Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Why Ag Printers?

Deciding who to trust to properly and effectively market your company is a HUGE decision. And each year about this time I ask myself the same question. Why should anyone choose Ag Printers for their communication implementation source. Why use us?

This simple question keeps us all grounded and humble, knowing we need to continually improve and to prove our worth to the seed industry. 

The best way to set yourself apart is to know your competition, right? I know you have a few options when it comes to marketing. You could do it all yourself, in-house. You could hire a temporary employee or consultant. For some companies, hiring a full-service agency is an option. And in that rare occasion, the leap of faith is taken to create an entire marketing/communication team. 

I know from personal experience that marketing your own company has about a 5% success rate. Why? Because the marketing duties in-house fall on someone who has responsibilities outside of marketing. And, as soon as the day-to-day operations start piling up, marketing gets pushed back, and pushed back and finally shelved for yet another year.

Hiring temporary workers or consultants is a viable option, with one major flaw. Most will not have a working knowledge of the seed industry specifically, and will certainly need trained on your company mission and focus in order to even get up and running with marketing ideas. Oh, and both are temporary solutions.

Full-service agencies are another option, and a great option in some cases. In fact, one thing I always stress to our customers is that Ag Printers is NOT an agency. We don't offer everything an agency offers. Actually, we work as part of a team with agencies all over the nation that are helping seed companies. We are what I like to call the implementation side of the marketing team.

Most companies do not need a full-service agency, and that service can be expensive, but again, sometimes you need to bite the bullet and jump in with both feet. When you do, all I ask is that you put Ag Printers on the team for follow through where we can help.

Each season I come back to this fact. Ag Printers is different than all the other options in some very unique ways. Here at the office, we are a family of tightly-knit, multi-talented individuals. The staff I have hired over the years was hired based largely on personality and shared vision for service. 

When you combine talent, knowledge and a heart for doing what is right and doing whatever is needed to help another, an amazing culture emerges. Not only are we a close family at the office, we truly consider each of our customers as "extended family". Family means sacrifice and affection, and as sappy as it may sound, we do love our customers. 

Like other family relationships, we have had times of trial and seasons of great change. Each of these have made us stronger and wiser and have allowed us to adapt over the years. 

So what sets us apart? Why use Ag Printers? Bottom line? Relationship. 
We have come to depend on you and you have come to depend on us. Each season we build upon the foundation that was formed from seasons past. 

Here's to another great year of opportunity to grow together, towards a common goal. Here's to another year in the extended family of Ag Printers. And yes, I am the crazy uncle in the family :-).

Friday, September 5, 2014

New Website Launching September 8th!

I am so excited to have our new website launching this coming week! We have spent several months designing a site that is not only attractive, but one that also provides a positive user experience. Keeping it simple is our tag line, and we wanted our website to live up to that saying, and it does!

We have built Ag Printers on the basis of always doing the right thing, and that is reflected in each person we have on staff. The website gives you a chance to find out a little bit more about each of the people you have formed relationships with over the past 9 years. 

Personally, I want to publicly thank Sara, Ginny and Chelsie for all the hard work they have put in on this new website. Countless hours have been spent creating the proper flow, proofing and testing all of the back end functionality. I am truly blessed to have such a great group surrounding me each day. 

Keep coming back and checking the blog too! There is so much to share with all of you about our upcoming vision for Ag Printers and the amazing product lines that we are launching and improving. I would encourage each of you to get your marketing calendar created soon, as your selling season is upon you already. If you need guidance on the creation of a marketing calendar, give us a call or read through the blog posts!

Finally, I don't get to say it enough, but THANK YOU! Thank you for allowing us to serve you, support you and help your company to keep growing as our market segment continues to transform itself daily. We will continue to help you stay ahead of the curve by keeping it simple!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How to Overspend on Marketing!

A sure way for you to go over budget on marketing this year is to not have a marketing plan created. You have probably heard the saying, that those who fail to plan, plan to fail. This is especially true when it comes to marketing plans.

Going back ten years to when I started Ag Printers, one of the most common frustrations of seed companies was the lack of time available to create and implement marketing programs. While I would not argue that time is scarce, I push back on the validity of that statement. Anything that is given priority has enough time to pursue and complete. 

Maybe it is a lack of the perceived importance of marketing in general. "Our products and service level speaks for itself. Right?" Wrong. We live it a world of instant information, persistent distraction and attention spans shorter than...(sorry, the phone rang and I got an email. Where was I?)

I challenge you today to carve out two hours to create a simple plan that will not only get your message out to your customers more, but will save you money on marketing. Imagine the freedom you would have when one of the many advertising reps call you, or the local high school asks you to advertise in their program, and you can simply and politely decline, as they are not in this year's marketing plan, but they can submit their proposal for next year and you can review it at your leisure!

For your plan, simply create a spreadsheet with the following elements. 

1.The product or service you want to promote

2.The offer you are going to communicate (Message)
3.The specific user group you will target (Market)
4.The vehicle(s) you will use to communicate your offer to your target(s) (Method)
5.The proposed date you want to launch the program
6.The proposed date you need to begin planning and production to hit the launch date

Granted, this is a bare bones, stripped-down plan, but it will get those of you who have never done a marketing program started. You will add to this as the years go by and you want more detail. The dates will give you accountability. Share them with your staff and keep each other on track. I would also suggest putting the dates into your digital calendar and have alarms or reminders set on your computer and your mobile devices!

When it comes to making and implementing your marketing plans, give us a call. It is our passion to help you grow your business!


Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bulk Box Signage

We develop new product lines as often as needs arise in the seed industry. Not every one makes it through the process and makes it to market, thanks in great part to our customer feedback.

I still remember Erich Albers coming up to me in 2006 and handing me a bag tag and asking me if Ag Printers made tags. I didn't even know what the tag was, but after we looked not only at the process of manufacturing them, but the process of designing them with compliant information and the process of ordering and fulfilling the orders, we brought them to market. Now we are blessed to produce several million tags each season.

Recently, we have been approached by a group of our customers (friends) and asked if we had a good solution for bulk box signs. After researching what is in the market currently, the only option out there seems to be thin-gauge steel signs. As we know, these boxes are expensive and need branded not only to make sure they return to your facility, but to solidify your brand in the marketplace.

My first question when it comes to most things in the seed industry is "why do we do it this way now?" and my second question is "how can we make this product and process better?"

I believe we have these questions answered very well for this application, but I need your help in determining if we are truly on the right track to a new product line.Would you please answer these questions by leaving a comment below? 

1. Do you currently use 24 x 16 inch signs on your bulk/pro boxes?
2. How many do you order each year?
3. Would you be interested in a sample of our new sign on our new material?

If you answer yes to #3, please email me so I can get you a sign. You would be doing us a favor also by being a test site for us as we continue to develop this great product. My email is steve@agprinters.com.

Have a great week!


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Bells and Whistles!

Product catalogs will be in production over the next few months and the question arises, "Do I spend more money this year making my catalog stand out by using added design elements like UV coatings, die-cuts, metallic inks or embossing?"

This is a legitimate question, and we are happy to go down this road with you. The first thing to know is that we can certainly offer you all of these services (and many more). The second thing is that the answer is a matter of personal opinion. So, in order to help you (which is what Ag Printers is known for) let's examine the questions below and come to a conclusion together.

1. What am I spending now, per customer, on my catalog? Start with a baseline.
2. What is my bottom line profit per customer?
3. What is my sales growth goal for the coming year?
4. What is my margin goal, per customer, for the coming year?
5. What additional amount am I willing to spend per customer?
6. Will the additional amount I spend on the catalog return the investment times 3?
           (i.e. will a $10,000 investment yield a $30,000 return?)
7. Does the additional time needed to add design elements outweigh the potential for standing out more from other catalogs?

Is it important to differentiate yourself from your competition? Absolutely! The question becomes, is your catalog THE place to spend your money in differentiating your seed company from the others? 

Again, there is NOT a solid right or wrong answer here. It depends on your overall sales and marketing program goals and your personal opinion of how crucial this marketing piece is to reaching those goals. 

The bottom line is, whatever road you want to travel down this season, we can get you there

Before starting Ag Printers I was in the commercial printing industry for 8 years. Our printing company produced some of the highest-end catalogs and annual reports for the largest and most profitable companies in central Indiana. Some of the best work came from a designer at a pharmaceutical testing facility, so I hired her first and Sara now heads up our design teams. 

If you have an idea, let's discuss it. If you want to analyze your marketing strategy, let me know. We are here to help keep it simple, but also to give you so much more!

Please take 10 seconds to answer the poll to the right of this post so we can get a feel for the overall opinion on this subject! 

Have a wonderful spring (should it ever warm up)!