A complete print (and design!) solution.

September 9, 2010

London Print Brokers has a strategic partnership with a trusted branding and graphic design company.

With our partner, we are able to offer a holistic design solutions based on your company’s needs to manage the continuity of your corporate identity across the market.

By technically deconstructing your business layer by layer to find the unique essence your business has to offer to its market to get back to the basics, we’ll build you an individual brand to impact your target audience.

You’ll be asked a series of analytical questions to identify the issues affecting your business, a case of symptom – prescription. All this can be achieved in your hour consultation, free of charge.

We’ve got your opinion, now lets get your audiences’. Result proven market research will be conducted to identify the design style that appeals to your existing and potential customers. We then can create a prescription to suit your diagnosis – an outlined design proposal that boosts the health and wealth of your business.

After the consultation stage, design concepts are drawn up. Whether it’s a brand identity/guidelines or corporate literature, we will give you a dynamic solution to achieve peak business fitness.

Our trusted partner’s past clients include: The Tate, Whitechapel Gallery, The Science Museum, Gunnersbury Park Museum, Greater London Authority, Olympic Delivery Authority, STAGETEXT, BSLBT.

And whether you require design or not, we offer a complete printing solution. We’d really like to speak to you about all of your print but if you’d just like to commit a small initial order, have a look at our prices for the most common print items or get a quote.

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What we (also) do

March 1, 2010

On the “What we do” page of our website, we occasionally add products or services which we offer and which we feel worthy of individual mention.

Often we find that being a one-stop printing solution for our customers dilutes the value of our individual services. At individual customer level, we can easily concentrate on specific needs. When addressing a general audience, it is often beneficial to highlight individual products and services.

Although not exhaustive, the list of “What we do” is constantly evolving and we have recently added a few additional examples of areas in which we excel:

Large Format Printing

From a simple poster to a complete building wrap, we have the means of production.

Secure and Confidential Printing

Many of our customers – particularly those in the corporate finance and legal sectors – need their printing to be produced in a secure environment.

Bespoke Envelopes

There are some limitations to printing onto stock envelopes though and that’s where bespoke manufacturing comes in.

Luxury Printing

As well as consulting with customers on rationalising their print – reducing costs, freeing up reseources and reducing their environmental impact – we also consult on specialist areas of print.

Translation for Print

We can typeset from hard copy in most languages and translate either way from one language to another. We can also use special character sets for languages which use them.

Just try us out with a quote during March and every one that becomes an order of £500 value or more will be delivered with your free business cards.*

And it’s now even easier to get a quote by filling in our new quote form. Of course, you can still email us or call 020 3287 8500 if you prefer.

*Terms and conditions: 250 free business cards with all orders over £500. Payment must be made at time of order to qualify for free business cards. Offer ends 28th February 2010.

07/04/10: London Print Brokers is now Optimus Print Solutions. Visit our new website here.

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Search Engine Optimisation the Manual Way – Including Social Networking Best Practices

February 9, 2010

Many companies offer to give you a guaranteed front page ranking on Google and other search engines. Some simply accept a payment and use those funds to finance a Pay-per-click advertising campaign, which you could do yourself with the aid of Google ad words, Google analytics and various other tools offered by Google and other search engines. Still more will claim to give you a first page organic (not paid-for) link at a cost.

There are legitimate businesses which do deliver what they promise but there are also operators to be avoided and in any case, with an investment of time, SEO can be achieved without the need to out-source to a third party. This article explains how to do this.

Firstly, search engines and the most predominant of those is of course Google. To understand how to optimise a website for recognition by Google requires an understanding of their model and criteria.

Google send out “spiders” or “bots” to trawl websites. These are simply programs which search the Internet for relevant content and “live”, constantly changing and evolving websites. Relevance and evolution are important to Google and in turn, to the website which you wish Google’s spiders and bots to notice.

So, make your website relevant to your market and offering: use keywords. Research keywords via Google analytics to see how often they are searched for. Don’t pile in with the majority though: choose “key phrases” which are nearer to identifying you and which people willl more specifically search for.

Let’s say you manufacture “red objects”: use that search term and Google will return millions of results, so we need to refine. Where are you based? What material is your red object made from? And so on. Once you’ve refined, search for, say “red balloons”: still quite a large number of people searching for said product, so make it geographical. “red balloons in Wiltshire” will narrow the number of searches carried out and increase your chances of catching those same searches.

You could finance a Pay-per-click ad words campaign on that specific search, or you could simply optimise your website to attract more hits. Here are some tips on how to do that:

Use your chosen, specific and targeted key words frequently on your website to increase your site’s relevance to that product: Google will recognise this and place your site higher in its search results. Don’t use too many keywords or meta-tags as Google frowns upon what it now views as keyword “spamming”.

URLs are useful and important, if relevant. Instead of calling a web page simply “about us”, use the page title to describe what you do: instead of say, “redballoons” consider “red-balloons-in-wiltshire” as the unique part of your url.

Also, meta titles – the text which you see before the browser name in your browser window – are important and recognised by search engines as relevant: consider entitling each page.

Backlinks are important for SEO: the more backlinks which a website has, the more relevant search engines consider it. At the most basic level, the more pages which a website has linking back to its home page, the more backlinks there are. So add pages to your site: FAQ, About Us, Products, Services and so on: the more “branch” pages a site has, the more backlinks there are by default.

Another way to create backlinks and increase the relevance of a website is to sign up to online directories. Some request that the linking be mutual but not all and those that do merely add credibility to your site because they have “chosen” to list you, as far as your customers are concerned.

Keep your website regularly updated with a news page or blog, or both: a constantly updated or evolving website is looked upon favourably by Google as being relevant. In the same vein, add and amend pages so that when the bots or spiders crawl, they see updated content and report it back, increasing your relevance. Link back to your main site with blogs on WordPress, blogger and so on and report updates to your blog on your main site and via social networking tools, such as Fecabook and Twitter.

Onto social networking then: Facebook and Twitter are the best known tools but there are others. Join them all (StumbledUpon, Digg etc.) They will all increase your site’s visibility. Some tips on the main two though:

Create a Facebook account for your company and a group. Every time you create a news article or blog entry, post on your company Facebook page, invite people to join your group and regularly update that group’s members on updates. Send direct messages to those members and post on your wall. Join Facebook groups and do the same: it may take a while but it will work.

Twitter: follow people or organisations whom you consider relevant to your business. They will invariably reciprocate. Set your Twitter account to automatically follow those who follow you. Set an auto-respond message within your twitter account which gets “Tweeted” automatically to new followers.

When Tweeting, don’t just Tweet about your company and its offerings: Tweet about relevant or even random things. People look for interesting things and follow those who are most interesting. A good tip is to Tweet “streams” of local or relevant information, with a final Tweet about your company: hook them with interesting stuff before delivering your message. Vary your subject matter, as Twitter viewers have “watch words”: they’ll get an alert that a word has been used and then follow the Tweeter who used that key phrase.

Tweet about current events, as Google has a live news feed on current affairs which takes feeds from Twitter. If you Tweet often enough, Google will view you as a source.

As well as mass-media social networks, join the more “professional” ones such as LinkedIn: this allows for making contacts beyond the purely social sites. LinkedIn will allow Twitter updates for example to be propagated through their network and your profile.

Finally, write learned articles for professional websites which your peers may seek advice from: if you yourself are an expert in your field, you and your organisation will gain gravitas from having contributed to the online business community. Search engines will recognise these contributions too.

Social networking for business and Search Engine Optimisation can easily be an out-sourced operation but hopefully, this article will present some ideas on how to retain an in-house process. Until that function becomes a full-time concern, why employ someone else?

The author of this article is Founder and CEO of London Print Brokers and is responsible for SEO and online marketing strategy. We have successfully implemented all of the above and have gained additional sales and an improved Google ranking as a result.

London Print Brokers are a Business Process Out-sourced complete print procurement solution. London Print Brokers act as an out-sourced sales solution to trade-only suppliers. Those suppliers maintain low overheads by – among other means – not employing dedicated sales staff of their own: they out-source sales on a part-time basis to London Print Brokers. London Print Brokers then represent a “collective” of printers, who together offer a complete print solution.

Traditionally, print buyers would buy – for example – business cards from one supplier, brochures from another and large-format graphics from yet another. To free up their customers’ resources and save them having to shop around, London Print Brokers do it for them: all in one place. As well as providing a one-stop managed print solution, London Print Brokers’ customers use them for many other things:

A complex project, which would normally involve several suppliers with different areas of expertise for printing, for example: customers can free up their resources to concentrate on that project and out-source the printing to London Print Brokers. If a customer is exhibiting at a show or fair, they can concentrate on the logistics and leave the printing of business cards, exhibition graphics and stands, leaflets and flyers to London Print Brokers.

The print industry is so varied and diverse that no individual print company could hope to serve the entire market competitively. They’d have down time on their presses and so on. London Print Brokers have taken a number of trade-only print companies, with diverse equipment able to serve the whole market, packaged it up and brought it to the market as a one-stop, managed print solution.

07/04/10: London Print Brokers is now Optimus Print Solutions. Visit our new website here.

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What is a print broker and what do they do?

February 9, 2010

In much the same way that other commodities can be brokered (insurance, mortgages, pensions etc.), so too can print: that’s what print brokers or managers do.

They act as an out-sourced sales solution to their trade-only suppliers. Those suppliers maintain low overheads by – among other means – not employing dedicated sales staff of their own: they out-source sales on a part-time basis to print management companies. Those companies then represent a “collective” of printers, who together offer a complete printing solution.

Traditionally, you’d buy business cards from one supplier, brochures from another and large-format graphics from yet another. To free up their resources and save them having to shop around, many customers employ companies do it for them: all in one place.

For example?

As well as providing a one-stop solution, management companies are used for many other things:

A complex project, which would normally involve several suppliers with different areas of expertise? Free up your resources to concentrate on that project and out-source the printing to a service provider.

Exhibiting at a show or fair? Similarly, concentrate on the logistics and leave the printing of business cards, exhibition graphics and stands, leaflets and flyers to a Brokerage.

Print brokers don’t have any printing presses?

No. They are management companies, utilising the varied and diverse equipment of their equally varied and diverse supplier base. they’re just like a huge print company which can produce anything that their customers require: they represent the entire industry.

The industry is so varied and diverse that no individual printer could hope to serve the entire market competitively. They’d have down time on their presses and so on. Print brokers take a number of trade-only suppliers, with diverse equipment able to serve the whole market, package it up and bring it to the market as a complete solution.

Is this a new market niche?

Print brokers and managers have been around for a while. In fact, some of the most successful companies in the industry don’t have any presses of their own.

How can a print manager or broker be the cheapest, quickest and most environmentally friendly, as they often claim?

They scour the market for their customers to get the best deal. They make sure that each project is produced on the most appropriate equipment and because they have a wide ranging supplier base, they have access to just about any printing press you’d care to think of. No individual printing company would be able to address every printing need but brokers can, through their diverse supply chain. They keep prices down by using trade-only suppliers and maintaining low overheads of their own. Their extensive supply base means that they can always find the right supplier for the job: this benefits their suppliers by making a contribution to their overhead and it benefits their customers because of the reduced rates which they are able to acquire printing for.

Often though, a customer requirement will be very specialised or time-sensitive. In these instances, price is not necessarily the primary concern.

In these instances, a print broker’s customers will approach them because they don’t know where else to go. They could undertake a lengthy search for the most appropriate suppliers but to free up their resources, they employ a management firm. As well as a general print management service, these companies are able to offer a service wherein their supply base allows them to provide pretty much anything, any time. They’re print managers and exist as an out-sourced procurement service to their customers.

Who are print managers’ customers?

Their customers include individuals, members of the public, sole traders, small, medium and large companies; government departments, local authorities and charities.

In any case – whether sole trader or multi-national corporation – each of their customers are equally important to them and customers use print managers or brokers for the service which an out-sourced supplier can provide in procuring their printing.

How do print brokers make money?

As a business, a print broking company naturally needs to remain a profitable concern. They maintain low overheads by not having their own printing equipment, among other means. They procure goods on behalf of their customers through trade-only suppliers who have low overheads themselves: they don’t employ sales staff (they out-source that operation to management companies) and they occupy premises in geographical areas where business rates are competitive (typically out-of-town).

Print brokers apply a modest margin to their trade purchasing prices and their prices to the end-line user are representative of those which their customers would find in the commercial market; often less so. A managed or brokered printing service is value-added and a print manger or broker’s diverse supplier base allows them to be a one-stop solution to their customers, saving those customers the cost and resource of employing a dedicated buyer.

Who are a print broker’s competitors?

Commercial printers and High Street-based print shops. Neither do what the other does but print management companies offer what both do and more besides. A print broker’s managed print solution means that they can offer their competitors’ services in one basket; often at a reduced cost.

How can print management companies be better than traditional printers?

Many traditional print companies try to offer the one-stop solution which print brokers do but they have higher overheads. Therefore, all non-core business which they outsource will come at a premium. They also don’t have the resources to have researched their non-core business market thoroughly enough, nor usually sufficient staff to offer the level of service which a dedicated management company offers on out-sourced work. Print managers and brokers are dedicated to a constant awareness of the market and the changes therein, to consistently offer their customers the best printing solution.

Because they out-source all of their customers’ projects, the print broker’s internal resources are free to manage their customers’ printing for them.

Why don’t customers deal directly with a management company’s suppliers?

Because print brokers’ suppliers only deal with the trade (managers and brokers). If they were to deal directly with customers, they would need to employ sales staff and incur the salaries and indirect costs associated therewith. They can’t justify such an expense with their individual, specific offerings, so they out-source their sales on a part-time basis to print brokers, along with other suppliers offering different goods and services.

Why wouldn’t a print broker’s suppliers approach a customer directly?

Because they don’t have dedicated sales people and employ printing management companies in that function. From a print manager or broker’s point of view, if any of their suppliers were to adopt such a practice, they would deny themselves the other leads which might otherwise be introduced to them.

Who is responsible for “managed” printing?

The print management company are: even though they’re print managers – middle men – the buck has to stop somewhere and as far as the customer is concerned, that buck stops with the service provider. Otherwise customers may as well deal directly with the manager or broker’s suppliers and for reasons given above, they really don’t want to do that. Brokers provide a complete managed print service, which extends to total responsibility for customers’ printing: they can approve proofs on-press, so that customers don’t have to; advise on pre-flighting customer files and are ultimately responsible for their customers’ printing and all that’s entailed therein.

Why would a customer deal with a broker and not a “traditional” printing company?

Because print managers and brokers represent a one-stop solution for all of a customer’s printing needs. Rather than shop around many printers for the best deal and most appropriate production medium, print brokers do that for their customers.

London Print Brokers are a Business Process Out-sourced complete print procurement solution.

London Print Brokers act as an out-sourced sales solution to trade-only suppliers. Those suppliers maintain low overheads by – among other means – not employing dedicated sales staff of their own: they out-source sales on a part-time basis to London Print Brokers. London Print Brokers then represent a “collective” of printers, who together offer a complete print solution.

Traditionally, print buyers would buy – for example – business cards from one supplier, brochures from another and large-format graphics from yet another. To free up their customers’ resources and save them having to shop around, London Print Brokers do it for them: all in one place.

As well as providing a one-stop managed print solution, London Print Brokers’ customers use them for many other things:

A complex project, which would normally involve several suppliers with different areas of expertise for printing, for example: customers can free up their resources to concentrate on that project and out-source the printing to London Print Brokers.

If a customer is exhibiting at a show or fair, they can concentrate on the logistics and leave the printing of business cards, exhibition graphics and stands, leaflets and flyers to London Print Brokers.

The print industry is so varied and diverse that no individual print company could hope to serve the entire market competitively. They’d have down time on their presses and so on. London Print Brokers have taken a number of trade-only print companies, with diverse equipment able to serve the whole market, packaged in up and brought it to the market as a one-stop managed print solution.

07/04/10: London Print Brokers is now Optimus Print Solutions. Visit our new website here.

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The Benefits of Video Marketing

February 9, 2010

If a company has a product or service which is difficult to convey with a brief phone call, they’re clearly not going to win business from traditional sales calls. It will also be a challenge to arrange a face-to-face meeting or presentation.

So, a potential customer whom a company may approach – if they don’t understand that company’s business model – needs to be enlightened as to what that company does, in order to realise the benefits which the company can represent to them. Websites explain a lot but most people don’t have time to read into the concept in that much depth.

A more efficient way of conveying a message is face-to-face but sellers need to appreciate that many prospects simply don’t have the time for sales representatives to pay them a visit. So, record a video and post it on your website: that way, whenever a potential customer doesn’t have time to meet you, or thinks that they may not benefit from your services, recommend that they watch your video. Many will and subsequently become customers.

Upload your video to YouTube, create a company channel and promote both.

Having a video online is the next best thing to making a face-to-face presentation to a prospective customer. Companies who have adopted the practice are finding that often the former leads to the latter and when they meet prospects in person, it’s as though they know them already.

As well as a general introduction, record videos which explain individual products and services. Group all of the videos together on your company channel and the whole thing acts as a FAQ. Market the channel through conventional means and social networking, build a following and win business!

London Print Brokers are a Business Process Out-sourced complete print procurement solution.

We act as an out-sourced sales solution to trade-only suppliers. Those suppliers out-source sales on a part-time basis to us. We then represent a “collective” of printers, who together offer a complete print solution.

07/04/10: London Print Brokers is now Optimus Print Solutions. Visit our new website here.

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Symbiosis in Business (Out-sourcing and Re-selling)

February 9, 2010

Symbiosis is a term better known in the realms of Biology, where it refers to two entities mutually dependant upon one another. It is a term which can also be increasingly applied to business though, with a whole industry of middle-men in prevalance: Managers, Consultants and Brokers of goods and services. Managing, Consulting and Broking companies represent a business sector which can be advantageous to both suppliers and consumers, especially in times of economic uncertainty. This article sets out to explain the three-tier business model of suppliers and manufacturers out-sourcing business processes to organisations who then re-sell products and services to consumers.

A good analogy of the service industry – which comprises roughly 80% of the UK economy – is a restaurant: there is a kitchen in the background, with chefs producing food. There are consumers of that food but the kitchen staff do not deliver the food to the diners: that is the job of the Waiters. The waiters are the visible presence.

Another is a car dealership, where a consumer will buy their new or used vehicle from an agent and not the people who actually put the car together.

The service industry – that of Management, Consulting and Broking companies, for example – works in roughly the same way. Managers, Consultants and Brokers (like Waiters and car dealerships) can be thought of as “middle-men”: those that deliver the goods and services of others from a source of origination.

These middle-men deal in tangible and intangible products: manufactured and imported goods; stocks, shares and other financial products, such as insurance. The latter has come to promenance in recent times with the rise of price-comparison websites. These companies and their websites are excellent examples of re-selling the products and services of others, who have chosen to out-source a business process: sales in this instance.

Business Process Out-sourcing (BPOS) is simply part of a three-tier business model, where producers of goods and services out-source a business process to a third party to reduce costs. These out-sourced processes can be accounting, marketing, IT, telecoms or sales. This article is concentrating on the latter but can equally apply to any process to demonstrate the concept.

By out-sourcing sales, a manufacturer of tangible goods or intangible products eliminates the salary – and sometimes commission – and indirect costs of in-house sales staff. This is the most obvious benefit to the producer (the chefs in the restaurant analogy above).

The middle-men, the re-sellers, Managers, Consultants and Brokers of that manufacturer’s goods then package them up with those of other producers and offer a one-stop solution to the consumer: the waiters serving the diners in the restaurant analogy.

The benefits of being a re-seller are that those Management, Consulting and Broking companies acting as the middle-men have virtually no overheads of their own – especially in the manufacturing industry – as they have no capital commitment on equipment.

The benefit to the consumer is that they don’t have to scour a diverse market for various goods. Instead, they can employ a service-provider to effectively be their personal shopper, whilst they themselves concentrate on their core business and responsibilities. This increases the efficiency of the consumer because they have effectively out-sourced a business process in the form of buying goods and services to a middle-man.

So “middle men” are often dispelled as being unneccessary but Managers, Consultants and Brokers are exactly the middle-men who benefit both producers and consumers, often reducing costs (certainly indirectly) and improving efficiency, whilst at the same time maintaining the competitiveness of markets.

There are still many examples of a two-party transactional business relationship, wherein the consumer buys direct but the three-tier model is more prevalent than many people realise.

Certainly as far as producers and Brokers are concerned, there is a symbiotic relationship: the two are co-dependant and neither need to be exclusive to the other. The producer can use the services of many out-sourced sales agents and the broker can offer the services of many producers to the consumer, or end-line buyer.

Symbiosis is the basis of the author’s company: London Print Brokers are an out-sourced sales process for their trade-only suppliers and a one-stop procurement solution to their customers.

07/04/10: London Print Brokers is now Optimus Print Solutions. Visit our new website here.

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Free Business Cards!

February 8, 2010

After our latest marketing campaign several potential customers became new ones when they tried us out. They tried us out on pricing firstly and were pleasantly enlightened by the rates which we were able to offer. One or two found cheaper prices for individual products on the internet but used us because we use tried and tested trade suppliers and therefore guarantee a top quality product.

Our regular account customers no longer go to the trouble of researching prices because they appreciate the overall value-added service that we provide and the direct and indirect financial savings associated therewith.

While individual products can sometimes be found cheaper on the Internet, invariably they’re from specialist companies who “batch print” or “gang print” and therefore offer limited substrates. With these companies, all pre-press is the responsibility of the customer and there is usually no means of contacting a human by telephone.

At London Print Brokers, we check your files to ensure that they’re print-ready; we provide a human face by assigning you an account manager and we use tried and tested trade-only suppliers to guarantee top quality. We do have batch printers among our suppliers but we generally offer bespoke solutions at affordable prices.

For example, 250 business cards printed litho (most online business cards are digital) full colour both sides on 400gsm are only £29! But you can have them for free!*

Just try us out with a quote during February and every one that becomes an order of £500 value or more will be delivered with your free business cards.*

And it’s now even easier to get a quote by filling in our new quote form. Of course, you can still email us or call 020 3287 8500 if you prefer.

*Terms and conditions: 250 free business cards with all orders over £500. Payment must be made at time of order to qualify for free business cards. Offer ends 28th February 2010.

07/04/10: London Print Brokers is now Optimus Print Solutions. Visit our new website here.

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