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Personal

Touch

Use social media to get close

to your customers

traffic

Control

Proven tips to strengthen

email marketing and drive

visitors to your website

Your products. Your colleagues. Your business.

Riding

Waves

California Office

Systems turns

employee dedication

into customer satisfaction

ten

A

AUG

DEC

11

08

TECHNOLOGY EXECUTIVE NEWS


IF YOU CAN EMAIL IT,

YOU CAN PRINT IT. *

HP OFFICEJET PRO

8500A e-All-in-Ones

©2011 Hewlett-Packard Development Company, L.P. *Requires an Internet connection to the printer. Feature works with any Internet- and e-mail-capable device. Print times may vary. For a list of supported documents

and image types, see www.hp.com/go/ePrintCenter.

B August 2011

INTRODUCING ePRINT FROM HP.

Now, HP’s new web-connected printers have

a unique e-mail address, giving you the freedom

to print from wherever business happens. If you can

e-mail it, you can print it! No need to hook up to your

PC. The world is your offi ce. Welcome to the HP

ePrint revolution.*


In the Box

10 Between

pErsonAl toUCh

3

thE linE on ...

24

niChE mArkEt

26

E-solUtions

For bUsinEss

20

As GooD As nEw

16

riDinG wAvEs

FeaTures

DeParTMenTs

32

minD yoUr

bUsinEss

36

GrEAt

rEsoUrCEs

44

thE FinAl worD

Out of the Box

ten

Social

Studies

pressures from customers

moving online, and the draw

of the latest big-box initiatives,

independents need to stand out

as never before. One of the best

ways to succeed in the face of growing

competition is to seriously ramp

up involvement with social media.

That’s because understanding and

using what’s being said about your

business online is the foundation to

marketing success. Your chances of

making an emotional connection with

customers improve immeasurably

when social media is added to your

marketing mix.

While 14 percent of

people trust ads, 76

percent of people trust

consumer recommendations

for purchase

decisions.

Social media marketing employs

a trust model similar to word of mouth,

which has resulted in phenomenal

success. Studies reveal that while 14

percent of people trust ads, 76 percent

of people trust consumer recommendations

for purchase decisions.

When you build an online community

of loyal users, you gain customer

mindshare, strengthen brand identity,

and become the source of their

own news. When you take a step into

the world of social media, you’ll get

people talking about your products,

announcements, and content. With

those benefits, it’s easy to see why

companies increasingly are adopting

social media marketing.

Kevin Bowman

VP Sales

Azerty, A Division of United Stationers Supply

1


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The Line On...

| ... news | ... office products | ... tech | ... Jansan | ... breakroom | ... Furniture | ... kudos |

GO GREEN, GET GREEN!

... tech

Green CyCle is a Great new CartridGe reCyClinG

proGram from United stationers. Approximately

100 million new toner cartridges are produced each

year and our Green Cycle program provides an environmentally

responsible solution for empty ink and toner cartridges

your customers generate, while helping you earn top dollar. Green

Cycle also helps reduce the consumption of fossil fuels needed to

produce the plastic in each cartridge.

All of the materials collected through our Green

Cycle program are either reused or recycled.

When your customers recycle their

empty cartridges, they can help

save nearly 4 million cubic feet of

landfill space. And recycling with

Green Cycle could not be easier.

Customers fill pre-supplied

Our cartridge recycling program can earn you top dollar

shipping boxes with used laser, fax, ink, and copier cartridges. Once

full, customers can return the boxes to you or ship them directly to our

recycling center using the pre-paid UPS shipping label.

Green Cycle pays maximum market value for cartridges with a

rapid payment program to get money in your hands as soon as possible!

Resellers who participate in the program receive a fee for each qualifying

cartridge returned. Green Cycle pays top dollar for empties as

pricing is updated monthly based upon demand and market trends. And

payments are made rapidly; resellers receive a check six to eight weeks

after their empties are returned.

Green Cycle is replacing Link 360 with many enhancements;

all Link 360 participants will be automatically registered for

Green Cycle.

GO GREEN Contact your Azerty sales rep today to sign up and start

earning cash for your empties!

ten

3


The Line On ...

4 August 2011

... Furniture

FURNITURE

FOCUS

Alera furniture

earns GREENGUARD

Certification

ContinUinG siGnifiCant

improvements to the alera

fUrnitUre line, United

stationers fUrnitUre division

annoUnCed that its entire

alera fUrnitUre line is

GreeenGUard Certified for

indoor air QUality. This

certification identifies goods,

such as furniture, with low

chemical and particle emissions

for use indoors.

Governing the integrity of

the certification process, The

GREENGUARD Environmental

Institute rigorously tests products

for more than 10,000 volatile organic compounds. Certified products

emit the fewest possible chemicals into the indoor environment; are

suitable for use in environments where children and others work, play,

or reside; and contribute to the creation of healthier interiors.

... tech

TECH TRIALS

While printer sales were

generally down in April,

there were a few bright

spots in the market

there was some Growth in

printer sales volUme dUrinG

april 2011, bUt revenUes

deClined almost aCross the

board. Here are the latest market

details as reported in the most

recent Printer Market Pulse from The NPD Group.

Unit sales in the single-function mono laser printer segment increased

14 percent in April 2011, while revenue dropped 10 percent

from April 2010. In March, the category experienced a 14 percent

increase in revenue with a 2 percent drop in unit sales. Once again, HP

and Lexmark lead the category in year-over-year unit growth rates.

April 2011 unit sales in the single-function color laser segment

increased 8 percent, and revenue was up 7 percent over April 2010.

Four of the top six brands posted year-over-year improvements in unit

volume: HP (up 15 percent), Lexmark (up 51 percent), Brother (up

9 percent), and Ricoh (up 13 percent). HP held eight out of the top ten

“Receiving this esteemed

certification is a momentous

event in the history of the Alera

line,” said Geneva Savage, brand

manager of United Stationers Furniture

Division. “As an important

differentiator in today’s increasingly

health-conscious marketplace,

this certification will give dealers

a tremendous advantage in the

bidding process, helping to

expand their market share.”

The Alera furniture portfolio

has more than 20 product lines

with styles ranging from traditional

to contemporary. Its broad

range of more than 600 SKUs

includes office suites, desk chairs,

conference and training tables,

bookcases, storage cabinets,

pedestal desks, reception furniture,

and wire furniture and

shelving. All Alera products are

in stock for immediate delivery,

are backed by a five-year warranty, and meet ANSI/BIFMA standards.

BREATHE EASY For more information about Alera furniture, contact your Azerty sales rep.

unit share spots with its LaserJet

Pro CP1525NW leading with a unit

share of 14.6 percent and an

average price of $197.

The MFP mono laser segment

was up 6 percent in unit sales for

April 2011, while revenue was

down 4 percent. Only three of the

top six brands posted positive

year-over-year unit increases, including

HP (up 27 percent), Samsung

(up 217 percent), and Xerox

(up 45 percent).

Unit sales for the multifunction

color laser segment for the month of April increased 36 percent over

last April, while revenue was up 42 percent. All top-six brands posted a

year-over-year revenue increase, including HP (up 45 percent), Lexmark

(up 165 percent), Brother (up 20 percent), Xerox (up 3 percent), Canon

(up 93 percent), and Okidata (up 62 percent).

The MFP inkjet category decreased its year-over-year unit sales in

April 2011 by 23 percent, while revenue dropped 36 percent.

GET THE FACTS For more information on NPD Research Reports, send an e-mail to

Jana.Munford@npd.com.


looks

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on

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An ink cartridge that does it all.

Expect vibrant, color-perfect prints with our OEM-quality ink cartridges.

Extensive quality control processes ensure each Innovera cartridge

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Innovera remanufactured cartridges helps prevent more than 60,000

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ten

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The Line On ...

6 August 2011

... technology

... Furniture

SUmmER SEATING

Introducing New HON seating that’s

perfectly priced for any office

United stationers and the hon Company are teaminG Up to

brinG United’s resellers a variety of refreshinG, stylish, and

attraCtive mesh Chairs jUst in time for the heat of sUmmer.

All of these chairs will be stocked beginning July 2011 and will be

cataloged beginning in 2012.

Two chairs will be exclusive to United through the end of the year.

The BSX VL702MM10 is a curvy, mesh high-back designed to complement

the Basyx VL700 family; this chair lists for $439. And the BSX

VL573VB10 is a sleek, high-back mesh chair that looks great next to its

mid-back counterpart, the BSXVL571; it’s attractively priced at $321 list.

Four more chairs—sure-to-be-superstars—are being stocked

beginning July 2011:

The VL300 nesting chairs are available with or without arms and are

the perfect addition to training rooms. Casters and a flip-up seat make

portability and storage a snap. Easy on the eyes and on the wallet, this

pair is ready for introduction to the market at winning list prices—BSX

VL301MM10 with arms lists for $270, and BSX VL302MM10 without

arms lists for $260.

Nucleus is a multifunction work chair, which uses unique materials

and innovative construction to deliver surprising comfort without bulky

padding. The back features multidirectional stretch mesh that provides

lumbar support exactly where you need it. This contemporary chair

supports up to 300 pounds and is backed by HON’s limited lifetime

warranty. United is bringing this chair to you in two color options: the

black mesh back with a black upholstered seat (HON N1AHIMNT10SB),

and a fog mesh back with black upholstered seat (HON N1AHIFNT10SB).

Both chairs list for $759 each.

TECH ENVY

Three reasons to take another look at Innovera

innovera has been known for hiGh-QUality standards and

exCeptional CUstomer serviCe sinCe its inCeption. Innovera is

the value leader with core technology accessories and compatibles

manufactured to OEM standards and backed with best-in-class warranty

and support.

Now you can look to Innovera for a number of additional advantages:

1. Beginning July 1, most of the top 50 percent of Innovera SKUs by

volume sold by United Stationers will have new lower pricing; many

other items will also have lower prices.

2. The industry’s broadest product offering will be expanded further.

3. All Innovera products will be made available next day through

United’s Wrap & Label distribution program.

SELL MORE Call your Azerty sales rep today for more information on the Innovera line.

A UNITED STATIONERS WHOLESALE EXCLUSIVE!

$439

BSX VL702MM10

GET STARTED Talk to your Azerty sales rep to add these great chairs to your furniture

offering.


FELLOWES

1

ten

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The Line On ...

8 August 2011

... tech

mPS mADE EASY

United Managed Print Service

launches HQueue Basic

United’s manaGed print serviCe has laUnChed

hQUeUe basiC, a UniQUe proGram in the

marketplaCe that provides aCCess to the

indUstry-leadinG hQUeUe software platform

in a flexible, easy-to-Understand, sUpport

and deploy paCkaGe. It provides the unique

ability for resellers to monitor their customers’ print/

copier fleet and deliver supplies or services as they

do today.

With HQueue Basic, resellers will have complete

visibility to their customers’ print and copier environment.

HQueue Basic doesn’t include automatic toner

fulfillment or service, but resellers are still able to

maintain full control of their customers’ experience

while supporting them with the toner and services

of their choice.

In addition, resellers have an easy migration

path to full HQueue Managed Print without having

to introduce new software. Resellers can take control

of their customers’ print environment, monitor it, start

supporting it with supply deliveries as they do today,

and over time introduce a full managed print solution

if so desired.

MONITOR THE FLEET Please contact your Azerty sales representative

for additional details.

... Furniture

BUSINESS BUNDLES

Furniture Division offers resellers

a new turnkey office suite program

United stationers fUrnitUre division has Collaborated with bUsh bUsiness

fUrnitUre to offer resellers a nUmber of preConfiGUred offiCe sUites

Combined with an easy orderinG proCess. This high-margin program is easy

to sell and eliminates reseller concerns about delivery, installation, follow-up, or other

post-sales issues.

The program features several popular and proven modular office suites that have

been pre-configured and are offered as single-SKU bundles. Pre-configured choices

remove specification work from the sales process and simplify the selection process

for the customer. The program includes a wide variety of commercial-grade furniture

choices covering multiple styles as well as individual workstations, and all are offered

at attractive prices with built-in margins for the reseller.

Nationwide delivery and installation are key components, and the reseller doesn’t

need to get involved with any of the details. Two options are offered at different price

levels. With delivery only, product is delivered to the threshold. (Note that on large

orders of three or more bundles, delivery will be to the room of choice.) Delivery with

installation includes—in a single visit—delivery to room of choice, product setup and

placement, waste removal, product wipe-down, and leveling.

This new offering can open new markets for resellers as it targets new consumer

and geographic segments. The pre-configured suites are well-suited for small business

customers, especially end users who need a simple, fast, and affordable furniture

solution. This furniture is perfect for start-ups, growing businesses, and relocations, as well

as remote offices or home offices, which can take resellers into the residential market.

Delivery typically occurs within five to seven business days, and delivery with

installation is usually nine to 12 days after entry of your order. The program covers all zip

codes within the continental United States, although some remote zip codes may require

additional lead time.

“This turnkey program not only streamlines the specification process for resellers,

but also offers easy-to-understand and flexible options for customers,” said Melinda

Myers, director of marketing for United Stationers Furniture Division. “It enables resellers

to sell and service customers both in and outside of their local areas, potentially expanding

their reach and market share.”

EXPAND SALES Talk to your Azerty sales rep for more details on this innovative new program.


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9


Personal

Touch

Social media offer the opportunity to get

closer to your customers

oday, 93 percent of all B2B markets

are engaged in social media marketing,

according to a BtoB.com 2011

survey of 577 marketers. It revealed

LinkedIn as the most-used channel,

employed by 72 percent of survey

respondents, with Facebook (71

percent) and Twitter (67 percent)

being nearly as popular. Together,

these three form the core of most B2B

marketers’ social media programs,

with other online destinations such as YouTube and blogging somewhere

in the mix. At this rate, it follows that today’s independent business products

resellers looking for new marketing channels might seriously consider integrating

social media into their marketing plans. Defining it and learning how

others are applying it to their businesses are the first steps to take.

Improve Customer Interaction

The goal of social media marketing for business is to interact with customers

and prospects to generate kinship between those two groups and your

organization. This relationship can help drive purchases, purchase intent,

or loyalty to generate more revenue and customers, according to Jay Baer,

president, Convince & Convert, Bloomington, Ind., and author of The Now

Revolution. “Social media allows that to happen. There is always that notion

that you want to try to build a rapport with people because, once established,

the chance that they will either purchase from you or refer you to

someone else goes up considerably,” says Baer. “That can be a challenge

because companies haven’t historically acted like people. Now business

10 August 2011


ten

11


owners are being told to ‘take your company and act

like a person,’ which is sometimes a tough concept

to get your head around.”

“Social media marketing is all about a concept

I call ‘sideways marketing,’” says Loren McDonald,

vice president, industry relations, Silverpop, Atlanta.

“That idea opens up opportunities for your customers—or

prospects and fans—to actually market to

each other on your behalf.” For example, a prospect

asks a question looking for feedback about your

business products company. What you really want

is for one of your satisfied customers—or fans—to

jump into that conversation and talk about how great

your company is, what great service and value you

provide, and let the community do the selling for you,

says McDonald.

How to Use Social media

“Our Facebook postings aren’t always sales-based,” says Ted Walter,

president, Complete Office CA, Poway, Calif. “Often there might be

no connection to a product or solution that we offer, but just more

12 August 2011

informative content, such as our

social involvement within the

community or timely information

that would be of value to

our followers.” What differentiates

traditional unsolicited email

blasts and a Facebook posting is

that social media followers make

the decision to stay connected

and form more of an intimate

relationship with your company,

Walter explains.

Schwegman’s Office Supply,

Batesville, Ark., features manufacturers’

videos on its Facebook

page, says owner Robin King. “One month we ran a vendor’s video on

recycling milk jugs into packaging materials, while near a Christmas

holiday we posted a crafting video on ways to dress up ornaments and

cards,” says King. “We’ve also initiated trivia contests on Facebook.

This allows customers to engage in a more personal relationship

with us. It’s not just a brand pushing out one-way, sales-related

UNLIkE EMAIL RECIPIENTS, SOCIAL MEDIA

FOLLOWERS DECIDE TO STAY CONNECTED

AND FORM AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP

WITH YOUR COMPANY.


information,” adds King.

“Our Facebook postings are designed to let our customers see

the personal side of our company,” says Robin Baxley, owner, Best

Office Solutions, Waynesboro, Ga. Best is located in a rural community;

within that setting, it made sense for employees to promote the

company on their personal Facebook pages. “This way, it didn’t take

long to create a company following. We ran a contest and had our

employees refer to it on their own Facebook pages. It was a very successful

effort,” she says. “We’ve also created a Straight Off the Desk Of

series of YouTube videos.” Videos showcase a favorite office product

of a Best employee. The employee gives a product testimonial, which

links to a product demonstration that outlines benefits and features,

explains Baxley.

Establishing Social marketing Goals

When determining social media marketing goals, you really need to

tie objectives to your marketing plan, explains Laura Gayle, United’s

vice president of marketing. “To help resellers better understand

the process, United is launching a Social Media Tool Kit that will

be offered through our dealer training unit,” she says (see Great

Resources, page 36). This training module includes a series of videos

that will act as a primer to help resellers determine how these social

media tools actually fit into their marketing programs, says Gayle.

“It will ask all the pertinent questions—What is your goal? Are you

wanting to raise brand awareness? Do you want to promote certain

products or build brand loyalty?”

We look at our goals in two different ways, explains Staci Korske,

marketing coordinator, New England Office Supply, Braintree, Mass.

“We have general social media goals, and we have specific goals for

each social media platform,” she says. “In general, our goals include

competitive differentiation, growth, brand awareness, relationship

building, and increasing traffic to our website, while our Facebook

and blogging goals are designed around providing value.”

Establishing a viable social media marketing plan initially comes

from the standpoint of helpfulness, says Baer. “Can you answer questions

about business products on LinkedIn, on Twitter, on Facebook,

or on a blog? Can you create a series of educational materials that

show people the best ways to shop for these kinds of products, the

right questions to ask, or tips and troubleshooting advice to help customers

instead of turning social media into a commercial?” he asks.

“Social media marketing doesn’t generate instant return as might an

ad that people reply to with an order—or quid pro quo. It’s more quid,

then a bunch of other stuff happens, and then comes quo,” says Baer.

Building the Right Content

“Leveraging your social media content is a trial-and-error process,”

says Mandy Pusatera, director, eMarketing and social networking, The

Highlands Group, Atlanta. Customers in the Midwest, for example,

might react differently to a video than customers in the Southeast.

“Once you figure out who your target market is and how they might

our Facebook

postings are

designed to let

our customers

see the personal

side of our

company.

— robin baxley

best office solutions

respond, then you’ll have a better idea of what you should be posting,”

says Pusatera. The resulting content should follow a general

profile of gaining trust and making personal connections by providing

information people can use to better their businesses.

“Social media forces companies to be more human, more

personal, and personable—more transparent,” says McDonald.

“It has made them drop the corporate speak and actually have

real humans behind their ‘faceless’ messages.” It’s a real employee

answering incoming questions on LinkedIn, having a dialogue on

Twitter, or engaging in conversation through Facebook, he continues.

Furthermore, the best content isn’t content that marketing teams

create around the conference table. The best content comes from

a happy customer posting a positive story about what a great experience

they had with your company, and you’re capturing that content

and redistributing it to a much larger audience,” says McDonald.

“The messaging is different,” says Korske, “as is the way the

content is projected.” Instead of just featuring a product in a weekly

email, you can now inject your own opinion about the product,

sharing any personal experiences you may have had with it, she says.

“At the same time, you can start a conversation by asking if anyone

else has tried the product and what their opinion of it might be.”

making It Personal

Unlike traditional marketing communication channels that allow

specific messages to be distributed to specific audiences, social

media’s capability to do the same is somewhat limited. But it has its

own advantages over traditional methods. “It’s very difficult using

traditional marketing to hit the same number of users, fans, or people

who are connected to you through social media,” says Walter. If you’re

doing a good job of keeping your content fresh and compelling, you’ll

create demand for others to follow or stay connected,” he says.

“Marketing is getting to be a little more fun through social media

because it’s gotten a little more personal,” says Baxley. “We consistently

distribute the flyers United furnishes to get product information

ten

13


out into the marketplace. But, at the same time, we’re developing

a relationship with our customers through social media because we

truly care about them,” she says. “We feel if we help them become

successful, we will be successful,” states Baxley. On the back end,

Gayle says that United monitors a number of social media streams to

hear what’s being said about the company. “In the event that there is

something out there we need to address, we can intercept those comments

and get them off public conversation right away,” she states.

“With social media, people who don’t work for your company

could be promoting your brand message,” says Baer. It’s harder

to segment your audience using social media, according to Baer,

because social media marketing is more like indirect marketing.

“I call it ‘tapping into the opportunity economy,’ which is not direct

selling, but it could still lead to a sale,” he says. For example, if you’re

‘listening’ on any of the social media platforms and discover someone

saying that they are moving their business to your city, you could

jump into the conversation and offer to help find a new location for

them and casually mention that you sell business products, says Baer.

Tracking and running social media reports can be achieved using

a variety of available programs, according to Pusatera. HootSuite

lets you post to multiple social networks at once, including Facebook

and Twitter, using the HootSuite dashboard. It also generates custom

reports that track brand sentiment and follower growth, and incorporates

Facebook Insights and Google Analytics, all without leaving

the dashboard, according to HootSuite.com. “Bit.ly is also a great

site for tracking how many times your posts were clicked on,” says

Pusatera. “The provider that we’re using for our blog actually has

14 August 2011

Our office is moving to Chicago, need to look for new furniture.

Looking for furniture for our new offices in Chicago.

Chicago is Great! Did you know I sell office furniture, I can help.

metrics built in,” says Korske, “so we’re able to see the number of

viewers, subscribers, and new visits that we have to our website.

We use Google Analytics to see what kind of traffic is being driven to

our website from our blog,” she says.

Social media is eminently measurable because it is all online,

says Baer. Typically, you want to pick three numbers that make sense

and measure those over time. “Those could be awareness, positive

social mentions, or business rating reviews found on sites like Yelp,”

he adds. “Also measure the traffic to your website, your blog, and

your LinkedIn activity, which will all help determine the impact social

media is having on your business.”

What’s Next?

With the rapid social media explosion, there’s no doubt that something

more is coming soon. Upcoming trends include social customer

relationship management (CRM), according to McDonald. “It’s going

to get to the point where we’re basically pulling in interactions, behavior,

and data on a customer or prospect from multiple channels,” he

says. It goes beyond the current CRM database information we collect

on customer behavior; with social CRM, you’ll be able to add their

social media behavior and score them on it, he states. “At that point,

you’ll be able to send a triggered message to someone tweeting a

specific question about a specific product,” says McDonald.

A lot of social media and Web marketing are being geared toward

smartphones, says Korske. “That will continue to the point where we’ll

have to consider how our marketing will look on a mobile device.”

There will be a lot more one-stop-shop type social media sites that


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will allow everything to be done in one place—eShopping, video

uploading, blogging, linking, and so on, according to Pusatera. “I also

think a big change will come, making it easier for B2B companies

selling to audiences across the board to segment their target markets,”

she says. In addition, video consumption continues to soar, says

Baer. “Companies will need to think of themselves as their own TV

station starting now. They need to get comfortable making videos and

creating content in the video format.”

To integrate social media effectively into your marketing plan, you

need to understand what level of effort you can commit to it, says

Gayle. “How does it fit into your plans, where do you want it to take

you? If you don’t know what to do—watch, listen, and learn.”

“I see more office products resellers getting involved in social

media marketing,” says King. “Today, I believe more than 50 percent

of independents are engaged in some form of it and that’s increasing

daily.” This is a good sign. Eventually, every company is going to

have to be social—customers will simply demand it, says Baer. “If

you don’t, your silence will be deafening.” However, those resellers

who take advantage of United’s social media training should be

heard loud and clear.

A promise worth

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ten

15


Photos: Steve Anderson

16 August 2011

Trade Secrets

Aloha! todd leong, president, Cos,

signals the shaka sign greeting that

reflects Cos’s philosophy of providing

extraordinary customer service.


RIDING

WAVES

CAliForniA oFFiCE

systEms tUrns

EmployEE DEDiCAtion

into CUSTOMER

SATISFACTION

If you ask Todd Leong, president of California Office Systems (COS),

Santa Ana, Calif., to tell you about the marketing success of COS, he’ll

modestly tell you that marketing isn’t a strength at his company. Upon

examination, however, it quickly becomes apparent that many of the

best strategies for integrated marketing campaigns result from what

COS personnel do almost instinctively.

“Everyone here goes out there and gives 100 percent to grow the

business so the company not only survives—but becomes stronger,”

says Leong. The commitment of the company’s personnel to act on

those instincts provides a strong foundation for excellence in retention,

acquisition, and growth programs.

COS began in business in 1990 selling Toshiba copiers, and for

a long time the company operated exclusively in the machines area.

With a customer base and infrastructure already in place, selling office

supplies seemed a natural progression. Customers already purchased

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17


Trade Secrets

18 August 2011

Our success in tOday’s business climate

custOmer service and Our wOrk ethic.

— todd leong

California office systems

these products, so why not position COS as the source?

In 2006, office supplies and furniture were added to the mix, and

today the company is a one-stop office solutions provider specializing

in multifunctional printing devices, office furniture and supplies, and

IT services at what Leong refers to as “megastore pricing.” “Our success

in today’s business climate is due to our employees’ dedication

to customer service and our work ethic,” says Leong. Since adding

office supplies and furniture to the mix, the company has been on a

roll, and it has averaged more than 30 percent growth on the supply

side annually for the past three years.

“We’ve been able to merge our different product lines and offer

them to our core machine customers,” explains Chris Alexander,

director of office supplies, who joined the company to facilitate the

expansion into office product sales. A couple of experienced salespeople

were brought on to sell supplies and furniture, and also begin

the process of selling copiers and machines to supply customers.

“We’ve done a good job of meshing the businesses,” says Alexander.

Six outside salespeople cover a 50-mile radius around Santa Ana,

Calif. Three sell supplies, two sell machines, and one sells both categories.

Most category cross-selling to supply and machine customers is

handled through communications. Salespeople will pass along referrals

and assist in appointment setting.

On the Acquisition Trail

Adding supply category sales to the machine side of the business

is just one example of the company’s intense acquisition efforts. The

Southern California market is highly competitive—especially for

office supply sales—and COS relishes the opportunity to go head-

to-head with its big-box competitors. “Once you’ve done business

with Staples or Office Depot, you are usually open to a different

experience,” says Alexander. “We offer that difference in terms of

experience, but maintain competitive pricing.”

Acquisition efforts have led the company to target national account

sales to organizations based in the area with outlying locations

across the country. “As long as the headquarters we sold to were

located within our delivery zone, we knew we could use United’s

NED (Nationwide Express Delivery) program to service them,” says

Alexander. “We felt it would be beneficial to expand beyond the

mid-market business and actually compete on a larger scale.” These

efforts have become a part of the company’s acquisition campaign

and have helped keep COS on a healthy growth track.

When the company queries its base of newly acquired customers,

it learns that they seem to be happiest because they’re able to


is due tO Our emplOyees’ dedicatiOn tO

develop a relationship with an inside salesperson. “The biggest

frustration we hear from customers we’ve picked up over the years is

that they have become tired of being a number,” continues Alexander.

COS offers its customers an antidote to this approach. “We don’t have

a call center, so you will never call an 800 number and get someone

who doesn’t know you or your account,” he says.

Every customer is assigned to a dedicated customer service rep,

and that person is available via email, phone calls, or text message.

“Customers find it refreshing,” says Alexander. “Should a problem

ever arise, they know exactly who to contact and their issue will be

resolved. They still have contact with the outside rep, but they just love

the fact that there’s someone here between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. every

day they can connect with.”

Responding to Customers’ Needs

COS loves to get feedback from customers, and it leverages that feedback

to adapt its approach to meet customers’ individual needs. “We

do a lot of customizing on an individual basis,” says Alexander. For

instance, if a customer wants its billing statements modified, COS is

happy to accommodate. “Office Depot wouldn’t allow that. All of

its procedures are standardized and they have to be followed exactly.

There can be no variation.”

Even though big-box stores are its largest competition, COS also

recognizes that big-box customers serve as one of its best sources for

new business. When mistakes happen, and they invariably do, how the

big-box stores respond is frequently the difference between account

retention and loss. “Do those customers get the runaround?” asks

Alexander. “Do they have to make 15 phone calls to make it right?

“When California Office Systems makes a mistake, and we do

make mistakes, it’s how we react that makes the difference,” he continues.

“Customers don’t need to make 15 phone calls. They need to

make one.” It’s not uncommon for COS to spot a mistake before the

customer has a chance to notice, and then its employees work behind

the scenes to correct the problem and ensure it never happens again.

That’s the difference between doing business with COS and the bigbox

sellers. “The message we would like to get to our customers is

that when the chips are down, we’re going to make it up to you as

quickly as possible,” adds Alexander.

That sort of response makes every account feel they’re significant

and important, no matter their size. “Although everyone claims they

offer the best service, no one is really able to offer the ‘best’ service,”

says Leong. Excellence at customer service is all about keeping customers

satisfied. It’s also critical for winning new sales. “It’s important

that you recover when you don’t deliver on the first go-around. How you

respond to a customer’s needs determines your success. It’s not about

offering an apology—it’s about making a positive out of a negative.”

Much of that challenge falls on the shoulders of the sales rep. “It’s

the personality that comes with an experienced salesperson,” says

Leong. “Experienced salespeople somehow have that ability to keep

customers happy even when there is a problem.”

In its ongoing dealings with customers and prospects, COS relies

on catalogs and flyers that are key components of its partnership with

United. Everything for the Workplace, Furniture Solutions and United’s

Green Catalog are sent annually, while flyers covering JanSan, breakroom,

and furniture are sent quarterly. “These are all good marketing

materials, and they get our name and company logo out to our customers

on a regular basis,” says Alexander. “We use them regularly.”

This year, COS selected United’s Mail Direct program to get these

materials into the hands of its customers. “Now that we have a larger

volume of national accounts as well as accounts outside our service

area, it just made more sense,” says Alexander. “Mail Direct allows us

to reach these customers more efficiently on a regular basis.”

The versatility of catalog marketing is such that these tools can be

used for penetration with an existing customer base, and are equally

effective for acquisition efforts. Yet when a salesperson is across the

desk from a prospect, an Everything for the Workplace catalog might

be more than that person wants or needs at that point. COS salespeople

will leave behind a quarterly flyer instead or use customized PDF

printouts from United’s Resellers Classified Zone. These PDFs perform

double duty by also serving as monthly promotional flyers.

Strong Growth Continues

The company’s attention to sales and marketing activities apparently

pays off, as evidenced by strong supply sales for the first three months

of this year, indicating continued growth. “It’s likely to be the fourth year

in a row where we come in ahead of the game on the supply side,” says

Alexander. The acquisition of new accounts, continued penetration of the

machine account base, and a high retention rate have all contributed to

the company’s growth.

Efforts to maintain and improve customer satisfaction have also

resulted in a retention rate in the high 90s. “Every company has to grow a

minimum of 10 percent a year to survive,” says Alexander. “The last thing

we want to do is grow 15 percent or 20 percent each year and have a

retention rate of 70 percent. That wouldn’t do us any good.” It’s the goal of

every independent reseller. “Once we’ve established a long-term

relationship with a customer, we want to keep them.”

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19


20 August 2011

Going, Going Green

By helping customers

go green, National Eco

Wholesale (NEW) is thriving

in the green marketplace

A 2010 study reports that 70 percent of Americans

at least sometimes consider

the environmental impact of

their purchases, which is a

promising increase from 2008,

when the economy went south

along with green product sales.

It’s also a good indication that

resellers looking to grow their

green business should jump

on the eco-friendly bandwagon

now—while nationwide enthusiasm

continues to rebound

and before the competition can

land the burgeoning business.

National Eco Wholesale,

Inc. (NEW), headquartered

in Boulder, Colo., established

itself in the green market early

last year, and the company is

now taking full advantage of

the eco-friendly market’s upturn

by expanding its product selection.

One aspect of its expansion

involves a recently formed

partnership with United.

We recognized

right away that

united gave us a

great opportunity

to bring together

a couple thousand

sKus, make

an immediate

impact in green

office supplies,

and reach out to

e-retailers that

focus on office

supplies or work

with commercial

businesses.

— melissa hauser

national Eco wholesale

NEW is the nation’s first specialty distributor of

exclusively natural and sustainable products. Its

founder and CEO, Steve Savage, has been instrumental

in increasing awareness of environmental

issues and sustainability for the past 20 years, and

through NEW he is strengthening his commitment

to bringing effective and innovative green products

into the mainstream.

Expanding Green Sales

Speaking to Savage’s goal, NEW works with some

retailers but primarily e-retailers, serving as a

“virtual” warehouse filled with a wide variety

of products and providing fulfillment/drop ship

services. The corporate mission, as stated on its

website, is to give retailers and e-retailers a reliable

and knowledgeable source for high-quality,

eco-friendly products at competitive prices. By

partnering with United, NEW strengthened this

overarching objective, and its customers can now

log onto the company website to access an Excel

file with 2,000 green product SKUs from United.

NEW’s e-commerce customers use this file to build

their own websites with United’s products.

“In the past, NEW’s typical e-retail customer

catered to the average stay-at-home-mom online

shopper, who’s oriented more toward household

goods,” explains Melissa Hauser,

NEW’s director of sales. “So

partnering with United opened

up a whole new channel for us.

We recognized right away that

United gave us a great opportunity

to bring together a couple

thousand SKUs, make an immediate

impact in green office

supplies, and reach out to

e-retailers that focus on office

Continued on page 22

Photos: Steve Z Photography


A bright future:

melissa hauser, director

of sales, and CEo steve

savage are expanding

nEw in tandem with the

eco-friendly market.

ten

21


Going, Going Green

supplies or work with commercial businesses.”

In addition to being a distributor of entirely eco-friendly products,

NEW also helps its customers understand the best practices to

market green products. One of Hauser’s top tips is to approach green

sales with a slow and steady approach. “In our minds, any step that

lessons your environmental impact is a positive

step,” she says. “Absolutely everything counts. So

if a business or customer wants to go green, but

they’re hesitating because they think that means

cleaning out every single supply, buying all new

products, and incurring a huge financial expense,

you have to explain that’s not the way to go. No

one is saying that you have to lose money to go

green. Even more importantly, throwing out and

then replacing creates waste—and that’s not green

at all! So we encourage customers to take small

steps. When a product needs to be replaced, take

care of that. But don’t go in and try to start fresh.”

New math

One small step that resellers can take ASAP—and

potentially achieve big results—is introducing

customers to any eco-friendly products made from

recycled plastics or alternative materials meant

to replace conventional plastic products. With oil

prices soaring and expected to climb even higher,

Hauser points out that prices for conventional plastic

goods are on the rise. This is closing the price

gap between traditionally less-expensive plastic

products and their eco-friendly options.

For example, if a customer currently stocks

the breakroom with plastic cups, it’s a good time

to do a cost comparison with corn plastic cups.

“You may find the green option actually saves

money—or at least comes in at the same price,”

Hauser suggests. “I think we’re going to see many

instances where the cost of products made from

recycled or alternative plastic materials will be

competitive in price with virgin plastic products.”

Another small step, specifically for a customer

looking to go green with cleaning products and

tools, is to suggest replacing paper towels with

reusable cloth towels. “It’s a smaller investment

upfront and also a choice that lasts for several

months, so in the end it could very well be a

decision that saves money,” Hauser stresses.

Renewable Loyalty

While helping a customer convert to eco-friendly business products

may call for a slow, steady pace, Hauser is quick to add that the payoff

is generally a long-lasting relationship. “Once a company implements

green solutions, they rarely revert to non-green choices,” she says.

“So, for example, if you have a customer who moves away from

Styrofoam cups and into recycled cups, you usually won’t see

them step backwards.”

22 August 2011

CUSTOMERS CAN NOW ... ACCESS

AN EXCEL FILE WITH 2,000 GREEN

PRODUCT SkU’S FROM UNITED.

Going full circle, it’s that slow and steady pace that helps maintain

such a high level of continued green loyalty from customers, Hauser

says. “When you help customers take small steps, they’re able to

make thoughtful decisions that are good financially as well as environmentally.

And they’re decisions that customers can keep in place.

So I would say that overnight skyrocketing green sales isn’t likely. But

we’re already seeing the market rebound and I’m confident that it will

continue to gain strength. We just have to take it slow and steady.”


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ten

23


24 August 2011

Niche Market

neat

solutions

The JanSan market gives customers added convenience

and resellers added revenue

The good news is that every business needs JanSan products. From

coffee creamer and paper cups for the breakroom to general supplies

like paper towels, cleaning tools, and garbage can liners, there’s a

consistent need, and every customer, no matter how small or large,

uses at least some of these products, 9 to 5, five days a week.

What’s the bad news? Nothing! It’s a quickly growing product

category that gives resellers a great opportunity for incremental sales.

If there is any “bad news” attached to JanSan products, it comes from

the customer’s perspective because buying products like toilet paper

isn’t exactly uppermost on the office manager’s mind—at least until

the stuff runs out. Then it’s bad news for everyone. And it’s this precise

sort of situation that gives a reseller the perfect opportunity to lay

down the convenience card. Encourage customers to include

scheduled cleaning supply and paper product deliveries with their

office supply orders, and now you’ve just made the customer’s life

a lot easier while also increasing your sales.


Offering to make your customers’ lives easier comes with another

benefit, says Lynn Pettus, president, Pettus Office Products, Little Rock,

Ark. “It helps tighten our relationship with that customer. And it’s one

step closer to having them buy everything from us.”

Cleaning Up with Convenience

When it comes to increasing sales by offering existing customers the

added convenience of one-stop shopping, Pettus has the best success

with small to medium-size customers. These

are the businesses most likely to value one-stop

shopping and sweeping customer service, as

their staffs are often undermanned and overworked.

To reach even greater success with this

captive audience, Pettus selects a few specific

items to cost out at highly competitive prices,

such as paper towels. It seals the deal quickly

and opens the door for Pettus Office Products

to introduce additional JanSan products with

each new order.

Craig Lund, president, Value Added Business Services, Columbus,

Ohio, strongly supports the customer convenience element when

it comes to growing JanSan sales, and his business does it with oldworld

personal attention. “We still do inventories at customer locations,”

Lund explains. “I’ve got two full-time people who do nothing but that.

They’ve got their routes, they go out and see their people, and they

figure out what the business needs. And they cover a great amount

of geography—probably about 500 miles a week between maybe

100 customers. That’s a lot of personal attention, and it helps take care

of the burden of price objection.”

Wiping Out the Competition

While convenience is a strong pull for many customers, Pettus

stresses that you still have to keep costs competitive. “Between the

Walmarts and the distributors, there’s a lot of competition in this

category. On some items, you’ll have to lower your margins. Just keep

reminding yourself that the goal here is to get your customers to buy

everything from you.”

To be price competitive, a reseller has to know the JanSan

business. For example, Lund says, you might approach a customer

expecting a reasonable 15 percent margin on paper towels or toilet

paper. These items in particular carry the same low margin as copy

paper, and if you don’t price them right, you’ll likely end up looking

foolish. “If you don’t know the JanSan business—really know what’s

going on—you can maybe hope to achieve a 3 or 4 percent growth,

based only on the convenience factor. You can do a lot better, of

course, but that means you have to really keep your head in the

business and take it seriously,” Lund says.

For the reseller who’s new to JanSan or just getting started, Pettus

suggests beginning with one or two specific product categories. This

speeds up the learning process, because you’ll need to study fewer

pricing patterns, and it keeps it manageable. Paper towels and can

liners, two huge categories in the JanSan arena, are a good place

to start, Pettus says. “Everyone’s buying paper towels. But when I say

paper towels, remember, there are hand towels, fan-fold towels,

automatic-dispenser towels—it’s a huge category with a lot to learn.”

Spreading the word that Pettus Office Products sells JanSan is

handled via email as well as printed flyers. Email blasts focus on special

pricings, and at least one email each month carries an attached

SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIzE

CUSTOMERS ARE THE

BUSINESSES MOST LIkELY

TO VALUE ONE-STOP

SHOPPING AND SWEEPING

CUSTOMER SERVICE.

United Stationers JanSan flyer. In support of the email campaign,

a printed United JanSan flyer is tucked into every order box. “We

send out emails three or four times a month and always to our entire

customer base,” Pettus says. “Then we refer to the most recent email

in every phone call with a customer and out in the field, too.”

At Value Added Business Services, a full-time staff that’s solely

dedicated to JanSan products promotes the company’s product line

and selection. “We acquired a JanSan dealer with a 40-year history,

and that made it very easy for us to get into

the business,” Lund says. “With the purchase,

we also gained the staff’s industry

expertise and knowledge.”

Promoting a Polished Win

For resellers who aren’t looking to purchase

a dealership, however, Lund has a viable

solution. “I would strongly urge you to hire

a full-time JanSan salesperson—somebody

who’s been in JanSan sales for a while. I tried this on my own in the

beginning, and we grew a little, but it certainly wasn’t enough. It was

a head-scratcher until we figured out that experience in this category

is vital for success.”

Of course, a full-time, dedicated sales rep takes you right back to

that convenience factor because a specific go-to person, who handles

all of a business’s ongoing JanSan needs, makes life much simpler

and easier. Suddenly, one-stop shopping with your company is

making a whole lot of sense.

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ten

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©2011 C-Line Products, Inc. Mt. Prospect, IL 60056-6053, All Rights Reserved. C-LINE is a registered trademark of C-Line Products, Inc.


.

26 August 2011

e-soluTIons for business

TRAFFIC

CONTROL

Proven tips to strengthen

email marketing and

increase website visits

When it comes to e-commerce, the good, old-fashioned email

(yes, it’s now 40 years old!) remains one of the reseller’s most

effective, easily applied, and least expensive tools to build

website traffic and boost sales.

A wealth of statistics backs up email marketing’s strength, although three findings

stand out from the rest:

• A total of 44 percent of email recipients made at least one purchase last year based

on a promotional email.

• People who buy products marketed through email spend 138 percent more than

people who do not receive email offers.

• For every dollar spent on email marketing in 2010, marketers generated an estimated

$42.08 ROI.

Beyond the stats that add up to success, there’s another big plus when it comes

to email marketing. “It’s a natural for driving Web traffic,” says Dianne Lucca, United’s

manager, email marketing. “Readers click a link in your email and there they are—

at your website. It really doesn’t get any easier than that.”


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ten

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© 2011 Avery Dennison Corporation. All rights reserved. Avery and all other Avery brands, product names and codes are trademarks of Avery Dennison Corporation. All other brands are trademarks

of their respective owners. Personal and company names and other information on samples depicted are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual names and addresses is purely coincidental.


While there are proven best practices to increase the likelihood

that customers will open your emails and click through

to your website, it must be said that no amount of tweaking can

achieve maximum impact unless you begin with clean, up-to-date

customer data. After all, email marketing is, at its core, a strategy

to build strong, responsive relationships with current and potential

customers by delivering relevant and timely communications.

If the email doesn’t land in the right inboxes, then the strategy

is lost in cyberspace.

Accurate, Relevant Lists Drive Success

“Data is king,” says Meggie Dials, channel sales manager

for ExactTarget, a leading email service provider. To achieve

optimal data, Dials stresses, you need a strong customer relationship

management (CRM) program in place.

With reliable data at the ready, the natural progression is list

segmentation. Email gives the reseller enormous freedom to

switch out text and graphics to reflect multiple segmented lists,

which are best generated with a CRM program. “There’s no

reason to blast communication to 50,000 people,” Dials says.

“Emails can be easily customized as much or as little as your

lists dictate. So you can create email sections that remain

consistent—like your logo or some content—but you might have

a content box that’s specific to your readers’ preference data.

This increases the email’s relevance, and interested readers are

far more likely to click through to your website.”

For example, a reseller might begin by segmenting email lists

by geography, buying preferences, or purchasing behavior. Then,

by enlisting assistance from United’s email marketing team, a

template is used to create targeted emails for each list. After an

organized list is uploaded and attached to each email version, the

emails are sent.

MAkE SURE TO ADD YOUR WEBSITE’S

NAVIGATION BAR TO YOUR EMAIL

SO THAT YOUR CUSTOMER

DOES NOT GET LOST.

28 August 2011

ThREE BEST PRACTICES

Assuming your customer lists are in order, here are three tips to

strengthen your emails and encourage customers to click through

to your website:

1. CreAte short And sweet suBjeCt lines. “internet

service providers have built-in character limits for subject lines,

so you can get cut off at any point,” says Dianne lucca, United’s

manager, email marketing. “you want to focus on the initial 30 char-

acters or so—including spaces—and never put your most important

information at the end of your subject line.” supporting lucca’s

advice, a study done by the email monitoring company return path

showed that subject lines with 49 or fewer characters had 12.5

percent higher open rates than those with 50 or more characters.

Click-through rates for subject lines with 49 or fewer characters

were 75 percent higher than for those with 50 or more characters.

2. the suBjeCt line needs to Convey A strong offer

or other relevAnt messAge. this can be communicated as

urgency to open the email, like a limited time deal; an outstand-

ing offer, as in free delivery; or perhaps an exciting offer that helps

build relationships, such as a great contest. “you open emails if

they are relevant to you, so it helps to be specific,” says lucca. For

example, new England office supply recently sent an email with

the subject line: “Deals of the week—Enter to win an inlay Fire

pit.” the line has urgency, it offers a specific prize, and the entire

line comes in at 48 characters including spaces. it’s important to

note that the email itself must support your subject line, providing

additional information about the offer, relevant message, or both.

remember, the subject line encourages the reader to open the

email, but it’s the email message itself that prompts a click-through

to your website.

3. inClude Ample links within the emAil, so CliCking

through to your weBsite is eAsy. “no matter where your

customer is as he scrolls through your email, there should always

be a link to your website within easy view,” lucca says. that means

hot-linking your logo, any featured products, “shop now” buttons,

and strategically selected type. And, lucca adds, you want to be

careful that links go to the right page. For example, if your email

is announcing a limited-time deal on specific products, and there

are clickable product photographs, make absolutely certain that

the links go to the deal and don’t default to your home page.

“if a customer has to hunt for the deal, you risk losing him,”

lucca cautions.

to insert additional links, add your website’s navigation bar

to your email. making that addition introduces a strong graphic

element and creates an immediate visual connection between

your email and your website.

because certain internet service providers have preview windows,

allowing the recipient to peruse only a small portion of the

email before officially opening it, meggie Dials, channel sales manager

for Exacttarget, recommends placing a link to your website in

the email’s upper left quadrant. “your customers will see the link,

whether or not they actually open the full window,” Dials notes.


ten

OFF Ce 29

L ne


. e-soluTIons for business

Email marketing enables a high degree of measurability, which allows

the sender to assess what works, what doesn’t work, and what needs

fine-tuning. ExactTarget can measure every email sent through its

system for the number of inbox deliveries, bounces (emails returned

as undeliverable), spammed deliveries, opens, click-throughs to your

website, and several more valuable assessments. “After you analyze

results, the next step is to fix things that aren’t working,” Dials says.

For example, if your emails are experiencing high bounce levels, then

EMAIL MARkETING ENABLES A HIGH DEGREE

OF MEASURABILITY, WHICH ALLOWS THE

SENDER TO ASSESS WHAT WORkS.

you should revisit your customer lists, verify email addresses, and

purge out-of-date addresses. After winnowing your list to viable

customers, your metrics will be far more accurate.

For Good measure

Because emails are so easily customized, you can also create test

groups and identify winning strategies. For example, Lucca cites the

10–10–80 test, which analyzes two different subject lines. One subject

line might feature a 15 percent savings and it’s sent to 10 percent

of your email customer list. The other subject line might focus on

product benefits, and it’s sent to another 10 percent of your list. After

determining which subject line has the stronger open rate, the winner

is used for the remaining 80 percent of the list. “It’s all about testing

and learning,” Lucca says.

CAUTION:

DO NOT IGNORE

THOSE WHO DO NOT

OPEN THE EMAIL.

THAT’S VALUABLE

DATA AS WELL.

30 August 2011

“From a marketing standpoint, we’ve seen a shift over to the digital

side,” Dials says. “And at the same time, email marketers have

become pretty savvy about what works.” That means, Dials adds, that

online shoppers now expect a highly targeted email that’s relevant to

individual needs or buying patterns. Satisfy these expectations and

you’ve taken a powerful step toward e-commerce strength.

FOR MORE INFORMATION on email opportunities offered by United Stationers, email

Dianne Lucca at dlucca@ussco.com.

CUES TO USE

Through email software systems like the

one offered through ExactTarget, a leading

email service provider, resellers can measure

customer engagement with a particular

email, from opening the email to making a

purchase on the website. Dianne Lucca,

United’s manager, email marketing, reminds

resellers that information about customers

who don’t open the email or click through

to their website is valuable data as well;

these unengaged customers offer a great

opportunity for follow-up. “It’s a chance to

get behind the details,” Lucca says. “Have

a sales rep call these customers and ask a

few questions. What do they hope to see

in your emails that they’re not seeing? Do

they want to continue to receive emails or

would they rather receive flyers? Maybe this

person is simply on the wrong segmented

list. These are all quick answers that can

suggest easy fixes.”


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.

Six low-cost, high-impact

ways to successfully

promote your business

32 August 2011

MInD your business

THE (LOW)

PRICE OF

SUCCESS

let’s play a round of word association. If someone says

“advertising,” what do you say?

For many business owners, the next word is “Ka-ching!” Last January,

for example, a 30-second Super Bowl commercial cost roughly $3 million,

which breaks down to $100,000 per second. And the companies responsible for these

high-priced wonders say it’s worth every penny, with nearly 50 percent of all Super

Bowl viewers tuning in to actually watch the commercials!

Promoting your business need not break the bank, however. In fact, it can be done

quite economically. What’s more, the right advertising vehicles provide impressive

viewer stats with only a marginal cost.

To help promote your business, here are six economical solutions:


1

Print advertising

doesn’t have to .

involve pricey ads

in glossy magazines.

Many high schools sell inexpensive

ad space in their sporting

events programs. In addition, you

may be able to buy time on a

school’s field scoreboard. Also,

look into local schools’ private

fundraising events. It may be

an auction, a dance, or some

other themed night, and all generally include a printed program with

ample ad space for local businesses.

In Waynesboro, Ga., Best Office Solutions sponsors local recreational

department and school ball teams. So instead of paying for

a print advertisement, they pay for team jerseys, with their company

name boldly displayed on every shirt. “For around $200, we have

20 kids wearing our name all over town,” says Sandi Shields, the

company’s co-owner and president. “These kids are proud of their

teams and they wear their shirts to school every day. It’s not only a

great marketing strategy, but it also shows how much we care about

our community. They give us their business, and we very much want

to give back.”

.

2To reach customers

over the

airwaves, think

beyond expensive

radio ads during peak drive

time periods, stresses Steve

Strauss, senior USATODAY.

com small-business columnist,

founder of mrallbiz.com, and

author of 15 books. “Especially

if yours is a B2B business, radio

should be part of your marketing

mix,” Strauss wrote in a recent column. “But it sure can be expensive—upwards

of $500 a minute during drive time.” According to

Strauss, the solution is to run the radio ad at an off-peak time. That

same ad might cost a fraction of the peak-time price if it runs in the

evening, and the reach on a major station is not dissimilar to what

you would get on a regular station during the day.

As for producing the on-air spot, some radio stations offer costfree

creative services after contracts are signed, and some stations

charge a fee, but that fee is often negotiable. And always ask about

advertiser discounts and package deals, which may reduce your

price or increase your number of spots. Also ask about economical

sponsorships, which buy you an on-air mention, such as, “The

weather was brought to you by ABC Business Products.”

3

networking

groups help you .

meet potential

customers and they

can be dirt cheap or even free.

However, choose your group

carefully because some are

exhausting and nonproductive.

“You stand in front of the

group and deliver your elevator

speech, but no one’s listening—

everyone’s busy thinking about

what they’re going to say,” cautions Greg Maddox, president of the

financial services firm Maddox Group and founder of Evanston North

Shore Networking, which grew to nearly 1,800 members in one year.

To create a more connected and successful environment, Maddox

established a group that’s all about helping the other guy. “If I can

help you build meaningful professional relationships by introducing

you to my connections, and you’re doing the same for me, then

mutually beneficial professional relationships can happen very

easily,” he says. “There’s no pressure to seal a deal, and everyone

quickly moves forward.” To locate a networking group that emphasizes

relationship building, start with LinkedIn.com, the largest

Internet-based professional network. Enter “YOUR CITY, NETWORK

GROUPS” into the site’s search box and try a few until you find a fit.

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ten

NEW!


. MInD your business

4

For a reasonable

fee, a well-placed .

coupon in a

neighborhood advertising

circular often brings

extremely high readership,

a fact backed by the marketing

research firm The Nielson Co.,

which reports that 95 percent of

all shoppers like coupons and

60 percent are actively looking

for coupons. You can also pass

out coupons on your own for free. By slightly tweaking your coupon

message and distribution, it’s a marketing technique that applies

to each of your three primary segmented customer lists.

To retain customers and reward purchase loyalty, include a

10 percent coupon with every invoice that can be applied to the

next purchase. To grow sales, offer customers a 10 percent coupon

specific to products they don’t normally buy. For example, if the

customer only orders business products from you, offer a price

break for JanSan products or office furniture. And to acquire customers,

include a line in all radio and print ads as well as your Yellow

Pages listing that states: “Mention this ad for a 10 percent savings.”

You might also add this offer to an acquisition email campaign.”

34 August 2011

.

5It’s essential

that every business

has a highfunctioning

website,

but it’s particularly important for

the small to mid-size reseller

who can’t afford a large sales

staff. Yes, hiring someone to build

and maintain a professional-level

website comes with a cost, but

that dollar figure will be many

thousands less than one full-time

employee.

In addition to providing an ever-present salesperson and sophisticated

e-commerce capabilities, a website also gives the business

owner an opportunity to strengthen customer relations, whether that

means adding your website address to the side of delivery trucks

and Yellow Pages listings, providing an instant website click for

comments, or posting company photographs and videos.

“What often sets the small business apart is its high level of

personal attention, and a website helps customers feel connected

to your business—24/7,” says Kathyleen Brooks, independent associate

with GoSmallBiz.com, an online resource created to help

members run and grow their businesses. “When you’re out of their

presence, there’s still a relationship going on because they can log

onto your website.”

6Five years ago,

positive customer

comments meant

lots of great word-ofmouth

chatter. Today, product

and company recommendations

posted at social media

sites are edging out verbal

conversation’s power to sway

purchasing decisions. For

example, a recent study found

that 53 percent of people on

Twitter recommend companies and/or products in their Tweets, with

48 percent of them delivering on their intention to buy the product.

In another study, 81 percent of the respondents said they’d received

advice from friends and followers relating to a product purchase

through a social media site. Those are strong reasons to give your

business a social media presence.

Of course, the accounts are free. The cost involves time, but if monitoring

and updating a Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page fits into

your staff’s schedule, and the commitment can be reliably carried out,

then a social media presence is a cost-efficient and effective way to

promote your business. If you’re new to social media, ask your Azerty

sales rep about United’s new Social Media Toolkit (see p. 36).

a website helps

customers feel

connected to your

business—24/7.

— kathyleen brooks

Gosmallbiz.com

.

Affordable Promotions, Substantial Results

Promoting your business doesn’t have to be costly, and in many

cases, economically priced promotions are equally as effective

as a hugely expensive campaign. Common to every promotional

effort, however, is consistency. One coupon won’t turn your business

around. Initiating a social media page but never updating it, or ignoring

your community’s posts, may be counterproductive. So choose

promotional strategies that fit your budget, establish a meaningful

plan, stick with the plan, and the results can be impressive.


make a difference

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RESEARCH | TREATMENT | EDUCATION

ten

35


.

36 August 2011

GreaT

HIGH

SOCIETY

United leads resellers

into the world of social

networking with the

Social Media Toolkit

resources

In December 2010, TIME magazine named Facebook founder Mark

Zuckerberg Person of the Year. almost immediately, gripes rippled

across the country. “Really?” the naysayers asked. “A programmer?” He

cured no disease, leapt no tall buildings in a single bound, and his company

neither ignited nor extinguished any great controversy. Yet, as time.com reports, “In less

than seven years, Zuckerberg wired together a 12th of humanity into a single network,

thereby creating a social entity almost twice as large as the U.S. If Facebook were a

country, it would be the third largest, behind only China and India.”

And it’s a similar story with Facebook’s fellow social media platforms, LinkedIn and

Twitter. The former is now the world’s largest professional network on the Internet with

more than 100 million members in over 200 countries and territories. The latter, estimated

to have more than 190 million users internationally, generates roughly 140 million

tweets per day.

Giving your business a social media presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter

is really no longer optional, at least if you plan on thriving in the 21st century. In fact,

a study conducted by the University of Maryland Smith School of Business found that

nearly 1 in 5 small business owners have integrated social media into their business

strategy, in part because of a strong belief that social media successfully generates

new customer leads.

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.

38 August 2011

GreaT resources

To help resellers from coast to coast take the leap, United

introduced the ultimate Social Media Toolkit.

Social Contact

The complete Social Media Toolkit includes five online training

videos, which resellers can purchase and download through UDT,

United’s nationwide, dealer training program. At present, the five-part

series consists of an introduction and a comprehensive wrap-up to

social media, as well as individual videos for Facebook, LinkedIn, and

Twitter. Each specific platform video delivers an understanding of that

Internet-based application, simple setup steps and demonstrations

unique to that Web-based technology, a discussion about security

settings, and a review of different profile types. The current Toolkit

provides beginning level instruction—Social Media 101, so to speak.

Moving forward, United plans to introduce more advanced instructional

videos, which will help resellers take their social media presence to

a higher level of communication and interactive dialogue.

After downloading the Social Media Toolkit, the reseller opens a

specific social media component and simultaneously the corresponding

Toolkit video on the computer screen. By viewing the video and

the social media sign-up screen side by side, the reseller can follow

along with his mouse, click through the setup steps, and easily

establish a social media account.

Each video also suggests best practices pertinent to each social

media platform. For example, Facebook allows page owners to select

company information that is always visible versus information that is

visible only to page fans. United’s Facebook video explains this feature

and makes recommendations. In addition, the video offers best

practices for what and when to post, so that messaging consistently

supports the reseller’s overarching marketing goals. “All five videos

combined give you a good foundation and the base tools needed

to create a solid presence on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter,” says

Adam Valentine, United’s social media analyst.

A vital piece of the Social Media Toolkit includes one-on-one guidance

from United’s marketing team. “After the reseller moves through

the Toolkit and is familiar with the fundamentals, there should always

be a follow-up consultation, so we can audit the reseller’s social

media presence and help establish a social media calendar,” says

Valentine. “We need to sit down and make sure the reseller is integrating

social media into his total marketing plan and not just posting

stand-alone comments. Every posting needs to help drive sales, of

course, but it’s important to remember that social media—when

done right—also strengthen company awareness and promote

customer loyalty.”

Human Nature

These individual consults are vital, stresses Keith Ruehl, United’s channel

marketing manager, because how-to videos can only take the

reseller so far. “From a business perspective, social media isn’t about

the tools themselves, which would be Facebook, LinkedIn, or Twitter.

It’s really about using the tools to deploy a communications strategy

that humanizes your business and delivers authentic communication,

GIVING YOUR BUSINESS A

SOCIAL MEDIA PRESENCE

ON FACEBOOk, LINkEDIN,

AND TWITTER IS REALLY

NO LONGER OPTIONAL.

ThE RIGhT TOOlS

United’s social media toolkit helps the reseller

establish a positive presence on Facebook,

linkedin, and twitter with:

• Explicit, step-by-step set-up demonstrations.

• Clear explanations of social media

fundamentals.

• Best posting practices to ensure that

messages always support your total

marketing strategy.

• One-on-one follow-ups to ensure that

postings drive sales, strengthen company

awareness, and promote customer loyalty.

• Clear details about communication

calendars, monitoring guidelines, and the

importance of a consistent presence.


It may feel like free

marketing, but from a

corporate perspective,

social media takes

valuable company

resources. someone

has to be responsible

for the overall effort,

timing, and content

management.

— keith ruehl

United stationers

which includes person-to-person messages

as well as posts between you and

your entire social media community. In

both cases, the key is always authenticity.”

For this reason, Ruehl stresses, no how-to

video should deliver mass-market messages

for every reseller to post. If, for example, United handed out routine

Facebook updates and every reseller posted the same message,

somebody somewhere would eventually spot the overlap and the

human element—the authenticity—would be lost. “People will think

they’re speaking to some robot that’s populating messages on behalf

of office suppliers,” Ruehl says. “At some point we have to stop giving

instructions and the posts need to be unique to your company.”

That doesn’t mean the reseller is posting solo, though. That’s

where the one-on-one consults come in. “From our standpoint, these

discussions are all about making sure the reseller understands what

he’s getting into and has a firm grasp on his communication strategy,”

Ruehl stresses.

Action-Packed Results

Understanding the full scope of a company’s social media presence

is a key factor in the videos and particularly during the one-on-one

consultations. “People need to know that this is not free,” Ruehl says.

“Yes, it may be free to sign up for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn,

and it may feel like free marketing, but from a corporate perspective,

social media takes valuable company resources. Someone has to be

responsible for the overall effort, timing, and content management.

But if you take the time, make the commitment, and are proactive, the

results can be significant.”

Ruehl cites an example where consistent and thoughtful monitoring

of a company’s social media page means the difference between

a possible negative and an extreme positive. “Let’s say someone

posts a problem on your Facebook page,” Ruehl explains. “Maybe it’s

a product recall. Now if that post stays there for weeks unanswered,

that’s what the world sees. No action. But if you react quickly by

posting your phone number and a promise to fix the situation, it’s a

different story. Now the world sees your company’s immediate and

complete dedication to customer service. You just flipped a negative

into a positive.”

And it’s not only a positive interaction between you and the original

poster that results, Ruehl adds. “Remember, every time a Facebook

fan puts something on your page, all his friends and all your fans see

the conversation, too. So a quick and responsive reply is not only a

great way to keep customers, but it’s also a beautiful way to support

your marketing message and acquire customers.”

United’s Social Media Toolkit is a compilation of easy start-up

steps as well as best practices from top international research groups

and experts. “Social networking is something that’s still evolving,

and while the look of your Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn page may

change, the basic fundamentals will remain constant,” Valentine says.

“In that respect, the Social Media Toolkit is a great way to jump into

social media and invite everyone to get to know your company—your

brand—and help build long-term relationships.”

PERSONALIzED INSTRUCTION Ask your Azerty sales rep about how to access United’s

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E v E r y o n E G o t

loUD

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40 August 2011

and co-author of The NOW Revolution was

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2011 vision Conference.

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1 | Excitement was in the air at the opening reception of

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3 | seminars and workshops are always a

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2

the legendary band

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5

5 | All vision 2011 guests

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music, and a special

appearance by famed

DJ David hollands.

4

4 | During the highly charged opening of vision 2011,

”performance artist” trevor Carlton created a symbolic

representation of the fiercely independent entrepreneur.

6 | At vision 2011, CEo Cody phipps (right) presented

the Dick Gochnauer legacy of Giving Award to

outgoing United stationers chairman richard

w. Gochnauer (left) in honor of his many charitable

activities.

7 | this year’s vision Expo 2011 featured a record 150

industry suppliers showcasing their latest products

and programs.

ten

6

7

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Photo: Colin Lyons

the

GIVe us Your

FInal WorD!

Share your valuable experiences

with readers of “The final Word.”

if you could give a new dealer just

one piece of advice, what would

it be? Can you describe your

most challenging sales call and

how you responded? Send your

submission to:

TEn

c/o United Stationers

one parkway north blvd.

Suite 100

Deerfield, IL 60015-2259

or via e-mail to:

TEN@azerty.com

subject line: “The final Word”

direCtory of Advertisers

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AvEry-DEnnISon . . . . . . . pAgE 27

boISE . . . . . . . . . . . .pAgE 15

c-LInE . . . . . . . . . . . . pAgE 25

44 August 2011

DUrAbLE . . . . . . . . . . . pAgE 39

EcI . . . . . . . . . . . . . . pAgE 37

ESSELTE . . . . . . . . . bAck covEr

EvoLUTIon . . . . . . . . . . pAgE 29

fELLoWES . . . . . . . . . . .pAgE 7

by Philip Wood

President, Evolution Ecommerce Solutions

Hp . . . . . . . InSIDE fronT covEr

InnovErA . . . . . . . . . . .pAgE 5

InTErnATIonAL pApEr . . . . .pAgE 9

kAnTEk . . . . . . . . . . .pAgE 33

LogoS for HopE . . . . . .pAgE 35

word

The Web Is About Opportunity

Without an effective website, you’ll lose out on a key growth area

of the market as more customers migrate to online purchasing.

What’s more, if you don’t invest in your online sales efforts, you may

even lose existing customers as they look to find faster, smarter

ways of buying. The potential market is simply beyond belief, and it’s

extremely easy for customers to spend money on the Web. All that’s

needed is an Internet connection and a valid credit card.

to understand the importance of the look and feel of a website,

analyze your own behavior. what websites do you use when making

purchases and how might the look and feel of those sites differ

from traditional b2b platforms in this industry? if you’re like most

people, you use websites like Amazon and Zappos to purchase

goods and services because these websites look great, work great,

and offer a satisfying user experience.

Using the capabilities of the latest software, even start-up

businesses today can come up with a look that rivals these

popular sites. And there’s a good reason for them to want to:

A strong web-based presence simply makes your life easier.

Customers spend more if your website has the right look and feel.

i can’t begin to relate the number of times i’ve ordered additional

product when presented with messages like, “people who bought

this also bought ... ”

to take advantage of this huge potential market, start by

educating your customers. Get them to start buying from the web

instead of relying on traditional trading methods such as phone and

fax. web-based selling solutions are available for a fraction of the

costs associated with a sales staff. they work 24/7, never get sick,

and don’t insist on benefits or vacations.

For more aggressive resellers, the latest software makes it

possible to pursue b2C customers at the same time you’re serving

your already established accounts. with the right look, this is not as

remote as you think, and our Evolution product allows you to export

your online data to price comparison engines such as Google base

to maximize online selling opportunities.

whether your business is a small two-person shop or a larger

regional player, a dynamic, easy-to-use web sales effort can help

you lock in existing customers while you go fishing for additional

online sales.

MbS DEv . . . . . . . . . . . pAgE 23

UnIvErSAL . . . . . . . . . . pAgE 31

xErox . . . . . .InSIDE bAck covEr

Ten is published bimonthly by Azerty, a division of United Stationers Supply, for the benefit of its independent technology resellers in the business products industry. To obtain a complimentary subscription, please visit azerty.com/ten, or contact your local

Azerty sales rep. The publisher reserves the right to deny subscriptions based solely on its discretion. Advertisers may contact the publisher at ten@azerty.com for rates and schedules.


Xerox ® Premium Digital Carbonless Paper All-In-One

Color Printing Made Easy

Printing forms in-house and on-demand has never been easier. Optimized for color, this versatile paper helps save money, increase

fl exibility and improve productivity.

It’s ideal for work orders, invoices and other forms with digital print features including bar codes, color graphics, logos, sequential

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©2011 Xerox Corporation. All Rights Reserved. XEROX® and XEROX and Design® are trademarks of Xerox Corporation in the United States and/or other countries. 04/11

ten

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