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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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.

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?

It’s About Time

Contributed by Ted Hagler

It’s 5am and the alarm goes off.  Today is the big day!  Not the day we put our “large  sheet” digital press on the floor, no, today is the day we take one of our “large 40 inch security blankets” off the floor.  Today a crew is coming to Fetter to remove a litho press we bought over twenty years ago.

Why the change?  It’s about time.

In this new world of complexity, high quality and mass customization, this well-built, carefully engineered, lithographic press has become obsolete due to time; the time it takes to set up one job.

In this world, job quantities are reducing and job diversity is proliferating.  Fetter recognizes the need to change jobs quickly and often.    In the time it takes to set up a job on the old 40 inch litho press, we could have the job complete on the new digital press.  Because time is typically money in the press room, the time we save with digital translates into lower waste and increased yield.

Arrival time.

For Fetter this transition process started over two years ago with an exploratory investigation into the needs of our label customers, moved into the building of one of the most comprehensive cost-analyzing databases and culminated into the testing of four very different digital presses and three of the latest sheet-fed  lithographic presses.  It involved labor changes, space consideration, process change and customer cooperation.

Time for change.

From a business operations standpoint we were able to quickly adapt many of the same quality requirements, productivity goals and job specifications from our current system.  This was a plus considering the additional time and cost it could have taken to change numerous practices and measurements at the same time we were asking so many employees to learn a new technology.  Another benefit was our ability to support this digital press with all the same finishing equipment we already had – and that our customers were comfortable with this tactic.  The finishing connection is significant because some digital presses force you to have different finishing equipment and processes, when coupled with the change in printing, creates additional stress in the plant and with our customers.

Remember, it’s all about time!

We are in the beginning of our second month of experiencing the dynamic capabilities of our new NexPress and the positive impact it is having on our plant.  Time will tell, but all indications point to exceeding our time efficiency expectations while delivering the product our customers need to succeed.

How is digital print changing the delivery of your products?

Because if you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind

Contributed by Hannah Beasley

Simply stated, innovation drives progress. Even if the innovations aren’t your own.

Take a look at these top innovations and trends in packaging that we’ve spotted lately for an instant rejuvenation of your own imagination and your weekly dose of in-the-know.

Innovation: Products Reinvented

Fresh Packaging Ideas

1 – Mario Olives has taken a classic garnish and reinvented it as a snack food, brilliantly marketed as snack size – “Packed loose without the juice!” [Packaging World]

2 – Picture a product with packaging so compelling that consumers buy it simply for the packaging. Canned Air, available for sale on Etsy.com for just $4.99 is exactly that. [The Dieline]

The Look: Clean & SimpleClean Package Package Design

3 – Good Co. simply states the idea of Good Coffee & Good Company with a simple and elegant look. [Lovely Package]

4 – Vale Ale sets itself apart by entering the marketplace as a chic and contemporary Australian beer. [The Dieline]

Lead Innovator: PepsiCo

Pepsi Innovations

5 – Pepsi’s new 100% plant based bottle is breaking new grounds in the world of sustainable packaging, proving that a label and the package wearing it can both go green. [Greener Package]

6 – QR codes are sweeping the nation, and it’s no surprise that PepsiCo is a thought-leader by implementing QR codes to promote their loyalty programs and drive consumers toward more brand engagement.

Labels, packages, and the world of consumer packaged goods is constantly evolving. So which packaging innovations are shaking the way you do business?

Let’s take a closer look at QR codes and how you can use them effectively on your labels. QR codes are designed to bridge the gap from print to the web, allowing companies to measure and increase consumer engagement. Not sure exactly what this means for you? Here’s our best rundown:

When QR codes are scanned, they take consumers to links on the web – this means you can direct your consumers to additional content that won’t fit directly on the package, or you can send them to a page where they can take an action such as participating in a rewards program. You could also direct them to your social media presence, display a promotional page, or point to a contest entry form. The possibilities are really endless, but the most important thing is to make sure that the landing page is mobile friendly. Since you already know that the page is being visited on a mobile phone, pointing a consumer to your standard desktop-friendly-only webpage is bound to cause frustration and will be highly ineffective.

Still not sure how you can make QR codes work for your label? Find a partner who can help you get started, and use these ideas to begin thinking forward!

  • Add a QR code to your paint label that directs consumers to online videos with tips and tricks for painting
  • Include a QR code on your distilled spirits bottle and let ambassadors earn rewards for brand loyalty
  • Use a QR code on canned goods labels to direct grocery shoppers to online recipes and cooking tips

Be inspired. Be innovative.

Contributed by Hannah Beasley

Demand More

Contributed by Dayna Neumann

When it comes to disruptive behavior in the consumer packaged goods market Method is taking on the laundry soap category like the super spin cycle on your Whirlpool.  Method has unabashedly taken on the Goliath of Proctor and Gamble with eye-catching packages that demand your attention and practically beg to be left on the counter and admired.  Despite the woefully un-hip nature of the cleaning products category, Method has challenged the notion that form and function cannot have equal roles in packaging.  Method demands more from their package design.  Method demands to be noticed.  What is holding other companies back from trying new designs?  One factor is the inherent complexity in changing a label or package.

In the not-so-distant past the limitations of package design were dictated by the production capabilities of the output devices.  A conventional litho press or foil stamping operation were typically cost and time prohibitive for adequate testing of a new package or label designs.  If the cost and time to convert to a new label or package is prohibitive, innovation is stifled.  Companies stayed with the tried and true designs making annual tweaks or cautious adjustments.  Over time, this approach begins to dictate your presence in the marketplace.  Why do we allow an output device to determine our market presence?

In the digital era these limitations were improved but other limitations took their place, like size constraints and poor color.  Unfortunately, the speed of innovation in digital print has not matched the market demand for change until recently.  With larger format sizes, remarkable color quality and enhanced coatings techniques, consumer packaged goods companies have a new found freedom in the latest digital press technology.

Even the most staid products, like laundry soap, will enjoy new growth opportunities with digital print.  Companies who learn to harness the power of digital print for packaging stand to gain ground on their competitors by testing new package and label designs in a cost effective way.  Beyond testing, CPG companies can localize their labeling to the store level and create a totally unique customer experience.  Imagine seeing your local landmark or event displayed on labels in your nearby Home Depot.  With advances in press technology, digital has begun to disrupt the packaging world and given not-so-hip products the freedom to shake things up a bit.

Are you demanding more from your packaging?