Every industry has companies that blog. (The word, by the way, is a truncation of weblog.) They are a minority among businesses, and this is true for the label converting industry, as well. Searches here and there will uncover a good number of blogs with a variety of approaches, but they are a fraction of the industry population.
Why blog? What does it require? What’s in it for my customers, for you?
The first answer is easy: A blog is way to bring your customers to your website on a regular basis – to drink at the well, so to speak. It keeps your business in their thoughts, which is a fairly high priority of yours, right? It can provide info about your company, about materials, print and converting processes, inspection, prepress and design, even shipping. It can examine trends in the industries that your customers are focused on. It can focus on macro business topics that could have an impact, direct or otherwise, on what your customers do for a living.
A blog is a tabula rasa, a clean slate on which you chisel your knowledge, the observations and ideas that you’re willing to share with the public.
Yes, public. Label converters over the years have not been exactly eager to share what they’re doing with other members of the industry, aka competitors. Some are almost phobic about it, but others are more than willing to let people know about their business. Publish means to make public, and publishing a blog is like dancing in the street. So it could help to contemplate that before you decide to go down the blog road.
Content will be your main challenge. Ask yourself: Is it useful? Is it timely? The first thought probably is to focus on your company, what it offers, why it goes well beyond the crowd, and how it can help the customer’s business. Keep in mind that your sales team focuses on the same attributes, so a blog entry of this type should expand beyond those.
A few blogs publish news about trade shows the company attends, various events and awards, and achievements among employees. If you’re sure that type of information will help your business, go right ahead. But take note of Consolidated Label’s blog, which is dominated by a wide range of useful converting topics. And there, modestly, the company mentions that it has won the top industry award – TLMI’s Best Managed Label Company – for the 17th consecutive time. Any business with one of those, let alone 17, has a shiny badge to flash.
The blog can stay in-house by exploring its capabilities in terms that can be appreciated by the customer. Most businesses that use labels already know how they are made, but technology updates can serve a good purpose. A converter with strong digital print capability could easily publish a blog item (or a series) on that subject, and steer the reader to the company at the same time because of the depth of its knowledge and proven track record. As mentioned above, some might balk at revealing a lot of detail, but a high level of confidence on the part of the blogger will make its mark on the reader.
The in-house capability blog has wide potential. The Label Printers, an award-winning company based in Aurora, IL, USA, demonstrates with a broad index of topics: “How To Create a Print-Ready File,” “Ordering Custom Labels: What To Expect,” “Will Your Product Label Last? How To Get a Durable Label,” and on and on.
The new customer – a first-time label purchaser – could benefit from the basics. GlobalVision, a converter in Montreal, Canada, offers such articles as “A Beginner’s Guide to Sustainable Packaging,” “What Is Prepress?” and “6 Tips for Creating Error-Free Packaging.”
Abbey Labels, of Bury St Edmunds in England, also includes basic advice in its blog to small businesses and those seeking label improvements. One such brief piece is about wine label design, which encourages wineries to focus on images, fonts, colors, and the target audience while working with the converter. (The UK wine business is minuscule, but recent summers have been warm and it’s thought that climate change could be beneficial to this beverage segment.)
In Peterborough, England, Flexi Labels focuses on education in its blog with such pieces as “New Tamper Evident Security Labels” and “How To Choose Your Label Adhesive.” The latter addresses permanent, high tack, removable and freezer adhesives.
British business bloggers, you can imagine, write a fair amount about what might or might not occur if Brexit does or does not take place. They sound tired, but hey, someone has to do it.
Some label bloggers go more deeply into the subject matter. One eye-catching headline from TL Graphic Systems in Elmhurst, IL, USA, most definitely draws the reader inside with: “5 Ways To Persuade Consumers To Ignore Your Labels.” Author Doug Danosky, VP of sales and marketing, identifies the five bad moves as lack of color, unclear package information and instructions, indistinct branding, use of stock images and common fonts, and designs that don’t reflect the marketer’s brand story.
Other provocative pieces by TL Graphic Systems include“4 Unexpected Uses for Custom Die Cut Labels,” “What You Should Know About Label Imprint Protectants,” and “Avoid These Environmental Label Fails.”
If you’re contemplating a blog, consider two more aspects: frequency and length. One entry per month is consistent and timely. More than that is terrific, if you can swing it. (Always date your entries.) Beyond monthly, you might be losing focus on this valuable method of communication. Some blogs out there have long gaps between entries, and I found one recently which had last been updated in 2016. What does that tell us?
How long should each entry be? Short to moderate is the best answer. Once you get past five paragraphs you’re entering TLDR territory (Too Long; Didn’t Read). Spend some time with a bunch of blogs in ours and other industries to get a sense of length and timing. If a subject is complex, you can break it into parts and serialize them.
Promote your blog, of course. That’s what email, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook are for.
An article about label blogs is incomplete without mention of Brian’s Blog. Brian Gale is president and majority owner of I.D. Images, a converter headquartered in Brunswick, OH, USA. He writes a new entry every week which falls into one or more of these categories: big business, small business, his business, government, the economy, taxes, labor, society, ethics, sports, success, failure and human nature. Did I forget any?
Gale is a delight to read, and he knows how to write. Whether he’s waxing on about the broken thermometer on his grill, a flat tax or the failings of academia, he manages to push the thought buttons in my head. Oh yes, he talks about labels and about our business, but he addresses topics in an easy, readable and relatable prose, thus making it a fit for the many planets and moons that orbit our industrial world. This, to me, is what a blog should be. It’s clear that he enjoys it, and so do I.
The Label Printers:
TL Graphic Systems:
The author is president of Jack Kenny Media, a communications firm specializing in the packaging industry, and is the former editor of L&NW magazine. He can be reached at email@example.com.