Working in the Cultural District

A dream of mine since I was a little girl has come true:  I am a business-woman in downtown Pittsburgh.

I was born and raised in the Burgh (and by that, I mean my street signs were blue).  Prior to working at AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District, I lived in Austin, Texas then moved back to the Pittsburgh and worked from home.   Having left Pittsburgh, I really learned to appreciate all that this city has to offer and now that I work in the Cultural District, I have the opportunity live and breathe it everyday.

My morning starts with a drive through the re-energized West End, and as I turn onto Carson Street, it’s like the city is welcoming me into its arms with that famous view of the Golden Triangle and city skyline. Lately as I approach Fort Duquesne Blvd, with PNC Park to my left, I can smell the hotdogs and cracker jacks as the Pirates Home Opener fast approaches.

I also get the chance to spoil myself everyday while walking to client meetings.  This week as I walked towards Market Square, the air permeated with scents of mouth-watering food and when I reached the center of Market Square, I couldn’t help but to smile and take it all in.  There was a buzz in the air, ice skaters were twirling and business folks were taking a break from their day to enjoy lunch.  I walk to all of my meetings in town (thank you, mild winter) because I don’t want to miss the chance to see the ornate details on the buildings, or bump into an old friend or client.

As my day ends, and I am stuck in traffic with my fellow Pittsburghers, I can’t help but feel a sense of pride and accomplishment. Working downtown has not only afforded me the opportunity to sightsee everyday, but also the chance to meet and work with fantastic people.  My colleagues and clients are amazing and they share my affinity for Pittsburgh. I am a proud Pittsburgh native, who can now say I am fulfilling my dreams of working in the best city in the world.

By Michelle Warren,
Outside Sales Representative,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District 

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AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District Wins Two International Awards

The AlphaGraphics team is proud to share the news that we have received two very prestigious awards: the NAPL Management Plus Silver Award, from the National Association for Printing Leadership, a leading management education and industry research organization; and the PODi Best Practices Award for Self Promotion, from PODi, a global organization for the advancement of direct marketing driven by digital print.

Recognizing Comprehensive Management Excellence: The NAPL Management Plus Silver Award

The NAPL Management Plus awards are unique in that they recognize overall achievement across many disciplines. Entrants are judged on performance against industry standards in seven key management areas: Leadership and governance, human resources, strategic planning, marketing and sales, operations, community/industry relations, and financial performance.

Rich Cichoski, AlphaGraphics’ Manager, states, “We’ve built a team-based, results-oriented culture. No matter what facet of the business they’re in, each team member strives for excellence through continuous improvement. As a team, our greatest reward is earning the trust and loyalty of our customers—and, of course, an occasional, awesome industry award.”

The 2012 NAPL Management Plus Silver Award will be presented at the Vision 3 Summit, February 19-22, 2012, in Marco Island, Florida.

Recognizing Strategic Cross-Channel Innovation: The PODi Best Practices Award for Self Promotion

Our case study on our popular “Use Your Coconut” multi-channel campaign earned the 2012 PODi Best Practices Award. These awards recognize innovation, technical expertise, and the delivery of excellent, measurable results in direct marketing from around the world.

Our “Use Your Coconut” campaign used outside-of-the-box thinking that raised the bar for what can be accomplished using dimensional mail, then strategically employed ten marketing channels with appropriate imagery and messaging to drive results.

Clare Meehan, our President and CEO, extends her gratitude not only to the team, but to all of our wonderful clients. “Our amazing staff is to be commended for brilliantly developing this promotion that demonstrated the power of direct mail when approached as an integrated, multi-media marketing campaign. Pittsburgh is still buzzing about those coconuts! The campaign was a huge success thanks to the enthusiastic response of our clients, and many successful marketing campaigns and conversations with them have followed.”

The case study was presented at the 10th annual PODi AppForum conference, January 23-25, 2012, in Las Vegas.

It has also been added to PODi’s Digital Print Case Study Database, the largest collection of digital print case studies and only compilation of its kind for the digital print marketplace. To download our case study, select AlphaGraphics Integrated Direct Mail Campaign – Use Your Coconut on the AG website.  

New Brand Identity Reflects Evolution from Print to Multi-Channel Marketing Solutions

The AlphaGraphics national network is celebrating its dynamic new brand identity with much fanfare this month. And AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District is no exception!

“Our new identity expresses innovation and the integration of new technologies, new platforms, and new channels that are driving our business forward.” says Clare Meehan, President and CEO of AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District.

Although the new identity has been quietly rolling out for the past several months, it steps into the spotlight in January with a celebration in which our customers are invited to participate. We’re giving away ten great prizes in two weeks, beginning on January 19, and it’s all happening on Facebook.

Offering printing services—including digital, large format, and offset printing—and strategic marketing services including graphic design, website development, and cross-channel campaigns that integrate personalization, email, SEM, social media, mobile marketing and direct mail, AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District partners with clients to deliver one-stop, fully integrated communications solutions.

“The identity really speaks to how we put it all together to help our clients communicate in an increasingly complex world,” adds Meehan.

Exactly How Important is Customer Service?

Have you ever called a business to pay a bill and found yourself speaking with someone so rude you couldn’t wait to get off the phone with him or her?  Or how about when you don’t even speak with anyone but a “recorded robot” that never seems to understand what you’re trying to get at?  Certain aspects of a company, such as these, are crucial to succeeding and differentiating itself amongst other companies.

Here at AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District, we have living, breathing, non-robotic people answering the phone and no matter how busy we get, you’ll never hear us answer the phone with an abrupt “WHAT DO YOU WANT?” or anything along those lines.  This fact is part of the training that AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District gives its Project Coordinators is to make sure our customers want to call us and will keep doing business with us.

The Marketing Department can create as many campaigns as possible to bring in new business and the Production Department can put together the job as perfectly as possible, but if the customer doesn’t feel comfortable with the customer service, forget it!  Sometimes the Project Coordinators are the only people customers speak with at the company, therefore we represent the company and it’s our responsibility to send the customer away with a good impression and the feeling that their project is in great hands.

If your company wants to reach a high standard of customer service, it is important to consistently do the following:

1)   Answer your phone.

2)   Don’t make promises unless you will keep them.

3)   Listen to your customers.

4)   Deal with complaints.

5)   Be helpful- even if there’s no immediate profit in it.

6)   Train your staff to be always helpful, courteous, and knowledgeable.

7)   Take the extra step.

8)   Throw in something extra.

By Stefanie LeClair,
Project Coordinator,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

What Makes a Good Sales Person?

People often ask me what the formula is for being a good sales person.  I have never approached the job feeling like I am selling something; instead, I focus on helping people with their challenges in hopes that the outcome exceeds their expectations.

Building trust is one of the most important ingredients in developing a relationship with a client. The end game for me is always to do what is best for them rather than what is best for me or for the company. Do this and you build trust—and your client’s loyalty.

Staying in close communication with clients is exceedingly critical. Deciding when it’s appropriate to make a phone call versus send an email is something I struggle with quite often in terms of training my sales team. The younger generation tends to be more comfortable “living inside the box,” as opposed to using verbal communication. I like to tell them that sometimes it is important for the client to hear your voice and feel your heart.  And nothing will ever be a substitute for looking someone in the eye and giving them a firm handshake!

Time management is also an essential element in the sales process.  Sales people are always juggling many balls at once, so it is imperative that one build a solid infrastructure to help you stay focused and organized.

I guess it is all of these subtleties blended together that make an outstanding sales person, and oh, by the way, I LOVE WHAT I DO.

By Clare Meehan
Owner
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

Maintaining Quality and Striving for Continuous Improvement, Today and Always

As an ISO:9000 certified company, we have annual visits from our ISO auditor. This week is our annual ISO audit, and I thought it might be a good idea to pass on why we think this is so important.

What is ISO?  ISO is an international standard for business management. ISO:9000 is the family that addresses quality. Bill and Clare Meehan have always been firm believers that things you measure tend to improve, and that continuous improvement is critical to the success of our businesses, our teams, and our clients. As stated on the ISO website:

“Standards ensure desirable characteristics of products and services such as quality, environmental friendliness, safety, reliability, efficiency and interchangeability – and at an economical cost.  When products and services meet our expectations, we tend to take this for granted and be unaware of the role of standards. However, when standards are absent, we soon notice. We soon care when products turn out to be of poor quality, do not fit, are incompatible with equipment that we already have, are unreliable or dangerous. When standards are absent, we soon notice.”

So this week, and always, we look for better ways to run our business with that mantra in mind, so that we can serve our clients everywhere, delivering the most innovative products daily.

By Rich Cichoski,
Manager,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District

Thanks AG!

As a graphic design student, I have the great opportunity to finish my three years at the Art Institute of Pittsburgh with an internship at AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District.  These past few months have been so important to me because I am gaining invaluable real world experience in graphic design and production.

The staff at AlphaGraphics has been so warm and welcoming, that I immediately felt right at home.  Everyone has gone above and beyond to make sure I’m getting the most out of this experience.  It’s wonderful to be part of a team that is so dedicated to their company and their customers.  Interning here has made me realize that I would be extremely fortunate to begin my professional career working at AlphaGraphics.

Throughout my time at my internship, I have spent time shadowing the graphic designers, production and put together the final products in the bindery.  This experience has made me realize my love and passion for graphic design even more.   I never expected to have an internship that brings me so much joy.  I have loved every moment that I have spent with this company and I want to give a personal thanks to AlphaGrahpics for taking me in as an intern and giving me the knowledge I need to feel confident in starting my career.

by Cassandra Baumann,
Intern,
AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District