Monday, December 17, 2012

While Visions of Bacon Wrapped Smokies Danced In Their Heads

Photo taken right before the feeding frenzy began at Spectra Print's Green Bay Packer Appreciation party. One brave Chicago Bears fan was seen filling his plate (but avoiding the green and gold cookies and cheese platter). 

Two days later the Packers clinched the North Central Division, claiming the championship at Soldier Field. Coincidence?

Best not to tempt fate. Fire up those crock pots ... will see you all in a few weeks.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Is It A Good Thing To Have Our Head In The Cloud?

Earlier this summer Gartner Inc predicted that one-third of all consumer's digital content would be stored in "the Cloud" by 2013. 

Hummmm … very interesting you say. But what does that mean?

If you feel as if today's technology seems to be evolving faster than a romantic pair of rabbits and you can't keep up … you aren't alone. If you find yourself wondering "What is this Cloud that everyone keeps talking about and what's so great about it" then read on.

Back When I Was Your Age …

You knew you are "mature" when you utter the phrase, "When I was your age …" Technology has changed so quickly that even today's generation are astounded at the rapidly morphing technology. Back in the day all of your data, photos, files and music were stored on a physical piece of hardware. A floppy disk, CD or on your computer's hard drive.

In today's world, when you access a photograph that is on Facebook, Flickr, listen to music on Pandora or watch a movie on Netflix - that photo, music or movie isn't on your computer. Can you guess where it is? 

The Cloud

Simply put, the Cloud are services and technologies that allow the delivery of computing services typically delivered over the Internet in real-time, giving you (referred to as the "end-user") instant access to data and applications from any device with Internet access. 

Your email or webmail services are in the Cloud

Think of the Cloud as as a utility like electricity. When I plug my smart phone charger into the wall, electricity flows. I didn't generate the electricity myself and, other than a bunch of wires hidden behind the wall, I have no clue where it was generated. All I care about is that when I need it, my cell phone is charged.

Cloud computing or being "in the Cloud" works on this same principle. Through an Internet connection (the electrical outlet), I can access whatever applications, files, photos or data that I have opted to be stored in the cloud - anytime, from any device.  I don't necessarily care how it gets to me and where it's stored - all I know is when I want to access my online journal, it's there.

In reality it isn't that simple … Cloud Computing represents more than one type of service - it might be more appropriate to compare it to all the utilities hooked up to your house. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology there are three basic types of service. For us non-geeks, we can break it down into much simpler terms in two types of Cloud: Public or Private.

The Public Cloud is the ability to use services that do not reside on your local computer: Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo, Facebook, Flickr or Instagram are all examples of the Public Cloud. All of these services allow you to access the Cloud by storing your information in a datacenter and streaming that information to your personal computer. It is "Public" because it allows you to stream movies, have an email account that is maintained by a public infrastructure. In that case you've been using the Cloud without ever realizing it.

A Public Cloud is a lot like an apartment building full of separate tenants and each tenant uses the space allotted to them for their personal use. If they need a bigger apartment, they will need to pay for the additional space.

In a Private Cloud, you are the only tenant in your building which means you don't have to worry about what other tenants are doing that could potentially cause a breakdown in security. A good hosting company will deploy stringent firewalls across the Private Cloud to make sure this doesn't happen.

Private consumers tend to use the Public Cloud while companies tend to use the Private Cloud.

It use to be said that if you had your head in the clouds you were considered a daydreamer. Looks like technology has changed the meaning of yet another term that I knew back in the day ...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Spectra Print Sponsor All-Canada Show; New for 2013 Two Social Media Seminars

Gearing up for the sponsorship season for All-Canada Show. We're all looking forward to offering insight to attendees on social media.

Interested? We'd love to have you join the conversation.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

My! Look How Much You've Grown!

Our goslings at one week

Photo Credit: Al Scherwinski (c) 2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Amherst Elementary Students Tour Spectra Print

Amherst fourth graders enjoyed a day visiting Spectra Print of Stevens Point on Wednesday, April 25, 2012, as a culminating activity of their Wisconsin manufacturing studies. Mr. Jeff Reichert led the tour of the plant, explaining the process starting with meeting customers to decide on products to be printed, estimating and customer service, scheduling projects, graphic designing, printing, binding, and finally mailing to customers.

The students were amazed at the size of the printing presses and other equipment, as well as the specialized tasks that can be done by machinery such as cutting huge stacks of paper, folding, stapling, binding, and even carrying scrap paper through a series of overhead tubes to be baled and sent to paper mills to be recycled.

Thank you,
Mrs. Nicholson, Mrs. Lutz, Mr. Lind
Grade 4 Teachers
Amherst Elementary School

Monday, April 30, 2012

Congratulations Are In Order!

 We've been waiting for our resident pair of Canadian Geese to introduce their latest brood to the world and it's finally happened. This morning the new babies made their first appearance. 

The world is mud-luscious and puddle-wonderful.  ~e.e. cummings

Photo Credit: Al Scherwinski (c) 2012

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Print Is Not Dead: The Journey

Take 3 minutes. Watch this short spoken word performance dedicated to the power of print.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Groundhog Day in March?

April 7, 2011

March 15, 2012
What appears to be the same pair of geese, return to their summer home.

Do you ever have deja-vu?
Didn't you just ask me that?

Photo Courtesy of Al Scherwinski

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

What's The Secret To Facebook Success?

In October 2011, Mashable reported that Facebook had as many users as the entire Internet did back in 2004, the year Facebook was founded. With over 800 million active users, it's safe to say if you are reading this post, chances are, you're among the majority. Businesses and organizations have been quick to realize that Facebook provides a way to reach out to potential customers via a fluid and interactive site unlike a static web site. But what is the secret to a successful page? It might surprise you to learn that the secret to success on Facebook really is no secret at all.

Make It Fun!!
If you have ever visited a boring web site, you know what I am talking about. A web site landing page that is heavy on copy, light on photos and color is not engaging and won't hold a visitors attention long enough for them to discover what a terrific product you have. What do you think are the odds of visitors returning for a second visit? The same holds true for Facebook - a page that is interesting and engaging gives fans a reason to come back to your page. 

The secret here is that your competition on Facebook is not necessarily your direct competitors. Facebook, blog and websites with a high energy "wow factor" that offer up-to-date information and feedback are the sites that compete for your fans attention.

Create a Community
One of the reason's Facebook has become the 'go to' place is it allows individuals, organizations and businesses to create a feeling of belonging to a community. Sounds great but how do you create a community for your business?

A real estate company might pose the question, "What is your fondest memory that involves either your childhood home or a favorite family member?" A hardware store could engage their fans by posting a close-up photo of a tool and ask their fans if they can identify the tool. The first person to respond with the correct answer might receive a $10.00 coupon off their next purchase of $50.00 or more.

The secret to starting a fan community? All you need to do is to post regular and relevant content to your wall that prompts a discussion. Don't let it overwhelm you but you need to show up and post several times a week and you should spend at least 30 minutes a day reading your fan's posts and visiting their sites. 

Other factors you need to consider ...

Can You See Me?
Check your page settings. Your content needs to be visible so others can see your videos and photographs, stories and questions.

Pay No Attention To That Man Behind The Curtain
Show your personality! Be active on your Facebook page by sharing your opinions and responding to your fans' comments. It shows you as welcoming and warm, all of which contributes to a sense of community.

What Do You Think?
The adage "the most important thing in communication is to hear what isn't being said" is another secret behind your Facebook success. People love to share but especially so on social media. Encourage your fans and followers to share: if you are a shop that caters to the outdoor market, ask your fans to share a photograph of themselves engaging in their favorite outdoor activity (biking, fishing, camping), ask them to share their personal stories. The secret here is to listen, comment and compliment.

Making Special Deals and Discounts Truly Special
Offering special deals and discounts to just your Facebook fans is guaranteed to generate buzz, get people engaged on your page and keep your fans returning to your page. Rewarding your fans with offers and discounts that are regularly updated will be appreciated, creating loyalty within your community.

You can design a tab specifically for contests, games or quiz, which will make it easy to find and allow you to promote a contest or quiz on your fan's wall posts.

The added benefit to you is Facebook contests are a great way to capture data, including email and physical addresses for re-marketing.

You Like Me! You Really Really Like Me!
In an effort to differentiate between personal and business pages, people who "like" your business page are called a fan. All too often, business owners take this term far too literal, convinced that the reason anyone would "like" their page is because, well, they like you. In truth, a fan is just a term Facebook uses for a customer or potential customer. Your goal should be to secure their business but first you need to convince potential customers that you are prepared to support your product and provide first class customer service. You do this by engaging your customers, responding to their posts and asking for feedback.

They're Just Not Into You
Your Facebook page should not be all about you. If your page updates are all about what you are doing, how fabulous your company is with a reoccurring sales pitch, your fans are going to quickly lose interest. It's doubtful that anyone will want to share your sales pitch with their Facebook friends.

Engage your followers in a dialogue. Focus your status updates whenever possible with content that is relevant and newsy: emerging trends, new products etc. Fun and compelling status updates are exactly the type of information Facebook users tend to "like" and share with their friends.

Crunching The Numbers
Finally, the truth is, the business with the most amount of fans at the end of the day is not necessarily the winner. The number of Facebook fans and Twitter followers has been referred to by marketers as vanity metrics. Businesses tend to give creditability to their Facebook likes as if they held the same value as customers or sales which isn't a true indicator of Facebook success.

Many businesses set up a Facebook fan page and look to their fan growth rate as the primary success metric. But their number of fans isn't giving them the "big picture." 

Sure it's great to think thousands of Facebook users are seeing your content but instead of collecting hundreds of fans, you should be tracking and measuring how much and often your fans are actually engaged with your content by the number of times your posts are "liked", shared and tagged. Regular sharing between a number of fans demonstrates more engagement than a high number of fans who only leave one post and never return. (Think Starbucks and Coca Cola as prime examples of massive Facebook groups with low levels of engagement.)

The goal is not to be good at Facebook. The goal is to be good at business because of Facebook.

In a future post we'll discuss how to measure your Facebook success. Until then, don't throw in the social media towel if your page has a small number of fans. If your fans are engaging with you, responding to your updates in a way that fits in with your marketing plan and social media goals, you are doing fine.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Spectra Print Clients Prepare for the Upcoming Sport Show Season

It's that time of the year when the topics being discussed center around the upcoming run to the Super Bowl, the weird and wacky weather playing havoc with our ice fishing and the start of the sports show season. For our Canadian friends this is the time of the year when they head south of the border to talk fishing and hunting.

For the past few months the pre-press and press departments at Spectra Print have been busy assisting clients with their marketing and promotional material. With the first of the All Canada Shows scheduled to open in a few hours, we wish all the exhibitors on the sports show circuit a successful season.

Spectra Print is pleased to announce the addition of four new accounts to the dozens of our Canadian outdoor accounts: Showalter's Fly-In Outposts, Nestor Falls Fly-In Outposts, Oak Lake Lodge and Arctic Lodges.

Spectra Print has been a proud sponsor of the All Canada Show for the past several years. Working with Jennifer Young and the staff at All Canada Show, we know first hand the hard work and effort that goes on behind the scenes; it really does take an entire village to make All Canada Show such a success. The 2012 show season kicks off in St Louis, Missouri, January 6-8. The entire All Canada Show schedule can be found here.

As one of the sponsors of All Canada Show, Spectra Print will be again be an exhibitor at the shows and will be be tweeting the event as well as live blogging from the Chicago and Minneapolis shows. We will be posting #hashtags on our Facebook page so you can join in the conversation.