AG Conference 2015 Excites and Energizes in Washington, D.C.

washington-DC-000008780087_Small

Part of what makes our nation great is the desire and dedication of its citizens to work together for the common good. Similarly, the people of AlphaGraphics’ worldwide network of franchises derive their strength from the ability to learn from each other, share ideas, and provide support as we strive to deliver product and service excellence to our customers every day.

With the beautiful backdrop of our nation’s capitol, AlphaGraphics Conference 2015 was a chance for many of our team members — 10 in all — to gather and learn at educational breakouts, network with peers, experience innovative offerings at a dazzling Tech Expo, and strengthen bonds with fellow team members. Energized and full of exciting ideas for exploration and implementation, the team returned to Pittsburgh ready to take the business to new heights in team building, customer service, and research and development.

Conference is also a time for celebrating accomplishments. At the 45th Anniversary Gala that capped the conference, the spotlight shown on AlphaGraphics in the Cultural District for a trio of awards. Michelle Warren, Account Executive, was named to the Million Dollar Sales Club for the second year in a row. Julia Richardson, Account Manager, earned the Vital Connection award for her outstanding efforts in customer service and account management. And our Marketing Team earned an award for Best Marketing Campaign for a Client, for a comprehensive rebranding campaign for Direct Energy, a Pittsburgh-based energy management firm.

We’re Bursting with Excitement!

Our growth has had us bursting at the seams. And now, we’re bursting with excitement as we get ready to shoot skyward to our new second-floor space! As our late-July expansion unfolds, we’ll keep all our customers informed because, until the dust settles, we may need a little extra time to deliver our celebrated customer service. The AlphaGraphics team will be working all the while to make every project shines!

Gold Circle Rewards: Camaraderie in a Tropical Paradise

P7XPAU3YAjlpDUYHKwBrIgZiQwkBqDAqZiO9Rj5yzeA

March is always an interesting month to look forward to, especially this year.

AlphaGraphics is part of a worldwide franchise, and for the last seven years, we have been part of “Gold Circle,” a group of the top performing centers in the system. As a reward for our success, AlphaGraphics treats us to a fabulous trip to a beautiful destination. This year, we traveled in March to The Ritz Carlton Hotel in Maui, Hawaii. Needless to say, after the terrible winter most Gold Circle owners experienced, it was especially welcomed. The perfect weather and spectacular views of the mountains, ocean, and lush gardens made for a beautiful environment embraced by all.

But the most positive part of the experience was the opportunity to be with our peers and esteemed colleagues. One of the greatest benefits of belonging to the franchise is the camaraderie we share in friendship and best practices. My husband, Bill, and I moved from Boston to Pittsburgh in 2000 to start our business. We knew nothing about the printing industry, didn’t have a single client, and found ourselves facing a very steep learning curve! From the beginning, we learned so much from the top performers in the system, and they were always so gracious with their time and willingness to help.

 

x0X1rORkMyqWOSTYYEgtMkucx8fChHjBNB0mnnV3dc0

 

Our recent trip was magnificent with a wide array of activities to choose from. In my leisure time, I could be found lounging at the pool or beach, hiking along the ocean, or partaking in my favorite treatments at the spa. On our way back to the mainland, we visited California, another place we love. We spent four days in Santa Barbara, and three days in Big Sur.

Next year’s Gold Circle trip is to the Caribbean, another one of our favorite destinations. We have already begun to look forward to it!

 

By: Clare Meehan, President and CEO

New in Town

Last June, I boarded a plane to Pittsburgh with one suitcase, fully intending to move back to Boston in August. Nine months later, I am now coming to the end of what has become a very long move to the city I have decided to call my home. This week I am packing up and moving again in order to establish a more permanent residence in the heart of the city, and I’m reflecting on what caused me to integrate so well here.

I was charmed by Pittsburgh immediately. I loved the jargon and the silly n@ bumper stickers I saw everywhere. I loved attending games at PNC Park and the wonderful summer evenings where daylight lingered until 9pm. I loved the hidden treasures tucked away in the various neighborhoods of the East End. The city was very walkable and much cleaner and greener than general US History would have one believe. There was just this sense of great pride that drew me in, but also a great sense of humor to the city that I had to discover for myself. For instance this sign is a great sense of amusement to out-of-towners. Only here does it have any context!

Sign

My role at AlphaGraphics as an Account Manager has introduced me to a Pittsburgh I didn’t know, rich in the arts and culture. At work, I enjoy an insider’s view of the city, seeing the invitations and event signage coming in for print every day, and I’ve had the opportunity meet great clients who are passionate about their work and contributions to the city.

This past winter was certainly brutal, but it did not shake my determination to stay here. As a New Englander, I thought I was expert in cold weather. However, I had grown up expecting winter to mean primarily heavy snowfall, to be cleared away in a few hours.  I was not prepared for the brutal wind chills, a poorly insulated house, the dangerous black ice, and worst of all, the persistent grey skies and darkness.

Now that we are cautiously approaching the spring, I am catching a glimpse of the Pittsburgh I fell in love with last summer. I have returned home to New England many times this past year, but I am now always finding myself looking forward to my flight back to Pittsburgh, if only for the glimpse of the city coming out of the Fort Pitt tunnels. Pittsburgh has been very hospitable to me and I especially owe a great thank you to all my team members at AlphaGraphics who have all played a role in making this home for me!

By: Julia Richardson, Account Manager

Move over Willy Wonka

hershey kiss

Just in time for Valentine’s Day next week, Hershey’s Company just announced that they are in the research phase of developing a 3D printer that would print chocolate candy and other delicious treats.  Yes, a printer that prints chocolate!

Printing in 3D format involves extruding one thin layer after another of a material (in this case, chocolate), one on top of another, until a solid item of one piece of material comes into being.  William Papa, vice president and chief research and development officer at Hershey’s is quoted as saying, “Whether it’s creating a whole new form of candy or developing a new way to produce it, we embrace new technologies such as 3-D printing.”  Hershey’s new technology would allow users to create custom designs and unique shapes.

No information yet as to when the 3D printer would be unveiled.  Nor did the statement indicate if this technology would be available for small retailers or reserved only for large commercial plants.

The printing industry just got a bit sweeter!

By: Liz Payne, Assistant Manager

Happy 30th Birthday: a love note to Mac

mac bday

I can remember when I first heard excited whispering about you in the halls of the Sharadin Art Building, Kutztown University.  How you’d be arriving one day soon and turn our student world of paste up upside down.  And then one day in January 1992, there you were. (A whole computer lab full of you, actually). Shiny and brand new, more than a bit intimidating.

“We are going to begin to learn how to produce our magazine layouts on the Mac”, my Publishing 1 professor boomed excitedly.

“Eeeek! A computer! I know *nothing* about computers” — I remember panicking.

“How will I survive? I’m not a computer geek! What will I do?!? Maybe I should change my major?” These thoughts flooded my head as I anticipated using this unknown tool.

But there you were, Classic Macintosh IIs, greeting me with your friendly “Ta-Da” as I turned you on, your easy to understand icons — user friendly even for a computerphobe like me.

As I got to know you, you amazed me with your new technology, I learned your ins and outs,  even dealt with your rainbow-wheel temper tantrums,  I started to quickly fall in love with you.

Looking back after all these years and thinking of how much time we’ve spent together, I can’t imagine life without you! You have changed my world!

Happy 30th birthday Mac! I’m looking forward to spending the next 30 with you.

Watch the Mac 30 video and scroll through the timeline to see how the Mac has inspired so many others over the years.

http://www.apple.com/30-years/

By Kristin Needham
Marketing Strategist and Creative Designer

Print: More Bang for Your Buck, More Reasons to Use It

GraphicForBlogPost_PRICING

At AlphaGraphics, we’re shouting from the rooftops about our new, state-of-the-art digital printer from Xerox, the iGen4.

What’s fantastic is the new lower pricing…more bang for your buck!

With a bigger sheet size (an impressive 26” x 14”) and faster speed, it prints more impressions more quickly, resulting in a cost savings of, on average, between 25% and 40% on digital printing jobs.

Clearly, more is better. With the ability to make your digital printing budget go further, you should consider—what else?—more print!

Why?

Because print delivers benefits that other media can’t. To wit: Five reasons why print—especially with new lower pricing on digital printing—is a REALLY GOOD THING for your marketing mix:

1. Print Provides an Opportunity to Differentiate

  • According to ABM (Assoc. of Business Information & Media Companies), 96% of media users still read trade magazines to keep up on what’s happening in their industry, with 45% saying they read a print magazine at least weekly.
  • The United States Postal Service found that 98% of consumers bring in their mail the day it is delivered, with 77% sorting it immediately.
  • Roughly 80% of all physical mail is opened, while the open rate of emails is only about 20%.

2. Print is Viewed as Trustworthy

  • According to Print In the Mix, a clearinghouse of research on cross-media communications, a survey found that 56% of respondents say they found printed material to be the ‘most trustworthy’ of media channels.
  • The same survey found that nearly half of the respondents said they’ve retained a direct mail piece for future reference, and 17% regularly do so.
  • A study by VTT (a Finnish technical research group) found that consumers trust advertising in print media more than any other media.

3. Print Delivers Results (Think Lead Generation!)

  • Print delivers a higher response rate compared to email. The CMO (Chief Marketing Officer) Council found that the average response rate for emails is 0.12%, whereas the average response rate for direct mail is 4.4%.
  • According to Mail Media Centre, 11% of marketing emails are opened, the opening rate is 91% for prospecting direct mail.
  • According to Printing Industries of America, print catalogs carry an average cost per lead of $47.61, whereas the average cost per email lead is $53.85.
  • A survey by Print in The Mix found 79% of consumers act on a brand’s direct mail piece immediately

4. Print Helps to Connect the Online and Offline Worlds

  • Printing Industries of America found that 67% of online searches are driven by offline messages, with 39% of shoppers making a purchase.
  • Shoppers who receive a direct mail piece directing them to an online site spend an average 13% more than those who do not receive a printed piece.
  • Websites supported by catalogs yield 163% more revenue than those not supported by catalogs.

5. Print has a Proven, Loyal Following

  • According to a consumer survey, 33% of those surveyed say they’d have a  negative view of a brand not offering printed communications.
  • A survey by Two Sides, a non-profit organization dedicated to responsibility and sustainability in print and paper, found that 70% of Americans prefer to read printed paper over a digital screen, with 67% preferring the feel of print media.
  • When it comes to transactional statements,  Two Sides found that 64% consumers wouldn’t choose a company that didn’t offer a paper bill option.
  • 75% B2B professionals read magazines on a weekly basis with 68% choosing to read niche publications specific to their industry.