because most sales employee turnover happens in the new hire ramp-to-quota issue silo, the same pin-point sales skill training initiative kills two birds with one stone.

And if you add those (2) ‘sales training initiatives birds’ up, it points to $14,532,100 of realistic revenue recovery.

Step 4:  Set the Goal and ‘Train to It’

Reducing sales employee turnover due to low sales appointment activity now appears to be a worthy one.  It makes good business sense for this sales organization.  And if we measure our results, we will probably add some more revenue back on the table with additional reps not going out the door… to the tune of $29,300 per rep. 

As in Part 1, our sales training goal in this case is to spend the least amount of time to get the desired number of sales appointments each week to assure our monthly success.
Now as a side bonus, let’s take a look at our last sales performance issue silo, ‘Time spent versus Result achieved’, and see what, if anything, we can address related to our pin-point sales training initiative.

“Time is money”.  What’s your ‘Hourly rate’?  If you’re a sales rep with a W-2 goal of $100,000 your hourly rate is approximately $51 dollars an hour.  Here’s an interesting statistic.  My clients spend an average of 50% of their time on the very front-end of their sales process; sales prospecting for new opportunities to initiate their sales process.  This sales management team gave me an average prospecting time of 45% to plug into the Evaluator™ system. 
And here’s what it showed.

The sales reps were spending an average of 20 hours per week on sales prospecting and sales appointment generation.  But they were only running at 50% on their ‘Activity Barometer’ and needed to generate 50% more sales appointment activity; going from 3 new appointments per week to 6.
At their current sales prospecting efficiency rate of 6% (15 Prospect conversations to get 1 appointment) they would need to dedicate 33 hours per week to sales prospecting and sales appointment generation.  And we know that’s not realistic.

But if they set a sales training objective of moving that appointment conversion ratio to 50%, they would not only meet their sales appointment activity number but save 26 hours per week, for a time recovery of 79%, from 33 hours per week to 7.  And 26 hours times $51 per hour recovers $1326 ‘Hourly Rate’ money, allowing sales reps to increase capacity and pursue higher-value, solutions-based selling opportunities.

Once again with our last (2) sales performance issue silos we determined (1) a sales performance issue and (2) a worthy sales training objective and (3) a realistic sales training return on investment.

Ask any CFO what their first impression is when they hear the words ‘Sales Training’ and they might communicate back their ‘Real world’ vocabulary of ‘un-accountable’ and ‘un-measurable’. Simply put, they know they’re wasting at least half their sales training budget dollars; the problem is they don’t know which half.

As a sales management leader, methodically discovering sales issues first and then running ‘Quantitative’ sales performance numbers to check for feasibility, worthiness, and return on sales training investment will differentiate you from the pack.  And you’ll stand an excellent chance of getting the result you want.

In this case, giving sales reps a skill-set to set 1 ‘Top-down’ business appointment in 2 conversations will allow participants to set the required amount of targeted business appointments to assure their monthly revenue goals.  So less people will leave, they’ll make more money and spend less time and you will recover measurable dollars; something you can actually put your finger on.

Posted at 06:08 pm by JimAdams
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Feb 20, 2016
Does Your Sales Training Program Address Your Sales Performance Issues? Part 1

Sales training programs encompass a variety of necessary components; things like company policies, sales paperwork, CRM/sales force automation orientation, sales processes, company services, sales skill training and product features and benefits.
But when I ask Sales executives and Sales trainers how their current sales training program is aligned with their sales performance issues I get the look of “No speak English’.

Let’s first categorize ‘Sales performance issues’.  There are (4) distinct sales performance silos that will effect the overall outcome of any sales team, year in and year out.  They are:

•    % of Sales reps to Quota
•    Average New-hire Ramp-to-Quota in months
•    Sales Employee Turnover rate
•    Time spent versus Result achieved

This is a good place to start in determining what sales skill training to implement to achieve a measurable return on investment.  But here’s what will set you apart when you walk the request up to the front office.  Start out with the NUMBERS.
That’s right.  Take a diagnostic view of your current sales performance silos, one by one.

Let’s look at a real sales performance issue example of ‘Average New-hire Ramp-to-Quota’.  I recently conducted a ‘Sales Performance Improvement Blueprint’ web-cast for this sales organization.  
The company was hiring 155 sales reps per year.  The ultimate objective of any new-hire sales training program is to ramp the new sales rep to Quota.  Simply, give them everything they need to effectively reach their monthly sales goal.

So how was this company doing?  They were obtaining this ultimate sales training program objective in 7 months.  So how does one determine if that training outcome is a ‘Sales Performance Issue’?  Let’s take a look.

Step 1:  ‘Run the Numbers’ for any realistic ROI opportunity

•    Each new-hire rep had an ultimate quota of $3500
•    Sales Cycle was 17 days
•    Average customer term agreement of 36 months
•    Average 'Sub-Quota' revenue per month during ramp of $1300 (This number reflects the average monthly revenue a new-hire achieves before they achieve quota attainment)

Step 2:  ‘Run the Numbers’ hypothetically for a ‘Specific’ improvement

In this case, I showed the sales management team what return on investment they would get by helping just 1 sales rep achieve full sales quota in 6 months versus 7 months.  Based on their numbers my diagnostic X2 Evaluator™ system showed them a ROI of $79,200 just by trimming off 30 days.  If they did that for all 155 of their annual new-hires, they could realize $12,276,000.  
And that got their attention.  So, is it now a worthy sales performance issue to attach pin-point sales training to?  Not quite yet.

Step 3:  ‘Run the Numbers’ for a ‘Reality Check’

The most successful businesses — and certainly, sales departments — have identified their Key Performance Indicators (KPI); individual gateways that directly effect the outcome of a particular process. Then they measure the competency ratios in line with them.

A good KPI example in the sales process might be how many times you advance the first sales appointment to the next phase, whether that’s a demonstration, a site visit, a survey or a proposal. Another KPI is how many times you gain a new customer once the first gateway is passed. And when you do gain a new customer, what’s the average revenue you achieve?  And how long does it take to gain a new customer on average; i.e. sales cycle?   
How about how long it takes you to gain 1 new sales appointment, defined by sales prospect ‘conversation’?  And as a by-product of all this, how many new appointments are needed each week?

We ran these numbers in the X2 Evaluator™ system to see ‘if and where’ there were some leaks in the ‘KPI ship’.  And here’s what we discovered; not a leak, but a big ‘ole fire hose.  

Two ‘KPI issues’ were apparent.  First, why does the ramp-to-quota for a new-hire take 7 months when the average sales cycle is 17 days?  Second, they were only setting 3 new appointments per week when they needed to set 6, based on their other KPIs.  So their sales appointment ‘activity barometer’ was only running at 50%.  And that will dictate a longer ramp-to-quota.
Dig a bit deeper in the X2 Evaluator™ system and out popped a 6% conversation-to-appointment ratio; they had to conduct 15 prospect conversations to get 1 new appointment.

OK, back to the ‘Reality Check’.  Is it realistic to focus on reducing the new-hire ramp-to-quota from 7 months to 6 months for a sales training ROI of $12,276,000 or $79,200 per rep?  
You bet it is.  These folks needed to address the front-end of their sales process; setting targeted sales appointments.  To do that, they needed (1) establish an activity standard to reach quota by month six and (2) develop a sales prospecting methodology and supporting X2 Evaluator™  system to spend less time in achieving it.
Then they needed to plug their sales prospecting ‘system’ into their current sales training program and work to a weekly sales appointment activity goal to assure a monthly revenue result by month 6.

Step 4:  Set the Goal and ‘Train to It’

A sales training ROI goal of $12,276,000 or $79,200 per rep is for sure a worthy one.  And the diagnostic system showed us they would meet this goal just by setting 3 additional sales appointment per week per rep; 6 appointments versus 3.  

Actually, I lied.  The X2 Evaluator system showed an even brighter picture if the sales appointment activity standard of 6 new appointments per week was met.  If they could support their new-hires with a sales prospecting system that could help them achieve 6 new sales appointments per week, they would actually cut their new-hire Ramp-to-Quota by 4 months; from the current 7 months down to 3 months.  
And that sales training ROI would be $316,800 per rep or a whopping $49,104,000.  

One of the reasons why sales training fails is a failure to define a useful objective.  In this case, our diagnostic method has defined a single useful objective for them to train to.  And this same diagnostic method can be utilized if you have a ‘Sales Performance Issue’ of an unacceptable percentage of Sales reps reaching Quota each month.

In Part 2, we will take a look at (2) other sales performance issues, ‘Sales Employee Turnover rate’ and ‘Time spent versus Result achieved’ with this same sales management team and see what our diagnostic method to sales performance improvement and ROI turns up.

Posted at 11:07 am by JimAdams
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Feb 19, 2016
How to forecast sales more accurately

When it comes to starting a business, entrepreneurs face a number of challenges, not least the issue of whether there is actually a demand for their particular product or service. The more unique the concept, the greater the challenge in predicting future sales levels. However, as this article will show, there are a number of methods that can assist you in making better educated guesses when forecasting sales for your goods or service.


Since time immemorial, people have sought to predict the future. Until the emergence of the relatively modern concept of ‘risk’ and the development of probability theory in the 17th century, predictions about the future had traditionally been the preserve of soothsayers such as Nostradamus. However, with probability theory, mathematicians demonstrated that one could use past indicators to make educated guesses as to the expected outcome of a particular set of events, e.g., the roll of a die. All these years later, and despite our progress, we still lack the ability to predict the future. Nevertheless, by considering various risks and probabilities, we can aim to understand some likely future (sales) scenarios to a greater degree.

Naturally, if you run an existing business, you will have a trading history and will be able to use this data to make more informed decisions with regards to future possible outcomes. If you generate strong cash flows and have a stable cost base, you can assess available investment options with more confidence. On the other hand, if you are just about to start up, you obviously lack ‘history’, and while you can make some assessment of the initial monthly outgoings (particularly fixed costs), the real challenge is to accurately predict the likely sales revenues. Breaking revenue down into its constituents (the product price times the quantity sold) gives entrepreneurs the two key figures they need to consider to begin forecasting. Price can be determined by the entrepreneur, while quantity is the variable that is most difficult to predict (notwithstanding the correlation between price and demand).

Why is forecasting important?

Firstly, cash is the lifeblood of any business and is needed to fund working capital to enable a business to run effectively. A large number of business expenses and investments in assets need to be paid for up front, and these obviously have to be paid for out of capital. These outgoings occur against a backdrop of uncertain sales levels and often a delay in receiving cash on those sales (exacerbated if your sales are predominantly on credit). Consequently, companies need to prepare cash flow forecasts to assess what the level of the cash shortfall will be, so they can obtain financial assistance in advance, such as bank overdrafts or loans. Companies can be profitable on paper yet run the risk of falling insolvent if they do not meet their obligations as they fall due. Hence, it is necessary to understand the nuances of cash flow for your particular business from Day 1, as good cash flow management plays a large role in ensuring continued solvency.

Of additional importance, investments in businesses are based on the ability of the firm to generate free cash flows, so as to reward the investor for taking a risk. The amount of cash generated and its timing is of particular interest to investors, who face an array of investment options with various risk / return tradeoffs. Typically, investors will look to review a business plan before they invest and they will pay particular attention to the predicted sales levels and cash generation capability of the company (as detailed in the cash flow forecast). Hence, these two factors underline why accurate forecasting is of vital importance to those setting up in business.

What forces affect demand?

At the start-up stage it is difficult to assess with certainty what you believe the revenue will be for Month 1. Once you have one month of trading, then of course you can use that month’s figures to forecast likely sales levels in subsequent months. As a result, when you draw up your business plan initially, you need to assess the landscape and try to estimate a range for the predicted sales levels.

The following represents a list of some questions about the key external and internal determinants of demand. Answers to these questions will support the entrepreneur in coming up with plausible figures for Month 1/ Year 1.

The Proposition

Does the product or service fulfill an existing need? Has it been produced such that each key feature and resultant benefit is attractive to a commercially viable market segment?

What is the competitive landscape like, i.e., are there barriers to entry/ attractive alternatives? What is the turnover of a close competitor and how profitable are they?

Macro Environmental Trends

How is the product correlated to the external environment? Does demand drop significantly when the economy is struggling? Does the product attract extraordinary taxes or tariffs, e.g., alcohol and tobacco? Will a growing environmental consciousness affect demand levels?

Is the product priced at a level that will attract a sufficient number of customers? Standard demand and supply rules would dictate that the lower the price, the higher the demand for a product. What price level maximizes profitability?

Seasonal Characteristics
Is there any seasonality or cyclicality element to the product or service?

Are there many attractive substitutes? What are the main bases for differentiation in the market, i.e., price, features, service, etc.?

The Market


What is the market demand for the product category (i.e., the size of the prize you are chasing)? Is it growing or is it stagnant?

Is there a marketing plan in place? What are the key marketing activities? Is there sufficient budget to effectively target various segments?

Route to Market
Has the company secured a "route to market"? How will customers access the product?
Having assessed the various determinants of demand, it is now a little easier to hone in on a plausible range of sales forecasts for the months and years ahead.

How do you make a sales forecast?
Once you have considered the context, you are now in a more informed position to consider potential revenue figures.

There are two main elements to forecasting – the use of facts and the use of subjective assessment / judgment. Given the uncertainty, you can aim to identify a range for the sales predictions depending on your assessment of the potential impact on sales of specific conditions, be they environmental or company-specific (or a combination of both). There are numerous determinants of demand, ranging from the performance of the overall economy to whether there is any appetite (demand) for your particular product or service. You need to consider which of these is likely to have the biggest impact on your offering. Ideally, you should be able to obtain a Profit and Loss / Income Statement (facts) for a competitor and you could use that as a reference point to assess likely demand levels for your company (judgment).

Looking for comparable indicators for a service
Not every new company has a directly comparable competitor whose accounts can be scrutinized for sales data. However, no matter how unique your concept is, if you define your market widely enough, it is likely that you can use figures from alternative offerings (facts) to help you assess likely demand levels (judgment). For example, when the Millennium Dome was being launched in London in 2000, they initially targeted 12 million visitors in Year 1. While the actual visitor figures reached an impressive 6.5 million, the huge shortfall in numbers meant that it was not even close to breaking even / financial viability and it ultimately failed as a venture. Had senior management looked closely at visitor figures for the UK’s other top paying attractions, they would have found that Alton Towers was top at 2.65 million visitors closely followed by Madam Tussaud’s and the Tower of London. These proxies would have given them a clearer sense of the range in numbers and a more conservative target within this range would have resulted in a very different proposition / investment structure from Day 1.

If you are looking to set up a local service such as a coffee shop, there are also numerous resources you can use in assessing likely demand. Websites such as www.caci.co.uk/acorn/ and www.upmystreet.com/ enable you to get extensive free demographic data about areas based on post code searches. Profiles available from www.scavenger.net offer an insight into a specific industry and its outlook. Finally, if you want to consider setting up overseas, then websites such as www.cia.gov/cia/publications/factbook/ give an excellent insight into various local conditions in advance of undertaking more localised research.

The facts from these sources need to be backed up by judgment. If, for example, you were looking to open a coffee shop on the Fulham Road, London, you would start with a list of likely costs, ranging from rent through to set-up, etc. Once you had an estimate of the costs, you would then look to work out the revenues. To do this, you could park a car outside of a particular target location for the shop and count “footfall” for the day. You could also obtain average spend per customer, estimate a percentage conversion rate from the footfall and use these figures to assess whether you believed you could break even by relying on passing trade.

You could also drive around the neighbourhood looking at competitive coffee shops and their locations. Hence, by using a number of different data points, you can now make a more informed decision on the financial viability of a proposed coffee shop in Fulham. If you want to get more scientific, you could assess how consumption of coffee is correlated with the economy (i.e., will less be consumed in a down turn) and also whether you needed to stock alternatives to boost average spend e.g. fair trade coffee /non coffee-based alternatives or food. As mentioned previously, there is no exact number – you are merely striving to produce a good educated guess, i.e., a plausible figure that is within a range for a typical company in that field. Product Indicators

There are a number of different methods to try to assess sales levels for a new product. Firstly, by assessing the key benefits of the product, it is possible to understand the core need being fulfilled. This will then help inform you of a category of complements or substitute products it belongs to. More scientific approaches include George Day’s top down and bottom up approaches which seek to assess demand from different sides. The top down approach seeks to drill down from the total population to a final market segment, whereas the bottom up approach looks to generalize from the consumption of individual customers.

Alongside these approaches are more subtle ones, for example, an assessment of demand based upon data from disparate sources such as the Internet. Here are two common tools:

“Key Word Assistant” from Overture http://inventory.uk.overture.com/d/searchinventory/suggestion/ is one such tool. It enables you to enter a search term for your product and it returns the number of searches that were undertaken on that term in the previous month. Invariably searches are attempts to resolve problems or satisfy needs, so the results can give an indication as to likely demand levels.

“eBay Pulse” relies on a similar concept http://pulse.ebay.co.uk/ as it gives an insight into top sellers from the eBay market place. Again, this can help you assess demand for a particular product, determine the category it is best suited to, and even a naming convention (when assessed in conjunction with the Key Word Assistant).

How do you make a more accurate sales forecast?
Having assessed the wider environmental conditions and considered the internal decisions regarding the proposition, it is possible to make more accurate predictions for Month 1. After that, it is a case of extrapolating into the future using a growth factor and flexing for seasonality or cyclical trends. Notwithstanding the difficulties in forecasting for a start-up, the real benefits accrue after a year of successful trading. Once there is an historical record for a year of trading, it is then possible to plan with more certainty through the use of more scientific methods, such as trend analysis and comparison with variables. For example, an ice cream vendor could compare sales of ice cream with an obvious variable – weather temperature – in order to assess the correlation between the two variables. Once a sales forecast has been made, it can then be used for budgeting, allocating resources, managing cash flow, and as a basis to secure investment.

The aim of sales forecasting is to come up with some revenue figures that can be considered to be credible in the wider context. As illustrated above, forecasting is not an exact science but a mix of fact-based analysis and judgment. Placing some rigor around the process of deriving credible revenue figures also serves the entrepreneur by enhancing their awareness of some of the key drivers for revenue growth in their business. It will also help them to produce a more plausible business plan, and ensure that the author is confidently able to answer questions regarding the market opportunity – questions that will top the list of any prospective investor or bank manager.


Posted at 09:17 pm by JimAdams
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Feb 17, 2016
Print: The Death Of A Media – The End Of An Era

Included in the steps of accepting death are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately, acceptance. Though these emotional responses were not intended for this purpose, clearly, many people are in denial about the slow, painful passing of print media.

Right now, as print media is in its death throes, there is a lot of denial. There is also a lot of anger and depression, but that largely emanates from the owners and shareholders of print publications, including newspapers and magazines – at least the ones that aren't going digital. The focus of this article, however, is that print media is indeed dead, and yet, predictably, many people remain slaves to their denial of that fact. Mind you, I am not saying that printing is dead – not by a long shot. Desktop color ink jet printers, and lightning fast laser printers attest to that fact. It is print media that has expired. If you're having trouble believing that, you're not alone – but read on…

If you enjoy opening that thick, inky bulk of treated tree pulp on Sunday mornings and digging into the crossword, or catching up on business trends, or just seeing what the critics say about the movie you plan to see that afternoon, then denial is not so bad. On the other hand, if you're in business and you are lagging behind in acceptance, then you might just be unwittingly plotting the doom of your business.

Contrary to what most people think, printing first appeared in China. Xylography, as it is called, was accomplished by hand carving blocks of wood into entire pages or sections of pages. It was hundreds of years later (circa 1450), in Europe, that the famous German goldsmith Johann Gutenberg changed all that, and made printing more practical on a larger scale. Gutenberg's amazing invention dramatically changed the entire world, and those changes have evolved and endured for almost six centuries – all the while making unprecedented shifts in almost everything on the planet. The evolution of printing in the last century has been nothing short of phenomenal. If you have a desktop laser printer, you have more printing power than most printing shops did in 1950.
Print media is hanging on by its proverbial fingernails to ever-shrinking subscriber and advertiser markets. Not only are these market bases shrinking, but they are shrinking at an ever-increasing rate. Newspapers, for example, peaked in 1987, but in the last couple of years their decline in readership and advertising has accelerated noticeably. Despite the growth of the US population, newspaper readership has dropped from 62.7 million in 1988 to 54.6 million in 2004. Magazines are no better off.

Hot, relatively new magazine titles, such as Wired, as well as long established newspapers like the New York Times are facing unprecedented losses on a regular basis. Even the great print media 'institutions' like TV Guide, National Geographic, and House & Garden are seeing their print editions in rapid decline. Overall, magazine subscriptions have fallen back to 1994 levels. Here are some other alarming statistics demonstrating these facts:

***Loss of pages of advertising between 2004 and 2005 (shown in percentages)

TV Guide -20%
Country Home -12.7%
Fortune -10.2
Fitness -16.1
House & Garden -11.4
National Geographic -17.4%
Newsweek -14.8%
TIME -17.5%
Wired -12.2%

Performance of some primary Media Stocks for 2005 expressed in percentages:

Belo (BLC) -11.6%
Fisher (FSCI) -3.1%
Gannett (GCI) -24.2%
Gray (GTN) -38%
Hearst-Argyle (HTV) -6.9%
Media General (MEG) -17%
Meredith (MDP) -2.4%
New York Times (NYT) -30.7%
Tribune (TRB) -24.8%
Young (YBTVA) -80.2%

***Source: Magazine Publishers of America (MPA) as of October 6th, 2005

Amazingly, a few magazines and newspapers are showing an increase in advertising sales revenues, even though they have fewer subscribers and are selling fewer ad pages. How? By increasing pricing for the same amount of space – that is going to fewer readers. Why would anyone pay more to get less? Surely they are uninformed, and/or in denial. Business owners and decision-makers tend to be somewhat older, and as such are firm in the 'old ways,' one of which is to advertise in print media. Print media is definitely still something that needs to be done, but only at a comparably low level – and all print media ads should direct consumers to websites. Websites can employ endless space, music, voice, sound effects, interactivity, and animation to display and sell vast numbers of products and services to endless streams of new and repeat visitors.

The trend of advertising is clearly shown in the Internet advertising numbers. The sale of Internet banner ads alone is up another 10% for 2005. And the Internet advertising giant, Google, reports keyword ad revenues are up a whopping 96%! All of these revenues are coming from budgets that used to go to print media, as well as radio, TV, and so forth. Online/Internet advertising is expected to break the $10 billion dollar mark this year, showing an overall growth of about 30%. Does Internet advertising work? Look what it's done for companies that started with ONLY that style of advertising. The list would include huge corporations like eBay, Yahoo, Match, and Google. 'Nuff said?

The Internet assault is not reserved for print media advertising sales. Radio and TV are finding the Internet to be formidable competition for advertising dollars, also. Radio listener-ship is at its lowest point in over 25 years, and the major TV networks have lost about one third of their viewers since 1985.

Video games took an early chunk of users away from the TV and the radio – and still do. But no self-respecting gamer doesn't spend oodles of time on the Internet looking for tricks, special codes, and hints. And all those gamers want to play as often as possible. They want more 'time.' Researching news online is faster, and free – and so is buying things on line. Buying online also saves fuel.

While more and more people quit reading the newspaper and magazines, they spend more time on their computers – on line. Little wonder, information is easy to find, isolate, and review – and an Internet user can save substantial amounts of money on almost anything they want to buy. Also, Internet users can sell almost anything quickly, and for more money – something that is clearly shown in the unprecedented success of eBay.

A great example of the Internet's influence can be seen in vehicle sales. Ten years ago, if you lived in a town of 10,000 and you wanted to sell your three year old automobile, you paid $30 to run a small black on white print ad for a week – and then you hoped that someone in town wanted to buy your car. You could also advertise in the papers of larger towns near you – each time paying more fees, and getting the same small ad. Today, for $30 and up, you can place an ad on line and millions of people see it. You have practically unlimited space for text, and can include several color photos. You don't have to sit by the phone, either – you'll get an email. People will view your car 24-hours a day, seven days a week until it sells – for much closer to your asking price. You'd be amazed at how far away people will travel to buy the car they want.

But the phenomenon holds true for essentially everything that is sold from farm implements to clothing and jewelry. If you own a clothing store and you advertise in a magazine, in color, it is costly, and you can show one item – plus all the necessary information like your location, hours, etc. On the Internet, you build a website and show your entire line, and include maps to your store, music, animation, and whatever else works for selling your products. The magazine with your ad will go to the same people, and not very many of them in many cases – and it will go into the trash in a few days. The Internet, on the other hand, is available to everyone, everywhere – and keeps on going and going. The difference is astounding!

What about differences in costs? I'll use a local magazine that has enjoyed a degree of success over the past couple of decades, and compare it to the Internet. The magazine's monthly readership is said to be 35,000+. A full page color ad costs about $3,000 for one issue. Divide the cost by the number of readers and it costs about $85.71 per thousand impressions. Conversely, a banner ad on one of the city portals that enjoys about 1,000,000 visitors per month costs roughly $41.66 per month, which works out to cost less than a .05¢ per thousand impressions. That makes the print ad cost about 8,000 TIMES more per [possible] impression than the banner ad. Of course, not everyone will stop and read your Internet banner, but then too, not everyone will stop and read your print ad either.

By the way, if you're wondering what your website should be like in order to start capitalizing on the Internet business explosion, here's a great (albeit lofty) goal. If you sell baseballs, then no matter what anyone in the world wants to know about baseballs, they should be able to find it on your site! And it should be interestingly and professionally presented. Every month, Internet users expect more and more from the sites they visit: easier navigation, more information, more entertainment.

Whether you're one of those in denial or not, print media is dead. You can either accept it and succeed, or deny it and fail. Printed media such as newspapers and magazines have seen their day. And as trees become fewer and fewer, gasoline becomes more and more costly, and people demand more of advertising to entice them to spend their hard earned dollars, this becomes more obvious. If your business has not yet felt the impact of the Internet explosion, the indelible handwriting is clearly on the wall.

About 100 years ago many businesses accepted that expensive, new fangled, noisy invention – the typewriter – and they survived. Some saw it as a 'fly-by-night' fad, and refused to change their handwritten ways – right up until the last day they were open.

Posted at 02:19 pm by JimAdams
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Feb 15, 2016
Differences in Color Brochure Printing

Brochures are commonly used by business owners for trade show handouts, as information sheets, or basically for promoting products and services to target clients. In addition to your design and layout, the more effective brochure printing pieces are usually those done in full color.

Choosing the most suitable brochure printing colors though has a significant effect not only to your overall look and feel of your promotional items, but most importantly, to the impact it can have on your prospective audience. To maximize the use of color, you need to understand a few things about your color printing choice.

Full Color Brochure Printing
Full color brochure printing usually meant the standard four color commercial printing done on offset presses. This is being offered in almost every brochure printing company.

Basically, the brochure printers apply the 4 color build process called the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow, and black inks). CMYK is used to create the color shades you commonly see in any brilliant, full color brochure.

Nevertheless, what you see in your computer monitor would most likely be RGB color (red, green, and blue) instead of CMYK, which can be a totally different shade when you get them printed from the offset lithographic presses. The color shades would not exactly be similar; the difference would be in the calibration of your computer screen. Most brochure printer would require your text and images in CMYK though. As this part can be most tricky, there are software programs that can help you convert your RGB text or image into CMYK, which you can then bring to your brochure printing shop.  

The advantage of having a four color brochure printing process nevertheless, is worth more. Colors are basically mixed and controlled by the computer to develop a more consistent quality in the end result. That is why full color offset brochure printing is the most popular choice for business owners today.

Spot Colors
Spot color brochure printing is applied when you have one or two color printing projects. What brochure printers do is mix inks to provide you with an exact color match every time you need it throughout your brochure printing process. The specially mixed inks are called pantone colors. Logos are mostly done in spot colors.

Spot color brochure printing is most appropriate when you need to have an exact match of a particular color to your brochure design with that color in the offset press machine.  

More tips –

Full color brochure printing though needs to be well planned. You don’t just decide to use it on your brochure printing project just because you fancy it or that your competition is using it. When you decide to go for a full color brochure, remember to consider all the basics, like:

-  Where to apply the full color design? To be more cost effective, use both front and back covers.
- Consider your folding options. Do you want a tri-fold or a half fold?
- Determine your overall design and appearance.
- Consider your paper stock because it can have a great impact in the reproduction of your colors.

The most important factor to consider is to understand your colors and when to use them. When you plan to apply color to your brochure printing project, just make sure to consider all your elements and try to blend your colors with them. Bear in mind that your elements plus your color can create a huge impact on how your prospective readers will receive your print brochures. Use your colors wisely and see how your brochure printing items do wonders for your business.

Posted at 02:01 pm by JimAdams
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Feb 12, 2016
Making A Visible Business Cards

Business cards are very important part of a first impression when you are in business. These business cards can be able to help to promote your business some says that it is a valuable promotion tool. However, in reality, most business cards only do half the marketing job.

It is true that no business person could live without of having a business card to hand to prospective clients or customers. Because for them, handing out a business card is so much easier than writing out all your contact information for a person you've just met.

Making a good and well designed business card I think is one of the important things to consider. There are many innovative ways in order to make your business card to be attractive and worth to keep for. By making your business card a marketing vehicle is one way of making it visible. Instead of the traditional business card, why not try get your contact information printed on something that people might leave in plain sight; something that will remind them of you and your services or products whenever they look at it. Why not make it message pads, coasters, mouse pads or even make it as fridge magnets. The choice of your business card design is limited only by your imagination. By making it easy for people to remember you by using more unusual designs and styles on your business card is a smart investment.

Further, in case of fonts, try not to combine fonts when you design your business card. This basically gives a busy and confusing look to the card. Remember, you are dealing in a small space, and you don't want the card to look crowded. It should be easy on the eyes. It is always recommended that you must limit your text sizes to two or three sizes maximum. By keeping some consistency in the text of your card, you have more room for creativity in the overall artwork and design.

Nowadays, there are lots of printing companies available that have a business card printing service. They can guide you on your creation of your business card. They have a group of designers that can help you conceptualize the design of your card. However, having them do your business card entails money, if you can't afford their service fee there is another way. Printing your own business cards using Microsoft Word can be a very inexpensive choice. Yes, you read it right! If you have Microsoft Office, you can easily create your own custom business cards in Microsoft Word.

To create business cards in Microsoft Word is easy as 1, 2, 3. First step, in a blank document open in Word, choose Tools|Letters and Mailings|Envelopes and Labels. Click the Labels tab and then click Options. Second step, in the Label Options dialog, make sure the drop-down says Avery Standard and then scroll the Product Number down to 5371. Click OK. Third step, back in the Envelopes and Labels dialog box, make sure under Print, it says full page of the Same Label. Then click New Document. A table appears with a bunch of 2 inch x 3.5 inch cells. Now you can start setting up your first business card. There you have it! Quick and easy business cards right from Microsoft Word.

Posted at 01:25 pm by JimAdams
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Feb 10, 2016
Tips on creating professional quality brochures

Creating a brochure is something anyone can do now with the many brochure making software available on the Internet. Those who do not have the time or the inclination of making their own brochures can always hire one of the many online and offline printers who will print brochures for you at a price. However, it is the tips to create a professional quality brochure that has to be kept in mind when making a brochure.

The first and best thing to do before creating a brochure is to collect and study brochures found around you. Find out what it is that sets one design to be more appealing than another is. By carefully studying the other designs, you can very well develop your sense of good design to create a good-looking brochure. Once you have got an idea of what the brochure should look like, you have to decide which group of people you are catering your information to. Choose a font that best expresses the voice you desire, like perhaps a professional, humorous or casual one, and still manage to keep your message clear. It is not advisable to use more than two fonts in the brochure, as in doing so; you distract the reader from your message. Instead, to get your message through, you could vary the font size of individual parts of the design according to its importance in the brochure. It is of no use underlining matter for prominence as it only causes clutter and makes the text harder to read.

Next comes the part of placing the right information in the respective pages of the brochure. Decide which information is necessary, and arrange this information in order of its importance. The clearer you are about the order of importance in the brochure, the better the brochure will be. To get the best placing for your matter, it is better to make sketches and move the matter around till you get the best layout. If you have to use boxes and bars in the brochure, use them sparingly as although they work well for directing one’s attention and separating busy areas, too many of them makes your brochure look cluttered and confusing. You could try other options for grouping and separating like making the more important information being larger, bolder or brighter than other information.

Make sure to promote your company in the brochure, as this is the main aim of a brochure! People are always more comfortable dealing with a known entity. So if you promote you and your company with it’s credentials and credibility, the customer feels more comfortable dealing with you. Make sure you include such information in the brochure that speaks for you when you are not there. Don’t forget to stick to general terms of quality and leadership when promoting the products of your company instead, state what it is that you have and no one else has. This is bound to increase sales to your company. When promoting service and warranty in the brochure, make sure that it also relates to reliability, as people need reliable and loyal services when dealing with a company. You could also consider including testimonials or client lists in your brochure. You will be surprised at the wonders good references make! There is no point on including cliches and trendy jargon in your brochure, as not everyone can understand this jargon. The prospective of the brochure is lost if not everyone can understand whatever it is that you print in the brochure.

Try to keep some negative space in the brochure to create a relationship between the contents and the page and bring specific information into focus. Having some empty or white space in the brochure affects the overall tone of lightness and heaviness of the brochure. Whatever design or layout you choose for the brochure, it is always better to keep the brochure as simple as possible. Place only the necessary ingredients for communicating your message in the brochure. If you feel like placing graphic elements in the brochure for ornamental reasons, first ask yourself if they help in directing the reader’s attention or only serves as a distraction.

There are hundreds of paper colors available for using on the brochure. However, the most effective brochures are usually done in only one or two colors. Sometimes, black and white brochures prove to be more dramatic than colored brochures. Remember that the cost of printing has to be taken into consideration when choosing colors for the brochure. The more colors there are, the more expensive will be the printing costs. Paper too comes in a wide range of colors, sizes and textures. You could also consider using recycled paper which adds an interesting flair to your brochure design and also reduces the impact we make on our natural resources. However, recycled paper is more expensive than regular paper, and could make the printing of your brochure more expensive.

After completing the layout and choosing the font and paper for the brochure, it is important to proofread your brochure. Proofread it several times before having it printed, as once printed, it is impossible to fix an error not spot. Reading lines backwards is a good idea for checking errors. Once all this is done, stand back and look critically at the overall layout of the brochure. If needed, you could also get someone else to look at the layout to give his or her views on it. If everyone, including you, is happy that this is a great brochure, then go ahead and print it!

Posted at 02:52 pm by JimAdams
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Feb 8, 2016
Communicate With Full Color Business Cards

To get attention, you have to be different from all the rest. Just imagine this: so many business cards strewn all over your target client’s table and even the floor. And all of them have one thing in common- almost all the business cards are in black and white. Except for 2 or 3 business cards. These few business cards are printed with a smattering of color. Which do you think would be able to catch your target client’s attention?

It is a well known fact that color makes anything look better, especially if you use it in your marketing medium. Astute business owners know the power that color can provide your promotional tools. Rather than the standard black and white in your business cards, full color business cards look better and yes, even smarter. It draws your target client’s interest and helps them become aware of you and your business.

Full color business cards even ensure that your information will be read and better understood by your target audience.

In addition, color gives your business card printing pieces the chance of getting recognized and remembered even after your initial meeting.

And these are not just creations of an overactive mind of a graphic artist trying to sell you to the idea of using full color business cards for your marketing tools. Studies actually show that people in general are twice as likely to be attracted to colored materials rather than the regular black and white. In fact, research proves that those who use color in their materials, such as business cards, tend to portray a more professional, more prepared, and more enthusiastic identity than those who deliver monochromatic ones. Hence, color almost always can persuade a target reader to become a potential buyer.

Nevertheless, as with any printing projects, full color business card printing also needs proper application and restraint on your part when you decide to use color. As always, having too many is simply too much for your target audience to take in. In fact, too much color tends to annoy your target clients, as well as distract them from what is really important – your message. Always remember that color is a tool to help you convey your message to your target audience clearly and concisely; and in turn help them to better understand what you want to say to them.

So keep everything at a minimum. Don’t get excited and go overboard with the use of color in your business cards. Practicing simplicity in your full color business cards can often lead to a more successful project than anything done with over zealous designs and layouts.

Posted at 07:40 pm by JimAdams
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Feb 7, 2016
Promote With Postcards

Postcards have been consistently one of the more popular collectibles and used as promotional materials. More and more business owners are turning to color postcards as a good way of promoting their products and services. This is simply because postcards don’t have to be opened. It won’t get lumped in with all the mail envelopes that people usually toss without opening.  

Business owners can’t afford to make mistakes when it to comes to their promotional materials. They spend a considerable amount of money in it so they would want them to bring greater sales and profits to their business. Thus, if the postcard reveals a glossy, professional attractive picture, the recipient will likely look at the picture and turn it over to see who sent it. Then before putting it aside they might think of visiting your store on their next shopping spree.

If you do not have an idea on how to design and create your own postcards asking the help of professional printers can help in creating attention-grabbing and effective postcards. These professionals have experience in advertising and printing so they can give advice on how to go about with your postcard printing.

But what should you look for professional printers? First off, understand that reputable printers have time frames in completing their jobs. So ask the printer that you are considering how long it would take for them to finish your project. Have some guarantee from them about the work that will be carried out. Also, know the exact price that you will pay as often there are discounts for large print jobs. This can save you a lot of money so ask the print shop about this. Ask also for a sample of how the finished product will look like for your approval before the entire order is processed.  

Printing services are increasingly becoming more affordable these days. With new technologies used in printing, each print job costs cheaper as production volume increases. The speed of turnaround time has also increased with modern printing machines. Most printing companies can print hundreds and even thousands of pages every hour. Additionally, with the selection of printing techniques available today, whichever technology you use you will find that these printing services will meet your printing needs. It is just a matter of finding the right printing service for your print job.

Thus, to create an arty promotional material for more effective business advertising, turning to the professionals is a good idea. If you want to earn more profits always remember your business purpose – that is to sell your goods and services. With your people-pleasing postcards, your prospects can easily be reminded of your store.

Posted at 09:16 am by JimAdams
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Feb 6, 2016
Effective Postcard can Drag you to Success

You probably wanna ask how simple postcards can make your business endeavor spicy and full of zest. Well, you may not be aware of it but postcards nowadays are among the most proficient and easy to use marketing tools. Aside from the fact that they catch instant attention because they are impossible to ignore, postcards also save money. They cost less than other marketing tools however, they can generate immediate sales. This is the reason why we should never forget the call to action in order to result to sales.

Postcards are perfect for both small and huge mailings. You can use postcards for your whole mailing list or to only a few or specific products and services. Postcards printing and mailing come in a wide variety of options. With regards to printing, there are different designs and sizes available. They are now allowing personalization or customization to give their customers a chance to create their own design and to enliven their very concepts in their choice of postcards. In fact, they are also preparing it in a quick yet efficient manner. In mailing, printing companies are assuring a fast turnaround to keep the confidence of customers.

To give you a hint on how to make postcards customizations, here are some valuable tips and tricks:

1.  Plan ahead of time. The key to a successful marketing endeavor is a good planning strategy. Thus, prior to your postcard design, be sure that you have conceptualized and planned on every detail even the minutest of the details.

2.  A bang on the design. Your design must have impact to catch everyone’s attention. To boot, you can use Publisher New Publication Wizards to have a stunning design that will surely capture the interest of its readers.

3.  Edit to the bone.  Postcards can only accommodate few words. Therefore, you must remove unnecessary words for easy reading and for the words to fit the space intended for the texts. Focus on large graphics or pictures instead of texts to catch reader’s attention in a spur of the moment.

4. Be consistent with your primary goal. The message, color, typeface and graphics must reflect the primary goal of your business. All these stuffs must go hand in hand in order to achieve the common end.

5.  Be wise in choosing your print and mailing options. There are a lot of printing options. You can use two-color printing if you want a budget-friendly design. You can also opt for full color postcard printing, if you want a more colorful and vibrant postcards. Further, to explore more colors, you can use six-color printing and other printing options available for your printing needs. Mailing is also flexible nowadays. Your postcards can now be delivered at your choice depending on its quantity and printing technique used.

Posted at 03:37 pm by JimAdams
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