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Chapter 1 Using 1:1 Marketing to build relationships
Chapter 2 Infiltrate your market to dominate your opponent
Chapter 3 - Choose Your Weapons Carefully
Chapter 4 - The New Rules of Marketing Warfare
Chapter 5 - Sharpening Your Sword
Chapter 6 - Do Not Ponder
Chapter 7 - Conditioning You Mind
Chapter 8 - Ninja & Stealth
Chapter 9 - Team Work
Chapter 10 - Mastering Your Craft

Chapter 1 – Using 1:1 Marketing to build relationships

     A few years ago, during a trip to Asia, I read an article about a stock broker who wanted to get a particular businessman as his account. Every morning he positioned himself outside of the executive’s home and as the man’s car passed him, he bowed. This went on for several weeks until one day, the executive stopped, opened his window and asked what the broker wanted? At that moment, the broker handed him his card and the executive drove off. Again, each morning for another few weeks the broker reported to his spot outside the executive’s home and bowed each time the man drove by. One day, sitting at his desk, the call came in from the executive and a meeting was scheduled. Patience, perseverance and most of all, commitment helped this broker grow to be one of Japan’s largest investment brokerage houses.
    This is a prime example of 1:1 marketing at its best. It’s personal, it’s attention-getting, and it’s directed specifically to address a particular individual’s needs.

Currently, state-of-the-art marketing communication for new business development is still “saturation mail.” Printing several thousand of “one message fits all,” applying a mailing label or black ink jet personalization on the front, then bulk mailing it to save a few pennies.
    This impersonal approach is compared to going to a single’s bar and winking at all the women in hopes of landing a date. It is also the most expensive because it generates the national average response of a mere .005%, which can cost almost $600.00 to generate a prospect, not a sale.

     In order to improve your response rates and sales cycles, you have to set yourself apart from every other printer. You can do this by using digital, on-demand, personalized mailers. In fact, everything you send out should be so personalized that the receiver wants use that product for their company. It’s a form of “Show and Sell.”

     Remember, every company needs new business development products, and in today’s competitive arena, they must stand out and generate a positive response in the receiver or they won’t come back for more.

     There are many small footprint digital systems now available from many manufacturers that come with color rips that allow for on-demand personalization. These low cost alternatives will allow you to position your print shop apart from the offset only shops while giving you a competitive edge in solving yours, and your clients marketing communications problems. Remember, it’s not just business, it’s personal!


Chapter 2 – Infiltrate Your Market To Dominate Your Opponent

     Over two thousand years ago, a Chinese General named Sun-Tzu outlined his strategies and principles for warfare. If you believe as I do, that all marketing is like warfare, then his theories of war are still valid today, even more so.
    In today’s highly competitive marketplace it’s not good enough to just get a new account; you’ve got to make sure that your competition doesn’t! I know, that sounds mean and vicious and goes against the precept of “Live and Let Live,” but in reality, someone has to lose and better your competitors than you. To quote Sun-Tzu, “Generally, in battle, use the common to engage the enemy and the uncommon to gain victory!”
     Here’s where the true power of 1:1 marketing and variable data digital printing gives you a valuable “uncommon” edge against your competition. Today, all businesses are facing the same challenges; 1 - acquiring new customers in a cost-effective manner, 2 - keeping the customers they have, 3 - increasing the amount of services or products the customer buys and 4 - making a profit.

     Let’s use as an example two Japanese restaurants in the same marketing area as our armies and their territories as the battlefield. Restaurant A places an ad in the local newspaper for $300 and generates 5 customers ($60 per new customer) same with Restaurant B. Each customer brings 2 people with them to eat and the cost of the meal averages $60 for 3 people, breaking even on the cost of running the B&W ad in the paper, but still losing money on the cost of the meal. This becomes a loss leader. Restaurant A thanks the customer and the customer goes their way. Restaurant B asks the customer to fill out a Special Event Club card listing all birthdays and anniversary dates where they will receive a gift in the mail (in this case 15% off the entire bill, in other cases a free special appetizer or dessert). Every month for a year, both restaurants run the same ad and receive the same response, but after the first year, Restaurant B has compiled a database of over 4,000 names.
     In year 2, Restaurant A is still running a newspaper ad every month for $300 and losing money on loss leader meals. Restaurant B, however, has tapped into its database and sends out about 350 full color personalized postcards a month (printed on a connected digital copier), listing the patron’s name, birthday or anniversary with a special 15% discount off the entire bill if used within 5 days of their birthday. Cost of the personalized postcard is only $1.37 each with postage. Response rate is averaging 20% and with the dinner charges pretty much the same, over $4,200 in business is generated from this tactic alone every month. Restaurant B no longer needs to run an ad in the paper and it has increased its overall marketing costs by a mere 17%. It has also generated over 10 times the business, and best of all, the profitability. Imagine each year, they are adding another 4,000 names to the list. Hmmm. Sun-Tzu was right!      Every restaurant (and business) in America should be compiling a database of their customers in order to approach them in the most cost effective manner, but do they? Now, here’s the real kicker. I receive almost 200 pounds of mail a month. Each piece pretty much has my name either on a sticker or in 10pt black dot matrix ink, telling me right on the front of the piece that this is not a special offer. Most of these get tossed during triage, but occasionally a mailer does come to me that stands out, has my name in a nice font and in color and in some cases, actually contains data which interests me. This means companies are spending millions of dollars every year trying to get my attention (and decision makers like me) but fail. In fact, the average response rate is just about .005%. If the average cost is around a dollar, the cost of just converting a "suspect" to a "prospect" can be well over $200 based on a 10K print run.

     Try sending them a birthday card for $5 followed by a telephone call. I bet they get on the phone with you and with the $195 you saved, you both can enjoy a nice Japanese dinner (at Restaurant B of course).

     Want to improve your response rate? Here’s what the experts know:
            • The most important part of the mailer is where the name of the receiver is (duh). It should be attention-getting (in color) and it should have something on it that teases the receiver (me) into wanting to open it. It should also be personalized with the prospect’s name larger than 14pt. type.
            • Black type on yellow is the most attention getting color combo, but keep testing unusual colors (I have had interesting success with lavender and turquoise when sent to certain market segments).
            • Lumpy mail gets more attention than flat mail (generally), so packaging is very important, if you can send a well decorated box, with a premium or pop-up, do it. If you can personalize the pop-up with the prospect’s name on it they will show it around and keep it forever.
            • Pop-ups work by engaging the receiver (like a toy) and if they are done well, they can effect a smile (and even a pass-along rate), but most can’t be personalized. My favorite is the personalized hand-folded origami fish mailers. I use them for very special events and clients who need to get results fast.
            • After all of the above, the most important element is the offer! It should be easy to understand, be the best offer (take the worst case scenario - 16 of your competitors are mailing to the same person, your offer must be the best), have some sense of urgency (a deadline for the offer) and, a guarantee of satisfaction!
            • Next, it should have an easy to find response mechanism; a BRC (postage paid business reply card) an 800 number (free call), or a website address.
            • Finally, it should incorporate a tracking element so you can determine if this or that database, list or offer is working for you.
               In creating your pitch, “sell the sizzle not the steak,” describe the benefits of your product or service, not the service.
     The beauty of using variable data, full color on-demand digital printing is that you can test offers, price points, just about anything, in lots as small as one. This process helps you develop the most effective “sales cycle starter” quickly, inexpensively and most importantly, profitably. Digital on-demand printing offers you the elegance of change at the touch of a button, making regular offset “one size fits all” offers, virtually obsolete.
     What I have also discovered in over 25 years of direct marketing is this: most clients have no idea how much it costs them to convert a suspect to a prospect, then to an appointment, then to a sale. Most printers have no clue either, because they have, in most cases, commoditized their service.
     When you put it all together, if you sent a box of fancy pastries with a personal note to a prospect, and had it delivered at 9am, odds are by 10am they will take your call and thank you. Cost, about $35.00 (with delivery), response…priceless. Now, that you’ve got your prospect on the phone, the fun really begins.



Chapter 3 - Choose Your Weapons Carefully

     In his text on fighting, The Five Rings, Musashi explains which weapons he recommends for each different fighting scenario. Musashi worked with two swords and a lance and described how each was best suited for the five different fighting techniques. The same is true with marketing.

     Depending on your budget and what you want to accomplish you must select your media communications weapons carefully. Estimates are based on regional media buys and average costs of creative development at rates polled by members of the Graphic Artists Guild.
     Let’s analyze them.

     Ideal for mass marketing to the most people at a reasonable CPM are: Broadcast TV, Broadcast Radio, Newspaper Advertising, Cable TV, Billboard and Transit, Internet and Direct Mail. Of all of these, only direct mail affords you the opportunity to bond with your prospects. Cost of generating a lead (a suspect to a prospect) can be lowest when using direct mail and if you are targeting a specific industry or level of person, only direct mail will be your weapon of choice.

     Now, there are many different forms of direct mail. There’s the "shotgun approach" where you mail to everybody in the database a static offer, the "rifle approach" where you segment your list and mail selective prospects a different but static offer and, for the experienced mailer, the "grenade launcher approach", where you target your prospects individually with all of the information they need in order to make a guided decision.

     Oh, there is one more, but it involves stealth, creativity, responsiveness, fearlessness, chutzpah and access to digital printing. This is called One-to-One Marketing, and this technique will out-produce every other form of media communication if you do it right.

     If you’re in a business-to-business environment and your targets are in one vertical market, then your preferred choice of weapon would be either a trade publication or direct mail. Depending on your budget, and the need for sales conversions, direct mail offers you the best vehicle for contacting your prospects to initiate the sales cycle.

     Here’s why: If you run an ad in the publication and your competition does too, your message can become comparative to color vs. black and white, size, headline, price, etc. If they receive your direct mail piece along with every other competitor’s, you run the same risk of comparison. If, however, you utilize data merging, variable data placement and on-demand digital color printing, you can specifically target each prospect with customized and personalized products, pitches and most of all, pricing. This technology allows you to test your presentations one at a time, and testing, which as every expert in direct marketing knows, is the best way to refine your “control package.”   
Here’s a few suggestions to make your “control package” receive more attention:
            • If you have to use an envelope, use an oversized (9"x12") brightly-colored one as this will help you stand out and be remembered
            • If you are testing a postcard, make it 6x9 with a bright color background
            • If at all possible, print the prospects' name in color in a unique typeface that is at least 24 point (1.4”) high
            • Add the person’s name and a teaser somewhere else on the front of the envelope
            • Add the person’s name and a teaser somewhere else on the front of the envelope again and even a third time, changing the color and the teasers
            • If you are using a letter format, make sure that your prospect’s name and their company name stands out several times in the pitch
            • In your pitch, sell the benefits of your product or service for their particular business and try not to mention any competitors
            • Give them several calls to action like special offer, deadlines, special pricing
            • Give them many ways to take advantage of your offer: 800#, your website, a BRC
            • Set them up for a follow-up phone call
            • If at all possible, and if the sale is worth it, send them something that stands out of the normal 6” stack of mail the average executive receives, a box of some sort containing a small gift (or large one depending)
            • If it is in your budget, have your “control” created by a professional, experienced direct mail copywriter and designed by a graphic artist with direct mail experience
      Keep in mind that the national response for direct mail is approximately ½ of 1%. This figure is based on the lowest responding industry (insurance) and the highest responding industries (sweepstakes and giveaways) and that you have to make every shot count.
     One more important thing to remember when building relationships with your prospects is that you make them feel special. Capture as much data as you can, i.e. birthdays, favorite hobbies, sports they like, etc. This information will help you craft a CRM (customer relationship marketing) program that will keep your clients buying from you over and over again. And that is what you are in business to achieve.


Broadcast TV – ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly
            • cost of commercial from $60K including creative
            • running charges from $5K per spot with contract
            • call center for fulfillment $5Kk per week from 800# in message
            • ideal for business-to-consumer marketing
            • need about a month to produce a commercial
Broadcast Radio – ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly
            • cost of commercial from $1,500 including creative
            • running charges from $350 per minute with contract
            • mostly used for business-to-consumer
            • unable to target your prospect precisely
            • need about a week to produce a commercial
Newspaper – ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly
            • cost of black & white ½ page ad from $1,500
            • running charges from $40 per column inch open rate
            • minimal targeting capabilities by section
            • need about a week to produce an ad
Cable – ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly
            • cost of 1 minute commercial $1,500 including creative
            • running charges from $25 per spot with contract
            • limited targeting capabilities
            • need about a week to produce a commercial
Billboards – ideal for getting attention from a lot of people quickly
            • cost of average billboard design and production - $1,500
            • monthly per board costs from $2,200
            • need to order at least a month in advance
            • you may be able to handle calls internally

VDP Direct Mail – ideal for targeted markets and getting attention quickly
            • costs range from a personal letter at $5 to gift boxes at $100.
            • can target as few as one person
            • can be in the mail today
            • can test your pitch, offers and prices
            • can control responses internally


Chapter 4 - The New Rules of Marketing Warfare

     Go Rin No Sho (the Book of Five Rings) by Miyamoto Musashi elaborates on the five fighting styles of his rules of warfare. Written in the early 1600’s Musashi’s wisdom still rings true when applied to marketing in today’s competitive arena.
     In interpretation of the five rings, Musashi refers to the Shinto philosophy of harmony with the elements: Ground, Water, Fire, Wind and Void, and how the elements affect his fighting strategy. If you believe as I do that marketing is war, let’s see how we can apply these strategies to a one-to-one digital marketing campaign.

     Ground – know the smallest things about your prospect and you will understand the largest. Interpreted: get as much data as you can about what your (or your client’s) prospect’s buying habits have been traditionally, learn how they think, who they currently purchase from, when they will order again, even their favorite colors. Amassing data about your prospect will give you the necessary insight to plan, coordinate and control an effective marketing assault with fewer resources than your opponents.

     This data is will help you create the unique selling propositions needed in all marketing, but especially in one-to-one digital marketing, where you can change the offers and price points simply by segmenting the list and alternating the art and copy.

     Water – water adapts its shape to that of its container. Interpreted: present your offer specifically to solve the problem of each person and their particular needs as opposed to a static offer of one size fits all. Specifically, if you are a printer and you have a database of 100 print buyers, fashion your copy to include something about each buyer’s particular industry, some of your current clients in that industry and how your experience in that particular industry will benefit them. With digital on demand, you can parse your list and indicate that “these 25 names get this copy and these photos, and these 21 names get this copy and those photos, etc. Merging is a variable data function of most digital printing systems and should be employed to construct more effective personalized messages. Use it wisely.

     Fire – change your position quickly and adapt to the ever evolving sales opportunities. Interpreted: use on-demand printing for its instantaneous ability to get your message out fast. Without the need to produce negatives, plates and time-consuming setups, digital is the weapon of choice for today’s savvy marketers. Imagine that you are a chiropractor and you know that a snowstorm is heading into your area in two days. You create a postcard alerting your patients not to over exert themselves shoveling snow, but if they do to come in and see you for an adjustment. You mail the day before the snow hits and afterwards your patients visit you to get an adjustment.

     Wind – know the ways of the other schools of thought. Interpreted: understanding of as many methods of communication gives you a greater understanding and comparisons. Traditional offset printing is designed for a static message to be run in mass quantities. In most cases, the users never test their copy or price points so they don’t really know if it is the best offer for their prospect will receive as compared to their competitions. This puts them at a disadvantage when competing with digital on demand. An on demand warrior will test their offers several times in short personalized targeted runs before they produce a final. Even then, they will constantly test until they establish a productive baseline of results. This allows the on demand user unrivaled success when building a sales cycle as compared to the ancient ways.
     Void – by knowing what exists, you can know what doesn’t. Interpreted: if you have the knowledge of digital on demand one-to-one marketing and your competition does not, you have the power to dominate the field of battle. Using the strategy of nature makes sense in the way digital on demand personalized printing is used by companies to acquire and keep their clients. From the very instant a prospect is approached, through the sales cycle and into the CRM program, data is merged to initiate a powerful relationship with the client, something that cannot be accomplished with a static offer using traditional offset.
     A progressive company stays in touch with their customers with every opportunity. Like an advancing army, it’s not advisable to take territory that you can’t hold. Not only must you get new clients, you must remember that your competition is always seeking to take them away. That’s why the CRM program is of importance in marketing. It compliments the new business phase.

     Now that we have the theory, let us describe a program that makes use of all the elements as discussed above.
     One of my clients is a dental laboratory and, by law, they can only market their services to dentists. The dentists understand the competitive nature of dental labs and pretty much have control over the labs in most states. My client is never going to compete on price as they have 40 years in the business and their pricing has escalated over that time. Their quality and service however, justifies the pricing.
     Knowing that the average cost of getting a lead in the dental industry is almost $600.00, but also knowing that each new dentist client potentially can generate thousands a month, enable me to spend around $70.00 to target a potential dental practice. Yes, I can buy a database, but I prefer to prospect by county by looking up my dental prospects in the yellow pages to see who is spending money on their advertising. I also can eliminate oral surgeons and endodontists as well as periodontists because they tend to network themselves to the general dentist for the restorations and therefore don’t buy restorative products directly from a lab.
     Now that I have distilled my targets to around 60 practices, I plan my attack. I will have a special package containing food delivered to 10 dental practices on a Monday morning, every other Monday. My package will be personalized on the outside and the inside and contain a personalized message on the gift envelope and a card on the inside.
     The delivery person already knows that after the office manager takes the gift, she will confirm that the dentist takes a break at 11:30 and that would be an excellent time to call. The salesperson makes the call just to confirm that the dentist received the gift and to inquire what they think of it. Then, once a positive relationship is established, an appointment can be made just to show samples and give the dentist another gift. Currently, we are running almost an 80% response to this technique, and the client is seeing 7-8 dentists over a 2 week period after the initial delivery.
     The second gift is a free case to try the labs quality. The choice of a 3-unit bridge, a full denture or porcelain fused to metal crown is offered at the time of the appointment. The client picks up an average of 4 new accounts off of this process. This controlled growth allows them to maintain quality control with their internal staffing and still service their current client base without too much added manpower.
     Now, the CRM program kicks-in with a monthly mailer offering specials. The data is provided with a breakdown of which dentist orders what products so we can offer them a discount for a product that they don’t normally order, allowing them to try additional services for the cost of under $2.50. We also keep track of birthdays and send out a special personalized package to the dentist on his or her birthday as well as special personalized holiday greetings.
     Every year, the dental lab has increased its sales by over 10% when all of the other labs in their county are off by almost 50%. Even better, their profitability has improved drastically because the cost of generating the new client dropped because of on-demand digital printing.

     Every business should approach their prospects in a friendly, positive manner in order to gain trust. Remember, most companies are already using a supplier, and they may or may not be happy with them. You won’t find out until you get a face-to-face meeting (or voice-to-voice as it may be.) In most cases, the prospect wants to be sold and a salesperson must close the sale. If you have established a polished presentation, you will close more sales and generally eat better than the next salesperson. And, more importantly, your battles will be small.



Chapter 5 - Sharpening Your Sword

     The Samurai created a caste of unionized warriors with their own tools, training, apprenticeships, code of ethics, and hierarchy. The training and discipline required to maintain the tough life of a “sword for hire” culled only the best from the many wannabe’s. If you’ve had a chance to see “The Last Samurai” or its precursor “Shogun,” you get a glimpse of the focus and deep concentration these rare men possessed in their quest for perfection. Their philosophy of Bushido elevates duty to one’s Emperor to an almost religious fervor. Samurai who failed to make the grade often committed sepuku or hari kari, where they literally tore their guts out (I guess ulcers were not invented yet) rather than live a shameful existence. Some even had their best friends quickly remove their heads to ensure quick transition into heaven.

     Compared to today’s print market, they had it easy!

     Printing companies in this highly competitive, constantly shifting, always penny-wise, “I need it yesterday” market are disappearing at a yearly rate of almost 20%. Clients are cutting their marketing budgets, Advertising agencies are downsizing, paper sellers are crying and printers are scrambling for new clients. Oh, did I mention fickle customers?

     Selling in today’s market requires stealth, adaptability, resourcefulness, and in most cases, a sharp pencil.

     Dan Shanok, President of TD Sales and a sales trainer with Sandler Sales Institute states “One of the most important skills that anybody in sales should have is the ability to keep precise details of their time. Whether it’s prospecting for leads, networking to groups, visiting customers for referrals or cold calling on the phone, you’ve got to know how much time you spend cultivating that lead.” Dan explained that at the end of the year he can generate a report on how much time it took him to find a “suspect” and turn them into a “prospect” and then into a customer, at the click of a mouse. “Keeping precise records tells you not only your hourly rate of pay, but if you are improving or getting worse,” he added. Dan’s records are so detail oriented that he knows the monetary value of each Chamber of Commerce that he is a member of as well as each networking group.

     William Miller, Vice President of Sales for Galvanic Printing has a very unique selling strategy. “If you find out what is causing the most pain for the prospect, it becomes a simple task to remove the pain through your products and services. I never show samples first off, I ask questions and listen to the frustration in the voice of a customer. It’s obvious that they are upset with something and that’s why they are talking with me. Price never enters into the conversation until I submit an estimate,” states Miller. The more pain that Bill finds, the easier the sale becomes, and the stronger the bonding process with the customer is initiated.

     Barry Cohen, Managing Partner of AdLab and author of 10 Ways To Screw Up An Ad Campaign, specializes in radio promotions. Barry is very selective in the types of companies he goes after and he uses a very clever direct mail piece he calls “The First Ad Kit” to get them on the phone with him. “When I first started prospecting for new business, we created a kit with a bandage, tongue depressor, bottle of AdVita and some Q-Tips, all with creative copy attached to the items. I would mail them out and call the prospect to check if they received the package and the responses were overwhelming. It gave me a chance to talk to them about their marketing needs and how our new product, the Audio News Release could help them,” stated Barry. Barry also keeps a tight prospecting schedule and with his partner, Bill Bird, writes and produces some of the cleverest radio commercials around, recently winning 3 Silver Microphone Awards.

     If you have not seen the movie “GlenGarry GlenRoss,” it contains dialog written primarily about sales people trying to sell dubious real estate to people who are not really prospects. It does however contain a philosophy of sales that makes sense. Al Pachino, one of the top sellers has a slogan: ABC – Always Be Closing! This is truly a sales credo for anybody in sales. Great sales people make every opportunity to pitch for business. For example, if you are at someone’s wedding and over hear another guest complain about a bad print project, or a low response from a recent mailing, step up to the plate and engage them. Sales opportunities are always around for sharp thinking sales people.

     A lot of printers are faced with the dilemma that the customer wants personalized on- demand mailers and they don’t perform that service in-house. Should they broker them to a digital house and mark up the cost, print them offset and ink jet the names at a mail house or consider purchasing digital equipment. The real question, as Mike Wesner of NexGen Leaders poses is “Can offset sales people be trained to think and sell digital printing?” It’s more than just training, you’ve got to think differently so you can explain to the client the true value and benefits of one to one marketing. You also need to understand how to capture data, set it up for data mining and apply it to the entire program.

     Jon Goldman, President of Goldman Promotions, and a direct marketing specialist is constantly including premiums in his mailers. Jon bills himself as the “Guru of Lumpy Mail” and his website, extols the virtues of getting someone to open up the package by adding a “gift.” Jon’s office is stocked with all sorts of clever promotions including the first ever “Pot Holder Postcard” which he developed by ink jetting a message right onto a cloth pot holder. “Prospects need to be introduced to new and unusual ways of communicating to their markets and they come to me for all sorts of specialty items that help them increase their response rates,” stated Jon. Lumpy mail usually generates interest in the receiver because it contains a gift that is free. Another use of that gift is to encourage a response by offering it as an incentive. Jon is always searching for that elusive one of a kind item that he can offer to his thousands of clients.

     Being a Samurai Salesperson at this time is not easy. If it was, everybody would be doing it. To thrive in today’s marketplace you must out-think, out-produce and out-sell every other sales person in your product category. More importantly, however, is that you bond with your customer so that no other Samurai can separate you from them. It is proven that the cost of generating a new customer is almost five times the cost of keeping one.

     I have two signs on my office wall. One reads: In one day Samson slew 1,000 Philistines with the jawbone of an ass. Every day, ten million sales are killed with the same weapon!

     The other says: You have to sift through a ton of garbage to get an ounce of gold! Everyday, someone enters my office, looks at the signs and smiles. Hope it works for you.

O yasu mi nasai!


Chapter 6 - Do Not Ponder

     In the early eighteenth century, a clan chief named Yamamoto Tsunetomo wrote a doctrine that encompassed the true meaning of Bushido, the warrior’s code. He stated that the life of a Samurai belonged to his employer and he was to follow orders without question. To obey without hesitation any command from his superior, even if it meant his death. Failure to do so brought shame and sepukku (suicide).

     Anybody starting their day cold calling on the telephone can relate to the “Death of a thousand cuts” syndrome. The discipline necessary to pick up the phone and dial strangers who could care less about you, your product or service and your company is very similar to Bushido. Sales people must hone their skills and strengthen their resolve in order to cut a swath through the sword swinging suspects in order to find a prospect. More importantly, today’s sales people must work with their marketing counterparts (unless of course you do both) in order to create new and dynamic ways to generate new business. Just like the Samurai warrior, you should understand how to use the technology available and the new selling skills if you want to draw blood. Here’s why.

     I recently attended a trade show that had 250 booths of marketing related services. Of the 250, 150 were list brokers (one third of the direct mail triad), about 50 were printers, a few were “creative marketers” and the rest were the usual suspects of accounting firms and boutique support shops. My purpose of attending was to case out the joint to see if I wanted to exhibit next year, so I felt it would be prudent to ask a few of the attendees and exhibitors what they thought of the show.

     I look at a trade show as a fishing expedition. Everybody is in a boat hoping to catch fish. Some have chummed the water by pre-mailing an invitation or special offer to encourage visitors to reach their booth, some had show specials that encouraged a potential fence sitter to move, and some had the “trout look,” no idea what their purpose was in being there, but they were in the fray nonetheless.

     I managed to stop at about fifty booths and speak with the salespeople manning the turrets. Every printer extolled personal service, quality printing and quick turnaround, to a man. A few had other weapons such as data merging for personalization or on-demand book making. Three specialized in intricate pop-ups or multi-dimensional products (of which I am highly intrigued) and one or two with interactive media.
Ninety percent of the sales or marketing people I spoke with said the show was okay and they might be back next year. Many showed me business cards they had wrested out of the hands of attendees and a few were licking their wounds and swearing off this show for the near future.

     What does this have to do with being a Samurai Salesperson? Well, for them, they were fighting for market share with the weapons their superiors gave them, and some were just not well armed. Most of these salespeople, however, had no weapons. Their superiors did not understand the competition or the industry’s direction, or they decided that if they can’t print it, they won’t offer it, even at the peril of losing current accounts. This amounts to mass suicide.

     On-demand printing is not going to go away and if you can’t afford the half a million dollar system, partner with a company that has one. Not only will you be able to offer options to your clients that may help them generate new business, you should train with this powerful weapon until you are proficient, even using it as a prospecting tool to generate new sales for offset products. It’s not rocket science anymore. In fact, in the hands of a trained Samurai, on-demand personalized printing can be the deciding factor in many a battle.

     For instance, even though I am primarily selling digital on-demand personalized products, I still offer a lot of offset printing products. Wearing my printing broker hat, it is my duty to recommend the most cost-efficient products to my clients. If they don’t realize a profit from the project, I didn’t do my job well. The same should apply to offset printers. Can you really afford to let your customer find out from a competitor that personalized on-demand printing can solve some intricate marketing communications projects in a very cost-effective way? Do you really want your customer to switch completely to on-demand or would a planned phase-in work in your behalf? If you polled your clients would you find out that they would like to use variable data digital printing to the point where you might be able to afford a smaller “green button” system?

     Printers today, whether they like it or not, are engaged in a battle for market share in a steadily shrinking market. Just sending in the sales force and demanding that they sell on quality instead of versatility is suicide when they go up against a competent digital printer. It’s time to take a realistic view of where marketing communications is going and put yourself in its future, or maybe hari kiri appeals to you more.
     I have consulted with many printing salespeople and print shop owners over the past year and the consensus is nobody is having a good time of it. The sales force is frustrated, the owners are nervous, and the clients seem to be spending as little as possible. The big projects are being outsourced to foreign shops who compete more on price than delivery times, but even that can be planned for in the program. Is there a solution? Yes! Is it for everyone? No.

     While the industry information indicates that printers close their shops at a rate of almost 20% a year, and the print runs have diminished, the customer still needs to communicate or they will cease to function. It seems the customer is seeking something to help them market more efficiently and cost-effectively. In most cases they go to a creative firm to have the material designed and written professionally. Most design firms need to be educated as to the proper mix of variable data digital and offset materials, and that can be your opportunity. I have had amazing success in learning how to marry the technologies and if you understand each technology’s place in the communications package, you will reap your fair share of new business while keeping your current customers happy.
     Do not ponder…strike now, the present is pregnant with the future, and it’s yours.

Kashiko Marimashita.


Chapter 7 - Conditioning You Mind

     In 480 B.C. 300 Spartan “Samurai” held off a force of over 250,000 Persians led by King Xerxes at the battle of Thermopylae, in Greece. The Spartans proved to be a deterrent force when faced up-close with swords. What did them in was technology…archers raining down thousands of arrows until not one Spartan was standing.
     Even though each Spartan lost his life, they bought time for their navy to rally and destroy the Persian navy and avoid becoming another Persian state. More importantly, the Spartan soldier, just like the Japanese Samurai was conditioned over years of physical and mental training to fight up-close and, if need be, to sacrifice himself for the society he had served. It has been stated that the term Samurai translates into “To Serve.”
     If we, as digital printing salespeople are going up against a superior force (large established offset printer), we must know how and where to apply our technology in order to turn the battle for a sale into a victory. In order to accomplish this, we must understand from a marketing communications standpoint the value of each type of printing, the cost factors of each and the best ways to apply each.
     As a marketing person, I am always looking for ways to approach my prospect in unique, dynamic and cost-efficient ways. To accomplish this I prefer one to one marketing. One to one tactics allow me to initiate a personal relationship with a potential buyer immediately. I can customize a mailer with visuals and copy relevant to my prospect and personalize it with their name and their company’s logo placed several times in the mailer, in lots of one. In effect, letting them know I know a little about what they do and how I can help them do it better. The major advantage of digital is variable data placement and instant printing.
     In today’s message saturated marketplace, a static (offset) pitch is inflexible and can lead to a quick death. It’s a “one size fits all” approach and in most cases leads to disaster. I state this because if the national average response rate is only ½ of 1%, and the average cost of a mailer in lots of 10K is $1.47; your cost of generating a lead is around $300. If you are really interested in helping your client, at least offer to test their pitch digitally, where it can be tweaked, refined and modified on the fly before you run the entire print campaign with a single pitch.

In Vitro Applications for Digital

     Recently, I was hired by a paper distributor to help them generate appointments for their salespeople. Faced with fewer printers because of industry attrition and commoditized products, they needed to increase their sales by around 20% just to maintain their previous years’ billing.
     One of the first things I did was develop a unique selling proposition. I had to differentiate them from the rest of the paper distributors in order to sell them not as a supplier, but as paper specialists, aware of the growing use of digital printing and the various paper solutions available to help companies print more efficiently.
    My next task was to develop a target list of potential companies that are currently using large amounts of digital papers, and prepare a pitch tailored to their particular needs. As we determined there were several types of companies (Large law firms, accounting firms, etc.)   I wrote several variations of this pitch, all containing jargon from each industry and included the prospect’s name and company name. OK, you figured out that I was going to use digital printing and data merging to accomplish this task but here’s the difference: Experienced direct marketers understand the need to personalize mailers in order to get the message opened in greater numbers and they also know that “lumpy mail” gets opened more than flat mail so I created a personalized lumpy mailer, designed to a) get opened by the decision maker’s screener (gate keeper) and b) be dynamic enough to be passed along to the decision maker, my true target. The entire function of this mailer was to build a positive emotional reaction, imbed a premise, and burn-in the clients name so when the salesperson made their follow-up phone call, a high percentage would get on the phone and set an appointment for a free paper consultation.

     In setting up a sales cycle, I wanted to create an attention getting emotionally charged and personalized product that a salesperson could effectively follow to do what they do best…sell. When the salesperson generates their appointment, we then created a personalized leave behind kit emphasizing personal attention in a dynamic way. We personalized a 9” x 12” envelope, a pocket-folder and a brochure with the prospect’s name, the name of their company and their company logo.

Cost is always a factor

     Many of you will argue that the cost of creating these products is much higher per piece than traditional offset products. True. But I only have to create them as I need them and therefore the overall cost was much lower than a minimum run of even 500 units. This program cost a fraction of what a normal offset project would have cost and gave my client the flexibility to test several pitches and offers, all of which gave them a considerable edge.

     Here’s where conditioning enters the scene. I understand the limitations and advantages of the many forms of print communications and can make informed decisions based on the needs of each particular project. This knowledge enables me to design a program based on the needs of the client and not the print medium.
     As salespeople, we need to be adept at understanding all of the opportunities afforded by each of the print forms and then offer the right mix to solve a client’s communications problem. Ultimately, each form of printing offers potential and should be explored and available. Knowing them all will help you close more business.

Zenbu Shimasu


Chapter 8 - Ninja & Stealth

     In 1867, just before the Tokugawa’s brought an end to the feudal wars in Japan, a revolutionary new fighting technology was introduced into the constant clan warfare. Some believe that this sect of Samurai was so powerful that the Emperor was forced to hire them just so he could live out the rest of his years in peace.

     The Ninja were a select group of specially-trained, skilled assassins, whose instruments and tactics were non-traditional and it was reported that they could make themselves invisible. A Ninja was trained all is life in Aikido (close-up fighting), Kung Fu, archery and the art of killing silently. In most instances they were paid by one feudal lord to kill another, and the process was getting out of hand and expensive. If you want to improve your sales, you must think out of the box, like a Ninja.

     Here’s how to use Stealth in your next digital sales presentation.
     Most of the time, a print buyer will call you in because they need to communicate, in print, a business-to-business or business-to-consumer pitch. Whether it’s a mail piece, a brochure in an envelope, a flyer, a poster, you know the drill. Companies buy printing to communicate (sell) something to someone. In most cases, these companies have been buying a static pitch, a “one size fits all” sales presentation put on paper. In most cases, the response is so disappointing; they have put this new project together out of frustration.
     So here you are, a Sales Samurai, brandishing a sharpened digital, on-demand sword, trying to convince these print buyers, already in the flinch mode, that digital quality is just as good as offset. Well tomodachi, whip out your throwing stars. Stop comparing dot quality and demonstrate the superior technology of on-demand variable data placement (VDP) and data merging that allows the client to test various pitches in short, targeted runs. This weapon alone cannot be matched in any offset encounter. Your competitor is dead and doesn’t know it. He can only compare per piece price.

     When the offset salesperson parries with their per unit “watakushi” (lance), their power is based on mass units in thousands, not lots of ten or thirty. This means that out of a ten thousand piece run, 9,950 pieces are not going to bring in an inquiry. And offset can’t do anything about it! You, on the other hand, have the opportunity of allowing the client to test, test, test. They can test the database; they can test 100 pieces with one offer and another 100 pieces with another offer. They can test price points, they can test anything they want in short targeted runs. Then, after they have discovered what works, they can test the sales force’s follow-up ability to set appointments to close. Offset can’t compete.

     Here’s another bonus: Whip out your short sword and tell the client that they can be in the mail in a few hours, not in a few days, and watch their face. I bet it’s glowing. Tell them that there will be no charge for film or plates and that the project will go in the mail tomorrow so they will have immediate results, not the 10 working days most offset jobs require. I prefer to use lumpy mail tactics in offering my clients short run 3-dimensional marketing products because they offer me more opportunity for success. As a direct marketing professional, I am aware that in most cases, lumpy mail generates more attention and stands out of the average pile of mail. It has also been proven that personalized 1:1 mail generates higher interest as well. By combining the two I have been able to offer my clients marketing options never before available that will help them generate new sales for a fraction of what it normally would cost them using offset.
     What I’m saying is that you should stop selling printing and start selling the marketing aspects of digital.

Hon tu desu ka!


Chapter 9 - Team Work

     One of the most essential talents a Samurai exuded was for the spirit of teamwork. This spirit was so ingrained in them that when they built their homes, it was understood that each of their houses were designed to be a temporary dwelling. If their employer was going to be attacked, the enemy would have to pass by one of their homes first and it was the Samurai’s duty to set his home on fire. This did two things; 1) it alerted the other Samurai that enemy troops had entered the territory and 2) it denied the enemy sanctuary and safety from which to expand the attack.
     Setting your home on fire was a bit drastic, but it did get the word out and it was personal. It coincided with the Samurai code of Bushido that states “Keep death in your mind at all times and you will have a long life.”

     Printing salespeople can relate to this in many ways. In today’s tight market, the fuse is always lit and failure abounds for many. The Samurai salesperson however communicates efficiently to his peers in order to help them win business and then to succeed himself.

     Case in point. My friend, Bill Miller, is a printing broker and production master who is constantly seeking opportunity to offer his services and products to selected companies. Based on carefully developed criteria, Bill markets to high level print buyers who require very high quality printing. Bill is persistent and his avarice is always paying off as he makes opportunities by constantly staying in touch with his many contacts, one of which is a medium-sized credit union.
     Bill called me the other day and during our conversation mentioned that this client had the potential of being really big if only he could unseat the present print supplier. I asked him what were some of the products that he wanted to offer the client and he said they do a lot of newsletters and if he could just get in to do one, he was sure that he could open the door for more work.
     Just as each Samurai specialized in different fighting methods and strategies, Bill’s specialty was creating offset printing and therefore his thinking was based on the limitations of that weapon. When I asked him if he really wanted to unseat the present print supplier, he smiled, he had subtly sunk his hook into me and now I was working for him, trying to apply variable data and dynamic pitch development to his problem.
     Here was an opportunity to not only apply my sword to the problem, but to use this technology in ways not familiar to his prospect and give Bill an edge in defeating his rival.

    It was so stated in 1603 by Tokugawa Ieyasu when he transformed the military establishment into administrators, “now that there is peace, put those Samurai to work managing all that we have won. And let’s move to Edo, there’s a new sushi restaurant we gotta try!” This forced everybody to work together to solve the day-to-day problems (and eliminate the boredom) of the running the Shogunate bureaucracy. Here was where all of the high technology of its day was situated. Here, the most important battles for control took place. Here technology had to be shared for the good of all.

     Here was my opportunity to share my secrets with another Sales Samurai. Let’s analyze the newsletter that the prospect was currently buying.
     Nine times out of ten, it is a self mailer. This usually means it is printed in one place and shipped to a mail house for labeling or ink jet addressing.
     Next, we discussed format. This particular newsletter was a single 11” x 17” sheet printed in two colors and folded twice to become a self-mailer. The prospect only needed two thousand of them and they had a one week window from receiving the files to mailing. OK, nothing earth shattering there. What sorts of topics were covered in this newsletter I asked? “The usual…take a loan for this, refinance that, stuff about your credit, etc.,” stated Bill.

     Mentally, I started playing out scenarios. Could we take their database and merge names to personalize each article, I asked. Could we find out what data the prospect maintained to actually place articles pertaining to each individual, like a special rates for a car loan if the person had a 5-year old car, or mortgage refinance if the home owner was paying too much on their current mortgage, I queried. Bill was taking copious notes. “Imagine,” I offered, “You present the prospect with this concept and now they have to hire you to start accumulating data on each of their clients for you to add into a personalized newsletter format that is so dynamic, no two are the same.” “Do you think your rival can offer anything remotely close,” I asked?

     Bill had this huge smile on his face. He now had learned a new strategy with tactics so dynamic that he would start thinking in ways he never could before. Instead of just executing a client’s file, he was now thinking about solving a client’s problem. “Now,” I said, “Imagine all of their communications to their clients being personalized and customized. Do you think they would be interested,” I said with a smile.
     The hair on the back of my neck goes up when I consider the opportunities, strictly from a marketing standpoint. Here's just one example of what I have been able to do using this amazing powerful tool, variable data imaging.  I have been in direct marketing for about 20 something years. I design, write and implement creative direct mail programs for companies that do three things; 1) generate new business, 2) keep their current customers (CRM) from even thinking about going over to their competitors, and 3) encourage current customers to use more of what my clients sell (at even higher margins).
     Needless to say, when I was first introduced to VDP it was in the primitive state of just being able to merge a database in order to insert a name or a company name into a document. Now, don’t get me wrong, having created direct mail programs in virtually every SIC over my tenure in marketing, I realized that a static message sent to 10K people is like going into a single’s bar and winking at all of the women in the hopes of meeting one. There is no time to start building a relationship. But, with good data (see data mining) I can now approach as few as 50 prospects and tailor my message for each one with the jargon and hot buttons of their particular industry while addressing their particular needs.
     What’s even more astounding, to me at least, is that when I create a unique sales cycle using VDP, I am generating responses in the 30%-80% range. What this is telling me is the future of direct mail is going to change radically once these 3 things take place: 1) “Creatives” must learn how to design and write for dynamic pitch communications, 2) Companies must collect more data on each customer (do you know when your client’s birthday is?) and 3) Printers must become more than printers. They must become problem solvers and experts at direct mail by offering their customers all forms of data, data purification, postage options, sorting and tracking, and everything else under one roof.
     According to everything I’ve seen, touched, and read, 20% of printers disappear every year. Why? Is there a plethora of printers? Have printer’s commoditized themselves? Are the margins not there to sustain profitability? Or is it that the think they are selling printing and that they are not in the communications industry?

     Right now, I have a competitive advantage against all other creative marketing companies out there. This is my secret and I’m just giving you a small taste.
     Here’s where I think the industry is going. You can take this with a grain of salt but I prove it every day.

     The cost of color is dropping exponentially every year. The big half million dollar systems may be already facing obsolescence as the set-up and cost of running small runs prices them high against the small footprint connected digital printing systems now available. In the not too distant future, companies that own the data will be producing their own printing in house, using networked systems and hiring creative people like me to design and test on our own systems before selling them the files.

     Look, putting your head in the sand or sitting on the fence does not make VDP and digital go away, but, fellow offset printers, lift up your hearts, the future is not that bleak. So far, the largest size I can print is 12” x 18”. Maybe it’s time for you to offer designs that are bigger and more robust or, test your client’s messages using VDP, then take the best response rated pitch and run it offset.
     Oh, by the way, because lumpy mail usually increases response rates by 30%-40% and personalized mail also increases prospect responses by up to 40%, I only use personalized 3-dimensional products for all of my clients. But that’s a story to be shared later on.

     Recently, a short run (25 unit) personalized mailing kit I worked on with 3 friends of mine was awarded a Technical Excellence Award and a Leo Award from the Association of Graphic Communications (AGC) and a Gold Medal in Direct Mail from Creativity Magazine’s International Awards competition. Just because you are a subscriber to this fine e-zine, and read my column, you will have the opportunity to view this dynamic piece that returned a whopping 80% response. For your consideration, you will need flash and sound to view and hear the site. Just click here turn up your sound and be prepared to view what I think is going to be the future of business-to-business direct marketing.
     I hear from readers from time to time and I am curious as to any breakthroughs that they may have experienced using VDP. If you care to share your experiences with me and our readers, contact me at the address below.
   Oh, the happy ending. Bill is now quoting on so many projects his head is spinning. As the Chinese Proverb goes, “Be careful what you ask for, you may get it.”



Chapter 10 - Mastering Your Craft

     January 17, 2004 – A true Samurai seeks knowledge because he must strive to excel in his warrior caste. If he was proficient with swords then he must endeavor to learn archery. The more weapons you could master, the better your chance for survival in battle. That was not enough, however! You had to put the lives of your fellow Samurai ahead of yours and that meant mastering as many different martial arts skills as you could learn, and your master encouraged this learning. This philosophy has actually been practiced for thousands of years by virtually every warrior based culture since humans banded together to defend themselves and form civilization.

     It amazes me sometimes how today’s printing sales Samurai do not get the same training from their employers in the printing industry. Most of the printing shops, brokers and sales people are still 1st generation-offering offset, web, rotogravure, silkscreen, etc. Some have analyzed the potential market for printed products and have included larger format banners, posters, vehicle wraps and signage while others have added broader digital print services that augment their traditional work. There are even a few who practice the Ninja art of VDP. But here’s the rub. The needs of tomorrow’s sales Samurai mean that today they must understand that they are an integral part of the marketing communications industry and not just printers.

Caste Warfare

     But most printing companies don’t have training budgets or schedules for educating their salespeople in VDP other than allowing them to attend trade shows or dealer demos. They must compete for dwindling and scarce budgets, usually at the fickle whims of the Ad Agency caste and a bidding system designed to shrink their margins.

     The Ad Agency caste offers their clients everything. They are the ultimate brokers because they invent the strategy and the product (the project for the Printer Caste), then bill the client for managing all of the elements (with markup of course). These predator Sales Samurai Account Executives immerse themselves in technology in order to survive in some of the most hazardous terrain around and they must be proficient in their understanding or they cannot develop programs for their clients to utilize. They must become well versed in print, internet, broadcast, and strategies to utilize each media more efficiently and profitably.

     Today’s print sales Samurai can no longer just concern themselves with supplying a component. Printers have commoditized their products over the past decade to the point that a majority face a perilous next three months. The philosophy of “if it isn’t made here, we don’t sell it” is the death knell for any organization in such a competitive marketplace. In order to thrive, today’s printer must consider offering their clients more services in order to, (a) position their shop’s services against all other rivals, (b) bill out on more profitable margins and (c) maintain a dominant market share position in their regional battlefield.

     A first step for a lot of printers is inclusion of a mail center with database management, ink jet addressing and various finishing procedures. This weapon allows them to sell to a higher level of print user and keep the account active by storing and managing the client’s data. It’s the data component that expands the market. This particular weapon, when mastered, allows the warrior to enter the world of VDP more efficiently because data manipulation has already been mastered. And make no mistake in projecting where the printing industry is going, Variable Data Printing and 1:1 communications will be the weapons of tomorrow in every client’s arsenal.

     The Samurai of Tomorrow will be a communications expert, offering a plethora of marketing products to a client and bypassing the Agency caste offering creative consulting services through affiliate partnerships. This will enable them to bring in more diverse and profitable projects rather than waiting for someone else to invent them and bid them out.
     For today’s printer to maintain a foothold in the future, they must begin the education process immediately. It is vital that they begin the steps necessary to train themselves and their foot soldiers in the technology that will shape tomorrow’s battles for consumer dollars. By educating their sales people now they will build a formidable force of knowledgeable advisors that any client could rely on for help in approaching prospects. When the sales force can make informed decisions on applying all forms of communications to assist the client in generating new business for the client, then they will be generating amazing profits for the printer. And the printer of tomorrow will no longer be a printer but a major force for clients to use in their battles for market share.

Banzai. May you live 10,000 years!



Please offer your feedback to Harvey. He can be reached at:

Note: If you are a Sales person and have a unique selling tactic, experience or prospecting strategy that you want to share with our readers please e-mail them to: or

Harvey Hirsch is President/Creative Director of Pop'N'Fold Papers, Inc., which specializes in on-demand 3-dimensional personalized products. He has over 25 years experience in the creation of new business development programs and sales promotion campaigns. He can be reached at: Some samples of the products his company creates--and that print providers can use for their own businesses--and those of their customers--can be viewed at