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All these new channels: and no Lucy…you still can’t be in the show. (Premium Content)

In the second article of a series, industry expert and WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang continues his discussion about cross-media communications with details about the new communications channels that print service providers/marketing services providers should be considering as they lay out their cross-media strategies.


More printers interested in buying than selling books of business customer base (Premium Content)

Who's buying and who's selling? The print business has been consolidating, and we're certain there is more to go, especially with the popularity of "tuck-ins." Dr. Joe explains why "tuck-ins" are not about what you should do with your shirt, but how it has slowly been creating a more efficient industry.


Committed to Internal Growth, Sandy Alexander Adds Capacity and Capability (Premium Content)

We hear it constantly: the industry won't return to normal until printers start investing in their businesses again. But at one printing company in New Jersey, they never got the memo about capital investment being on hold. Sandy Alexander of Clifton isn't waiting for economists to tell it that the time finally is right to add capacity and services. The company - with a staff of 230, one of the largest printing employers in the state - has already spent $7 million on new production machinery this year, and its quest to equip itself for growth isn't over yet.


Lean and Mean: A Case Study in Remaining Competitive (Premium Content)

Today’s printing environment is seeing shorter production cycles, diminishing run lengths, and an increased emphasis on versioning and variable data. The ability to respond quickly to varying customer demands requires the use of manufacturing production techniques and systems that can be reconfigured on the fly. This article discusses the lean manufacturing techniques that printers might utilize in today’s marketplace. It also provides background on RT Associates, who implemented lean manufacturing in 2008.


Inkjet Printing – Technology to Make a Change

The rise of inkjet printing is making its mark on the print industry. Andy Tribute has been following this trend, and he’s noticed some unexpected changes in short run book printing, shrinks sleeves production, label printing and localized news print production.


The Profitable Survivors (Premium Content)

The printing industry may be through the worst of its restructuring efforts, but we know there is still more work to do. Dr. Joe explains how the corner may have been turned about a year ago, creating a class of surviving businesses that are claiming revenue increases. Then he puts on the green eyeshades and discusses "bonus depreciation." Of course, his take on the issue is different than what you might have heard elsewhere. (Again?)


Report from the future: The printer in 2020 (Premium Content)

None of us know what the future holds for the print industry, but Frank Romano looks into his crystal ball and sees a bright future for a trimmed down industry, run more by computers and technicians that printers, better integration between products and packaging, and a few other surprises.


Hitting the Bulls-eye with Target Marketing (Premium Content)

Today’s successful print service providers are finding was to target the consumers that truly need and want their services. Your target market is the bulls-eye at which you want to aim all of your marketing efforts. This article discusses the benefits of target marketing, considers different strategies, and highlights a few companies that are successfully targeting certain markets.


Preparing to acquire: the basics of due diligence (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this primer on evaluating acquisition targets, Paul Reilly and Peter Schaefer of New Direction Partners reviewed the questions a prospective buyer should ask about the things that make the seller's company productive: its plant, its equipment, and the state of its relations with employees. Their discussion continues with advice for assessing the outcomes of that productivity: the quality of the financial results; the condition of the customer base; and the nature of the relationships that the seller has with its suppliers.


Change in Commerical Printing Segments 1997-2008 (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe discusses how commercial printing segments have changed their share of industry shipments from 1997 through 2008, and why digital printing's share might be even larger than the data indicate.


So you want to be a Marketing Services Provider? (Premium Content)

David Zwang has a new series for WhatTheyThink readers called “Print + eMedia: the path to success.” David will take readers through the variety of channels printers now have to reach potential customers. This first article goes through the basics of what it means to be a marketing services provider.


Washington Post picks up Boarman story

New evidence has surfaced in relation to the nomination of William Boarman for the post of U.S. Public Printer. WhatTheyThink has been covering this story since the nomination was announced through posts on the Print CEO blog. Most recently, we learned that Boarman had received—and cashed—a check for a “gain sharing” payment in 2010—33 years after he left active employment with the GPO.


Agfa Graphics Acquires The Pitman Company (Premium Content)

The July 15th announcement of Agfa’s Pitman acquisition had been rumored for some time. Agfa expects the acquisition to strengthen its presence in the U.S. printing market, including an expanded growth opportunity for Agfa’s industrial inkjet and prepress solutions. The company held a press conference to discuss the acquisition.


Market Positioning (or Re-Positioning) in a New Media World (Premium Content)

Print service providers have historically not spent a lot of time positioning—much less re-positioning—their firms. During a prolonged recession, however, the business approaches that worked during a healthy economy will often become ineffective. When this happens, it becomes necessary for a firm to change its positioning. This article offers an overview of the strategies that print service providers can use to reposition themselves and also provides key examples of vendors that have effectively transformed their businesses.


The Chinese Challenge (Premium Content)

The print industry is yet another area where the Chinese are making enormous strides. How will American printers compete? Andy Tribute might not have all the answers, but he has the perfect vantage point for providing key insights about what the Chinese are doing so right.


AlphaGraphics Unveils Bold Plan for Network Growth (Premium Content)

AlphaGraphics has recognized the importance of keeping up with the changes in the marketing services industry. At the their recent annual owners conference, CEO Kevin Cushing announced to franchisees the major strategic changes they’re planning for the network. Cary Sherbune caught up with Cushing to find out how they’re staying on top.


Dr. Joe reviews the "recovery", USPS rate hikes and our latest & greatest tax policies (Premium Content)

Months ago, Dr. Joe said we would have an L-shaped recovery, and indeed that seems to be the case. 2011 taxes are already playing into today's economy and creating unintended consequences. And then there's the Postal Service request for emergency price increases. Is it as out of touch with the marketplace as it seems, or is that just the way bureaucrats cry out for help?


HP Adds Director of Marketing for the Americas to Graphic Solutions Business (Premium Content)

With a little more than a week in his new position, HP’s Director of Marketing for the Americas, Graphic Solutions Business, took time out to speak exclusively with WhatTheyThink about his goals and objectives in his first 100 days.


What’s Hot, What Should Stay Hot (Some Light Summer Reading)

Here are five trends that will remain hot for the foreseeable future. As you think about how to sustain and grow your business over the next few years, consider making some big bets in these areas.


After 17 Years, Kevin Joyce Swaps Print for TV (Premium Content)

Last month, Kodak’s Vice President of Worldwide Sales & Marketing for Digital Printing, Kevin Joyce, announced he would be leaving Kodak—and the industry—for a different media opportunity. Among other things, Joyce looks forward to taking some lessons learned from print into broadcast. Read the whole story in this exclusive WhatTheyThink interview.


It’s Time to Revisit your Marketing Plan (Premium Content)

Rather than focusing on cost cutting measures, aggressive firms are now seeking revenue growth opportunities to improve their bottom lines. The starting point in this process is the creation of a good strategic marketing plan. This document outlines strategies for revisiting your marketing plan and also explains why now is the perfect time to make a change.


May U.S. Commercial Printing Shipments Up +3.6% (Premium Content)

May's shipments were up compared to 2009, and April's were revised significantly upward. This is the first time since early 2008 that the industry produced two consecutive months with shipment increases. For complete details see this month's printing shipments report.


Marketing Services, 2010-Style (Premium Content)

As consumer media consumption patterns continue to change, marketers are shifting their budgets from traditional to new media at a rapid pace. As the budget shift continues to digital media channels, marketers will be seeking partners that can provide expertise in execution. With limited resources, outsourcing is the only choice for many. This article discusses how marketing service providers can capitalize on this opportunity.


PSDA Opts for Professional Association Management Firm SmithBucklin (Premium Content)

PSDA, formerly DMIA, has made a decision that is likely to have a major positive impact on its future. The association has chosen to work with professional association management firm SmithBucklin rather than continue to operate as a standalone entity. WhatTheyThink spoke with several stakeholders to gain an understanding of what this move means for the association.


Disrupting the Future of Books (Premium Content)

I recently read a Wall Street Journal article entitled “’Vanity’ Press Goes Digital.” It featured author Karen McQuestion, who had spent nearly a decade trying to persuade a variety of New York publishers to print one of her books. Failing to get their attention, she decided to self-publish. Although enabling technology has been available for more than a decade, many publishers have only recently begun to understand the value of print on demand in the book life cycle. Now they are faced with an even greater challenge—how to deal with e-books within the publishing framework. Karen McQuestion’s experiences are a great example of the disruptive process of self-publishing at work.


What Would Get the Economy Moving Again? (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe wants to start the economy booming again, and he offers a prescription he knows no one will heed. He also explains how small business owners make hiring decisions and some of the financial factors that roll through their minds as they do so. Just what we need... medicine no one wants to take, and a lesson in finance. The July 4th weekend can't come soon enough.


Indexx, Inc., of South Carolina Expands Marketing Services Offerings (Premium Content)

Indexx, Inc., serving upstate South Carolina, including Anderson, Greenville and Spartanburg, as well as customers throughout North America, has taken an aggressive approach to migrating its business from traditional commercial print to a marketing services business that includes print among its offerings. Owner Jordan Finn talks about his transition in this interview.


Preparing to acquire: the basics of due diligence

If you’re acquiring a company, you better do your due diligence. But what does that involve? Patrick Henry spoke to two M&A experts to get the lowdown on how to ask the right questions. This is the first of a two part series; this one deals with inspecting the facilities and determining what kind of team you’re inheriting.


Selling to SMBs…Process Automation, Not Print (Premium Content)

The small and medium-sized business (SMB) market provides an exciting sales opportunity for print service providers. For those interested in capitalizing on this opportunity, however, SMB marketing requires a unique selling approach. Treating the non-homogenous SMB market as a single entity will result in failure. This document discusses some strategies that services and solutions providers can implement to successfully reach this complex market.


GPO Celebrates 150th Anniversary (Premium Content)

The Government Printing Office (GPO) was established on June 23, 1860, when President Buchanan signed the Congressional Resolution creating the agency. It opened its doors several months later on the day of Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration. Surprisingly, the only sitting President to ever visit the agency was Lincoln, but that hasn’t dampened the enthusiasm of the employees at this $1 billion agency, some of whom have several generations of family who have worked for the GPO.


Maximizing Your Recycled Waste Revenue (Premium Content)

The print industry keeps growing more competitive, and finding new revenue streams can be difficult to find. An often-overlooked area to increase your profits is recycled waste. John Braceland takes you through a thorough review of your recycling process to help you determine if you can’t squeeze a little more revenue out of the trash.


Dr. Joe reviews the latest economic data (Premium Content)

Dr. Joe reviews the latest economic data and explains where we're headed for the third and fourth quarters and why.


Viva direct mail! (Premium Content)

Recent innovations in variable data printing have created huge opportunities in direct mail. Are you taking advantage of it? If not, Frank Romano lists a variety of reasons why you should be.


Your Mobile Marketing Strategy: Where Does Text Messaging Fit In? (Premium Content)

Mobile marketing is becoming a popular segment of multi-channel communication campaigns. With the rise of mobile device users, new marketing opportunities are opening up for marketers and service providers. What is your strategy for participation?


Quad/Graphics adds iPad app to digital edition (Premium Content)

Quad/Graphics has once again demonstrated a high level of innovation, being one of the first, if not the first, print manufacturer in our industry to provide its customers with a customized iPad application that offers clients another distribution channel for their publications. Hear what Jason Sawtelle, Director of Premedia Sales, has to say about this exciting move.


RR Donnelley – Driving Forward in Inkjet Printing (Premium Content)

RR Donnelley is the largest commercial printer in the world, but they are also way ahead in high-speed inkjet. Andy Tribute moderated a talk at IPEX with Ronnie Sarker of RR Donnelley, and he’s reported his insights on how they’re staying ahead of the curve.


First Quarter 2010 Profits for U.S. Commercial Printing Businesses (Premium Content)

The first quarter of 2010 was a significant change compared to the same quarter of last year. The industry had a difficult time in 2009, and the profits that were initially reported for the fourth quarter of 2009 were swept away in a data revision by the Commerce Department. But 2009 was profitable, and this first quarter of 2010 was very encouraging. Profit levels are increasing, not because of higher market prices, but because of employee downsizing, and the departure of weakest printers. Dr. Webb emphasized that there are still challenges ahead because of the continuing growth of new communications that will affect the demand for print. We must remember that just because the industry may be having a tough time, there are profitable companies who are offering innovative services to their clients. The restructuring of the industry will be built on the entrepreneurial actions of these firms.


"Print is Not Dead" Should be DOA (Premium Content)

A man walks into a pet store, holding a bird cage by its handle, and approaches the counter. At the bottom of the cage is a blue parrot, claws up. The man and the clerk engage in some banter, not about the bird being dead, but how beautiful its plumage is. Why is it that “print is not dead” only conjures up some decades-old Monty Python sketch? Dr. Joe explains how just having a pulse does not qualify one for a new and dynamic communications marketplace... how new technology is conspiring to make us a craft industry, yet again.


The Buck Stops Here - Managing Your Purchasing (Premium Content)

As the Manager of a purchasing cooperative I get to see firsthand how many different printing companies manage their purchasing decisions. Companies that don’t manage this critical area don’t stay in business. Although some companies do a good job, I find that old habits die hard.


In-Plant Managers Dream in Color at IPMA Conference in Albuquerque (Premium Content)

Barb recently had the opportunity to participate in IPMA’s 2010 Conference themed “Dream Color” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While there, she interviewed IPMA President John Sarantakos and Past President Debbie Pavletich to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing today’s in-plants. This article considers industry opinions on the issues that in-plants will face throughout 2010.


Keep a Close Eye on Inflation (Premium Content)

With much of the media focus on recently enacted health care reform legislation, pending financial reform, and the continuing large number of unemployed, the government's inflation reports for the most part have been pushed to the back burner - not eliciting much attention when released. One reason for the muted reaction: Overall inflation has been relatively benign to non-existent. But that may be changing.


April 2010 commercial printing shipments (Premium Content)

April 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.05 billion, down -1.9% compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were down -4.1%. For the first four months of 2010, shipments were down -4.7% on a current dollar basis.


Are QR Codes Finally Catching On in the U.S.? (Premium Content)

We have been hearing about QR codes for some time, but adoption rates in the U.S. have been slow compared to the rest of the world. Not sure what QR Codes are or what business opportunity they represent? This interview with Val DiGiacinto of Manhattan’s Ace Group tells the story.


Positioning your Business for the Future

Past articles of “Thinking Creatively” have focused on creating a unifying, differentiating strategy to help position your business for the future. One key input is to look at trends -- both near term and longer term trends. This entails some imagination but can lead you to a path of sustained growth. In this article, we cover four categories, including a few that may be quite surprising.


Value Innovation and the Blue Ocean (Premium Content)

In the international bestselling book entitled Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, the authors assert that a “blue ocean” strategy is about creating uncontested market space by simultaneously pursuing differentiation and low cost. Too many companies are swimming in the “red ocean” of bloody competition, where there is limited room for real growth. This article provides a brief description of some businesses that are seeking their own blue ocean.


IPEX – A Digital Printing Show (Premium Content)

Based on our experiences at IPEX 2010, it’s finally looking like the mood of the industry has changed and we might be entering a period of economic growth. The event showcased developments in a variety of areas, but the greatest interest seemed to be in the rise on inkjet printing. Andy Tribute offers his thoughts.


How to kill inkjet (Premium Content)

IPEX 2010 affirmed that inkjet is here to stay. The show is over but the memory lingers on. There are almost 300 roll-fed production inkjet printers sold or installed in the world. And Xerox validated inkjet by showing an inkjet technology. But we could see inkjet die very quickly if suppliers and users do not re-invent the way they do business. Here's how they might fail.


Ipex Post-Mortem: International Social Networking - In the Flesh

So you thought you might like to go to the show? If so, you discovered that the best thing about trade shows like Ipex, Drupa, Print, and Graph Expo isn't necessarily checking out new products and technologies - although that helps. Instead, these shows are forums for the original social networking.


You can't manage what you don't measure (Premium Content)

In this analysis, Barb addresses the challenges that marketers face to show how profitable ad campaigns can be. She provides examples of companies that were able to achieve the goals of their current clients, but also measure the success of their ads to strengthen their position in the marketing arena.


Don’t Count on a Non-Compete (Premium Content)

The challenge facing printing company owners over whether and how to secure non-compete agreements was debated recently with a lively exchange of views on the NAQP listserv. Having encountered this issue from an M&A and business valuation perspective for many years, and being sensitive to the legal implications, given my background as a lawyer, I unequivocally weigh in that a Non-Compete Agreement is NOT the ultimate solution to protect general intangibles.


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