Monthly Archives: April 2011

Facebook Enters Coupon Arena

On Tuesday, Facebook introduced Facebook Deals, its answer to online coupon source Groupon. Deals leverages Facebook’s 600 million users, letting individuals share, comment on, and purchase deals directly from Facebook. The service will roll out in Atlanta, San Francisco, Austin, Dallas, and San Diego this week.

Deals competes with the likes of Groupon and LivingSocial for consumers’ cash, but the Facebook backbone gives extra strength to this online coupon service. Facebook has had Facebook Credits (a virtual currency system in which one dollar buys ten Facebook Credits) up and running for some time, but until now, the closest a user could get to purchasing a real-life product was a movie rental. Now users can purchase online discounts using Facebook Credits, which accepts credit card and PayPal payments.

Recently, a professor at Rice University published a paper claiming that more than 30% of businesses reported losing money as a result of a Groupon promotion. In most cases, Groupon takes more than half the sticker price of the deal, but depending on the specific offer by a business, results may vary. As Facebook Deals hits the market, will the competition lower the Groupon and LivingSocial margins in favor of higher profits for businesses and lower prices for consumers?

Author: John Carew

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Responsible Forestry and Print Production

As Take Charge People, we are committed to researching and using production materials that meet the social, ecological, and economic rights and needs of the present and future generations. This is one of the many reasons why Vanguard Direct offers FSC (Forest Stewardship Council)-certified print production.

The Forest Stewardship Council was established in 1993 as a response to global deforestation and is now one of the most important initiatives of the last decade to promote responsible forest management worldwide. FSC certification provides a credible link between responsible production and consumption of forest products, enabling consumers and businesses to make purchasing decisions that benefit people and the environment as well as provide ongoing business value. The Forest Stewardship Council is nationally represented in more than 50 countries around the world.

The FSC chain of custody certification tracks FSC-certified material through the production process, from the forest to the consumer, including all successive stages of processing, transformation, manufacturing, and distribution. There has been a significant increase in the number of FSC chain of custody certificates in recent years, proving that FSC certification has become a driving factor in market success.

This is just one of the ways that our production coordinators and project managers go green every day at Vanguard Direct. We work on every project to promote responsible green initiatives and teach our clients how to save money and resources by going green.

How do you make sure your team is ecologically responsible with every project you produce?

Authors: Dustin Hill and Stephanie Huston

Your Daily Dose of Inspiration – Three Design Sites That Inspire

In this post, I recommend three sites that you may not have heard of.
Good ideas + stellar execution = sites we want to reference. If you’re one of the lucky few who work in the design world, it’s imperative to keep a pulse on the creative being produced today. Check out three of my new favorites:

Fubiz – http://www.fubiz.net

Ideas Are Awesome – http://www.ideasareawesome.com

Blacklist – http://www.blacklist.tv

Author: Eric Swenson

Zoove or QR Codes?

What do you think about QR codes?

Even though magazines and marketers really love them, Ad Age reporter Kunur Patel claims that QR codes are just a waste of time. There are far too many steps, she says: To scan a QR code, you have to carry the right phone with the right camera, be connected to the Internet, and have downloaded one of the many QR-scanning apps out there.

There is no doubt, however, of QR codes’ popularity. Note that major companies such as Miller Lite, Home Depot, Macy’s, and Post Cereals have recently launched QR campaigns. Securing a coupon, deal, or discount is one of the main reasons cited by consumers for scanning a QR code.

Other uses of a QR code are:

– Accessing additional information
– Entering a sweepstakes
– Signing up for more information
– Accessing various videos

It’s true: Consumers want instant access to information, and QR codes are being used to give it to them. The ability of QR codes to connect people to a brand and to multimedia digital content is very useful for businesses and consumers alike. Now, I wonder: Why put so many QR codes on the subway platforms where there is no Internet? Are QR codes really a waste of time?

Enough about QR codes. Ever heard of Zoove?

Thanks to Zoove, you can connect with people––anytime, anywhere, on any mobile phone. It works using an exclusive registry of vanity StarStar Numbers. With a StarStar Number (a short string of numbers or letters preceded by **), consumers basically call the name of the brand they see being promoted. The brand’s mobile app, website, coupons, videos, and possibly more are then directly pushed to the customer’s mobile phone. StarStar Numbers work as part of any marketing campaign that features the more traditional billboards, print ads, TV and radio commercials, online ads, and more.

Just like QR codes, Zoove provides the mobile connection brands are seeking as well as the capability to measure the results instantly. So what’s it going to be, Zoove or QR codes?

Author: Marina Kaljaj

The BlackBerry PlayBook: Strong Potential, Weak Execution

Here is what you need to know about the PlayBook:

Wi-Fi Only
The first version of the PlayBook will be Wi-Fi only, with a 3G/4G model coming to market “later this year.”

Email, Calendar Apps
Out of the box, the PlayBook will not support native email and calendar apps without using the email and calendar apps on your BlackBerry. The PlayBook uses an app called BlackBerry Bridge, which uses Bluetooth to connect the PlayBook to your BlackBerry, allowing you to access email and calendar apps as well as the Internet through your phone.

BlackBerry Bridge App
According to an update posted by Engadget on Tuesday, AT&T said it is “…working with RIM to make the BlackBerry Bridge app available for AT&T customers. We have just received the app for testing and before it’s made available to AT&T customers we want to ensure it delivers a quality experience for our customers.” Translation: It is not available for you to use immediately if you purchased a PlayBook and already have an AT&T BlackBerry.

Android App Compatibility
One of the strengths of the PlayBook was supposed to be the ability of its new QNX operating system to support Android apps. Support for Android apps will be available “later this year,” according to RIM.

Desktop Syncing
Compared to what BlackBerry owners are used to, there is no desktop-syncing function available at launch.

Author: John Carew

Print Solutions Conference and Expo Coming Up in May 2011

We have previously discussed how vital continuing education is at Vanguard Direct. Our company takes pride in our staff’s continuing education, and we make it a priority in our everyday work environment. Our staff has been attending the Print Services & Distribution Association (PSDA)’s conferences for over 10 years.

 Last year’s PSDA show focused on the industry’s need for transformation, from repositioning the marketing services arena to riding the digital wave by learning about technological advances such as QR codes and social media. Our team attended a variety of breakout sessions to learn and brainstorm about the newest print, technical, and green trends.

In 2010, we also attended the keynote address by Jeffrey Hayzlett. Hayzlett explained how he helped transform Kodak from a company on the verge of failure to a thriving business––one of the greatest turnarounds in financial history. We learned that when a business gets back to its core––which includes re-evaluating the company’s focus, accountability, simplicity, and trust––that’s when it succeeds. This is why we value the education offered at the PSDA show and why we will be returning for another year.

The PSDA’s 2011 show is coming up in Chicago from May 17 through May 19. Once again, we are preparing a team to represent Vanguard Direct. Our own contributing blogger Dustin Hill will be attending, and with three days of education and an estimated 200 exhibitors showcasing the latest products and services in the industry, the 2011 Print Solutions Conference and Expo is sure to be a great place for continued education for employees. This year, the PSDA show features interactive workshops focusing on topics that are highly relevant to the community: Using Mobile Marketing to Drive Print Sales, Building a Winning Cross-Media Campaign, Using Social Media to Grow Your Business, and 1:1 Marketing Solutions! Stayed tuned to get a full report from Dustin Hill in May.

Authors: Stephanie Huston & Dustin Hill

15th Annual Webby Awards: Vote Now!

Be part of the 15th Annual Webby Awards by voting for who deserves to take home a People’s Voice Award.

The Webby People’ s Voice Awards honor the year’s best work in websites, interactive advertising, online film & video, and mobile formats. You have an opportunity to view some truly amazing art from great agencies, designers, writers, developers, and others.

Step up onto your soapbox and let the web know who rules your digital world. Voting’s open from
April 12 through April 28, 2011. So get voting now to have your say on who should win.

Kudos and good luck to all who have entered!

Author: Eric Swenson