Company: AdobeCustomer: XVSubmitted by: MCC InternationalDate: September 1999When your business deals in environmentally-friendly products and runs the catalogue for the Friends of the Earth campaigning charity, it makes sense to practice what you preach and eliminate as much waste in your operations as is feasible. The move is all the more appropriate if it saves money while also making the company’s operations more efficient and effective.XV specialises in providing hundreds of environmentally friendly products to the UK retail and trade markets under the motto “products for a sustainable future”, and has achieved such goals by implementing Adobe Systems’ PageMaker desktop publishing software. XV has an annual turnover of approximately £1 million.Since deciding to tackle much of its publishing requirements in-house, XV has saved thousands of pounds in advertising agency fees, virtually cut out wasted resources, and enabled its marketing staff to react more quickly and appropriately to business change.
This is even more important for a growing business operating with flexible staff in a market subject to cycles of demand and changing prices. By bringing much of its core publishing in-house, XV has fundamentally changed the way it creates the information leaflets, product guarantees, box tags, and labels for the ‘green’ goods it distributes, without compromising on quality.When XV first explored the possibility of bringing some of its publishing needs in-house four years ago, it was initially decided to continue to use an external design agency to produce the catalogue, with XV staff co-ordinating the project. The size of the catalogue was deemed to be too great, and its quality too sophisticated, for XV’s staff to handle its production without specialist training and help with their other work commitments. However, when XV assessed its other publishing requirements, it became clear that it could create templates for the production of its product information sheets and package labelling, and that the company could manage their design and production in-house at far less cost. Unlike the catalogue, the printed materials for the products are produced mainly in black and white and are simple in design and layout.
It was clearly a waste of money to continue to use an external specialist design agency to produce such basic work.XV also realised that it could keep its stationery more current if it produced the documents itself, since it could print on demand and so be able to immediately reflect price and product changes, saving on previously wasted out-of-date stock. This is obviously particularly important to XV given the nature of its business.One of XV’s most complicated publishing jobs, aside from the Friends of the Earth catalogue, is to produce a 16-page A5 product price list for its trade customers. “It’s obviously important to keep this up-to-date, but with outside design agencies we weren’t in control of the production schedule so their work didn’t always fit in with the needs of our other business operations, or reflect sudden changes in product details,” says Steve Hack, XV’s Business Development Manager. “We found we were wasting stock, not least because we had to order so much and it would rapidly become out-of-date.
“Since XV already had a network of PCs and laser printer capacity, it calculated that the only outlay in bringing its product publishing needs in-house, would be the purchase of the desktop publishing software and the learning time required by staff who co-ordinate the production of the company’s product marketing materials. With no experience of commercial desktop publishing in-house, XV looked for a solution that could easily be learnt by a novice within a reasonable time. It was also important that it should be an industry standard solution widely used by XV’s external design agencies. “It was clear that the only choice was Adobe’s PageMaker software,” says Hack. “You don’t need to be a design expert to create high quality work.
It’s also the software that all our design agencies use.”PageMaker was duly installed during a quiet period in the company’s trading and Hack and a colleague then gradually learned to use it by working with the manual. “PageMaker is much easier to use than you think and I was soon able to create the templates for the product information materials and stop using the outside agencies for the work altogether,” says Hack.The software feature that Hack is most impressed with is PageMaker’s ability to flow text over pages and into columns automatically, taking account of changes wherever they are introduced. XV’s price list booklet would be very hard to lay out without this feature since it is assembled in non-sequential pages.
“The business benefits from using the PageMaker software easily paid for its purchase within months,” says Hack. He adds, “Over the years we’ve saved a massive amount by publishing the product documents in-house, and I think we’re doing a better job too. When you design something yourself you work on it for longer until you’re completely happy with it. The time it takes is no more than we would spend briefing an agency, plus we no longer have to compromise on designs that aren’t quite right.”XV has revamped its leaflet designs using PageMaker in-house, and is also producing more marketing materials than it would otherwise have been able to afford using an external agency. The company also believes that responses to its mail shots have increased partly because it is able to provide customers with more information, and partly because XV’s image is now better reflected in its promotional materials.
“Ultimately, PageMaker has enabled us to respond more quickly and easily to changes needed in our promotional documents,” says Hack. “Not only do we have a higher level of control over their production but we’re also saving money and we’re more professional in our business than before. Crucially, we no longer have to scrap materials, and that’s very important because it means that we’re one step closer to practicing what we preach!”