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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

My 2 favourite awards categories & why

Further to my last post on "Seven reasons why you should enter the Canadian Printing Awards", today I want to throw in a special plug for submissions to my two favourite awards categories:  Business Development and Environmental Printing.

I'm posting this shamelessly subjective promotion for three reasons:  The first and most selfish one is that submissions to these categories often have wonderful stories attached, giving trade journalists like me who attend the awards ceremony plenty of interesting new material to write articles about in the next eleven months.  (One example that comes immediately to mind is Symcor's award-winning intergenerational green initiatives that formed the basis for one of my columns for PrintAction.)

The second reason is that, maybe because I often write about new trends in marketing communications, I have amassed a considerable following of social-media contacts in the marketing and advertising fields.  These people in particular might be interested to learn that not only printers but also vendors can apply to such competitions in the Business Development Categories as Best Marketing Campaign.

The third reason is that, although some CPA categories only require you to submit your printed product, contact information, and a modest entry fee, submissions under my two favourite categories require applicants to record a little more detail.  I'm not talking about volumes of paperwork, but typically at least a page or two.  

For example, applications for Best Online Presence [from either printers or vendors] require you briefly to outline the scope, objectives, outstanding features, and results of your Web site(s), social media, or on-line storefront.  Application forms for some Environmental Printing entries include a handy chart that helps you pinpoint your achievement(s) under various headings, such as certifications, energy, distribution management, facility engineering, health and safety, policy, pollution prevention, product development--you get the picture.    

So although the application process isn't all that much more complicated for either the Business Development Categories or Environmental Printing Categories, if you haven't begun already, you'll probably need to get started on your application today or tomorrow (Thursday would definitely be pushing it) in order to submit it in time for the 5 p.m. deadline this Friday 2 November.

One final subjective note:  please give serious additional thought to submitting an entry to the new category of Display Graphics (under the Quality Printing Categories), because none of us in the printing industry ever tires of admiring colourful eye candy--the bigger the better. 

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Seven reasons why you should enter the 2012 Canadian Printing Awards

I know you’re terribly busy.  On most days most printers are stretched so thin that squeezing in one more extra task seems next to impossible.  Even so, it would be a serious strategic error for you to skip making your submission to the Canadian Printing Awards (CPAs) in time for the October-26th deadline, eight days from now.  In fact, any serious business owner or manager needs to make it a priority to enter awards programs in their field because of the multitude of astonishing benefits they’ll reap in return.  Here are seven of the biggest:

1.            Large-scale publicity  – Arguably, awards are the most powerful and cost-effective marketing tool.  The publication, association, or trade show that organizes an awards program will devote all its considerable resources to publicizing the awards and participants before, during, and after the event.  Especially if you are a winner or finalist, you can continue to publicize your own participation and successes in the awards program to your customers, prospects, prospective investors, and trade media indefinitely.  Many awards, including the CPAs, come with an impressive trophy you can display prominently at your company forever.

2.         A record of your achievements – Awards contests help you review your own progress and evaluate your successes and the areas of your business that need improvement.  Initially you’ll perform this process when deciding which projects and initiatives to submit to the contest.  But also, while some of the CPA award categories require you to submit only basic information with the entry fee, others require more detailed documentation.  The latter categories not only help you document your progress but also result in a report you can recycle many times in many ways to broadcast your achievements and track your future progress.

3.            Networking opportunities and peer recognition – Awards competitions and ceremonies attract the best companies and prominent business leaders.  Thus they provide an opportunity for you to show off and discuss your best achievements and latest innovations with a discerning and appreciative audience.  Additionally, by attending the presentation ceremony or even by connecting with fellow participants by phone, e-mail, or social media, you can build your relationships and network with a prestigious new pool of contacts.

4.         A leg up on your competition – Entries, recognition, or wins all give you a tangible edge over competitors and showcase your company as among the best in your field.

5.            Support for your employer brand – Participants gain recognition in their industry as award-winning employers whose companies and products make them leaders in their field.  This recognition makes your company a more attractive place to work for top-performing new hires.

6.         Staff motivation, morale, and retention – Everyone wants to feel appreciated and part of a successful organization.  Participating in awards competitions sends your staff the message that your company is worthy of recognition by a respected external body.  This realization raises staff’s motivation and morale--especially if your company is astute enough to use your victories in awards competitions as platforms to stage internal celebrations recognizing the achievements of staff members who contributed to your success.  It also helps to buy staff tickets for the dinner where prizes are announced, held in Toronto on November 29th.

7.         A measure of your performance – Entering the awards gives you an unparalleled opportunity to assess the strength of your entry against others in the same category and gauge how your business stacks up against the very best.  Frankly, you’d be crazy not to take advantage of this opportunity for an economically priced assessment from some of the industry’s most knowledgeable independent business experts who judge the entries.

But the craziest part is that you can reap all the above seven benefits for a cost of between $90 and $110 per contest submission.  (The actual cost depends on the total number of submissions you make.)  With 25 awards in three diverse categories, it’s hard to imagine why any printing company of any size wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity to participate in the CPAs.  To get started immediately, click on:      

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Why Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty’s resignation spells new opportunities for printers

Everywhere in the Canadian news this week you see headlines about Dalton McGuinty’s Monday-night resignation as Ontario’s Premier and Liberal Party Leader and his prorogation (suspension) of the provincial legislature until further notice. These front-page events deserve equal prominence in my Printing Blog, because without doubt they will also result in new opportunities for printers in 2013.

Here are two big reasons why:

A general provincial election is brewing in Ontario, although we don’t know exactly when. The provincial Party’s constitution requires the Liberals to pick a new leader within six months.  The latest predictions say that at the earliest it will be late January 2013 before the Liberals schedule their leadership convention for this purpose. 

Afterwards, Mr. McGuinty has left the decision of when to recall the legislature up to the new leader.  Whenever it happens, the ensuing sequence of events will likely be:  (a) a throne speech, (b) a budget, and (c) another prorogation to allow for a general election.  So by my estimate, even if the next Ontario election doesn’t fall in 2013, multiple candidates from all 107 ridings province-wide will be gearing up hard for the vote by the end of the year.  

Accordingly, my message to printers is:  start doing your research and promoting your services now to attract your share of all the many printing projects--signs, bumper stickers, campaign and polling-station collateral, or who knows what else—that will become rife as Ontario leads up to election day.

An election will also mean you have another precious opportunity to review each provincial political party’s stance on issues affecting your Ontario company and lobby anyone who wants your vote for constructive change. 

For instance, yesterday on LinkedIn I broadcast PrintAction’s breaking story about the fact that after over 30 years, Columbia Finishing Mills of Cornwall, Ontario, a small 12-person operation, has lost the contract to produce Canadian passport covers to Ottawa's Canadian Bank Note, a company that will reportedly outsource the production of the passport covers to Europe.

Although passports are a federal matter, note that before Ontario’s last general election on 6 October 2011, a similar issue of requiring Ontario tax dollars to be spent inside the province was one pillar of the provincial New Democratic Party (NDP)’s platform on small business.  For further details, see page 32 of my September-2011 column at:

Now it seems that, although Ontario usually holds its general elections four years apart, you will have another opportunity unusually soon to grill your local candidates—not just the NDP but candidates from all parties--to determine whether their policies on business are the approach you need to help your company prosper and grow.

Can anyone think of other pending bumper opportunities besides the two I’ve mentioned here?  If yes, please record them below so then we’ll all know.

PS:  In case you live outside of the province/country or haven’t had time to follow the headlines, here’s a sampling of the latest skinny on the McGuinty Liberals: