Monday, December 28, 2009

5 Things That Changed Business in the 2000’s

The aught years have been a strange, exciting, and scary time for many businesses. In the 2000’s business experienced the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. The last ten years have brought scandals (Madoff, Enron), booms and busts (dot coms, housing) technological advances, a global recession, and many important lessons that should guide us into the 2010’s.

With the decade coming to a close let’s take a look at the things that changed business in the 2000’s.


Think back, and try to remember how you used to search the internet before Google. Yep, I can barely remember either. Google single handedly revolutionized the way we all interact with the internet and the tactics we use to get our businesses found on the web. In 2000 Google was a small search engine with a loyal following; by 2006 the word Google was included in both the Merriam Webster Collegiate Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary. In fact, I had to Google, Google just to write this.


In 1999 the first BlackBerry device was introduced as a two-way pager. By 2002 the first smartphone BlackBerry was rolled out bringing with it a host of biz friendly applications and the business world hasn’t been the same since.

For better or worse many of us are now attached to our work literally at the hip. Where once we had to be by a computer in order to do anything work related, we can now perform any number of tasks right on our phone. The BalckBerry has been great for businesses for sure, maybe not so great for those of us now addicted to our “CrackBerry”.

Social Media

One of the major themes of the decade was a need for instant gratification, nowhere is this better typified then in the explosion of social media applications.

Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, LinkedIn, Wordpress, etc.  whichever one you or your business is on and you’re most likely on all of them, these social media platforms have changed the way we interact with friends, family, and most importantly to businesses…consumers.

Booms, Busts, and Bailouts
First it was the dot com boom. In 1995 buying into dot com’s was all the rage, by 2001 it went from dot com to “dot bomb” as the bottom fell out on the dot com market and investors found out just how shaky many of these companies foundations really were.

Next, it was the housing bubble that burst. In the first half of the decade housing prices were at an all time high with property values around the nation jumping in some places more than 80%.

It wouldn’t last long as the bubble began to burst in 2006 and by 2008 the Case-Shiller home price index reported its largest price drop in history, launching the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

The stock market was no stranger to the wild boom/bust swings of the 2000’s either.

In 2007 the Dow Jones Industrial Average soared to record heights. On April 27, 2007 the Dow closed above the 13,000 mark for the first time in history and continued to surge upward.

On Oct. 9, 2007 the Dow hit an all time high of 14,164.53. Yet, like seemingly everything else in this decade as soon as something reached record heights it was poised to set record lows.

And that’s exactly what happened on Sep. 29, 2008. When word spread on Wall Street that the House had rejected the government’s $700 billion bailout plan, the Dow fell 778 points, its largest single day drop in history.

Speaking of government bailouts the 2000’s saw its share of those as well. It began with the $700 billion Emergency Economic Stabilization Act to help ensure that America’s banking system would not fail. While American institutions like the Lehman Brothers were allowed to go under, other institutions deemed to big to fail, like AIG, were kept afloat by the government’s bailout package.

Then it was the American auto industry which needed a bailout. Though Ford did not take any bailout money Chrysler and GM took billions in tax-payer dollars only to eventually file for bankruptcy anyway. The government then promised billions more to keep the companies afloat.

How did all this change business? Well, it taught us that bad lending practices, and living well beyond our means is simply… bad business.

The Great Recession
Undoubtedly nothing has had a greater impact on business and on many of our lives as the economic recession.

Beginning in the United States in December 2007 and predicted by some to last into 2011 the “Great Recession” has had and will continue to have a profound impact on how we conduct business.

Though the actual origins of the recession are still being debated there is no doubt that it resulted from a confluence of events including: reckless lending practices, sub-prime loans, a sharp increase in oil and food prices, the bursting of the housing bubble and the collapse of the Lehman Brothers.

As a result many businesses were forced to lay off thousands of employees and the unemployment rate in the U.S. went from 4.9% in December 2007 to 10.9% in October 2009.

Though there are signs that the recession is waning the real question for businesses is not when the recession will end, but how can we prevent it from happening again.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Death of E-Mail and the Wave of the Future

To many of us email plays an integral role in our everyday interactions whether they are business or personal.

For the last decade email has been the essential non-voice communication tool. A study of U.S. workers by Pew Internet & American life found that 88 percent checked their inbox at least once a day. Of those 70 percent checked several times a day.

According to a study by the American Management Association, U.S. workers spend an average of 1 hour and 47 minutes per day dealing with email.

Eight percent spent more than four hours a day dealing with email.

According to the Association for Interactive Marketing, small businesses spend 10% of their time on email management.

With all this time dedicated solely to email one has to wonder how anyone could so boldly claim the death of e-mail.

The reasoning is actually two-fold.

First, as younger people enter the work place they bring with them an appetite for instant gratification. Having lived through the social-media revolution they demand and expect instantaneous, real-time interaction. Their devotion to technologies such as SMS and Instant Messaging has led many of them to turn their backs on the “relic” that is e-mail.

In fact, new research shows that the growth rate of instant messaging through service such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft is far outpacing the growth in the use of e-mail.

Second, e-mail has several disadvantages and liabilities. Spam and viruses have not only turned off the younger generation of internet users, but have also caused security issues for small businesses and large corporations alike.

Furthermore, compared with the abilities of many Web 2.0 applications such as Facebook, Twitter etc. where interactions occur in the blink of an eye. Email can be ignored, or postponed until the receiver is ready, a huge disadvantage in the eyes of many.

The truth is however, for business people email is still an extremely necessary form of communication and social media services such as Facebook and Twitter while effective for certain types of communication lack a formal tone that is often needed in a business setting.

I don’t know how many people would feel comfortable updating their boss about a project by shooting him a tweet or posting a Facebook status.

Enter Google Wave. An appropriately named application as it is positioned to be the wave of the future and the proverbial noose around e-mail’s neck.

In essence Google Wave is a real time communication platform that combines a number of elements including email, instant messaging, web chat, social networking, wikis, and project management.

Google Wave introduces a host of “game changing” features that can significantly alter the way we conduct business.

Here are just some of the features Google Wave offers:

-Real-time: Every person involved in a Wave can see what someone is typing as they are typing it character by character.

-Extensions and Apps: Google Wave will introduce a number of extensions and applications that can be utilized in a variety of ways. Users can add a game of Sudoku to their wave, or an extension called Trippy in which users can, according to Google “co-create an itinerary including Lonely Planet recommendations organize, share, print or export to My Maps.” For businesses the Conference extension will prove to be extremely useful.

-Open Source: Allows plenty of room for expansion and innovation. Developers will be able to create new extensions and applications as new needs arise providing Google Wave with endless opportunities to improve.

-Embed Waves: If you have a great Wave that you would like to share with others waves can be easily embedded onto any blog or website.

-Real-time editing (Wiki): Every aspect of a Wave can be edited by anyone taking part in the Wave. Users can add items to a list, expand on ideas etc. all in real time.

-Playback: Enables users to go to any point of a wave and see what was said.

-Drag and Drop File Sharing: Take a file from your desktop, drag it into a Wave and each person in the Wave will have instant access to the file.

-Autocorrecting: Google Wave will automatically correct spelling mistakes, and can even decipher the difference between words like there and their.

Google Wave is currently in a preview phase and will certainly undergo many changes before it is released on a mass scale, but I have to admit Wave looks incredibly promising so far.

It seems very likely that in the not too distant future we will all be riding the Wave, and email will be left in its wake.

Friday, December 11, 2009

KDF Announces Free Banners for Troops Program


KDF Announces Free Banners for Troops Program

Rockleigh, NJ (KDF) 12/11/2009: KDF Reprographics, Inc. of Rockleigh, NJ announces the launch of its Free Banners for Troops program. This program will provide the families of troops serving abroad with a free welcome home banner just in time for the holiday season.

To receive the free welcome home banner the families of America’s service men and women can visit KDF’s website located at and choose a custom banner created by KDF’s professional graphic design team for each branch of the military service. The free banners for troops program will launch December 14, 2009 and will end December 23, 2009.

“We saw an opportunity to do a small service for these great men and women who serve our country abroad. This is just our way of saying thank you to our troops and their families for all the sacrifices they have made to protect this country. In addition, we will donate a portion of all online banner sales to disabled veterans organizations to show our great respect for all that they have done for this country.”
- Stephen Hoey, President

About KDF

KDF Reprographics, Inc., started in 1995, services include high volume engineering printing and reprographic services for the AEC industry, large and small format document scanning for municipalities, education and healthcare. KDF Color Graphics Division provides large format color printing, vinyl banners, posters, wall murals, canvas prints, vehicle wraps and fleet graphics.

Contact Information:

If you’d like more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview with Stephen Hoey, Please call 201-784-9991 x501 or email

Stephen Hoey
KDF Reprographics, Inc.
10 Volvo Drive
Rockleigh, NJ 07647
Tel. 201-784-9991
Fax. 201-784-9955


6 Tips Guaranteed to Increase Your Employees Productivity

A successful business is a productive business. These tips will help you to get the most out of your employees by keeping them happy and productive.

1. Nap Time!

Yes I know it sounds incredibly counter-productive to let your employees take a nap, but a study done by NASA showed that a nap of just 26 minutes can boost performance by as much as 34 percent. In fact, studies show that tired workers cost business about $150 billion a year in lost productivity.

2. Set Clear, Defined Goals

Employees are most productive when they have clearly defined goals to work towards. Let your employees have input in what goals their department should be trying to meet. They can offer great insight into problems their departments are facing and the best ways to overcome these problems.

3. Offer Praise and Rewards

You may be surprised how far a simple “pat on the back” will go with your employees. Employees who are told they are doing a good job have a greater incentive to replicate those results.

Establishing some type of reward program can also have a positive influence on productivity. The rewards don’t even have to be large; they can be as simple as a gift certificate to a restaurant, employee of the month award or even an extra day off. All of these rewards can really boost your employee’s incentive to work harder.

4. Let Them Stay Home-

Although this may seem counter-productive as well, employees who stay home actually tend to put in longer hours then employees that are on the clock at the workplace.

A 2008 study done by the Computing Technology Industry Association found that companies who offer their employees the option to telecommute saw increased productivity, lower costs, improved employee health and improved employee retention.

• 67 % of the companies polled said employees were more productive, largely because they spent less time getting to and from work.
• 59% reported seeing cost savings from reduced use of office-related materials and resources.
• 39 % said they have access to a more qualified staff, expanding their options to people who are located in - and not willing to relocate from - other regions.
• 37 % said telecommuting improved employee retention.
• 25% said employee health was improved, largely by reducing stress levels associated with the commute.

5. Give Employees Freedom Over Their Work

Many managers subscribe to the theory that micro-management is an effective and productive way to oversee their employees. The truth is studies suggest that micromanaging actually has a negative impact on employee productivity.

Micromanaging often makes employees feel like their boss does not trust them or their work. This will lead to a disengagement on the employees behalf and he will no longer offer suggestions and will likely harbor resentment towards his manager. At that point it is only a matter of time before he moves on to a different company.

If you delegate a project to an employee that needs to be finished by lets say, Friday, try saying “Here is the project please complete it by Friday and please check in with me if you have any questions or updates.”

Let the employee work out the details of how he wants to accomplish the task and he will be happier and more productive.

6. Enhance Your Office Space

A 1999 study done by the American Society of Interior Designers entitled “Recruiting and Retaining Qualified Employees By Design” found some very interesting facts.
-Employees who were pleased with their physical workplaces were 31% more likely to say they were satisfied with their jobs.
-The physical workplace would impact 41% of employees and job seekers to accept a position.
-The quality of their physical workplace would influence 51% to leave a company.
-Employees ranked aesthetic appearance of their workplace second in importance behind only monetary compensation and in a virtual second place tie with company benefits package.
73% of employees are not satisfied with their current offices’ appearance.
Imagine how much more appealing your office would be if instead of staring up at a blank wall your employees could look at a picturesque scene. Wall murals are a relatively cheap and effective way to liven up your office space and can have a tremendous positive impact on your employee’s mood and productivity.

Wall murals have additional benefits because they also make your office more appealing to potential employees, clients and visitors which can result in a boost to your profit margin. You should make your office space as inviting as possible, I’ve never heard a client say, “Wow their office is so plain and boring we should definitely do business with them.”

Humans are visual creatures what they see in an environment can have a direct impact on decisions they make in that environment. Remember your office space plays a huge role in the image your company is projecting. Take a look around at your office…is it sending the right message to your employees and clients? If not find ways to improve it and it will improve your profits and productivity.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

7 Tips on How to Wrap a Vehicle for Your Business

Tip 1: Find a Reputable Vehicle Wrap Business

Installing a vehicle wrap can be a daunting process, and while these 7 tips will certainly help you sometimes it is better to let a professional do the work for you. It is highly recommended that you seek a professional and knowledgeable vehicle wrap business to perform the vehicle wrap installation and vehicle wrap design. With that said, it is not impossible to wrap a vehicle on your own if you follow these tips.

Tip 2: Choose the Right Vehicle Wrap Material

There are a number of materials that can be used in the design and installation of a custom vehicle graphics. Aluminum, Acrylic, PVC, wood, polystyrene, foam and other plastics, can all be used to create custom vehicle graphics. However, the most commonly used and the material most highly recommended is Vinyl. Vinyl vehicle wraps are cost effective, durable, and maintain their look and feel for up to 5 years.

Tip 3: Use the Correct Vehicle Wrap Equipment

If you are going to install a car wrap whether it is for race car graphics, or you are just wrapping the company van, you are going to need the proper tools to do so effectively.

• a tape measure - for positioning
• a squeegee - adheres vinyl to vehicle
• a razor-knife - remove excess vinyl
• an air release tool - removes air bubbles
• masking tape - holds vehicle wrap in position
• a heat gun or propane torch - heating the vinyl to make sure it goes into curves, crevasses etc.

Tip 4: Clean the Vehicle

Once you have the proper tools you are going to need to thoroughly clean the vehicle. This is an extremely important step. If you want the vinyl vehicle graphics to adhere properly to the vehicle it must be completely free of dirt, grime, and whatever else may hinder proper adhesion.

First, wash the vehicle with soap and water. Do not use any surface finishing such as wax as this will severely hamper adhesion. After the vehicle is completely dry you should clean it with alcohol and solvent prep liquid. I recommend paying special attention to any areas on the vehicle that may have excess dirt and grime build up such as cracks around the hood, trunk or windows. Use a lint free towel to dry the solvent before it evaporates.

Tip 5: Prepare Your Vehicle Wrap

Before you move on to installing the vinyl vehicle wrap make sure the positioning of the wrap is what you desired. You can position the wrap on the vehicle before installation simply by using some masking tape. This will ensure that when you begin to install your vehicle wrap or fleet graphics everything will be in the exact place you wanted it.

Tip 6: Find a Friend

An experienced wrap installer can apply a wrap on their own. Otherwise, I recommend having another person assist you in the process as this will make positioning the vehicle graphics much easier. Each wrap installation is different depending on the vehicle. The amount of curves, cracks, and crevasses on a particular vehicle all determine how difficult or easy an installation will be.

Tip 7: Proper Installation of Your Custom Vehicle Graphics

Make sure you apply an adhesive to all edges and surfaces where the vinyl panel will need to be cut. Once you have applied the panel to the vehicle, work your squeegee to adhere the vinyl to the vehicles surface.

The most important things to avoid while performing the vehicle graphic installation are bubbles, and wrinkles. To avoid this, try changing the angle at which you are using the squeegee and never chop at the material because this will only make the wrinkles worse.

If wrinkles are becoming a major issue use your heat gun or torch to relax the vinyl. Be sure to let the vinyl film cool down before starting to squeegee again to prevent excess stretching.

These basic tips should guide you on your way to a successful vehicle wrap installation. Keep in mind that there are businesses that specialize in vehicle wrap installation that can do an excellent job and have your car back to you in approximately three days for a very fair price (depending on the company). Search around for some quotes, and preview any companies design before you make a final decision, should you decide that wrapping a vehicle on your own is not an option.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

10 Tips on Getting the most out of your next trade show

1. Plan ahead and set your goal
- Why are you doing this trade show? Is it to sell product, get leads, create top of mind awareness, to preempt your competition? Be sure to have a very specific goal in mind, write it out and track your results as the show progresses. If you go without a specific goal in mind you will not know if the show is a success.

2. Know your target market – needs assessment

- Who will attend this show? Contact the show coordinator who can provide a report from the previous year that will contain a lot of good information as to your target market. Once you know who the market you’ll want to know what their needs are.

- Get a list of vendors from the previous year and call them – ask them who showed up, what the show was like and what to expect.

3. Touch them 3 times

- When prospects attend a show they rarely know who they will be visiting – less than 15% of exhibitors do a pre-show promotion. You are now in that group! Attendees only spend time at 15% to 20% of the exhibits so if you want their time, you need to invite them to your booth before thy get there. If you want to generate “guaranteed” prospects – this is how to do it!

- Start early send a postcard inviting your prospects to your booth – give them a strong reason to visit, specials, information, raffle, etc.
- Call prospects if possible and invite them personally, set appointments with them – “stop by our booth we have a special gift and presentation just for our VIPs –print the name of those that confirm on a sheet that says VIP LIST across the top. When they arrive take out the list, check off their name, give them a gift then pitch them! (keep the list confidential so as not to insult any other prospects visiting your booth).

- Send a formal letter. Send tickets, a flyer with raffle information, a testimonial and handwritten note, a product sheet with come see us at the show! Make sure you hit them at least 3 times before they get there. Even if they did not respond to your mailings you are now in their mind – you have increased the likelihood that they will stop at your booth.

4. The 1 minute pitch

- You only have 6 seconds to capture a prospects attention when walking past your booth. If your booth design and message are great and the prospect stops – you better be ready – the clock is ticking still! Have a condensed 1 minute pitch that covers everything you need to qualify the lead and meet your goal (that’s right, no matter how giddy you get that someone stops by – don’t forget your goal) - remember your job is not to sell your whole company – you have developed a clear focused goals i.e.: create 25 qualified leads for our ABC Service. Once your have clearly met that goal – let your prospect go – your follow up procedure will do the rest.

- Your pitch should be all about the prospect – NOT YOUR COMPANY that comes later. If you are a financial services company, talk about the financial challenges people have today and the need people have to develop a strong financial plan including savings, insurance, college and retirement – Do not start out with facts about your company which was founded in 1912 by some old guys with beards! Once you developed that pitch – rehearse it – a lot. In the mirror, on the phone, to friends, to your dog! Rehearse it.

5. The invitation – Have a good Great reason to visit your booth

- This is simple - come up with a reason for your prospects to visit your booth – then invite them. Whether it’s your giveaway, raffle, new product, a demonstration, discount on services for all VIP visitors or an announcement of a merger or partnership, you must have a compelling reason to come. Then as I mentioned before – mail it, e-mail it and call with the invitation. If your reason is compelling enough they will make plans to visit your booth.

6. Giveaways, “the raffle”, and interested prospects
- Giveaways are good but they do not get you business. Pens, flashlights, scrunchy balls are nice and these days expected however the key is the raffle. The raffle is a great way to “qualify” the prospects and weed out the people that are there for the FREE stuff. Most exhibitors understand this concept but rarely implement it. Exhibitors typically hold a raffle then giveaway the prize – maybe send a postcard to the rest of the list then do it all over again the following year. To get the most out of the raffle you must ASK some qualifying questions. When you do your review later on you will know exactly who is interested in your product or service, and who is not.

- Nobody wants to fumble through 200 sheets of unqualified leads and deal with the frustration of calling each one of them only to hear “not interested”. Do the work upfront and save yourself the aggravation. Qualify all entries – they must fill out ALL information on a form to enter the raffle. You should ask for E-MAIL so you can build your opt-in e-mail list, be sure to let them know that you will be e-mailing them from time to time with specials and promotions – get their interest level, purchase timeframe and decision makers in the process and whatever else you need to create a REAL, QUALIFIED LEAD.

- The information you will be collecting on the raffle sheet should be the same information you collect when someone approaches you to discuss your product or service. This keeps everything consistent and lets you know – once you have all the information – you can let the qualified prospect go. Remember the goal – qualify them then set them free.

7. The booth message

- Capture their attention. Don’t tell them who you are!!! Usually the biggest mistake when designing a booth. The name scrawled across the top of the booth – the most precious piece of real estate at a trade show. Nice design is nice design – a good message is powerful. Your prospects are walking right past you – you can’t afford not to have a message that CAPTURES them. Your message needs to be prominent to the point of trade show graphics do not need to be expensive, they do not need to be flashy they need to communicate your message clearly, and quickly. How quick – you have 6 seconds to capture their attention.

8. The booth graphics
- Great trade show graphics will convey your GREAT message. If they are beat up, mismatched with different materials and sizes your message will be just as confusing. Having your graphics produced by a qualified professional will make the difference between a “decent” show and a “blowout”!

- So when your graphics are being designed and produced you want to keep some things in mind.
o Message, Message, Message
o Colors and images that convey your message
o If your designer doesn’t know the emotions elicited by different colors – get a new designer. (remember the 6 seconds rule)
o Your booth and graphics are a big investment and should be designed and produced by a qualified professional who will consult with you on developing your message within your budget.
o A good trade show booth does not have to be expensive and an expensive trade show booth does not have to be good.

- Follow up right away – give a discount for all visitors at the show – get them interested in your product or service again. Remember when they leave your booth they will most likely go to another – the prospect has a lot of information to digest now – you need to stay fresh in their mind with a timely follow up.

- We did a recent show in which we received over 60 leads of varying interest levels. All leads went into our database, follow ups were scheduled and the process began. Within the first two weeks we had no response to any e-mails or phone calls (there were two e-mails and one phone call). In week three we sent a third e-mail – 5 responses 3 orders. Week four produced 4 orders with no e-mails or calls.

- Remember you need to touch your prospects up to 12 times. Three times before the show. Once at the show. Then at least 4 follow ups send useful information each time, ads, newspaper mentions etc. Don’t give up – you will be surprised at the power of consistent “informational” follow ups.

10. BONUS: here are 4 minitips in one!!!!
- Killer mini tip #1 - Don’t EVER sit down in your booth - Studies show that people will pay 26% more for the exact same product if the vendor is standing!
- Killer mini tip #2 - Smile, always be smiling, don’t frown, and smile (get it?) If you can smile at the prospect then say their name, you have successfully opened the door – now just apply your 1 minute pitch!
- Killer mini tip #3 - Look relaxed / be relaxed – Body language is extremely important – many prospects walking by are actually “nervous” about stopping because you might ask them a question they don’t know the answer to. If you are relaxed then you are approachable and they are more likely to engage you.
- Killer mini tip #4 - Make them feel important – BECAUSE THEY ARE! Make every discussion about them, not you. Which approach will be more effective?
- Example 1: “Hi we are XYC carpet cleaners, we have been in business for 22 years, I’m sure you’ve heard about us. We are so great and better than everyone and blah, blah, blah.”
- Example 2: “So are you enjoying your day so far – let me ask your advice – have you ever used a carpet cleaning service? What would you like to see in a cleaning service if it was up to you?”

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

8 Reasons you should be Using Barricade Graphics

Reason 1:
Barricade murals and retail graphics conceal construction from the outside world.

Reason 2:
A shopping mall barricade or construction barricade wraps can turn a vacant store front into an advertisement. Custom Vinyl Wallpaper can take an empty store and turn it into something customers can actually get excited about.

Reason 3:
Storefront graphics and vinyl wall graphics are the perfect way to promote new stores, products & services, grand openings and construction sites. Instead of staring at a blank wall let your customers know what’s coming.

Reason 4:
You will generate buzz and increase brand exposure with vinyl barricade wraps and retail signs.

Reason 5:
Out of home advertising delivers immediate results for advertisers. 29% say out of home advertising caused them to visit a retail store within a week.

Reason 6:
Barricade graphics perform several key functions- they can identify, inform, direct, advertise, promote or create a business image while simultaneously enhancing your coming or existing stores aesthetics.

Reason 7:
A major, multipart study, “Research on Signage Performance,” conducted between 1995 and 1997 by the University of San Diego looked at the effects of on-premise signage on the financial performance of retail sites. The conclusion of the study was that “on-premise signage has a statistically significant and financially substantive impact on the revenues of a site.

Reason 8:
Storefront murals and barricade graphics enhances the product or service recognition. This will aid in the recall of other media messages and give your business a huge market advantage.

Storefront graphics provide consistent and repeated exposure over an extended period of time. The average shopping mall barricade is up for 12 weeks. Utilize the opportunity to deliver a message that satisfies your branding and marketing strategy instead of having consumers walk by an ugly construction site or blank dry wall.