The Case Against Booklet Makers

11 03 2009

A common misconception that businesses, churches, and schools make is that purchasing an expensive booklet maker will actually save them money in the long run. What most fail to consider is the ongoing costs of labor and maintenance. They also fail to consider that their staff may not have the experience to produce a professional product.

In addition to the expensive upfront cost of a booklet maker (even with a lease), you also have the cost of supplies like paper, staples, and other materials. Entry level booklet makers start around $2,500. The cost of having a booklet built by a printing firm is a small fraction of the total cost.

When you add in the fact that you have to pay for paper, toner/ink, and other supplies; the equation just does not make a lot of sense. When you add your costs for labor to have office staff spending a couple of hours printing, collating, and binding the books; you can see that your costs just are not justified.

Professional product
If you have never picked up a do-it-yourself booklet and had it fall apart in your hands, found pages missing, or discovered other major defects, then you’re one of the fortunate few who won’t make the mistake of buying a pricey booklet maker. Booklet making is an art form. Even with fancy machinery, the process of adjusting and fine tuning the device can require a special touch that takes time to learn.

Professional printers hire knowledgeable staff and own better equipment to do the job. If you look at the cost to have a booklet made, top notch printers charge around $1 per booklet on short runs and that includes full color. For larger runs around 2,000 booklets, the cost per piece is under $.25 – that’s a quarter for full color printing!
Unless you are printing booklets on a very regular basis and have the printing equipment to justify the time-savings, booklet makers just don’t make sense. In fact, the only place you should see one is at a printing company.


Booklet Printing Basics

5 03 2009

Many businesses and individuals often have a need to only print one booklet at a time: one training manual, photo album, or portfolio. While booklet printing should generally be reserved for professional printing firms, it’s understandable that the occasional one-off might be necessary.

The vast majority of booklets are designed using software by Adobe called InDesign. I’ll spare you the details of how to set up a booklet since most of you will be very comfortable with InDesign already. Where most get confused is when it comes to imposition and creep. Imposition refers to how the pages are arranged so that they print in the proper order. Creep is what happens as outer pages must wrap around the inner pages, causing content to slowly “creep” towards the binding.

You basically have two options for booklet printing: use Adobe’s built in tools or look to third-party software. If you are using InDesign CS3, you are likely going to have a few frustrating hours ahead of you as trial and error – or outright confusion – are the biggest complaints that Adobe gets. InDesign CS4 has seen significant improvements, but it’s still far from ideal.

Third party software offers some excellent resources, such as the free “Booklet CE” by Carlsen Enterprises. Just download and follow the install instructions. Use the Windows -> Automation -> Scripts (Alt+Ctrl+F11) tool to browse to and run the software. Alternately, you can just double-click the script file while your document is open. 
Booklet CE will launch and make each page its own PDF file. Just select the imposition type and creep settings. Other standard features like printer marks (crop marks, color bars, registration marks) are also available:


As a final reminder, your booklet needs to be in four page increments so the page count will work out appropriately. If you come up a few pages short, just leave them blank at the back of the booklet or add some endnotes or comments.

While not as easy as uploading a file and ordering from a printer, booklet printing for a single copy is sometimes necessary and will save time. You can use the built in software in Adobe’s InDesign if you are using CS4, but since many people do not have the latest release, the third party Booklet CE is an excellent alternative.

The Thank You Card Factor

5 03 2009

My marketing budget has been getting tighter and tighter these last few months, so I’ve had to think long and hard about the most effective way to reach out to my customers through advertising. Historically, one of the most effective methods that I’ve found is to send a Thank You card with a handwritten note. Recently, I’ve found another reason: note cards make great decorations.

I’ll admit that I have a few Thank You cards from customers that are years old, but I keep pulling them out at different times of the year because they fit the decorations of a particular holiday or season. For example, one of my customers sent me this beautiful Christmas card that has kind of become a staple decoration that I pull out after Thanksgiving to give my desk a festive look.

Here’s the important thing: I know exactly who sent me that card and have their phone number memorized because I keep pulling that card out and seeing the note for several months out of the year.

Thank You Cards as Decorations
Why not take advantage of this opportunity and send my customers Thank You cards that are worthy of sitting on their desks? Sure, it means more time in design and a quality print, but the opportunity to have that point of contact when I get to say a genuine “Thank You” and have the opportunity to keep my brand in front of the customers for awhile is worth it.

The next choice is how to design. My preference is to send the customer a card on a quarterly basis. Christmas, St. Patrick’s Day, 4th of July, and Halloween are some obvious choices, but there are others like Easter, Thanksgiving, and Labor Day. The key is to make the Thank You card an obvious reference to the holiday with the design and content. This way, my customers have custom greeting cards to decorate with on the major holidays and at the same time are reminded of my company every day.

As I am dealing with shrinking marketing budgets, I’m inclined to reach for those few ad formats that seem to work time and time again. The Thank You card gives me a chance to offer a sincere “Thanks” while also creating the opportunity for a semi-permanent decoration. The trick is to make sure the cards look top-notch and are designed to be seasonal enough that they warrant being used as a decoration.

6 Approaches to Brand “Generosity” During a Slow Economy

20 02 2009

During turbulent economic times, generosity is the keyword of branding, according to Dubbed “Generation G” people nowadays are disgusted with greed, as that is what put us in this economical mess, and are embracing the “G” of generosity.

Businesses cannot afford to ignore this “G” trend in 2009. Of course, generosity has always been good for branding – you give to customers and they’ll be happy to tell their friends and family about you. Word-of-mouth marketing is key in any economy, but especially one in which marketing budgets are strapped.

Being generous doesn’t mean only giving stuff away; you just need to be kinder and more caring towards your customers. Here are 6 ways you can put the “G” in your branding this year.

1. Show you care about your customers.
Throwing in a small item at checkout or sending customers birthday cards with coupons in them (or even better: send them a “half-birthday card” 6 months before their birthday when they don’t expect it!) are great ways to increase customer loyalty.

2. Donate.
Give to charities and good causes. If you don’t have the resources to do so, look for a partner to co-donate with. This is a great way to build business connections as well as to do something good for the community. Be sure to play up your co-donation or donation in your advertising materials where appropriate. Place a link to the charity on your Web site so customers know you’re affiliated with the charity.

3. Help the environment.
Going green is a great way to show how generous you are – to your customers and to the Earth. Instead of just limiting your damage to the Earth, think about how you can boost the environment. You could plant trees for every purchase of a certain product or buy carbon offsets, for example.

4. Give away stuff.
Remember, I said generosity doesn’t only mean giving stuff away. It’s still something that should be done if you’re trying to be a “generous” brand. The good news is that you don’t have to give away something uber expensive or top-of-the-line – just a token item will do because it’s the thought that counts.

A buy one, get one free sale could be just the ticket to show you care and that you know people are in a financial pinch. If Kia can give away a car for free, you can surely give away some inexpensive product, right?

5. Give your top, or returning, customers some perks.
Giving a selection of your best customers perks makes them feel special, and it also keeps them coming into your store. Offer simple things like reserved parking or special store hours – these perks don’t cost you much, but your customers will appreciate them. You can also offer something as simple as a newsletter or brochure coupon to those who will sign up for your mailing list.

6. Ease up on policies.
By improving your customer experience with extended return policies, you’ll give customers a feel-good emotion about your brand, even if they don’t take advantage of your generous return policy.

If you run a hotel, don’t charge an extra night for a late check-in. That policy isn’t set in stone. Policies that are in place to make an extra profit should be lifted during this recession period.

If you’re afraid of not being able to turn back once the economy has recovered, just claim these policies as “recession policies.” No one will argue with that!

Apple Talks a Green Game, but Doesn’t Want to Report on Its Sustainability

12 02 2009

Apple launched a line of new green products last month at Macworld, but its eco-friendly MacBook Pro product line has been tainted due to the company’s attempts to extinguish shareholder requests for more corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting.

Apple issued a proxy filing January 7 that urged shareholders to vote against a shareholder resolution proposed by As You Sow, an environmental group co-sponsored by the New York City Office of the Comptroller and the Green Century Equity Fund.

The resolution would require the company to publish a CSR report by July 2009. The report would include its approach to greenhouse gas emissions, recycling and toxics. Apple would have to define “sustainability” and a company-wide review of policies contributing to sustainable operations would have to be included in the report.

As You Sow is pushing for the resolution for Apple to create such a report because over 2,700 companies, including direct Apple competitors like Dell, IBM and HP, produce CSR reports.

“Apple lags behind its global industry peers on sustainability reporting, especially regarding key environmental issues such as climate change,” the resolution stated.

Al Gore and Apple’s Board Push for No Resolution
Apple’s board of directors, of which Al Gore is a part, recommended that shareholders vote against the resolution. Apple’s reasoning? “The board believes that the proposal has been substantially addressed and publication of an additional report would produce little added value while requiring unnecessary time and expense,” Apple said in its proxy filing.”

The company has reports and statements on its Web site that detail its environmental activity, including a page on supplier responsibility. Apple believes this serves the same purpose as a formal CSR report.

This Isn’t First Environmental Attack on Apple
As You Sow has tried to pressure Apple in the past, and in May 2007, the company published take-back and recycling goals for old computers, a week before a shareholder resolution issued by As You Sow came to a vote.

Greenpeace has also wanted a piece of Apple. Greenpeace criticized Apple for months over its failure to publish its policies regarding the use of toxic chemicals in its products. Apple boss Steve Jobs actually apologized and Apple released info on a “raft of new targets designed to phase out the use of hazardous chemicals.”

Back to the Green Apple Products
The latest proxy filing came at the same time Apple launched its new 17-inch MacBook Pro laptop, of which it claims is the “world’s greenest family of notebooks.” The laptop is made of “highly recyclable aluminum and is both mercury and arsenic free.” The battery is a non-removable lithium polymer battery that is supposed to give the average user 1,000 recharge cycled before needing replaced, which Apple says is three times as many cycles as conventional batteries. The battery must be replaced by an Apple technician, but it should last the average user 5 years, which an Apple rep said probably won’t happen. The user will probably buy a new laptop before the battery ever needs changed so it won’t be a problem.

Super Bowl Ad 2009 Roundup: The Best and The Worst

3 02 2009

Of the 50+ Super Bowl XLIII ads ran on Sunday, only a handful goes into the Best category. Most were only so-so, regurgitating ideas from 10 or even 20 years ago. The Worst were just plain bad or boring.

The New York Times didn’t approve, stating in commentary, “All the elements that are supposed to make for successful big-game commercials were displayed, over and over again, as if bonuses were being awarded on Madison Avenue for the least creative briefs.” Ouch.

Violence, sex, nostalgia, talking babies…it’s all been done before. And we got to see it all again. Great.

Some of ads were criticized for not making any reference to current times, namely, the recession, like the SoBe Lifewater football players dancing ballet; others, like CareerBuilder and E*Trade did better, talking about changing jobs and re-evaluating your portfolio during hard times.




Advertising Age gave its top ranking to Cash4Gold, which featured a spot with MC Hammer and Ed McMahon, two celebs noted for their financial difficulties. Hammer was selling his bling for cash while McMahon sold his gold toilet. This commercial was timely in its message of people selling items for cash, but it’s also the saddest commercial in that Cash4Gold will probably get the highest ROI of all the Super Bowl ad companies.


This commercial featuring a “crystal ball,” really a snow globe which was thrown through a Doritos vending machine and then hurled in the sensitive spot of a male boss. This commercial won a contest by Frito-Lay and the winners won $1 million and a trip to the Super Bowl. Brothers from a small town in Indiana created the commercial in a local YMCA to win the prize.

The talking baby emerged during last year’s Super Bowl for E*Trade, who brought the baby back with friends this year. The baby shows that E*Trade is easy enough for anyone to navigate.



SoBe Lifewater

The lizards danced again, but in 3D this time, but it fell flat with the addition of three NFL players in white leotards: Ray Lewis of the Baltimore Ravens, Matt Light of the New England Patriots and Justin Tuck of the New York Giants. The stereotype of football players dancing ballet goes back to the Super Bowls of the ’60s. Give it a rest.

Race-car driver Danica Patrick stayed on as GoDaddy’s celeb of choice in a racy shower ad featuring young men that could control what Danica was doing through the Internet, including making her take a shower. The ad was then “continued” on GoDaddy’s web site. Even though this commercial wasn’t humorous or groundbreaking, which is what Super Bowl ads are about, it was a smart move to increase traffic on GoDaddy’s site. At least, if what they want are more men on their site.

Denny’s featured tough cowboys who order pancakes and other assorted breakfast items that come with clown-looking whip cream faces and jelly beans. Denny’s promoted a free breakfast, but failed to include a URL or a call to action. Their Web site crashed soon after the ad aired, and was down for the rest of the game.

If you missed any of the ads, you can watch them all, along with the last eleven years of the best ones, at

Go For Green in 2009

30 01 2009

The past is usually a good indicator of the future. And in 2008, we saw a lot of green marketing. Companies are starting to tout their eco-friendliness and that is sure to continue into 2009. So what can we learn from the green marketing in 2008? Here are the top 5 green marketing stories from that year and what they could mean for your business in 2009.

1: Presidency Change

With Bush out of office, a major change for environmental politics is underway. Environmental groups have criticized Bush for his ecological ignorance and refusal to support clean energy alternatives, but these groups are now happy. Executives say that with Obama in the White House, green businesses and initiatives will flourish. Obama’s administration plans to boost clean energy, provide 5 million green-collar jobs and set strict environmental regulations for businesses.

For Your Business
As the green market gets stronger, you need to market your own greenness. Green business practices are becoming mainstream, so if you aren’t using recycled paper and sustainable procedures, you might want to put some in place so you can also claim some greenness.

2: Advertising Goes Green

Cause-related marketing enjoyed 3 percent growth in 2008 despite budget cuts, and now represents one in nine dollars spent on sponsorships. GE, Walmart and HSBC won the first-ever Green Effie awards, while companies like Innocent Smoothies, Fiat and EasyJet were accused of making false green marketing claims. Consumers are paying attention to green claims and with a new site,, consumers can rate companies’ green ad claims and figure out who’s lying.

For Your Business
It’s pretty clear that the lesson learned from this story is that you need to be truthful about your green advertising. Consumers are wise to “greenwashing,” which means making false green claims.

3: FTC Updates Green Marketing Guidelines

With so many companies making environmental claims last year, the FTC sped up the updates to their Green Guides, which regulate green packaging requirements and green marketing guidelines.

For Your Business
Revised FTC Green Guides in 2009 will become well-known so you’d better heed their advice. Competitors will probably be looking at your green marketing claims more closely and calling you out in their own ads. This is a tactic that you could use on your competition, too, of course.

4: Bottled Water Gets a Bad Rap

Critics shunned bottled water last year for its wastefulness and contribution to climate change.

To extinguish scrutiny, Fiji reported that its bottled water was “carbon negative” and partnered with Conservation International for oversight of Fiji’s investments in renewable energy and conservation efforts in the Fiji rainforest. Fiji also assured customers that it will disclose its carbon footprint on its Web site.

For Your Business
As more businesses start to put statistics and specific numbers about their carbon footprint and environmental impact, you may want to consider getting your own stats on your product(s). Industries are starting to unite to share costs of finding out the carbon footprint for a lifecycle of a certain type of product, so you should look for a group like that to join.

5: The Crash of Detroit and GM Introduces Chevy Volt

U.S. auto makers have been hit hard by the bleak economy and Asian competitors coming out with more fuel-efficient vehicles. GM and other auto makers are stepping up their acts to become more green and produce more hybrids, like the Chevy Volt.

For Your Business
If U.S. auto makers would have planned ahead, they wouldn’t have been so behind the times with the hybrid vehicles. Monitor changes in your industry and put plans in place to join any green trends as soon as you can.