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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.


Is the Case for the Double-Dip Recession Stronger Now? (Premium Content)

Double-dip usually means a diet-busting serving of ice cream. If ice cream is easy money, and the diet is the judicious use of credit, then it's another way to explain Europe's economic crisis. To paraphrase the old saying, “What if they gave a V-shaped recovery and nobody came,” might be what's happening to the economy. When no one's certain what's ahead, they focus on what they know.


Is Your Firm Fit for Acquisition? Here’s How To Make Certain It Is

When selling out is the best exit strategy for your print company, there’s careful planning that needs to happen from the moment you make your decision. Patrick is joined by Tom Williams and Jim Russell of New Direction Partners, to review the long range preparation that will put you in the best position to make the sale.


Could Happy Days Be Here Again? Optimism at Ipex Portends Potential Industry Renaissance

"Smiles, everyone, smiles!" That's not something one has heard at a printing industry trade show in rather a long time, but this year’s Ipex—which opened Tuesday, May 18, at the NEC in Birmingham, UK—is one of the happier occasions I (or many) can recall in a good long time.


Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Printing Industry

IPEX is many things – a celebration of print, a Euro-centric gathering of major and minor vendors, a walkable show that makes it easy to enjoy the variety of offerings that compose our industry – but it’s certainly no drupa.


Photobooks Meet Facebook (Premium Content)

In this analysis, Barb takes a look at the impact of social networking Websites on printed photos and photo merchandise. She also provides examples of companies that are evolving their methods and creating photo applications for social networks to maintain revenue and attract potential customers.


Commerce Department Revises Printing Shipments Data (Premium Content)

The Department of Commerce revised almost 10 years of printing industry shipments data last week. The WhatTheyThink economic data elves dug into the data and explain what those revisions mean, what years were revised up, and which ones were revised down.


“We Really Want To Make Things in Chicago Work”: An Interview with GASC’s Ralph Nappi

The best news that the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) has heard in a long time is that cost-saving reforms finally are coming to McCormick Place, the Chicago home of the Graph Expo and Print events. And while these much-needed changes can't guarantee a successful show by themselves, they should go a long way toward easing exhibitors' concerns about the high costs and logistical headaches of taking part in what continue to be the industry's leading trade expositions.


Where to Look for Creative Inspiration

Sometimes it can be difficult to put yourself into the “creative zone”. We’ve assembled a collection of ideas and links that should help you open your mind and expand your thinking.


Photo Merchandise is the Gift that Keeps on Giving... Profitably! (Premium Content)

Photo merchandise items such as photo greeting cards, photo books, and photo calendars have caught the attention of consumers and retailers alike. Consumers like photo gifts because they are thoughtful, emotional, and can take the place of more expensive merchandise. Retailers like photo gifts because they command a higher price than traditional photo prints and represent a growth market. This article discusses how Fullerton Photographics, a photo lab and studio in California, is using photo merchandise to increase its profits.


Francis McMahon at Océ: The Details (Premium Content)

At the end of March, Francis McMahon, director of marketing for HP's US Graphic Arts Business, Imaging and Printing Group, departed HP after being there for eight years. Effective April 12th, he joined Océ North America as the Vice President of Marketing reporting to Mal Baboyian, President of Océ Production Printing Systems Division based in Boca Raton, Florida. Here is what McMahon has to say about his new company and the Canon acquisition.


Does it Have Legs? The Economy's Still Wearing Long Pants (Premium Content)

The unemployment report was released Friday, and though it was almost 10%, there was good news. Will it last? Print and GDP continue their decade-plus estrangement. Disposable income is not the money you throw away, but the money you can spend as you wish. Well, maybe it is the money you throw away. Unless something changes, some of that money will go to filling out forms. Nothing like bureaucracy as a growth business.


Students help predict the future (Premium Content)

None of us know what the future holds. Frank Romano teaches a class in print media trends, and he asked his students to look into their crystal balls. Here's what they thought the future might hold.


EFI Announces 15% Revenue Growth for Q1, Acquisition (Premium Content)

Cary Sherburne talks with EFI CEO Guy Gecht about their recent earnings release and acquisition of Radius Solutions.


If You Haven’t Done It, Why Not? (Premium Content)

Production digital printing technology was introduced to the market 20 years ago. The Xerox DocuTech was introduced on October 2, 1990 and its major competitor was the Kodak Lionheart. Since then, a plethora of new products have made digital printing more affordable and colorful. This document discusses six compelling reasons for investing in digital color printing.


Will Inkjet Printing Kill Offset? (Premium Content)

If one reads many of the projections being made about the future of printing there is a belief that offset printing is in serious decline and the new high-speed inkjet printing will kill the offset business. Various claims have been made that we could see offset being replaced in almost all areas by inkjet printing by 2020 or earlier. What do I think about that? I think it is a total load of rubbish.


Year/Year Changes in Real GDP vs. Real Proprietors Income (Premium Content)

The first quarter GDP showed that the economy is growing, but that was compared to the fourth quarter. How is GDP changing on a year-to-year comparison? The GDP data are about the whole economy, but how is small business doing? Dr. Joe explains how a rarely reported part of the quarterly GDP data helps us judge the health of small businesses.


Getting the Most Out of Vendor Relationships

There are many important relationships in business. Certainly, the customer relationship is critical. The employer - employee relationship is a key one as well. But one that is sometimes overlooked is the vendor relationship. At one time vendor relationships were seen as adversarial. Less was more when revealing information to your vendor about your operation. Then, when it came time to negotiate price, each side's goal was to get as much as possible.


2010 CMO Outlook: Intentions and Investments (Premium Content)

This article provides a brief overview of the CMO Council’s 2010 Marketing Outlook to assess the trends in strategic marketing progress and performance, the marketing plans of influential organizations, and the priorities and intentions of industry leaders. It outlines the key goals and strategies for marketers while also discussing the implications for print service providers.


Profit by being a good employer (Premium Content)

Why motivate employees to join and stay with your organization? First of all, because it’s good business. Companies that strive to attract and retain skilled personnel show consistently higher bottom-line profitability, increased value to customers, and stronger sustainability, especially in challenging times.


On Recoveries and CAPEX Investment Cycles: Why This is Different (Premium Content)

A rising tide makes everyone a genius, even the bad managers. The improving economy is a less powerful trend than the upheavals that digital media are creating. Capital investment by printers is being affected by consolidation, the upside-down condition of interest rates, investments in new media, and a shift in industry print processes. For those waiting for the old economic and investment cycles to repeat themselves, this will be disappointing.


Printing Leadership Made Easy: Interview with Joan Davidson of the Sheridan Group (Premium Content)

Leading a printing company can be a challenging task in the best of times. Not only do you have to keep up with all the technology, maintain connections with and a deep understanding of your customers’ business needs, but you also have to build the right team and inspire them to carry your message to customers and prospects. A recent keynote by Joan Davidson at EFI Connect sheds some light on how a successful leader is accomplishing these objectives.


Reynolds DeWalt: Playing in the Blue Ocean (Premium Content)

Instead of dividing up existing (and often shrinking) demand and benchmarking competitors, the blue ocean strategy is about growing demand and breaking away from competitors. This article discusses how Reynolds DeWalt, a cross-media communications company, is striving to do just that.


Adobe CS5 Makes Its Debut

Proficiency in the dark art of prepress once required expertise in a bewildering array of applications; there was QuarkXPress and Pagemaker and Photoshop, but also Freehand, Streamline, Suitcase, Trapwise, INposition Lite and a host of others. Now that prepress has become premedia, the twenty-first century skill set centers on color management, PDF workflows and automation. For most shops, these tasks are made easier by the integration and powerful tools found within Adobe’s Creative Suite software bundle.


EFI Connect Draws 500+ EFI Customers to the Las Vegas Wynn (Premium Content)

This is the 11th EFI Connect conference and the fourth time it has been held at the Las Vegas Wynn. Compared to 2009, the conference has 50% more attendees, and users are seeing first-hand enhancements made to PrintSmith, Pace and Monarch, EFI’s three MIS product families. Also taking center stage are inkjet offerings from VUTEk, Rastek and Jetrion, as well as Fiery.


Inflation-adjusted and Annualized Publishing and Advertising Revenues (Premium Content)

The trends in industry revenues of advertising and publishing sectors each tell an interesting story. They get more interesting once iPhones, Kindles, and iPads are added to the mix. Dr. Joe explains it all, but may have more questions than answers, which might spell opportunities for print businesses.


Kodak’s Eric Owen Discusses Kodak Strategy, Shares Advice for Printing Success (Premium Content)

Eric Owen, newly appointed as Kodak’s Worldwide Vice President of Customer Development for Digital Printing Solutions started at Scitex and moved to Creo, then Kodak, as a result of acquisitions. Read what Eric has to say about the key strategic objectives of his current position, where he sees inkjet and toner fitting, and his advice for print service providers as the economy begins to recover.


The “Irreplaceability” of Direct Mail

Even though the world is now consumed with electronic communications like Twitter and Facebook, it is reassuring that mailboxes are still brimming with advertising mail. Here are five completely unique reasons why direct mail will be a medium of choice for years to come.


Mediaware: Making a Difference with Digital Packaging (Premium Content)

Digital printing is the same technology that has been used by commercial printers, in-plant shops, and corporate offices for quite some time. In industrial printing, however, the technology is just starting to transform packaging design; inventory management; and the ability to respond rapidly to changing design, brand management, and regulatory requirements. This article provides a brief overview of how Mediaware leveraged the digital packaging opportunity through an agreement with Microsoft.


For Sellers, Six Scenarios—and a Word about Timing

Like a weak hand at the card table, a weak offering in the M&A market won’t be improved by the length of time it’s in play. Unlike a poker hand, it can’t be bluffed because the “cards”—the fundamentals of the business—are always in plain sight of the buyer and its due diligence.


FedEx Office, Canon and HP Announce “Game-Changing” Deal

Yesterday, FedEx Office, Canon and HP jointly announced an alliance to create an unmatched network of printing and imaging capabilities. Over time, FedEx Office will be sole-sourcing its black & white and color staffed and self-service copying and printing equipment from Canon, wide format from HP, and will take advantage of other technological advantages and innovations derived from the three companies and their partnership. Read what Canon and FedEx Office have to say about this major announcement.


A Look at the B2 Digital Press Market (Premium Content)

The first B2 format sheet fed digital presses will come to market this year. This article doubts there is a market for the B2 format compared with the market for the current B3 format digital presses. Among the reasons for this are there are few applications that cannot be handled on the B3 format digital presses, and the increasing efficiency of B2 format offset presses and the arrival this year of Presstek 75DI B2 format D.I. press.


Print is Not Vital but the Print Business Should Be (Premium Content)

The power of print. Print is vital. Print has had longer than a decade of power outage. Print is not vital, print is a choice, and sometimes that choice is "no." Now what? In this kind of environment, the printing business becomes more important than the print medium. How that all plays out is up to our entrepreneurs. Dr. Joe explains.


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.


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