Picture to Product: 3D Print Makes It Possible

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3D Printing opens new markets, new growth  

Innovation trend continues for 124 year-old print + Light Manufacturing company with investment to serve rapid prototyping

Turning concept drawings into finished products can be one of the most expensive and time-consuming steps in the development process.

Not any more for clients of FetterGroup, long a leader in digital print solutions and change-management software platforms.

FetterGroup now offers breakthrough technology that takes a product concept from CAD design to a physical piece in a matter of minutes.  The firm has been using this technology for some time in its own light manufacturing of three-dimensional surface decorated products for users globally.

FetterGroup is now ready to share this technology and expertise in a turn-key experience that includes CAD design services, rapid prototyping, material procurement, distribution and manufacturing consultation.

“We have a deep understanding of the entire rapid-prototyping process from concept to full scale production to international distribution and we want to help other companies grow and innovate in similar ways” said Terry Gill, FetterGroup President and CEO.

The goal, said Gill, is for client companies to dramatically reduce the time and cost that previously hampered innovation.

“We recognize the significant hurdles for start-up and early stage product companies in prototyping their ideas to move forward with investors, regulatory approval, or establishing

large scale production partners,” Gill said. “We want to help reduce or eliminate those barriers of time and cost and help companies go from picture to product with the speed the market now demands”

FetterGroup already has major successes with the new technology in its own product-development and light manufacturing.

“We recently created a new part for an in-home heart monitoring device,” Gill said. “It would have taken months to test new parts and find the right fit using the old process.  We were able to test and provide a solution within a week and our customer is able to move to full-scale production immediately.”

Using standard CAD software in the front end of the process makes it easy for FetterGroup clients to get started using a common file.  FetterGroup also offers design services if CAD software is not readily available to customers.

“What makes us unique is our breadth of experience across the spectrum of design, brand management, print, distribution and full scale manufacturing.  We have state of the art equipment in the hands of experts and the results are amazing”, says Gill.

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About FetterGroup:  FetterGroup, of Louisville, KY, serves regulated industries like paint and coatings, medical devices, specialty consumer products, and healthcare organizations with innovative packaging solutions and software platforms to manage change.  The company creates, manages, and distributes a wide variety of customized sales, marketing, and communications resources regionally, across the US and across the globe.

Learn how Fetter is transforming digital workflows and creating packaging innovations at fettergroup.com.  Follow them on Twitter @fettergroup, or read their unique perspective on the consumer package goods industry on their blog at fettergroup.com.

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Your Design Sucks: How great design improves user adoption and makes the mundane exciting

Behold: The Dyson Animal – Haute Couture Vacuum

Raise your hand if you LOVE to vacuum.  Anyone?  Buehler?  My thoughts exactly.  No one jumps up and gets excited to vacuum.  Until you have a Dyson under the roof.  My Hoover died a tragic death recently and I cheered it’s demise.  It was a hideous beast I hid in the hall closet.  Despite the inconvenience of having it croak on me a few days before welcoming guests, I was pumped.  I got to upgrade!!

I bought a Dyson.

For the first time in my life I want to brag about my vacuum.  My VACUUM.  I love this thing so much I want to park it in my living room.  Just leave it out there so people can enjoy it’s beauty.  Great design does that.  It makes you want to park it in your living room, wear it on your sleeve, shout it from the rooftops, use it all day and gaze longing at it as much as possible without freaking your friends out.  If great design has that effect on the most mundane and obnoxious activity, like vacuuming, imagine what it can do for other mundane and obnoxious activities –  like anything that has to do with business automation tools, CRM, EHR or any other multi-lettered acronym.

“We submit that usability is one of the major factors—possibly the most important factor—hindering widespread adoption of EMRs.(Electronic Medical Records)”  This is the conclusion of the HIMSS Usability Task Force that was charged with investigating lower than expected adoption rates of EMR systems in the United States.  When great design is at the forefront of a product or service people want to use it.  Better still, they will adopt it quickly and integrate it into their everyday.  For extra credit, they may shout from the rooftops how much they love using the new automation tool and how brilliant their manager is for implementing such a transformational application into their world.

And all of you application vendors, code slingers, project managers out there, wouldn’t it be great to have your customers and users Tweet their passion for your product because they simply couldn’t contain their excitement?  What compels someone to shout from the rooftops about something mundane?  Put a Dyson in their palm and step back.

Contributed by Dayna Neumann – VP Marketing + Strategy @FetterGroup

Follow Dayna on Twitter @daynaneumann

The Startup Bandwagon

Contributed by Hannah Beasley

I’m convinced this niche in history will one day be referred to as the era of startups. Tech startup companies are small, flexible, and more than anything, they have a can-do attitude that drives them to work 120 hours in a week in order to get a product out the door before it’s too late. These budding entrepreneurs see opportunities when larger companies are spending six months planning a strategy to build a solution – the startups just build it in six weeks. Sure, many startups don’t have the capital to get off the ground, and plenty of them that do still fail to produce any ROI.

But the important lesson to learn from this uprising is that a culture of constant change has become our reality. These tech startups are finding success because the world as we know it is changing every single day. These companies are smaller, deliberately structured to be flexible, and they are filled with creative minds. They are thriving in the midst of change. They are capitalizing on change as an opportunity – not viewing it as a threat to the current business model.

We have seen it repeatedly in history: companies who fail to capitalize on change will lose. Kodak feared cannibalizing their film business so much that they didn’t capitalize on their invention of the digital camera in the 50s. Had they instead chosen to become a pioneer in digital photography and dominate the market as a leader, they might not have filed for bankruptcy a week ago with a shattered business model and fragmented market share.

And then we see companies that have turned change into an incredible opportunity.

In the late 90s, record labels saw rampant music piracy as a huge threat to their profitability. They were constantly looking to fight against it through laws, petitions, and an arsenal of wealthy recording artists. In 2000, Steve Jobs saw it as an opportunity. Despite a great deal of resistance from the record companies, Jobs negotiated contracts and designed an entirely new revenue model for artists, recording labels, writers, and most importantly, Apple. This tech startup born in Steve’s garage in the 70s was no longer in just the computer business. Apple changed the way we think about music and the way we make purchases online. Yes, the iTunes store had a drastic impact on physical CD sales, and many music-only stores have been forced to close their doors.

But the revenue didn’t disappear – it was just reallocated. Don’t you want to be the place where people are reallocating their funds?

Don’t you want to be the electric car that Americans choose when they finally trade in their gas guzzlers? When consumers make changes to their health providers due to healthcare reform, don’t you want to be the company they choose? When 50% of households cancel their cable and begin utilizing the internet to stream and record live sporting events, don’t you want them to be subscribed to your service?

We all want to grow and become more profitable, so in this era of change, you need to be constantly be asking yourself…

How can I incorporate the healthy and successful innovative culture of a startup into my business? How can I ally myself with change-oriented partners to be sure that my own planning and good intentions don’t keep me from my future success?

Thank You, Steve Jobs

Steve JobsContributed by Hannah Beasley

A brilliant marketer, an innovative thinker, and a driven leader – there is much we can learn from the former CEO of Apple. Steve Jobs transformed our worldview, and truly impacted each of our lives individually. His work challenged our perspectives and made us “need” products we had never seen. I could probably write a novel listing all of the lessons and bits of brilliance we can glean from his life, but in an effort to keep thinks simple (in true Steve Jobs fashion), I want to highlight three main things we can learn from his genius in practice.

1)    We all have a weakness for things that look cool. Let’s face it – you think the features are great, but the real reason you cannot keep your hands off the new iPads at the Apple store is because they look so cool! We are inherently drawn toward these sleek and beautiful devices that could double as modern art. For more than a decade, Apple has refused to compromise in design, and they have been well rewarded for their stubbornness. For Apple, form is not second to function – they go hand in hand. They want customers to integrate Apple devices into their lifestyles, so they accept nothing less than top-notch design from the outer casing to the inner-workings of the systems.

“The only problem with Microsoft is they just have no taste. They have absolutely no taste. And I don’t mean that in a small way, I mean that in a big way, in the sense that they don’t think of original ideas, and they don’t bring much culture into their products.” – YouTube

What does this mean for our business? Our software has to perform well AND look good. Our headquarters must be functional AND an inviting place for clients to visit. Our printed products must be accurate AND the best looking labels on the shelf. There is no payback for ignoring good design.

2)    Ease of use is more important than having all the bells and whistles. My husband and I consistently have conversations about whether his Android is better than my iPhone. He always argues his case with 2-3 features that his phone has, like Adobe Flash, or the ability to use his phone as a mobile hotspot. Of course, he wins for the sake of argument, but Steve Jobs might say he is missing the point. Consumers as a whole do not want the phone that has the most features or can do the most obscure tasks; they want the iPhone. The simple operating system on the iPhone works for the tech-savvy and the technically-impaired. The minimal design removes complication from everyday tasks, and other intangibles such as good design, quick access to downloadable music, and integration with other devices have helped make Apple the #1 Smartphone manufacturer in the world.

“That’s been one of my mantras — focus and simplicity. Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains.” — BusinessWeek interview, May 1998

What does this mean for our business? We must make our software simple and intuitive. Interactions with our client services team should be hassle free, and our ultimate job as a company is to remove complexity from our clients’ processes.

3)    You must always be thinking about and planning for the future. Steve Jobs was consistently projecting the future of his company. He anticipated consumers’ future needs and desires and made strategic assumptions that positioned his company at the forefront of the tech world. But perhaps the most important future planning that Steve did was his planning to leave the company. Steve’s terminal illness put him in the unique position to be consistently aware of the uncertainty of his future. For the last few years, Steve has no doubt been empowering key people at Apple to be prepared for the time when he would no longer be in executive leadership. True leadership is reaching a point where momentum can be maintained and progress can continue, even when you are no longer in the trenches. While Wall Street has some uncertainty about the future of Apple, no one expects that Apple’s dynasty will crash overnight, because this forward-thinking company couldn’t avoid planning for their future leadership. While unconfirmed, Gizmodo even reports that there may be a “special four year plan” left behind by Jobs that will help ensure the company doesn’t stray far from Jobs’ vision in the next few years.

“I mean, some people say, ‘Oh, God, if [Jobs] got run over by a bus, Apple would be in trouble.’ And, you know, I think it wouldn’t be a party, but there are really capable people at Apple. My job is to make the whole executive team good enough to be successors, so that’s what I try to do.” – CNNMoney

What does this mean for our business? While it might seem daunting and impossible, forward thinking is absolutely critical. We must anticipate our customers’ needs and take action to prepare our products, services, and people for the inevitable changes coming in our future.

As you evaluate your business and your personal progress this week, remember Steve Jobs and find ways to integrate his philosophies into your world. Make form a priority, remove complexities from your processes, and plan for the future.

Sparking Ideas

Contributed by Dayna Neumann

What happens when you gather a group of people from disparate disciplines to debate a common issue?

Maybe a few fireworks.  Definitely education.  Guaranteed progress.

Enter Idea Festival.  This transformational event brings together great minds from all areas of business, government, the arts, literature, etc. for three days of innovative thinking.  One of the many fabulous presentations was titled “Sales and the Brain”.  Hosted by Patrick Renvoise, the author of “Neuro Marketing: Understanding the “Buy Buttons” in Your Customer’s Brain”, this event captivated us on many levels.  One of the challenges Patrick posed to leadership in the audience was to ask  your employees to complete this statement, “Our company is the only company that….”  So we took Patrick’s advice and the results were fantastic.

Last week, our five member executive team was asked to complete the statement, “FetterGroup is the only company that….”  With each person  approaching the topic from their area of discipline – finance, marketing, sales, operations, IT – we created the perfect mash-up of ideas.

The process has set us on a path of consensus building, while maintaining our individual voices.  We have more work to do but the exercise sparked a level of participation and introspection we don’t always enjoy.

From Ted Hagler, EVP Operations, FetterGroup – October 2, 2011

“Dayna,

What a great meeting that you lead us through yesterday!

I realize that I am often too focused looking in and not enough looking outside of our four walls.  I appreciate how you help me and others to see more.  I also appreciate how you let me interject my thoughts and ideas and find ways to integrate them into working ideas.

I was taught that IDEAS are what separate us from the masses.

The next step is to take your idea and form a THEORY.

That theory must then be turned into an understood EXPLANATION.

Once understood a PLAN must be made.

Then a DECISION must be made upon that plan.

From that plan there must be ACTION, carried out by people.

That action from all those teams creates IMPLEMENTATION.

Implementation then creates RESULTS.

Results can be proven and MEASURABLE.

The above steps are what turn and idea / theory into a proven process.

None of this work will be easy, but all of it worthwhile.

I appreciate this visioning process and how it will shape us into a company that has an implicit, distinct, plan for the future.

Thanks again,

Ted Hagler, Jr.”

Try this with your teams and watch the sparks fly.  You will definitely ignite ideas along the way.

Zoomers and Boomers: Are you listening?

Contributed by Dayna Neumann

Zoomers and Boomers make up the largest, most affluent and influential market in U.S. history.   According to the 2010 U.S. Census, Zoomers and Boomers, the population born between 1946 and 1964, totals 77 million in the U.S. alone.  Today, 35 million people in the U.S. are over the age of 65 and by 2035 1 in 5 Americans will be over the age of 65.  We all know this group is a big deal, but check out their buying power.

The economic impact of Zoomers and Boomers:

  • Control over 80% of personal financial assets in the United States
  • Control more than 50% of discretionary spending power
  • Responsible for more than half of all consumer spending in the United States
  • Buy 77% of all prescription drugs sold in the United States
  • Buy 61% of all over the counter medication sold in the United States
  • Purchase 80% of all leisure travel

What is your strategy for reaching this profound demographic?  We suggest exploring options beyond the same old tired channels of phone, television, newspapers and magazines.

According to a Neilson study, 7.9 million Seniors visited Facebook in 2009 – catapulting the social networking site to the third most popular online destination for this demographic.  For perspective, in 2008, Facebook was forty-fifth among sites visited by Seniors.  This stratospheric rise of Facebook use among Seniors is a clear indicator of an engaged demographic embracing social media.  So what are marketers doing differently to communicate with this vast $20 Trillion market?

In our business, we have seen our health insurance clients embracing multi-channel marketing techniques to reach their Senior members and prospects.  A few new favorites include:

  • Personalized URLs (PURLs)
  • Micro sites
  • Email campaigns
  • QR Codes

When these digital efforts are coupled with more traditional channels like print, campaigns are highly effective in reaching a health aware audience like the Zoomers and Boomers.  What we don’t know is how well our clients are listening to their social media outlets to influence these campaign decisions.  If they are listening intently and using digital media to react quickly and change up messaging, chances are they are realizing the benefits of improved customer acquisition and retention.

Beyond the meteoric rise in Social networking awareness, other technology-enabled communications are seeing similar changes in Senior adoption.  Fast Company reported in their June 2011 issue that email usage by Seniors was up 28% from 2009 to 2010.  On the other end of the demographic spectrum, teens abandoned the medium to the tune of a 59% drop in email usage during the same time period.  Marketers, brand managers, product developers, listen up – Seniors want electronic communication and they have the time and buying power to impact your bottom line.

Do you have a strategy that incorporates multi-channel communication to Seniors and emerging Seniors?  Are you able to quickly and easily change messaging based on social media trends and market conditions?

Dayna Neumann is Vice President of Marketing + Strategy at FetterGroup.  She helps customers increase revenues and attract more members by developing innovative software tools and multi-channel marketing campaigns.  Creating fans is Dayna’s mission.

Assumptions are Presumptuous

Contributed by Hannah Beasley

We tend to make assumptions. Far too many assumptions.

Most of us make assumptions based on things we have known to be true in the past. For example, almost every business assumes that the things they have done to be successful in the past are the keys to future success. This assumption is based on experience and what you know to be true, or at least what was true in the past, yet it’s still a dangerous assumption. It assumes that markets today will be receptive to your same offer. It assumes that today’s competitive landscape won’t be vastly different than yesterday’s. It assumes that customers still want your product or offering.

And this is all with something that most of us would consider to be a safe assumption – do more of what works, and you’ll have more success.

It’s easy to see the dangers in making decisions based upon these types of assumptions. Let’s take a look at two key areas where we have the potential to make the greatest mistakes based on assumptions.

Assumption #1: Customers choose you based on a logical decision-making process.

If you are selling anything, it’s easy, (and fair), to make the assumption that you are selling something that people are willing to pay for. There is nothing wrong with assuming this most basic ideal, because if you have sold anything in the last month, it’s likely still true. The issue arises when we extrapolate this basic assumption to include our idealistic hopes about exactly why someone would want to spend money on our product/offering.

We make assumptions far too often regarding customers’ motives for buying our products. We assume that a sell or decision is based completely on principles of logic. We think that customers consciously weigh the costs and the benefits of our product to make their decisions, when in reality; no decisions are so black and white.

In Gerald Zaltman’s book How Customers Think, he proposes that very little in the consumer decision-making process has to do with logic. He references research studies showing that consumers cannot even accurately describe their own decision making processes, and he points out that consumer choices based on a logical evaluation of attributes are “the exception rather than the rule.” In any decision making process, both reason and emotion are always involved. We are foolish when we ignore the emotional aspect of buying and selling. In order to be effective then, we must acknowledge that no more than 5% of consumer thinking occurs in “high-order consciousness.” Then, we must act on this knowledge, and sell our culture, or our worldview as something that others can connect with on a deeper level.

A great example of this emotional selling can be found in the empire that is Harley Davidson. It might look like they’re selling motorcycles, but in reality, Harley Davidson is selling a lifestyle. Their website boasts a banner stating “This is your time. It’s your life – don’t just go along for the ride.” They are selling you the pursuit of leisure and luxury, feelings of liberation, and the joys of youthful adventure. So many consumers want to buy into this lifestyle that just the licensing of the Harley-Davidson brand and logo brought in $40 million in net revenue last year.

Assumption #2: Your customers know their needs and understand them fully.

It would seem logical that your customers or potential customers know their needs when they walk into a meeting. Sure, sometimes this is the case, but we make this assumption too frequently. More often than not your customers cannot fully articulate their needs; what they do understand are their problems. They know what battles they fight on a daily basis. They know which hurdles they must overcome weekly. And they have a clear picture of the obstacles blocking their efficiency. This does not mean that they know the best way to overcome or solve their problems. This is where we come in.

In problem solving, a fresh perspective is priceless. A third party can see beyond the problems and begin to accurately assess the need. Even if our customers think they have a clear picture of a solution, we try to have them  describe their needs at length before we begin a project. By doing this, we can accurately  evaluate the situation and propose solutions that our customers may not even have known were possible.

Problems live on the surface, but needs often live beyond the façade. It is crucial that you work harder to understand your customers’ needs better than they can articulate them on their own. I was recently involved in a web-based software build in which we solve for an immediate problem, yet we failed to address the underlying need because the client did not fully understand the true need. By asking intuitive questions and involving stakeholders with unique perspectives in the needs assessment, we can consistently strive for a deeper understanding of needs up front. This improves efficiency and effectiveness, and ultimately saves everyone time and money.

Moral of the story: avoid making assumptions.

Make clear, concise decisions based on what you know.

The Advantage of Being David

Contributed by Terry Gill

Picture the last major purchasing decision you made.  When it came down to the final vendors, what were the best predictors of those company’s reliability or capability?

Experience.  Reputation.  Years in operation.  Size.

What about size?  Does size matter?

To some degree, yes, size matters.  In some cases size is a legitimate consideration.  For example, imagine you are National Geographic Magazine.  If you’re trying to identify the ideal vendor to produce and distribute your publication – size matters.

On the other hand if you’re looking for a company to help you develop a software application, I believe size carries far less weight in making the right partner choice.  In fact, if the solution is web facing, size becomes less and less relevant.

Case In Point

Craigslist has redefined the on-line classified ad concept.  It has over 20 billion page views a month.  Yes, 20,000,000,000!  It features a simple interface, but provides users the option to create their own content.  Its listings are geographically oriented and it provides real-time data.  All of these features and achievements require a sophisticated infrastructure and smart people at the helm.

Now the punch line – guess how many employees?  I’ll give you a hint; your local coffee shop might be in the same range.

Craigslist has 32 employees.  32.

Size trumps all other predictors when you have good, clean execution of a concept.  Craigslist is a disruptor on many levels.  They clearly use size as a competitive advantage.  Imagine how nimble and flexible Craigslist can afford to be when decisions are made with 32 employees…and loads of cash.

David vs. Goliath

Smaller organizations can and will continue to compete successfully against larger competitors if the objective is focused on creativity, speed and flexibility.  Again, in the world of custom software application development, this is especially true.

Smaller companies often adopt an Agile development methodology, which as the name suggests, is well suited for assignments that need to be developed and deployed quickly.  Think SWAT team.

These applications are the types that take a few months to engineer and implement.  They often work alongside other larger applications of the enterprise variety.  Playing a supporting role to a CRM or DAM application is a common scenario.

But smaller companies developing these applications must be vigilant in their commitment to building out their infrastructure.  Proper bandwidth, security and redundancy cannot be overlooked.  Boutique size shops must commit to greater resources for hardware, software and network administrators who keep abreast of the latest security threats.    Nobody gets a hall pass on ensuring they have proper network design and oversight.  No one will tolerate relaxed security.

In the end, don’t discount the advantages of working with a smaller organization; just remember to take advantage of their strong suit.   Go ahead and open up that next project pitch to those quirky folks you’ve been hearing about.  If nothing else you’re bound to get some fresh perspective on how desire and creativity stack up against sheer size.

Talk to Me. I’ll Be Your Biggest Fan.

#1 Fan

Contributed by Hannah Beasley

When I get something in the mail, I expect it to be relevant to me. Even if the piece is not personalized with my name, I expect the ad to be offering me something I need or at least something I may want. It needs to be relevant, unique, and timely. I’m in my 20s. If you send me an advertisement for a nursing home, clearly it’s not relevant, much less unique or timely, and I’m going to throw it away.

The same rule generally applies to every advertisement or offer I am exposed to. The average American is exposed to over 2000 advertising messages each day. Some people would argue that advertising has become the most powerful educational force in today’s society. Our brains are constantly living in a place of information overload, as we are now faced with offers on the Internet, on TV, and in the mailbox every day at an alarming rate. My generation has grown up with an unprecedented amount of exposure to advertising, and as a result, we have an uncanny ability to completely ignore messages right in front of our faces.

Every time I go to the grocery store, I ignore over 40,000 SKUs. If I go to Walmart Supercenter, it’s likely that I’ll ignore nearly 100,000 SKUs (and become extremely irritated with the long checkout lines). I cannot possibly process all of the offerings I encounter, so if my brain is trained to ignore 99% of all messages that I am exposed to each year, how do some marketers manage to get through to me? And yes, there are a few that get through.

First and foremost, the offering must be RELEVANT to me. As I mentioned before, if it’s not relevant, I’m throwing it away. Physically, mentally, and emotionally. Because of my background, my work, and the fact that I’ve grown up in a media-crazed society, I know that advertisers CAN make their promotions relevant to me, and I expect them to. Facebook (although creepy) does a great job of using their knowledge of my profile as the basis for serving up RELEVANT offers. During the months when my relationship status was marked as “engaged” a few years ago, my Facebook page was constantly serving up ads to support the 40 billion dollar wedding industry. If I see wedding ads now, I completely ignore them. However, in that brief period of time while I was planning my wedding, I actually considered the advertisements (well, at least some of them). Facebook was tactfully using their knowledge of my demographics to serve up RELEVANT offerings (and charge more for these targeted ads). Serving up relevance means promoting your offer to the right person at the right time. If you’re not doing this, you’re wasting your time. The “spray & pray” method commonly used in direct mail campaigns of the past is over.

In addition to being relevant, the offering must be UNIQUE. The product itself doesn’t have to be entirely unique, but the advertisement must at least show me something truly compelling. It could just be the presentation and design that’s compelling, or it could be the inherent features of the product. Whatever the case, I know that my brain is designed to dismiss offerings that are identical to five other offers I have already seen.

Lastly, the offering must be TIMELY. I still cannot understand why so many web addresses are printed on billboards. When I see a billboard, I’m probably driving. Yes, I occasionally check a quick email or give a yes/no response to a text while driving, but I am never going to enter a web address on my mobile phone to access a website as prompted by a billboard… all while blasting down I-65. If you want someone to visit your website, make it simple for them by allowing them to scan a QR code, or by sending them an email with the web address link. If you expect your target market to spend a few minutes reviewing your offering, present it when you expect they have some leisure time. Make your prospecting calls on Friday afternoon when you know most people are starting to wrap up their work for the week. Avoid asking anyone for their time on a Monday. Try to meet with people in person and outside of the office to avoid distractions and to gain some ever-fleeting undivided attention. Once again, I’ll return to Facebook. The Social Media King is the perfect place to advertise, because site visitors are likely logged on to kill some spare time. Users are browsing and clicking through things they find interesting, and this is exactly what the advertisers want. It’s much easier to integrate your offering into what your prospect is already doing than it is to ask them to change their plans and pay attention to you.

So, what is the true measure of success? An exceptional advertisement will compel me to SHARE my experience with the offering with others. At Fetter, we talk a lot about not just having clients or “users” of our software – we’re on a mission to create Fans. Fans love you. They talk about you. They tell their friends about you. They influence others. They forgive you when you have hiccups. They know you’re the best partner. They know you add value and make their lives better.

If your offer is RELEVANT, UNIQUE, and TIMELY, your clients and prospects will remember it. And with any luck, you will have a stadium full of fans before you know it.

You Had Me At Hello: Creating Great First Impressions

Contributed by Dayna Neumann

How do you know you made a great first impression?

They remember your name.  They take your calls.  They buy from you.  They buy from you again.  They send a shout-out Tweet recommending you to their network.  The uncomfortable truth is, in business, we may not know the quality of our first impression in time to do anything meaningful about it.

So how do you guarantee the best possible first impression?  For me, it’s all about the experience.  No matter the channel – sales reps, customer service, websites, packaging, products, signage, business cards – you must be prepared to make the best possible first impression.

That Sounds Expensive

Managing good first impressions does not require a Lebron James PR budget.  Orchestrating consistent, impressive first impressions starts with awareness.  Be aware of your communication channels and all the ways potential clients interact with your company.  If you start with awareness you may reveal areas for improvement and missed opportunities.

Help Me Help You

Do you make it easy for customers to socialize?  Do you give them a simple way to tell you what they like, what they don’t like and to share all of these feelings with their network?  If you answered no, you are missing a major opportunity to capture new market share.  Again, this doesn’t have to be a major investment.  Slap a QR (quick response) code on a portion of your next label run and have it point to your Twitter page.  Ask your customers to give you instant feedback on why they chose your product.  Test an incentive like a discount coupon or a product give away and see if people need a little extra encouragement to engage the campaign.  Capture the metrics, read the posts, react accordingly, repeat the parts that worked, get lots of new customers, make buckets of money.  Creating ways for your existing customers to help you attract new customers does not have to break your marketing budget and you will have entered a brave new world of first impressions.

Channel Surfing

Let’s consider another scenario where your product is the channel to create a first impression.  For many companies, a web-based application like a storefront is the first interaction someone has with your company.  For us, we have cloud, or hosted products that our customers make available to their employees to help them do their job – like initiating marketing campaigns or managing label inventories.  In these situations it is your product that establishes the first impression with an entire user community.  Again, you must be aware of the customer experience and continue to ask yourself if the experience is the best it can possibly be.  Do you allow your customers to socialize about the experience and the product?  Are you listening and reacting?  Are your channels working hard for you and each other?

You Had Me At Hello

So who is killing the product-based first impression and who is nailing the internet first impression?  37 Signals and Prezi are two companies doing both incredibly well.  I won’t cloud your judgment with my opinions here.  So go out to their sites, have your own first impression and report back in the comments on what your first impressions are of these two companies and their products.  Are they giving a firm handshake or a limp fish?