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With today’s leaner staff and budgets, every new hire counts drastically. Badly conducted hires will yield you staff who amount to little more than a cost of doing business. But although the money you spend on payroll could well be your largest cash commitment, a staff of properly hired and maintained employees can increase your profits far beyond their cost. Your staff is therefore an investment—easily the most important investment your business ever makes.
Is the U.S. Economy playing out like 1990s Japan or 1970s U.S. stagflation? Dr. Joe changes his mind... again. All it took was the Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index releases of last week. Well, so much for his lecturing about the tendency of managers to react to the last thing they hear rather than pondering things. He also suggests buying oil with gold might be a good idea after looking at the last 20 years of data. That should be interesting to try during the New England heating season when the oil truck stops by. And if you thought Keynes was dead, you should see his new rap video with Frederich A. Hayek. If dead economists can make a rap video, can Elvis be far behind?
It’s that time of year again, when graphic arts snowbirds flock to the Sunshine State to take in the pastel-hued wonders of South Beach—and learn about the latest developments in graphics and printing.
When Komori and Heidelberg drop out of a Graph Expo show, it portends seismic changes in the printing industry. But it is all part of 500+ years of changes. All things have a lifespan, whether they are living things, inanimate things, or even the universe (the ultimate collection of things). They start out as nothing, become something, and ultimately become nothing again. This pseudo-philosophical statement begins a discussion about technological change, a subject dear to all of our hearts.
For printers who want to make the transition to a marketing services provider, we provide some ideas to help answer the question: How do you gain credibility in the eyes of your customers, that you aren’t just the print services vendor they know…but that you can be a communications problem solver for them?
The custom book market offers tremendous opportunity for a number of different constituencies, including creative content providers, Web publishing solutions, and print service providers. The combination of more affordable high-speed digital devices, Web-based content and tools, and a desire for personalized content is causing the custom book market to grow. This article highlights examples of two companies (Penwizard and RPI) that are capitalizing on this opportunity.
As the 2010 show season begins, the emphasis has shifted increasingly toward digital solutions, including printing equipment as well as workflow. WhatTheyThink spoke with several offset press manufacturers to find out more about their plans for the most significant North American printing show, Graph Expo, scheduled for October 3-6, 2010, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.
Last week’s Ipex Media summit in London outlined what we can expect at the Ipex show in May. In this we can expect to see many of the products previewed at drupa now becoming available in the market. The article outlines the size and scale of Ipex and why it is such as important show this year. It also gives a few briefs on new products being shown there.
Pitney Bowes President, Document Messaging Technologies, Ramesh Ratan Shares PB Strategy, Industry Outlook ()
In September 2009, Ramesh Ratan left his position as COO at The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) to become President of Pitney Bowes’ Document Messaging Technologies (DMT). In this interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, Ratan talks about his reasons for joining Pitney Bowes, his top strategic initiatives for the organization, the role printers can play in the age of digital media, and much more.
Broadband use by adults has been increasing and the number of households with broadband service has almost doubled since 2005. What's the relationship with commercial printing volume? Last year, there were about 48 billion hours of broadband use by households, and every additional hour of use decreases commercial print volume by about $2.
MSP Digital Marketing and TecDoc Digital Solutions: The Case History of an M&A Transaction Done Right
When four print industry veterans decided to form a national network of digital services for marketing communications, they knew they would need the help of an M&A expert. Realizing that the digital universe is huge, they understood that locating the right acquisition targets within it was a task they could entrust only to an advisor possessing "industry knowledge, financial acumen, and a great database." Read how MSP Digital Marketing, with the help of New Direction Partners, took a successful first toward building its network with the well-executed acquisition of TecDoc Digital Solutions.
Possibly the most important reason that print service providers need to have an active Internet marketing strategy is because of the transformation that has occurred in how print buyers seek information. Yes, customers and prospects still talk to sales representatives, look through magazines, and talk to business associates to gather product information, but print service providers need to understand that customers and prospects are turning en masse to the Internet as their primary knowledge source. More than three-quarters (78%) of adult online consumers in the U.S. made some type of purchase via the Web in the previous six months. According to a survey from Nielsen Online, the top transaction categories are travel, credit card management, and online banking.
Things are not always what they seem, especially when statistics are involved. How else can one explain a GDP report of +5.7% and a decrease in the unemployment rate being matched with long faces and pessimism? The economic side-step is continuing, and a mild upturn is being viewed with suspicion. Every time there's good economic data, it seems to barely survive the headline and first paragraph of its press release without devolving into adjustments, revisions, and clarifications. Our job as managers is not just requiring navigation skills, but seems to need a refresher course in defensive driving.
ACCGC. You never heard of it? Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications. Doesn’t ring a bell? It is a group of dedicated graphic arts educators and industry suppliers who foster graphic arts education at the college level. Accreditation is how colleges and universities serve professions and industries—by making sure that educational curricula meet the needs of professions and industries.
Now that social media has entered the mainstream, print service providers that build the right marketing strategies have more opportunities than ever. A number of savvy print and marketing service providers are getting into the game and effectively leveraging social media to keep the lines of communication open with their customers. This article discusses how companies like Vistaprint and Tukaiz are using social media to drive business results.
As it did to every other print equipment manufacturer, 2009 brought a host of challenges to Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA). Declining orders, a change of leadership at the top, job cuts further down the structure, and uncertainty about the future cost this global distributor of sheetfed and web offset presses some momentum.
After presenting you with the tools to develop your Differentiating Strategy and Unifying Business Idea, we’ll turn our focus to creating real differentiation in your business. This means, going beyond what you hope to be…and just peppering your marketing and sales materials with “the new strategy.” This means aligning your entire organization; your policies, practices, products, services, hiring, pricing AND your communications to your new Unifying Business Idea. The stories we share show the payoff.
This year is being seen as the real start for sales of high-speed inkjet presses. This article looks at some of the key items that need to be considered by potential buyers of these presses. This includes substrates that can used, the types of ink and the life of the print heads.
Why was Q4-09 GDP +5.7% met with a stock market decline and more handwringing about the economy? Dr. Joe looks at the yearly change in GDP, and explains it all.
I had the opportunity recently to visit one of the largest printing operations in the Dominican Republic, in a visit arranged by Executive Vice President Fernando A. León. I have visited many printing operations in the U.S., and I was interested to see how this compared—it was quite impressive. I thought our readers might enjoy sharing a virtual walk-through.
The first step toward achieving quality of hire is effectively sourcing the candidates from which to choose. In this article, we take a look at what options there are for sourcing new hires and some of the pros and cons to each of them.
Small and medium-sized businesses have a wide range of communications needs. This article discusses the tremendous opportunities that small and medium-sized businesses can represent for print service providers with the right go-to-market strategy.
Having a Unifying Business Idea (UBI) is arguably the most powerful strategic tool you can develop for your business. The purpose of a UBI is to help govern a company…to help guide what markets to enter and new products to develop…to help create customer service policies…to build employee training programs so that people can make daily decisions. A UBI is the “container” for your company strategies, practices and values. The goal is to have a UBI that summarizes the very essence of your company.
Newspapers were supposed to survive the new media age because of their highly educated, high income audience, and then when that didn't work, their superior content would make news websites into Internet advertising magnets. Now, even online advertising is shrinking for newspapers. What's next?
On January 4th, we posted a PrintCEO blog notice that Adobe had decided to discontinue the worldwide Adobe Partner Connection Print Service Provider program, effective February 4th. Since that time, we spoke with Adobe and connected with a number of people in the field, both through live conversations and dialog on the blog. This was important, since the Adobe announcement came as an email through its PR agency, rather than letters to customers or a formal press release, although we do understand that all authorized and premium members received an email about the program closure. We wondered, as did many of our readers, what was behind this, why Adobe chose to do this now and what it means for Adobe’s commitment to the printing industry.
Adobe Systems helped to build the modern printing industry and now, it appears, they are hellbent on destroying it -- not by willful action, but by neglect. Without the de facto standard of PostScript, digital printing could not have made the inroads it did; CTP would not have happened as we know it; and PDF would not have created the ability to move files around with ease, irrespective of device or resolution. They were active supporters of the printing industry and worked with print providers and users alike. But, today, Adobe appears to have written off print as it focuses on Flash and new media. Some say Adobe has given the printing industry the finger.
This column is the second in a two-part series that provides Barb Pellow's perspective on a strategic direction for 2010. Last week's article discussed techniques for increasing share and adding value in the new year, and this one outlines strategies for product innovation that service providers can use to position themselves as market leaders.
Have you gone through an honest process to land on a differentiating strategy – and taken a more focused approach to your business? I’m going to share the first of two great tools to help. In this post we cover: Creating Your Differentiating Strategy. Learn how to wrestle with, and answer, three fundamental strategic questions: Who is your core target customer? What business category are you competing in? And, what is your unique point of difference?
The IPA Leadership Conference is taking a different route and it looks like a not-to-be-missed event where you can hear from and hobnob with thought leaders from the marketing discipline, including the former CMO of Walmart. If you think you know what marketers want, you may want to think again and take advantage of this opportunity. As a special offer for our readers, IPA is offering a $100 discount off the cost of conference attendance.
The world of publishing has hardly been impacted by developments in digital printing, unlike other areas of printing. Almost all the developments in digital printing have been aimed at short-run commercial printing, variable data printing, and more recently web to print operations particularly in the business to consumer area. It is only in the area of reprints of monochrome books where reprinting by offset would be too expensive for publishers that digital printing has had an impact in the publishing space. It would appear that this year will see the start of a change as book publishers look to digital printing to change their business models to reduce their capital tied up in inventory. This is becoming possible through the use of high-speed continuous inkjet presses that will allow a switch from offset to digital printing for first runs of books. It is however unlikely that we see either many newspapers or magazine publishers moving to the use of digital printing at this time unless they rethink their advertising driven business models.
Dr. Joe starts his eighth year with WhatTheyThink, and he's less Dr. Doom-ish. There are some signs, though not confirmed, that the industry may have finally finished riding a steep and traumatic downdraft and found a steadier level with a more gradual and predictable outcome. November shipments were down at the lowest rate of any month in 2009, and there were only 100 fewer print workers in December than there were in November. The national economy still has its problems, employment is actually worse than most realize, and incomes are still under pressure. The Bureau of Labor Statistics forecast print employment for 2018, and their forecast is, unfortunately, already fulfilled.
At one time, size was the primary means for independent printing companies to gain leverage in the purchasing arena. Few other options were available. Today, however, companies can maximize their profitability in a variety of ways. Here are a few ideas...
This column is the first in a two-part series that provides Barb Pellow‚Äôs perspective on a strategic direction for 2010. It discusses how print service providers and marketing service providers can position themselves for success in an industry that has undergone permanent shifts and changes.
In a recession, ambitious, proactive people don’t just sit around and wait for a return to economic prosperity. Even if they aren’t employed already or can’t find work along their usual lines, they’ll turn to some entirely different pursuit instead—responding to all the hype being circulated about working for yourself by choosing from among the multitude of support mechanisms and project, franchise, work-from-home or consulting options available. While some may be forced into it by circumstances, others will welcome the self-employment alternative as an avenue to change their career path – something they may have wanted to do for a while. And the most inventive ones may go on to even greater career success by launching novel innovations into the marketplace. In the past such enterprising spirits have been responsible for many of what have become today’s mainstream products and services.
As a follow-up to Gail Nickel-Kailing’s post on PrintCEO about DS Graphics’ acquisition of LVI (formerly Lavigne Inc.), I spoke to DS Graphics’ Vice President, Jack McGrath, to find out how the integration of the two companies was proceeding, and to gain more detail about the actual events that occurred leading up to DSG’s acquisition of the assets of the company.
On the first day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
An ink cartridge in an HP.
On the second day of Christmas,
my true love sent to me
Two ruddle gloves,
And an ink cartridge in an HP.
On a recent visit to the USA I was invited to meet with executives of HP’s Inkjet High Speed Production Solutions division to discuss the current status of its program for the HP T300 inkjet web press. I found this to be an interesting visit as almost nothing had been written about what HP had been doing by either the trade press or the industry analysts following Print 09.
It has been some time since WhatTheyThink has hooked up with Coleman Kane, CEO of Printable. Following a flurry of press releases on new integrations, WhatTheyThink checked in with Coleman to get more detail, and to get his perspective on the industry as we exit what has been a difficult 2009 for the industry.
Andy Tribute’s column this week was thought-provoking as usual. He opined that an annual printing event is no longer viable and that GraphExpo should be on a different schedule. In the 1980s (the heyday of the printing industry) there were multiple printing events. The New England show was every two years — in January! New York had an annual show at the old Coliseum, PICA had a large annual event in Charlotte, and Midwest Graphics floated around different states. Graphics of the Americas took over the Miami Beach Convention Center. The Gutenberg Festival in Long Beach was a major event.
A 2008 Harvard Business Review article, "Reinventing Your Business Model" by Mark Johnson, Clay Christensen and Henning Kagerman states that the secret to maintaining a thriving business is recognizing when it needs a fundamental change. According to the article, “Great business models can reshape industries and drive spectacular growth. Yet many companies find business-model innovation difficult. Managers don’t understand their existing model well enough to know when it needs changing—or more importantly, how to change it.”
There has been much discussion about association consolidation and the limited funds industry suppliers have to support many of the organizations and events in the industry. I want to discuss the PRINT 09 event that is organized by the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC).
You'd think that all of the economic wounds of the U.S. economy were healed all at once when last Friday's unemployment report was announced. For some reason, the good news in it was glossed over, and the bad news was ignored.
Many in the investment community view Vistaprint as an extremely successful and profitable printing company. Printers across North America point to the company as a model: “If I could just be another Vistaprint.” If you look a little more closely, you’ll see that Vistaprint is not “just another printer,” it’s a sophisticated marketing company that sells marketing products and services to consumers and small/micro businesses. They just happen to print those products.
As we look back at 2009, a technology milestone for the printing industry, marketing communications, education, and the media world may be the rise of augmented reality. Augmented reality (AR) is a field of computer science that involves combining the physical world with an interactive, three-dimensional virtual world.
We recently spoke with The UPS Store's Christa Martin (VP of Product Development & Management) and FedEx Offices Anthony Norris (VP of Digital Access Marketing) about their businesses and competitive positioning in the marketplace.
As this recession drags on, WhatTheyThink is reaching out to various companies to see how they are doing, and what they are doing to survive and thrive. We had the pleasure of speaking recently with Jim Cohen, Executive Vice President of Mergers and Acquisitions at Consolidated Graphics. He had some very interesting insights to share.
Effective hiring and staff management aim to maximize the return from your company's human-capital investment and minimize the related financial risks. But obviously, you can’t hope to achieve these goals without at least a basic ability to assess the potential of people. In fact, people assessment is as essential a prerequisite for conducting performance reviews, promotions, and succession planning with your existing staff as it is for establishing benchmarks for new hires.