Cannabusiness: Getting HIGH on The Print Supply

Marijuana is Big Business.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia currently have laws broadly legalizing marijuana in some form. That is more than half of the U.S. as of today, with more states queuing up to legalize and collect the billions in tax revenue created by cannabusiness.


The Legalization of Marijuana is Big Business for Print.

According to Marijuana Business Daily, retail cannabis sales will reach as high as 17 BILLION by 2021, a 300% increase from 2016. That isn’t just big business, it’s booming business and one that print has a vital role in.

Legal vs Legit

Just over a year ago I read the most interesting article about this guy who opened a medical marijuana business. Despite it being a legal business, he couldn’t escape the “drug dealer” categorization and was having trouble creating vendor and other professional partnerships. He invested in very expensive business cards – like ridiculously expensive – with every imaginable “high-end” finishing technique applied. That card validated him as a business professional, legitimized his business, and he cited it as the reason doors were being opened that were previously closed in his face.

That is the Power of Print.


Recently I was in Amsterdam thanks to Chili Publish #SPICYTalks18, and I took a tour of several Coffee Houses… for research   These OG cannabusinesses do serve coffee, but I totally recommend you try the hot chocolate if the opportunity arises.  Warm beverages and smokables aside, you know what else they serve in droves… PRINT! Packaging, labels, menus, signage, table, floor and wall graphics, souvenir T-Shirts, mugs and a multitude of SWAG were staple items in all of the shops. And they don’t do the medical thing which ups the ante exponentially for print opportunity here in the U.S.

Highs and Lows

So yeah, there is that “elephant in the room” about the United States Federal Government not recognizing the legalization of marijuana, despite it being legalized by states. And that causes some real financial issues for many cannabusinesses that have to conduct business and pay taxes with cash. HOWEVER, according to the Marijuana Business Daily, 70% of cannabusinesses now have accesses to a basic business account from banks and credit unions. They can’t get merchant accounts to process payments or a commercial loan in many cases, but they can pay for print!


Land Grab

I did a search for cannabusiness + print and only ONE printer popped up, granted a genius business-owner who took “Cannabusiness Printing” as a business name and url. To me, that signifies it’s wild, wild west land grab time at the cannabusiness coral. If your company is in a position to HELP these small businesses with huge printing needs and significant budgets, what are you waiting for? That map will help you track down more than 28,000 cannabusinesses (of some legal form) curently in operation, and/or plan your next relocation to “greener” pastures.

Puff, Puff, Print

I am not a lawyer, nor do I play one online. Despite the vast opportunity to make a killing in the cannabusiness print market, make sure you are cool to pursue that without any legal ramifications. Assuming you are good to go, visit some cannabusinesses and take in their print experience. See how you can help further “legitimize” that experience with higher-end products. Help them create a fully immersed in-store graphics environment. Help them create customer loyalty programs and direct mail campaigns. If you are already in the medical print space and you can be flexible on quantities, start a new division dedicated to cannabusiness. One success will lead to more, and overall volume will grow through new customer acquisition. There are not a lot of friendly faces helping these small business owners, word will travel fast that you can.

It’s 4:20 Somewhere

And soon it will be 4:20 everywhere. Get in on the ground floor of this unique print and marketing opportunity, and take your print business to new heights.


Trade Show Exhibiting 101: Dealing With Drayage

In the most simplistic terms, drayage is the act of transporting something a short distance and the associated charges and fees.

In trade show terms it means that the fees you pay cover moving your goods from the loading dock to your exhibit booth, removal of the empty crates before the show, storage of your crates/boxes during the show, the return of these items at show close, and moving your packed items to the loading dock.

Seems simple enough, right? Wrong.


Drayage is one of the most complicated concepts to understand and to account for when building out your trade show budget.

More than ten years ago I realized that although I could say the word, I couldn’t articulate what it meant to my colleagues in a way that would make sense to them so I decided to write a presentation about it. I used humor and visual examples to really get to the crux of the matter.

Today, I’m sharing the key concepts with you and how you can minimize the impact drayage has on your overall show budget.

Show management assigns “target” dates to each exhibitor for their trucks to arrive and unload at a show. This helps regulate activity on the docks and gives everyone the chance to unload their equipment.

Trucks that arrive off-target only get unloaded AFTER all on-target trucks. If your truck arrives off-target, you will likely incur heavy upcharges for unloading during overtime (think 25% or more) and your trucking company will likely charge you for wait time as well.

The amount charged for drayage is based on a contract between show management and the drayage company (usually a labor union). You can negotiate your drayage costs, so be sure to be in touch with the show decorator and see what you can negotiate. You have nothing to lose and maybe you’ll even save some dollars.

Drayage is calculated by weight in CWTs (an increment of measure for freight that is based on 100 lbs). To figure out how much drayage you will have to pay, multiply the number of CWTs for a package by the standard rate provided by the material handling company found in your exhibitor kit.

Keep in mind, all packages are rounded up to the next 100 lbs. (ex. 201 lbs. of freight are considered 300 lbs. or 3 CWTs) and most drayage companies charge a 200 lb. (2 CWT minimum).

Let me give you an example. I used to work for a manufacturer of heavy machinery. A single machine might weigh 3,748 lbs. which would equal 38 CWTs. A show might offer machine pricing for drayage at $37.50 CWT. So, the equation looks like this:

38 CWTs x $37.50 = $1,425

But because the machine came in several crates, I needed to account for the following as well:

Crate #2: +1041 lbs. (11 CWTs x $37.50) = $412.50

Crate #3: +397 lbs. (4 CWTs x $37.50) = $150.00

Crate #4: +352 lbs. (4 CWTs x $37.50) = $150.00

Crate #5: +572 lbs. (6 CWTs x $37.50) = $225.00

The total drayage on-target for this single machine would run approximately $2362.50. YIKES! Now multiply that out by any number of machines and you’re talking 10’s of thousands of dollars before you do anything but get the machines from the loading dock to your booth.

The example above uses machine rates which are typically lower than “special handling rates”. What if you send in a teeny tiny box? Something that weighs only a few lbs.?

Special Handling Rates can be double that of machine rates. In this example that would mean that the rate would be $70.00 per CWT. Remember your teeny tiny box will be rounded up to 100 lbs., there’s likely a 200 lbs. minimum CWT so your box could cost $140 in drayage plus additional fees for off-target.

If you have multiple small shipments, your budget will go through the roof before you even start the show.

My best advice to you to manage your trade show budget – is to manage your drayage by doing the following things:

  • Minimize unnecessary shipments – less is more.
  • Gang your shipments by skidding if possible so that you can maximize your CWTs.
  • Coordinate and plan your shipments to go to the advance warehouse or make your target date.
  • Ship using a qualified trade show shipper who understands the ins and outs of trade show deliveries.
  • Do not ship via FedEx/UPS (they usually can’t deliver on target).
  • Carry small packages from your hotel.
  • Stay on target.

Tune in again next month when I’ll talk about shipping. Ahhh freight!


Harnessing The Power of Direct Mail


Great stuff on direct mail as always from USPS Deliver. Check out the USPS Delivers site below for more great content.

USPS Delivers:

Customers today have seemingly endless options for how and where to shop. As a result, retailers have to work harder than ever to retain customers. It’s no surprise then that 80 percent of decision-makers at large organizations and 82 percent of decision-makers at mid-size organizations reported that customer loyalty was a top marketing priority.1Small businesses are wise to follow suit.2 Read on to learn how to leverage direct mail for your loyalty programs.

What Loyalty Programs Can Offer

Loyalty programs have been used for over a century to build and maintain strong customer relationships. Last year, 57 percent of brands reported that they would increase their loyalty program budgets.3 This indicates that while customers are increasingly playing the field, brands are not backing off their loyalty initiatives.

Loyalty programs not only convey to customers that they are valued, but also allow brands to gather important information about customers, such as purchasing behavior. Brands can in turn use this information to personalize marketing and communication strategies, a win-win for both customers and brands.4

When done correctly, loyalty campaigns that leverage direct mail can deliver value and demonstrate how well a brand knows its customers through personalized content.5

“…while customers are increasingly playing the field, brands are not backing off their loyalty initiatives.”

Why You Should Consider Direct Mail

A study found that direct mail produces the best response rates when compared to other channels, including email, online display, paid search, and social media. This demonstrates that direct mail remains a relevant and important part of the marketing mix, and should be considered alongside digital channels.6

In one survey, only 17 percent of respondents reported using a multichannel approach for their loyalty programs. But, 88 percent of respondents who did use a multichannel approach rated it as successful. This highlights the importance of embracing all channels when it comes to driving customer loyalty.7

Best Practices for Setting Up Loyalty Campaigns

Before embarking on a loyalty campaign, consider following these three steps to ensure proper set-up and campaign success:

  1. First, identify what your organization wants to achieve through the program, whether it is an increase in customer spend, engagement, or retention.
  2. After defining your objective, find out how much budget you have to spend. This will determine which and how many channels you are feasibly able to implement.
  3. After goals and budget are set, segment your customer list and tailor your messaging accordingly. Segmentation goes hand in hand with setting the campaign objectives.8 For example, if your goal is to increase customer retention, you could segment your customer list based on store visit history and plan to target customers that have visited the store but are not frequent purchasers.

3 Best-In-Class Loyalty Mail Campaigns

Discover how three different brands and organizations incorporated direct mail into their marketing strategies to build customer loyalty.

  1. During the holidays, rather than sending a standard greeting card, a sorority sent a unique mailer to its members. Enclosed in the envelope was a folded insert that when opened was a holiday ornament designed with the sorority’s colors. Printed on the ornament was the sorority logo and a holiday-themed message. The envelope was bulkier than typical mail items, helping it stand out in a pile of mail, which in turn increased open-rates. While personalization was not central to this direct mail campaign, the thoughtfulness and detail communicated value to its members while keeping the sorority present in their minds.9
  2. A supermarket chain leveraged personalization by sending a mailer to its best customers based on customer purchasing data. The mailer included coupons that were tailored for each customer household based on previous purchases, as well as a note thanking customers for their loyalty. The mailer also included a recipe in an effort to further engage customers. Like the preceding example, this mailer was larger than typical pieces of mail, helping it stand out from other mail items.10
  3. In 2012, a pharmacy chain launched a rewards program, which now has over 85 million active members. By using customer data, the company is able to target at each stage of a customer’s journey, from acquisition to win-back to loyalty and retention. Like the previous example, the pharmacy chain uses purchasing data to personalize its communications and segments its customers based on propensity to purchase. For customers with a high propensity to purchase, the company will send them targeted communications across multiple channels, including email, direct mail and a product sample, and then follow up with a direct mail piece if the customer does not purchase. In addition to personalizing communications, the company drives results by setting clear end goals for campaigns, testing different strategies often, and focusing on quality over quantity.11

In Summary

There are elements from each of the above examples that any business can learn from and implement into their own direct mail campaigns. By harnessing the power of direct mail combined with personalization, businesses can drive customer loyalty and retention.


Is Print Dead?

The folks at Print-Print have produced this huge infographic featuring the Two Sides survey into consumer preferences for print. Check it out, feel free to share these amazing print facts.

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We've snapped some super close-ups of The Print Handbook. These photos are taken from the file types page where you can see for yourself why some files are better than others.

The Print Handbook has examples of JPGs, PNGs, GIFs, PSDs, TIFs, AIs and PDFs, all compared side by side. Here we're just looking at a couple. Let's start with the bitmap...


The photo below shows a close up of a 2MB TIFF at 300dpi. It handles the spot colour well (Pantone Orange 021) – a JPG file can't handle spot colours and would print it using CMYK. But look at those crazy wobbly lines and you can barely read the text.




These results are in stark contrast. This time we're looking at an 3MB Adobe Illustrator file.

Again the spot colour comes out correctly but the lines and text are so much sharper. The difference is incredible. This is why if you can create a vector file for print you should.




Gez, in the comments, made some really good points. He put it so well I've quoted him:

"Nice article. I'd add, however, that the wobbly lines in bitmaps aren't caused by the bitmap itself, but by the antialiasing applied to the edges to make them look soft. The shades of color used to smooth the edges of type and curves get dithered by the RIP.

"If you export your bitmap without antialiasing, the edges will be sharp. At 300 dpi you'll probably see the jagged edges of the pixelated bitmap but adding more resolution the effect is mitigated. Actually, when you print vectors you're not printing vectors, but a very high resolution raster image generated from those vectors. Without antialiasing and at high resolutions (1200 or 2400 dpi), you get sharp edges without dithering, and you won't be able to see the pixelated edges."

What Gez is saying is exactly right. And to prove this are the following photos (again from The Print Handbook). They are black and white bitmap files (in this case PSDs) with no antialiasing.




As you can see the last two photos in particular are pretty sharp. They produce smooth edges equivalent to those of a vector. So should all your files be 2400dpi bitmaps?

Well, no. The kind of artwork above works well with one solid ink. But if you start to include tints of that ink (like a 50% grey) you'll get similar results to the first bitmap photo. Plus, your printer is unlikely to accept a 2400dpi TIF.


So, for photos (or similar artwork) stick with 300dpi bitmaps (JPGs and TIFs). For vector artwork keep it as a vector when it's sent to print (PDFs or AIs). And occasionally you may find the need to submit a 2400dpi black and white bitmap, but this will be very occasional.

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P&G Turns the Tide With a Flood of Print and TV ads

How Procter and Gamble turned around the negative publicity surrounding Tide Pods with a well-choreographed Super Bowl advertising campaign using print, television and direct mail.


The internet memes were spilling over into Mom-land, which means my mom, who doesn’t even know what a meme is, knew about Tide Pods.

“This is no joking matter,” my mom said indignantly. “Kids think these Tide detergent Pods are candy and are eating them!”

Indeed, the publicity was not good for Tide and its parent company Procter and Gamble, a global consumer goods company.

The prevailing opinion was that the company had designed the detergent pods to look fun and colorful…and, inadvertently, yummy.

Even worse, people were eating them on a dare in something called The Tide Pod Challenge.

Under the radar, the company was generating negative PR for closing plants in Kansas and Iowa and moving some operations to West Virginia and Ohio. The Tide Pod tidal wave was not helping their image.

No matter how you looked at it, it seemed the best thing for Tide to do would be to pull the offending product and apologize.

Instead, imagine my surprise when I read the paper the Sunday morning of Super Bowl LII. TIDE WAS EVERYWHERE!

The iconic Tide detergent jug and and the rainbow-laden Pods packaging were in Target ads, grocery circulars, drugstore ads, and coupon books. They were even running clippable coupons inside the newspaper on the black-and-white news pages, for goodness sake!

Tide was going ALL IN on the print advertising.

I wondered what was up. When we tuned in to watch the Super Bowl, it wasn’t long before we had the answer. Great googley moogley!


Tide had gone CRAZY on the Super Bowl television ads as well! 

There were four, count ’em, four ads!  It was…. Bold. Clever. Relentless. Unapologetic.

The twitter sphere was all a flutter about the Tide spots disguised as ads for other products. People were calculating how many millions it cost in air time.

Even the @AdWeek Twitter account was congratulating P&G for a clever campaign. A few tweeters piped up with a brave, “But what about the Pods?” For the most part, though, people were reacting favorably.

Afterward, the sport blog “The Wrap” noted: “Tide removed a recent stain from its brand on Sunday.”

The Tide had turned.

Impressed by the print-TV media blitz, I thought the work by Tide’s advertising agency was done. However, the next day we received a Tide-heavy P&G coupon pack in our mailbox.

Lo and behold, they were upping the ante with direct mail!

And yesterday we received our local grocery circular for the week’s specials, delivered by postal carrier route saturation. There was the Tide jug and the Pods, taking up a quarter of the page with a bold $2 off coupon in a Mom-and-Pop ad shopper.

Tide was throwing down in print, in direct mail, and on television.

Already the TV campaign has been heralded a success, garnering a Super Clio for best campaign of the Super Bowl.

[Business Insider has a list of all the 2018 Super Bowl television ads here.]

If the goal of the Tide Super Bowl campaign was to clean up their image, they definitely moved the ball downfield. 

Best of all, print was a visible and pivotal strategy in this high-profile campaign!

The truth is, PRINT WORKS, and the biggest brands on Earth prove it every day.

Keep the multi channels flowing!

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Why print buyers who stick to cost-cutting are failing to do their job

Wouldn’t a garden look bare without anything in the flowerbeds?

My wife is a keen gardener. One of her most regular jobs is the weeding. It’s an important part of keeping the garden looking good.

But what would happen if my wife did nothing but weeding? What would happen if she never spent any time growing flowers? We wouldn’t have much of a garden.

Print buyers spend all their time cost cutting can end up with the same results as gardeners who spend all their time weeding. They may fail to create any growth.

Print buyers should focus on growing return on investment

Print buyers should help companies grow profits, not just reduce costs

A good buyer should constantly be looking at how to make the products they buy more effective. They should be trying to increase profits or revenue streams for their clients.

Buyers who focus on ROI will be seen as valued partners by their clients. They will help control their clients’ budgets. They will also probably achieve more personal satisfaction from their jobs.

Buyers who focused purely on cost-cutting may not achieve the same levels of personal satisfaction. Their clients are more likely to see them as and administrative function. They won’t have the same level of relationship.

Here are three ideas to help improve ROI for your clients.


There are plenty of studies that show personalisation increases return on investment. This doesn’t just apply to direct mail: it applies to magazines and other products as well.

Personalisation options are increasing. There is now an abundance of ways to personalise through images. Personalised URLs are also very effective at tracking response and gathering customer data.

Print buyers should make sure that they are aware of all the options. They should also make their clients aware of the possibilities. However, it is possible to go so much further these days. That’s where intelligent print recognition comes in.

Intelligent print recognition

Intelligent print recognition is now offered by a number of providers such as Documobi. The user downloads an app and scans the printed item. In return, they will receive a promotional incentive.

This is a highly effective way to manage customer interaction. It is extremely measurable. More importantly, the response to the customer can be varied according to location or time.

This is a good opportunity for print buyers to really assist a company with its data collection. But that doesn’t mean that we should forget some of the more traditional ways of improving ROI.


Sometimes we should remember to use traditional ways of improving print. Using a finer screen reading or stochastic screening can make a huge difference to some pieces of high-end print.

I was a judge in the Printweek awards recently and was really impressed at the difference that the right screening could make to a piece.

Buyers definitely need to consider how they can improve the look as well as the functionality of the items that they purchase.

Here’s an example of how changing print specification created extra value for a client

I was involved in specifying some vouchers for a major newspaper. A simple change to the type of barcode used improved data collection hugely.

No extra print cost was involved. However, the client was able to review individual customer activity. This allowed them to market further based on that information.

Some buyers feel that they cannot contribute to projects in this way.

Surely most companies are only interested in cost-cutting?

Often, the print industry has made the assumption that cost-cutting is uppermost in customers’ minds. However, in many cases this is because printing companies and print buyers have failed to outline the potential to increase revenue and profits to their clients.

It is vital that everyone in the industry does their bit to show how print can add value to companies’ budgets.

Here are three action points to help you improve the value of a printed item

  1. Find out what your client wants to achieve with the item you’re purchasing
  2. Talk to your suppliers and review ways in which you could add value to this strategy
  3. Arrange a meeting with the budget holder to present alternative options for the specification

Rather than destroying the weeds of extra cost, you may soon find that you are able to grow the seeds of new profits.

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