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Sixth Annual NPOA Print Business Owners Conference Will Offer Inspiration and Hands-On Training

The NPOA Annual Print Owners Conference sails to the Riverside Hotel in Fort Lauderdale on February 22 to 24. The three-day event includes a dozen sessions that cover the waterfront of business, technology, and marketing issues important to small and md-size print business owners.


Highlights of the WhatTheyThink Printing Forecast 2018

WhatTheyThink’s Forecast 2018 report, by Dr. Joe Webb and Richard Romano provides detailed analysis of the most recent Print Business Outlook Survey, the latest industry economic data and macroeconomic trends, as well as industry and cultural technological trends to look out for in 2018.


Print Business Outlook Survey: In the next 12 months, which of the following will be your biggest business challenges?

WhatTheyThink surveyed printing business owners and executives: "In the next 12 months, which of the following will be your biggest business challenges?"


Welcome to the Future of Finishing!

Today marks the launch of a new Finishing Section on WhatTheyThink and section editor Trish Witkowski gives us an overview of the kinds of things she'll be covering in this special interest area. Welcome to the future of finishing!


2017 NAICS 323 US Commercial Printing Industry Shipments

The US Commerce Department has released data for November 2017, and this is the first look at the full year by making an estimate for December. Based on shipment and employment trends, it appears that 2017 came in at $76.3 in current dollars. That's a -6.4% decrease in current dollars compared to 2016, and a -8.4% decrease on an inflation-adjusted basis. The chart includes selected prior years starting at 1995. December data will be released at the beginning of February, and will be revised in March. In May, the Commerce Department will revise the last three years of data, plus minor revisions to the years prior to that.


Non-Bankruptcy Debt Restructuring in the Printing Industry

What options are available for financially troubled print businesses? John Hyde, the leading expert in M&A involving financially troubled printing companies, talks with Graphic Arts Advisors about how there are more choices than ever, including Non-Bankruptcy Debt Restructuring.


2018: Execution and Implementation Are Essential for Business Growth! (Premium Content)

In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article, the third in a three-part series, highlights the biggest challenge print service providers face—transforming their creative ideas into business realities!


Industry Press and Analysts React to Fujifilm Xerox Deal (Premium Content)

Xerox and Fujifilm announced a deal to combine Xerox and the Fuji Xerox joint venture into a single company called Fuji Xerox. Industry Analysts share their reaction to the deal.


Keeping Print in the Mix in Customer Communications

For many companies, digital communications promised fast, easy, relevant, and more affordable customer communications. But now marketers are realizing that print has a valuable role in the customer communications mix that cannot be underestimated. As a result, the role of print in an omnichannel world is being redefined yet again, with print as a key element.


Standard Operating Procedures, Print Software, and Human Error (Premium Content)

A business is a set of processes that are done over and over, do you have those processes written down? Do you review them? How often do make mistakes due to a human error that just involves “I forgot”? Process improvement starts with defining the process, adhering to them, and then constantly learning and adapting the process to the smarter you.


Bespoke Processes and Manufacturing: The New Reality? (Premium Content)

In this new series, David Zwang will look at how the new requirements of print and packaging manufacturing, and how the demands and opportunities of Industry 4.0, are being facilitated by new bespoke production and workflow methods. These new methods are becoming available as a result of the evolution of current and emerging digital technologies. He will look at the requirements, technologies, methods and the educational processes necessary to bring it all together. In this first article in the series, he takes a look at the changing landscape to lay the groundwork for future discussion.


Industry Associations Team to Ensure Long-Term Vitality of Mail

Idealliance, NAPM, and PostCom announced a coalition designed "to work towards the long-term vitality of mail and ensuring that the mail industry remains at the very center of communication and commerce in the United States and around the globe." Is this the right approach? Read more for my opinion.


Latest Inflation Adjustment Multipliers

Inflation distorts our interpretation of history and clouds business decisions. All dollars may look alike, but what a dollar bought in 1950 is a lot different than a dollar in 2017. Unfortunately, commercial printing prices have not kept up with inflation, but the costs of running a printing business usually have. This means that it's harder to keep earnings and payrolls up to this level. If past dollars had greater value, this chart can be used to adjust past financial statements to bring those data to current value. This is especially important in budgeting processes where looking for trends in prior years is one way of assessing performance and goals.


An Inflection Point in Textiles: Zazzle Leading the Way to the Future (Premium Content)

Have you ever shopped at Zazzle? The company personalizes just about anything and has both paper and textile offerings. In past Zazzle stories, we have focused primarily on the paper side. But the company was actually founded with textiles. Read more to find out what Zazzle textile offerings - and its view of the market - looks like today.


IKEA Uses Print to Create a New Motivation to Buy

Peeing on a print ad may sound strange at first, but it's a brilliant use of print to accomplish something that is very difficult to do - create a powerful new motivation to buy.


2018: A Focus on Customer Needs (Premium Content)

In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article (the second in a three-part series) highlights key application trends that are expected to have a significant impact on print providers' prospects for growth in 2018.


Hiring Technical Staff for Your Print Business (Premium Content)

Technical resources are hard to find. Keeping up with technology requires constant learning. When looking for technical staff; probe for the candidates willingness and ability to learn new things - it is an absolute requirement.


In 2018, Take Print Where Digital Can't Go

Much has been written on the benefits of print and how we can help it compete for marketing dollars against digital marketing. But why try to compete at all? In 2018, why not capitalize on the capabilities of print that digital marketing cannot replicate?


Open Wide: The State of Wide-Format Printing (Premium Content)

We have a new report out, the Printing Forecast 2018, based in large part on the results of our Fall 2017 Business Conditions Outlook survey. There is quite a lot in the 172-page report, but here are some highlights specific to wide-format printing.


PIA's Color Conference Is the Go-to to Increase Color Knowledge

PIA’s Color Conference grew attendance by about 30% compared to 2017, with 25% of attendees representing the brand/design community. For anyone with a color-critical role, this is an excellent venue to increase color knowledge, network with peers, and have in-depth in-person conversations with conference sponsors about solutions that can assist with specific challenges.


Economy Growing, Big and Small; Who Owns Our Businesses? (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe has a special message: he was wrong 15 years ago, and it worked out fine. The economy is showing improvement, and some reluctant data series are starting to be break their recession levels. Government shutdown? That won't stop them from collecting taxes! Many of the economic indicators show a strong Q4-2017 GDP report is in the offing - but the shutdown may prevent that data release. Dr. Joe warns of a data issues ahead - if small business booms, it may not be recognized right away. But there's one difference in big and small that's showing up right now in printing profits data.


You Might Be Ready for the Cloud If...(Part 4)

Are you ready for a cloud migration? Here is the fourth and final post in a four-part series on "cloud readiness" criteria put together by experts.


In the Mail: January 2018 - What You Need to Know About Postal Issues (Premium Content)

The USPS racks up improvements in on-time performance and cost coverage…22 Marketing Mail workshare discount passthroughs exceed 100%…Industry groups craft postal strategic plan.


2018: A Focus on Technology (Premium Content)

In the year ahead, changing customer demands, ongoing technological shifts, more intense market competition, and ever-changing communication trends will require print providers to make innovation a top priority. This article (the first in a three-part series) highlights key technology trends expected to have significant impact on print providers’ prospects for growth in 2018.


The Role of a Product Owner in Print Software (Premium Content)

Every industry has different roles, in the software industry there is a role called the “Product Owner” also referred to as the “Product Manager”. First, I’ll explain this unique role in the software industry; then I’ll make a case that as print continues to evolve and become more digitally friendly and software dependent printers are going to have to have this role in their organizations.


PDF For Packaging: Facilitating Process Automation (Premium Content)

The PDF format is gaining acceptance in packaging production. As a result, prepress and converting companies are finding new ways to automate and optimize their processes.


Two Sides Video Ties Sustainable Forestry to Real People

In this industry, we like to talk about the value of paper to connect with audiences and engage them in a way that digital content does not. What we don’t spend as much time talking about is how consuming forest-based products like paper benefits real people, real families in our communities, and actually improves the environment, too.


Salesforce.com Releases Fourth Annual “State of Marketing”

This post provides five critical takeaways from Salesforce.com’s “Fourth Annual State of Marketing” report that paint a very different picture of the marketing landscape than a few years ago. MSPs need to be prepared for significant retooling.


Amazon and On-Demand Clothing Manufacturing

Amazon’s patenting of an on-demand clothing manufacturing warehouse points to a future of on-demand mass customization of fashion.


You Might Be Ready for the Cloud If . . . (Part 3)

Are you ready for a cloud migration? Here is the third in a four-part series of posts on criteria put together by experts.


New Strategy for Xeikon Café Exhibition & Conference Announced

Details for the 2018 edition of Xeikon Café Exhibition & Conference, the fourth such event held in Belgium, are becoming available,;and there are exciting changes planned. We spoke with Xeikon Corporate Communications Manager Danny Mertens to get more details. Read more.


It’s Time to Evaluate Your Production Workflow Platform (Premium Content)

Most of today’s printers realize that software plays a critical role in keeping operational costs down and remaining competitive. This article explores how software vendors can help PSPs with their workflow bottlenecks so they can better prepare for the future as we move into another new year.


Print Business Differentiation (Premium Content)

What makes your print business unique? This is a question every print business should ponder over the new year. In 2018 how will you guide your company to create differentiation? Will it be based on the past or the reality of our shared future?


This Point Forward: A Look Ahead at 2018 (Premium Content)

Personal voice assistants and the Internet of Things, wide-format graphics and specialty printing—what are some of the new (and old!) technologies to which we should pay attention and how will they affect us in 2018?


Will the Real Crane Please Stand Up? – December 2017 M&A Activity

Crane Currency acquired; IWCO teams up with ModusLink Global Solutions; OSG active in transactional segment; Fort Dearborn acquires NCL; and more…


Fed By Threads Makes Socially Responsible, Environmentally Sustainable Apparel, “From Dirt to Shirt” (Premium Content)

Want a vision of the future of the world of digital textiles? Skya Nelson of Fed By Threads has a unique perspective on the market, and is already implementing much of it with the company’s “dirt to shirt” approach to socially responsible, environmentally sustainable apparel.


Heating Up: Retargeting with Direct Mail (Premium Content)

Retargeting isn’t just for digital campaigns anymore. Companies are coming up with innovative solutions for retargeting lost website customers with snail mail, as well.


In the Mail: December 2017 (Premium Content)

Mixed news on the U.S. Postal Service revenue front… annual rate increases in the offing? …marketing mail program delayed…say goodbye to IMb.


Dr. Joe: A Potpourri of Workers, Taxes, Profits, Rates, Digits, and More (Premium Content)

The fifteenth year of Dr. Joe at WhatTheyThink comes to a close, and he’s got a lot of topics (and some charts, of course) to get off his mind. Tax reform, recruitment, hours online, profits, consolidation...you name it, it’s probably mentioned in this year’s final column. Oh, and we forgot Bitcoin...that’s here too.


2017: A Look In the Rear-View Mirror

More industry consolidation in response to decreased demand. Yet, encouraging business conditions, and challenges with managing productivity. Meanwhile, inkjet continues to conquer the world and new print product and business opportunities emerge in strange new places. Let’s take a look back at the year that was.


From 3D to 2D: An Interesting Journey

There has been a lot of hype over the last few years about 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, being the next big thing in the print-related world. We recently learned that EFI hired Gal Barak as its Inkjet Eastern Region Sales Manager. Barak most recently worked for 3D printing company Stratasys. Why did he make this move and what are his thoughts on 2D versus 3D? Read more.


Here’s How You Can Help Take the Pulse of the Industry!

When approached to participate in a survey, the initial response for many is to decline because participation takes time and the value proposition is not always clear. This article explores the benefits that survey data can deliver to the industry as a whole.


More Reasons to Focus on Print-to-Mobile

With the exploding growth in e-commerce, the ability to prove print’s value as a primary driver of online activity becomes increasingly important. This includes m-commerce, which is growing even faster than e-commerce in general. This makes investment in print-to-mobile technologies a must.


How to Simplify Print MIS Implementations (Premium Content)

Print MIS implementations are complex, they touch every corner of your business. It is critical that you actively looks for ways to simplify the project in order to increase your chances of success.


Looking at Consumer Trends from a Channel Perspective

Are you reaping the benefits of free consumer trends reports to benefit your client base? If not, you are leaving opportunity to help your clients refine their targeting, improving their messaging and channel mix, and better understand the competitive landscape.


Digital Direct-To-Shape Market (Premium Content)

Direct-To-Shape (DTS) has become a commonly used term in recent times. We want to try to clarify a little around the definition of DTS and to describe the state of this particular art. We are prompted to do this by our recent visit to the InPrint Europe Industrial Print show in Milan, Italy, where there was a lot of discussion of the potential of DTS as a market.


Flexible Packaging is Hot – November 2017 M&A Activity

TC Transcontinental executes long term strategy in flexible packaging, Graphic Packaging acquires again; Kingery Printing acquires United Graphics; and more…


It’s an Omni-Channel World… Especially During the Holidays! (Premium Content)

This holiday season, savvy retailers are working to meet customers on the channels where they are shopping and buying, whether it’s in a physical store, online, or via social media. This article highlights how various retailers are driving sales and encouraging engagement with multi-channel integrated campaigns.


The Customer’s Perspective of Web-to-Print (Premium Content)

I’ve been interacting with a lot of customers of web-to-print lately (the people who order from web-to-print, not the printers). In every single interaction I learn something new.


Apocalypse Soon? Retail’s Troubles and What They Mean for POP Printers (Premium Content)

Brick and mortar retailer has been struggling with foot traffic. According to early estimates all signs are pointing to more ecommerce, less in-person commerce this holiday season. What does this mean for retail graphics?


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