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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.
A company's general intangibles have a very tangible impact on a company's valuation. Intangibles that are perceived as attractive can greatly enhance a company's value while negative or negligible intangibles can drag it down. To safeguard the worth of their businesses, NAPL Senior Vice President and Consultant John Hyde believes that graphic communications company owners should take proactive steps to protect their intangibles.
I recently read two reports issued by the CMO Council that are definitely a must-read for anyone in our industry. Taken together, the two will arm innovative print service providers (dare I say marketing services providers??) with much of the ammunition they need to start a conversation at the highest levels in customer marketing organizations. Here are a few highlights, and some of them are pretty scary!
This week, WhatTheyThink published our latest graphic communications industry forecast report, cleverly titled Print and Creative Forecast 2010, a look back at the year that was and, naturally, a look ahead at the year that will be. I worked on it with Dr. Joe Webb, whose Economic and Research Center data provided good chart-fodder for our quantitative analysis and forecast.
There’s strength in numbers, goes the old adage, but there’s also strength in the power of one—a cumulative strength that printing companies can achieve by undertaking the kind of merger known as a “tuck-in.”
In today’s economy, print service providers face the same challenges as any other marketers. They must be creative and challenge themselves to push beyond the boundaries of their minds—they must think outside the box for innovative ways of reaching customers and prospects. This requires an effective communications strategy that builds awareness while educating prospects and clients about the capabilities you offer.
We may call this “the week that was” when looking back at the stories for 2009 in our year-end review! The Monday news opened a few eyes over morning coffee. While the Canon acquisition of Océ grabbed the day’s headlines; the second story – Agfa’s acquisiton of Gandinnovations – was just as interesting.
Yesterday’s announcement that Canon is to acquire all the shares of Océ is obviously of great interest. Canon and Océ aim to create the overall No. 1 presence in the printing industry building on an enhanced scale and a combined history of innovation and excellent client servicing. The combination of the two companies is designed to capitalize on excellent complementary fit in the product range, channel mix, R&D and business lines.
Following Canon’s announcement that it would acquire Océ, WhatTheyThink spoke with a number of sources to get more detail on this significant acquisition and continued sign of industry consolidation. While Canon proposes to purchase Océ at a 70% premium on the stock value, it works out to about 50% of Océ’s annual revenues. The press release is fairly detailed about the terms and conditions.
There was quite a firestorm of online activity following a post at Prepress Pilgrim indicating that Kodak was moving its Prinergy development efforts to Israel and laying off everyone at the Willingdon Avenue plant in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. This started rumors that Kodak was shutting down development of Prinergy. PrintCEO blog posted a Kodak statement with the company’s assurances that Prinergy is alive and well, and fully supported by Kodak. WhatTheyThink contacted Jon Bracken, Kodak’s General Manager, Unified Workflow Solutions, in the Burnaby location to get more details on the company’s move.
Where did Dr. Joe go when he was stumped about social media? Amazingly, he used social media. Social media is not one big online cocktail party or teenagers arranging to meet up at the mall. It's real business that requires a strategy, and it's more like broadcasting than it is a one-time project. The rules for social media are still being written through trial and error every day, and it's brought new focus to public relations professionals. Dr. Joe recommends some resources to take a decisive step into this critical new area of business and social communications.
Events converged in 1995 to change the printing world. Before that, it was the old printing industry. After that it would be the new printing industry. That year, paper, the Internet, the portable document format, the CD, and the PC converged to create a new paradigm. The number of printing companies would reach 62,000 in 1995 and it would be the highest number of printers ever.
Last Saturday was the twice-yearly Toastmasters District 53 Conference. I had been one of the two “co-chairs”—i.e., organizers—of the event, which was a long, nine-month process that was not unlike giving birth. The planning process generated seemingly terabytes of e-mails, an endless stream of phone calls (curse you, cellular technology!), and several reams of notes and other hard-copy documents.
Commercial printers often turn to consultants to help them learn how to tackle tough challenges, but many of the industry’s most experienced consultants know that they can learn quite a bit from their printer clients as well.
I have just attended the IMI European Ink Jet Printing conference in Barcelona. One tends to think that inkjet printing is something new but this was the 17th annual conference on this subject. One tends to forget just how long the inkjet technology has been around and also just how long it has been used in the graphic arts markets.
The talking heads were shocked that unemployment hit 10.2%, but had they read the news all week, it would have been no surprise. There was news that almost seemed good in the report, but despite—or perhaps because of—their shock, the talking heads missed it. The Federal Reserve is doing its best Nero imitation as the dollar weakens, and they keep mistaking credit for capital. Don't tell the paper companies, but instead of wasting time complaining about China, they should be focusing on helping their customers deal with competition from digital media. Are they taking Nero lessons from Ben Bernanke?
There is no shortage of books on the market about the sea change in media, as the world continues its inexorable march from offline to online, a topic that, bookwise, is perhaps rivaled only by the supposedly imminent destruction of the world on December 21, 2012. (I wouldn’t expect that to be a particularly brisk Christmas shopping season.) But while 2012 will not be the end of the world as we know it (however fine we may feel), the changing media landscape is the end of the world—the end of the old world of mass media and mass marketing, and of a time when marketers could dictate the message.
Today’s marketers are operating under a new set of rules. They must respond to a range of new challenges related to new media, changes in consumer behavior, a difficult market environment, and global expansion. With the rules changing, businesses are seeking new ways to market to, communicate with, and reach consumers. The implications of the fundamental shifts in consumer behavior are having a profound impact on marketing organizations and how they are spending their budgets.
The traditional role for the magazine publisher in the graphic arts market has been to publish news and articles about the industry, provide a medium for advertisers to get their messages across to readers, and in some cases provide seminars and tutorials, and for some publishers to run prestigious printing award events. What we are now seeing that some of these publishers are successfully extending their role to providing this information via the web as well as by printed means, and in certain cases this can be on a daily basis.
How long has it been since an equipment manufacturer filed for a public offering – an initial public offering (IPO) – in the printing industry? Fiscal year 2008, regardless of where it begins and ends on the calendar, was a particularly tough time for vendors, and income/loss over revenue ranged from -20.2% (EFI) to 9.7% (Punch Graphix).
Economy geeks just love weeks like this. The beginning of the month has some of the most incredible data from the Institute for Supply Management, the Commerce Department, and especially, the Bureau of Labor Statistics. All of the data are highly charged politically, and it's hard to see through the fog to assess what's right. But these macroeconomic data don't really matter when you're running a business. It's important to keep them in the right perspective.