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Specialty Printing and Events: Made for Each Other

Commercial printing is evolving into specialty printing, and opportunities abound—if you know where and how to look for them.


Inflation-adjusted Shipments per Employee

The Commerce Department’s revisions to industry shipments show a much different picture of a key metric for the industry, sales per employee. The chart was created using 12-month moving totals of inflation-adjusted shipments and the 12 month moving average of total industry employment. The latest reading through March 2017 is $182.65 per employee, a meager +1.5% higher than it was at the end of 1992. It fell from a peak of $195.51 which was just before the burst of the housing bubble, the rise of social media platforms, tablets, and smartphones. The fall in this calculation has some interesting characteristics. Historically, large printing businesses focused on magazines, catalogs, and newspaper inserts, had sales per employee that were significantly higher than the industry averages, anywhere from 30% to 50% higher.


Inkjet: Finding the Path to Profitability (Premium Content)

Advances in inkjet technology have print service providers asking “not if, but when” they should invest. This article highlights recent interviews with a number of inkjet users to find out the critical strategies they are following to accelerate their organization’s path to profitability.


New Xeikon President Benoit Chatelard Shares Vision for the Future (Premium Content)

In late March, Xeikon announced that Benoit Chatelard, at the time the Vice President, Production Printing, for Ricoh Europe, would be joining the company as President & CEO Digital Solutions, Flint Group, Xeikon’s parent company. Chatelard began his new role May 8th, and speaks with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne about his vision for Xeikon.


The Danger of Rushing to a Solution (Premium Content)

We want to be efficient, we want to feel smart. When we hear even the first words of a challenge, we categorize it and start trying to solve it based on our available tool set. This prevents you from a real understanding of the problem.


Last CTP Innovations and High Quality Printing Innovations Case Dismissed

Another Major Victory for the Printing Industry: The largest of the most recent patent troll cases against the printing industry and its OEMs was dismissed.


The Changing Specialty Printing Market: New Opportunities Big and Small (Premium Content)

The same technologies that have enabled the proliferation of wide-format graphics are also profoundly changing the traditional specialty printing market. Here’s how print service providers can take advantage of the “nichification” of commercial print.


Where’s the Workflow?

Despite all the talk about the need for automated workflow, printers are still not rushing to invest in these solutions. How long can they hold on to fractured and inefficient workflows without this becoming a serious liability?


Commerce Department Revisions Send 2015 and 2016 Shipments Down More than -4% (Premium Content)

We love numbers, especially when they go in a direction we like. Accuracy of the information we use in decision-making should not be a matter of liking numbers, the numbers are what the numbers are. What happens when one set of numbers you relied on are revised on the basis of new and better information and describe a different scenario than before? Dr. Joe helps sort it out… we think.


Xerox Forum: Connecting Your Network!

Under the “Connecting Your Network” theme, the 2017 Xerox Forum focused on business growth opportunities in today’s dynamic graphic communications market. This article highlights announcements and speakers from the event.


Your Customer’s Lack of Change Management Kills Web-to-Print Adoption

People don’t like change, they need to be led through change because the transition between “how you’ve always done it” and the “new more tech-focused way to do it” can be a river of misery.


Omni-Channel Communications: Secrets of Success

Marketers’ love affair with a digital-only strategy has begun to wane, and while they are continuing to invest in digital channels, print is regaining ground as an important part of the overall media mix. This opens the door to a more active role for print service providers in moving upstream and becoming engaged with helping marketers develop and execute an effective omni-channel strategy that aligns with the way consumers want to interact with brands. We spoke with some experts to learn their secrets of success.


FESPA 2017 Showcases European Wide-Format Introductions

Last week, FESPA 2017 drew attendees from across Europe and beyond to see the latest in wide-format and specialty printing technology and applications.


Creating Value with a Technological Infrastructure (Premium Content)

Savvy print service providers recognize the need to offer relevant, integrated services to an ever-changing market. Investing in the right technologies will play a key role moving forward. This article discusses some of the technological areas that can fuel growth in today’s complex marketplace.


Births and Deaths of Commercial Printing Establishments, 2010 to 2014

The Commerce Department tracks the number of business establishments by industry, and among he more interesting reports is the calculation of new and closed businesses. The data take a while to be released, and these new data about 2014 were recently made available. There’s a word of caution here. If someone was a corporation and decides to become a partnership or a proprietorship, that counts as one business closed and one business opened. And then there’s “poor man’s mergers” where two business owners decide to close their two businesses and open one new one. Same people, same equipment, no real change except to the tax authorities and government statisticians. The most important number is the net change of births less deaths. In the worst of the recession, the net number was 6% of establishments. For 2014, that had fallen to a little more than 2%.


Leading Technology Change (Premium Content)

Change management is considered a soft skill (maybe because it can’t be measured easily in a spreadsheet). Change management can cause a lot of hard problems with technology change when it ignored.


Legacy Printing Companies Fade Into History – April 2017 M&A Activity

Sheridan Group is sold, Intelligencer joins with Pemcor, Kennedy Group and Resilience Capital form Lux and buy National Label, ProAmpac and Resource Label acquire, summary of equipment manufacturing deals, and more.


Economy, Employment, Print, and Management Decisions

The economy is showing signs, but no one can figure out what kind of signs they are. GDP is down, employment is up. Apple confounds the analysts with a financial report worthy of corporate envy, but the analysts were not happy, and seem to blame Apple for the analysts bad guesses! And then there’s printing shipments: let’s change the subject… it seems many printers are doing just that by changing the process. Do policies in your company insulate you from the detection of market changes and opportunities? It’s not always denial, it’s procedure. That’s not a good thing.


QR Codes Growing in Use for Mobile Banking and Payments

Even as people continue to hate on QR Codes, we see them popping up in more and more places, including mobile banking and payments. This article takes a look at three places we regularly see QR Codes in the world of mobile payments and why we should pay attention.


Annual Summit Educates Printers on the Ins and Outs of Inkjet (Premium Content)

Attendees at the recent Inkjet Summit reported that inkjet technology is mature, profitable, and offers printers a variety of options in terms of size, format, and speed. The event attracted 48 sponsors and 139 attendees from commercial print, direct mail, book manufacturing, data center, service bureau, and in-plant operations.


NPES, PIA and Idealliance: The Strategy Moving Forward

Last month, NPES announced it was taking on sole ownership of the Print/Graph Expo show franchise in order to give it the flexibility to make necessary major changes to the show. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with both Printing Industries of America and Idealliance to get their take and to better understand what their involvement would be moving forward.


Strategy vs. Tactics in Print Software Projects (Premium Content)

A print software strategy is a definition of where you want to end up – an objective, a goal for how you want all the software components in your business to work together.


Spectrum Printing Weighs in on Idealliance’s G7 Master Facility Qualification Process

Tucson-based Spectrum Printing recently underwent the Idealliance G7 Master Facility Qualification process by leveraging G7 Expert, Jeff Collins, National Color Solutions Manager for Konica Minolta. We checked into learn more about the process and the early results. We’ll touch base again in about a month to find out what longer term benefits the company has achieved.


Wide-Format: Shelter From the Coming “Third Wave”? (Premium Content)

We are about to be hit by a “Third Wave” of technology disruption that will negatively impact the demand for print. Or will it? Not all print is created equal these days. Here are some suggestions for how to weather the storm.


Investing in the Value of Print (Premium Content)

As reaching consumers across multiple channels becomes more difficult, marketers’ budgets are rising to meet the challenge. This article explores how print service providers can add value to the overall marketing strategy through investment in core print products, analytics, and digital integration.


Printing Industry Lags Other Manufacturers in Defined Management Processes

In what is not a surprise to many, the job shop operational structure of many printing businesses put the industry near the bottom of all manufacturing industries in terms of its management processes.


Does This Print Software Fit into Your Technology Stack?

There is no “one software package” that runs your entire business. Businesses of all sizes have a technology stack (a collection of software). How well your technology stack fits together (like a beautiful puzzle) greatly determines your success in today’s market.


Carl Dantas, former head of Compugraphic, dead at 83

A lifetime is filled with many people. In 1971, I joined Compugraphic Corp. as their first marketing communications manager. Carl Dantas was then the VP of Operations. As the two founders, Bill Garth and Ellis Hansen, became less involved, Carl moved up the ranks to head the company.


Esko Presents Flexo Innovation

On a recent visit to Belgium, I attended a Esko press briefing scheduled in conjunction with the company’s Flexo Innovation Day customer event.


To Deliver Powerful Customer Experiences – Get Personal

In today’s competitive marketplace, brands are all vying for the eyes of consumers. Ask yourself: Does your campaign inspire engagement or action? Is it timed to reach the recipients at a precise moment? Are you targeting consumers across their preferred communication channels?


Print Is the “New Media” at ISA Sign Expo

Neon. LED. Channel letters. Wooden signs. Magnetic letters. Aside from dynamic digital signage, the “new media” in the sign industry is, strange as it may sound, print. The International Sign Association’s Sign Expo 2017 wrapped up last weekend. Here are some highlights from the show floor and beyond.


Importance of Hard Data: How Soft Data Can Mislead Decision-Makers

Every generation has a different perception of what the world is like. That difference may be appearing in surveys of consumer confidence and similar measures that businesspeople and economists have relied on. Hard data can be so cold, and those surveys added context and perspective with a view toward the future that historical data could not. Now it seems that “soft data” is softer than thought and may be misleading decision-makers about the marketplace.


A Greater Emphasis on Marketing Attribution (Premium Content)

The ultimate objective of marketing attribution is to help marketers track their marketing and media efforts and determine the impact on their overall business. Priorities are shifting toward cross-channel measurement, and savvy print service providers are getting into the game!


NPES “Bold New Direction” for 2020 and New Ownership for Print/Graph Expo

NPES has unveiled what it characterizes as a “bold new direction” with its 2020 Strategic Plan. The organization has been evaluating its performance and considering where it wants to be as an organization by 2020 – and what value it can and will bring to the printing industry. NPES has assumed full ownership of the PRINT and GRAPH EXPO tradeshows.


Clear Communication with Print Software

Clear communication is essential when implementing print software. When you don’t ask clarifying questions, you assume that if there were more relevant details about the integration they would have shared them with you. Do not assume. Ask clarifying questions. Be that annoying person who keeps asking questions.


Proof That Adding Images Improves Conversion Rates

Intuitively, we know that adding images to direct mail, displays, and wide-format graphics adds grabs attention, but these statistics from real-life campaigns show that adding images does more—it actually improves conversion rates.


Xeikon Café and the Xeikon Panther Strategy (Premium Content)

Xeikon Café marked some significant Xeikon announcements, including the company’s entry into the production inkjet business and a leadership transition. The event, held at Xeikon headquarters in Belgium, drew more than 800 unique international visitors and was supported by about 40 partners.


An Eye for Detail: The Many Layers of Digital Artist Bert Monroy

Berkeley-based digital artist Bert Monroy has spent more than three decades creating intricately detailed digital fine art. His most complex image is part of a new software retrospective exhibit at the Computer History Museum.


One Canon Event Shares Good News, Surprises

Canon didn’t disappoint with its One Canon event in Boca Raton last month. About 40 journalists and analysts gathered to hear the latest news and engage with Canon customers. It’s always a pleasure to hear from Joe Adachi, Canon USA Chairman and CEO, who kicked off the event with a broad corporate overview. And a surprise product launch occurred during the event as well.


The Emphasis on Mobile Creates New Opportunities for Enterprises (Premium Content)

Today’s brands are learning from early mistakes through trial and error, careful consideration of user engagement, and knowledge of effective use to further enhance their mobile strategies. Even non-traditional partners like print service providers are learning how to provide support. This article explores how enterprises can capitalize on the mobile opportunity.


What Do the Navy’s Blue Angels Have to Do with Print?

I grew up in the shadow of Navy base Moffett Field in Mountain View CA, and later lived near Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth NH, and had the opportunity to see many Blue Angels shows and practice sessions. So it was quite an experience to hear from John Foley, a retired U.S. Navy Commander who led the vaunted Blue Angels, a keynote speaker at Dscoop.


The Fed’s Balance Sheet and the S&P 500

The financial markets were rattled a little bit by the recent minutes of the Fed meeting where they discussed the unwinding of their interventions and the ballooning of their balance sheet. The data are reflected in the St. Louis Fed Adjusted Monetary Base. The chart shows how the run-up in the S&P 500 stock index relates to the Fed’s quantitative easings


Excel, PDFs, Paper, and More People (automation-less) (Premium Content)

We apply tools from our toolset to solve business challenges, often those tools create silos of data and processes inside our company that prevent us from becoming a truly data-driven organization.


Labels: Hybrid Printing Production Solutions can bridge QPC (Premium Content)

In this article, David looks at the role of Hybrid Press Solutions to bridge the gap between conventional and digital label production, and even a takes a glance at what these types of solutions mean for other types of packaging.


Something’s Happening and It Just Doesn’t Feel Right (Premium Content)

Friday’s unemployment report of 4.5% showed a thriving, healthy labor market in an economy bursting with growth. Not so fast… the cross-currents of the economy are quite different depending where you are, especially in the suffering retail markets. Media technology changes are letting communicators switch from gas guzzlers to more finely tuned approaches that squeeze budgets but offer similar results. There are print businesses thriving in this chaos, and Dr. Joe explains why even they have to remain vigilant and proactive.


Changes Coming to EPA’s Hazardous Waste Regulations

The Environmental Protection Agency made some changes to its “generator standard” regarding the safe disposal of hazardous waste. Here is what the printing industry needs to know.


View into the Future of Printing Process Control - March 2017 M&A Activity

Danaher adds Advanced Vision Technology to Pantone and X-Rite platform, Ripon acquires Maquoketa, Vomela goes commercial, private equity backs outsourcing packaging to China, and more


Are You Promoting Event Marketing?

A look at the benefits of event marketing and why printers should be promoting their ability to offer event marketing support.


TransPromo, 2017-Style (Premium Content)

Marketers face the challenge of getting their messages out in a way that cuts through this clutter and encourages desired behaviors in recipients. This article discusses how today’s marketers are increasingly leveraging statements and other transactional documents as a marketing platform, and how these documents are becoming a more integral part of the overall customer experience.


Good Data, Bad Personalization

This article looks at the missed opportunities of a data-driven mailer created by a top brand and encourages readers to ensure that their own clients use data in a way that is effective rather than simply elevating the cost of a piece unnecessarily.


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