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Xeikon at the Crossroads (Premium Content)

Xeikon and Basys Print are likely to have new owners before Ipex starts. One of the largest private investment companies in Europe has made an offer that values Xeikon and Basys Print at $96m. At Ipex, Xeikon will introduce a new industrial label press they claim to be the most productive press in the industry. They will also introduce an enhanced Xeikon 8000 press for document printing.


The Rapid Adoption of Mobile Technology and the Implications for Marketing (Premium Content)

With the increased focus on interactivity and multi-channel communications, marketers want to integrate online media with documents to enable a cohesive and unified marketing tool. We are beginning to see an increased emphasis on QR (quick response) codes. This article discusses how mobile marketing will take center stage in 2010 and beyond.


New PANTONE iPhone App Unifies Pantone Systems (Premium Content)

Pantone has become virtually the de facto color standard for the graphic arts industry, but we often forget that they also serve other industries, including fashion, home and industrial. Increasingly, designers need to be able to match colors across all or several of those systems for integrated projects. Today’s announcement is designed to simplify that process for designers using either an iPhone app or a free application available on the Pantone web site.


ISM Manufacturing Index Shows Eight Months of Growth (Premium Content)

The ISM Manufacturing Index is one of the most watched economic indicators. It's up for 8 consecutive months, and the latest release was one of the strongest of this decade. Dr. Joe gives some background and explains what this latest reading means.


VDP for you and me . . . finally (Premium Content)

VDP volume is less than 10 percent of all digital printing and digital printing is less than 15 percent of all printing. The use of variable data (or document) printing has been retarded over the last decade by short-sighted suppliers, specifications, and associations. Now perhaps we are on the cusp of opening VDP to all users, big and small. ISO is about to release a worldwide standard for variable data exchange.


CPI – Turning a Vision to Reality (Premium Content)

This article looks at how HP partnered with Europe’s leading monochrome book printing group CPI in creating a totally new fully automated book production solution. This is a system that takes in digital data and outputs with out any manual intervention totally finished books. The article also provides an update on the current market status of HP’s T300 high-speed inkjet printing systems.


Effective job descriptions: What to put in them & how they help you achieve employee excellence (Premium Content)

Although creating and maintaining effective job descriptions are both considerable tasks, most employers will recognize how indispensable the end results are in helping staff understand their responsibilities. After all, without a job description, how can an employee properly commit to—let alone be held accountable for--a position?


Winning New Fulfillment Services Business

Selling fulfillment services requires problem-solving skills. This means understanding how your customers develop their products and how they are used. Once their job has been printed and bound, for instance, why do your customers feel that you must ship the job to them and take up space at their facility?


Positive Signs for the Printing Industry? Standard Register and a review of Global Document Solutions and Astoria Graphics (Premium Content)

There is no question that 2008 and 2009 were difficult years for our industry.  It seemed that every week, we received news of another plant closing.  This week, Dr. Joe Webb, Director of WhatTheyThink’s Economics and Research Center, indicated that we are “climbing out of the swamp” and may be getting a little closer to the safety of economic high ground. We have a ways to go, but there are positive signs if you look for them.


Bundling - Know What It’s Costing You (Premium Content)

Bundling is a popular way to sell more products or services. You, as a buyer, hope that the extra money spent delivers a bargain. Just make sure to keep your eyes open!


Capitalizing on the Photo Merchandise Opportunity (Premium Content)

The new revenue potential within the traditional photo printing market is decreasing, but photo merchandise transforms those digital photos into dollars for service providers. This article provides a brief overview of the current photo merchandise market and includes some recent survey data to highlight the opportunity.


How to be the "Pro" in Transpromo

Transpromotional communications… a fantastic business opportunity for those of you who have acquired the capabilities to offer it to your customers. Here are five examples from my own mailbox. These are companies I regularly do business with, who have Transpromo opportunities that they are just plain missing.


First, The Good News (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe gives us the good news... first... and there really is some! Then he explains how some of the good news is like a Hollywood movie set: great facades, and then only braces and forms behind them, but some of it is really good. He then reminds us that turmoil creates opportunities, and turmoil also creates content. The challenge to printing entrepreneurs is to translate that to value for their businesses.


What do print buyers think? (Premium Content)

This week Frank presents a review of responses to polls included with Margie Dana's Print Tips. These polls provide insight into print buying trends. Frank also includes one of his song parodies.


Packaging… The Next Major Analog-to-Digital Opportunity (Part 2) (Premium Content)

Packaging is a key opportunity for the digital printing market. The global packaging industry is still in the beginning stages of adopting color digital printing as a key tool, which means there is big opportunity in digital packaging print. This article explores the top nine drivers for double-digit growth in the packaging arena.


M&A Activity to Remain on the Upswing as the Industry Regroups

Despite the industry's shrinkage, printing companies continue to be born “under the radar screen” as firms win new leases on life by merging with other firms. New Direction Partners foresees an increase in M&A activity as the industry regroups around the strengths of its healthiest and most survivable firms.


New For Ipex - What to expect (Premium Content)

With Ipex rapidly approaching more and more companies are putting out advance information of what they will showing at the event. Today’s article covers Heidelberg, Atlantic Zeiser, EskoArtwork, Enfocus and Kodak. The more we hear the most interesting Ipex appears as a not to miss event.


As The Industry Churns (Premium Content)

The Census Bureau publishes printing industry births and deaths data, but the data take years to be published. The latest data are from 2006, but Dr. Joe estimates what's happened since,especially 2008 and 2009.


A Look at the Quad/Graphics and World Color Press “Arrangement”

The joining of Quad/Graphics and World Color Press followed an intricate dance between giants. Quad/Graphics was the smallest of the three players in the contest for ownership of World Color Press. RR Donnelley's attempt to buy World Color out of bankruptcy failed and, shortly after, Quad/Graphics began discussions that brought the much larger World Color Press under the control of the Quadracci family.


EFI’s Marc Olin Speaks about EFI Connect (Premium Content)

EFI Connect, one of the larger user groups in our industry, will be taking place in April at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  Since the event overlaps with the On Demand Conference in Philadelphia, WhatTheyThink is splitting its forces to cover both events.  Marc Olin, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Professional Print Software, of EFI, shared his thoughts with WhatTheyThink about what attendees can expect to experience at the 11th Annual Connect conference.


Packaging: The Next Major Analog-to-Digital Opportunity (Premium Content)

Packaging is the material surrounding a consumer item that serves to contain, identify, describe, protect, display, promote, and otherwise make the product marketable and keep it clean. Packaging is also a key opportunity for the digital printing market. This article highlights the opportunities that digital printing technology can bring to this market.


Reinventing Your Business: It Can Start by Taking This Simple Test

This article introduces you to a powerful tool -- highly useful in a brainstorming setting -- that can spark a new level of discovery about how to adapt your business to today’s realities. It is all about considering what you have refused to consider before.


Weathering the Employment and Printing Shipments Data (Premium Content)

The employment report was better than the cable channel talking heads thought it would be. Printing shipments continued their unfortunate relationship with economic growth. The Postal Service continues  a summer sale initiative that only fat cats can like.


Marketing Communications: Making Customers (Premium Content)

he primary goal of marketing communications is to build awareness of a business, its products, and its position through customer-facing materials such as brochures, press releases, Web sites, and trade show presentations. Marketing communications can transform non-customers into customers or get existing customers to buy more or purchase new products and services. Successful print/marketing service providers have integrated marketing communications that reinforce their messages with target audiences and motivate customers to buy using multiple marketing channels.


Third Annual Print UV Conference in Las Vegas, March 7-9, 2010

Make your reservations, buy your plane ticket, pack your golf clubs, and head to Print UV 2010 at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. This year’s event takes place beginning Sunday, March 7, and concludes on Tuesday, March 9.


Donnelley and Bowne: Financial Printing Powerhouse (Premium Content)

What will DonnellyBowneBantaMooreWallace look like? The addition of Bowne’s products and services will support and leverage Donnelley’s financial print, statement outsourcing, document business process management, and print management services.


IPA/IDEAlliance Merger: What does it mean for members and for the industry? (Premium Content)

Although there has been much discussion in the industry about whether we have too many associations and how much consolidation is needed, IPA and IDEAlliance seem to rarely come up in those discussions. WhatTheyThink spoke with the Executive Directors of both organizations to learn what brought them together and the benefits they believe will come from the new integrated organization. It is a fascinating discussion. David Steinhardt: “We don’t want to be fighting or addressing past issues. We want to be moving forward with a new model and new definition…we have to get out of our bubble to get reengaged where [the market] is moving.”


The Grapes of Wrath: The Brand Protection Conference Offers a Sobering Look at Wine Counterfeiting

At the Brand Protection Conference, the hands-on demonstration of wine label counterfeiting draws some sobering conclusions about brand protection, fraud prevention, and digital printing.


Graphics of the Americas Takes On New Dimensions

Graphics of the Americas keynote speaker looks at the future of interactive displays--it's all very touching.


B2B: It’s A Social Opportunity! (Premium Content)

Buyers are embracing social media, and the tools and possibilities for collaboration continue to improve. As a result, social media is becoming a critical channel for print/marketing service providers to help buyers find one another and market to them. This article provides a brief overview of some recent social media initiatives and offers examples of companies that are getting into the game.


Freight: Additional Profit Opportunities

Most companies do a reasonably good job controlling costs in the outbound freight area. This responsibility usually rests in the shipping department, where shippers take pride in getting the lowest price. However, there are ways to lower your freight costs which may be overlooked.


Making Every Hire Count:  Maximizing Your Human Capital Investment (Premium Content)

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.


Just When I Thought We Were Becoming Japan, Stagflation Seems More Likely Again (Premium Content)

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?


35th Annual Graphics of the Americas Comes to Miami Beach

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.


The era of our ways (Premium Content)

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.


So you say you want to be a marketing services provider? Tips on closing the “credibility gap”

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?


I Want MY Book! (Premium Content)

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.


Heidelberg & Komori pass on Graph Expo 2010; KBA, manroland and Presstek to exhibit

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.


Ipex – An Indicator for the Future (Premium Content)

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 (Premium Content)

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 hours and the statistical relationship with printing volumes (Premium Content)

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.


Your Web Site… It’s Where Prospects Find You! (Premium Content)

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.


Nothing Confuses Like Statistics (Premium Content)

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.


The acronym that is improving graphic arts education (Premium Content)

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.


Print Service Providers Are Going Social! (Premium Content)

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.


An Interview with Mark Hischar, KBA North America

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.


Differentiating Your Business: Make Sure it’s More Than Just Talk

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.


A Buyer’s Guide for Inkjet Presses (Premium Content)

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.


Year/Year US Gross Domestic Product (Premium Content)

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.


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