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US Commercial Printing Shipments in Mild Downturn; Employment Consolidation Continues

US commercial printing shipments for September 2016 were down -$8 million compared to the prior year (-0.1%). On an inflation-adjusted basis, shipments were down by -$118 million. Interestingly, inflation-adjusted August shipments were up by +$118 million, making the net change for the two months zero.


US Employments Report: Not What the Headlines Said

The business headlines about the October employment report may have said “unemployment rate falls to 4.9%; payrolls grow +161,000,” but the details of the overall employment picture deteriorated.


Recovery Indicators Mixed Again

Last month's recovery indicators bounced back big from a dreadful report, but this month's have moderated. The ISM manufacturing and non-manufacturing new orders decreased, but they are still above the 50 breakeven level, showing growth. The non-manufacturing side is still strongly on the growth side of the line.


Omnichannel Content Publishing and Marketing to Be Demystified at Idealliance’s “INKredible” Conference

Idealliance is billing INKredible as “a showcase for innovators in orchestrated content marketing and publishing”: a category that most definitely includes print service providers.


Top 5 Web-to-Print Questions (Premium Content)

Web-to-print is part of your self-service offering and an expectation of most customers. The following article covers the top five questions I hear around web-to-print.


Holiday Season is Right Around the Corner… What Are Marketers Thinking? (Premium Content)

Most consumers begin purchasing for the holidays on November 1. If retailers wait too long, they miss out on valuable sales opportunities. This article provides strategies for attracting customers and driving them to engage with your brand as the holidays approach.


Color Your Work Exceptional

Are you planning to attend the Color Conference in December in Phoenix? If you have anything to do with color in your daily work, you should consider it. There have been many advances in color management as well as launching of new standards. This is the best place to get the scoop on all of it and rub elbows with the experts – consultants, printers, suppliers and brand owners who are passionate about color.


Q3 Real GDP +2.9%; Soybeans Lead the Charge?

Prior to the release of Q3's advance estimate of real GDP, the Atlanta Fed's GDPNow forecast was +2.1%. The official figure came in much better, at +2.9%. It is likely to be revised down slightly, but it was a much better showing than recent data.


Wide-Format and Specialty Printing: New Opportunities for In-Plants (Premium Content)

A recent state of the in-plant industry report finds that in-plant printing departments are well-poised to expand their wide-format and specialty printing options—not just for their parent organizations, but for outside customers, as well.


National Retail Federation Forecasts +3.6% in Holiday Retail Sales

The National Retail Federation issued its forecast of holiday retail sales. It expects a +3.6% increase compared to 2015. But what's the real increase? After deducting for inflation, that's about +1.5%. If real GDP comes in at +2% in the October 28, 2016 advance report for Q3, holiday retail sales growth will be in line with the growth rate of +1.4% for the year. In some ways, this can be a good year compared to recent history. Holiday retail sales have averaged +2.46% since 2007, with a net after inflation of only +0.64%. On a per person basis, that's actually a decline in that period.


The Customer Experience Gap (Premium Content)

Today’s technologies have completely transformed the buying process. A customer can browse a physical retail shelf, handle everything virtually by visiting an e-commerce site, or do a combination of both before making a decision. This article discusses the need for marketers to connect with customers wherever they are.


Where Is Print’s Place in a Digital World?

For years, people have been predicting the demise of print – beginning with the dot com boom of the early 2000s and the beginning of the digital age. The industry’s fate, said experts, was all but sealed thanks to the Internet. For distinct segments like printed newspapers, this prediction came true. The Internet and social media has transformed the news landscape in previously unimaginable ways – shifting consumer behaviour away from single paid to multiple often free and certainly freely available news sources.


Fenske Media Adds Real-Time One-to-One Video to the Customer Experience

We’ve been talking about cross-media, multi-channel, omni-channel – whatever you want to call it – for a long time. But now technology has arrived to add a brand-new element to these consumer experiences that is accessible to printing firms of all types. Read this article to find out how Fenske Media has harnessed real-time interactive video to achieve up to 284% increase in engagement and an 80% improvement in click-through rates, while still growing print volumes.


Apprenticeship, Training, and Skills Development in the Printing Industry: An Appraisal

The industry’s solutions for cultivating workforce talent aren’t perfect. But, given the graying of the industry and the thinning of its ranks in production occupations, it’s urgent to use them to their full extent.


Mobility and Print Align at an Opportune Time (Premium Content)

There's nothing like print enriching itself, and mobile might be the way to do it. A surge in mobile information preference is underway. How should printers plan? Diving in of course, by turning on static print materials into Internet and other gateways. If printers have sidestepped the digital media revolution to concentrate on the media they do best, this may be an opportune time to enliven their offerings as technology, economics, and consumer preference seem to be aligning themselves in a very special way.


Mobile is at the Heart of Innovation for the Printing Industry! (Premium Content)

Mobile devices are changing the customer experience and forcing organizations to rethink how they engage with their customers and employees. This article shares how CCG Marketing Solutions and Rethink CMYK have leveraged cross-media and mobile technologies to catapult their businesses forward.


Fall in Love with Your Customer’s Problems (Premium Content)

The most important thing you can do to thrive during times of disruption is to learn more about your customer’s problems. What you solved for customers in the past might not be relevant in the future, what you can solve in the future will reinvent may reinvent your business.


The Decline and Fall of Marketing

Marketing is getting pushed out of the boardroom and strategies built around customers are going with it. It’s a self-inflicted banishment, and marketers – including many CMO’s – are worried about it. For Graphic Communication firms, this presents a two-fold challenge and opportunity.


All Projects Great and Small: Benicia, Calif.’s ColorZone Helps Small Businesses Grow

When Joshua Feller bought a failing trade show graphics company in 2005, he had little idea that it was the start of a journey that would take him into the world of wide-format printing—and the burgeoning world of digital label printing.


HP PageWide: Georgia-Pacific Deal Revealed; Corrugated Print Systems Ramping Up

The first sale to a U.S. customer refocuses attention on the 110" inkjet platform with which HP intends to revolutionize printing on corrugated.


The Power of Print to Change the World

Print began to flex its muscles and show its power not long after Gutenberg invented movable type. Print was a causative factor in the rapid spread of Martin Luther’s teachings in the first half of the 1500’s. Andrew Pettegree has done an excellent job of presenting a blend of European history of the period, the story of Martin Luther and how print influenced it all in Brand Luther. Highly recommended reading!


The Thread that Connected Washington, DC and the Smithsonian Institution With Cal Poly

I recently returned from Washington, DC after witnessing, firsthand, the opening of the 19th and final Smithsonian Institution museum on The Mall, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC). I was part of a group of 32 people, mostly from San Luis Obispo (California) County, who attended. We were all there, not only to witness history in the making, but as a tribute to The Late Joe Schwartz, former lithographer and “street photographer,” whose photographs became one of the first and one of the only permanent exhibits adopted by the Smithsonian Institution to be prominently displayed at the Museum.


Per Capita Pounds of Mail

Since the beginning of the economic recovery in 2009, first class mail is down by -12%, standard mail (discounted bulk mail) down by -18%, and periodicals down a whopping -32%.


Apex: An Industry Incumbent that is Innovating with Technology

According to McKinsey & Company, industry incumbents must face the digital disruption and determine what they can do differently to survive or even thrive in the future. McKinsey’s rules apply to a wide variety of industries, but this article highlights how Apex Revenue Technologies is facing the digital disruption with technological innovations.


At Graph Expo 2016, a Respectable Showing for Labels and Packaging

Although not a show about labels and packaging per se, Graph Expo proved to be a worthwhile place to go for information on innovative ways of producing them.


No More Isolated Print Software Solutions

Every print software decision needs to be considered within the context of your end-to-end workflow. Isolated or point solutions are costly both short and long term. As jobs travel through your production and business workflows – it is vital that the various pieces of print technology can communicate with each other without human intervention.


Managed Print Services Take Center Stage – September 2016 M&A Activity

HP commits to paper-based future, private equity invests in managed print services, ink manufacturers consolidate, Hibbert acquires RedShark, Deluxe promotes promotional products, and more.


Graph Expo 2016 Highlights

Despite its move to Orlando after 20 years in Chicago, Graph Expo 2016 exceeded expectations according to most exhibitors and attendees. In this article, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne shares the highlights that caught her attention at the show.


Recovering Recovery and Quadrennial Snapshots: More Logical than it Sounds (Premium Content)

For once the employment report was bad on the outside but good on the inside. Printing employment continues to show consolidation effects. The recovery indicators have their own recovery. August printing shipments are big, making up for July’s disturbing decline. Dr. Joe’s good Graph Expo included a visit to the Printerverse and a digital book discussion worth watching.


McKinsey’s Guide to Digital Disruption: Lessons for the Printing Industry (Premium Content)

The September 2016 issue of McKinsey Quarterly included an article entitled An Incumbent’s Guide to Digital Disruption that offered insight on actions that businesses can take today to remain competitive in today’s digital age. This article provides a synopsis of the McKinsey disruption lifecycle and explores how the printing industry is being affected today.


Top 3 Challenges to the Print Software Sales Process (Premium Content)

Mistakes get made during the print software sales process because there is a lack of common understanding, a pressure on the vendor to say yes to every challenge presented, and a tendency to focus on solutions rather than the problems.


Q2 Real GDP Revised Up to +1.4%; Durable Goods Orders Contracting for 20 Months

Real GDP for the second quarter got its final revision, and was raised from +1.1% to +1.4%. Regular readers know that we prefer to look at real GDP on a year-to-year basis, excluding inventories, to give a better long-term view of the economy. The second quarter had an inventory correction, which seemed overdue.


SGIA 2016 Wrapup: This—and Next—Year’s Models

A collection of new products and product previews that were seen on the show floor at last month’s SGIA Expo.


Materials Matter at Graph Expo and Beyond

At Graph Expo 2016 paper suppliers were clustered in the Materials Matter section of the show floor, described as the “hub that celebrates the essential role materials play in the print ecosystem.”


Graph Expo 2016 and the Satisfactions of Scalability

Graph Expo’s first outing in Orlando proved that how large or small a trade show is matters less than how well it fits its surroundings—and vice versa.


Print Supply Chain Optimization: A Critical Marketing Priority (Premium Content)

Marketers are spending billions of dollars producing, warehousing, and shipping marketing literature, packaging, documentation, point-of-sale displays, premiums, giveaways, signage, and handouts for all channels of market contact and engagement. This article explores how managing and controlling this portion of marketing operations can materially impact go-to-market effectiveness, increase business value, and create a competitive advantage.


The Museum of Printing Exhibits Its One-of-a-Kind Collection in a New and Much Improved Venue

After 38 years, multiple relocations, and herculean labors, this extraordinary collection has a permanent home and a compelling story to tell.


Closing the Personalization Gap (Premium Content)

Even though today’s consumers are inundated with marketing-related messages, only a fraction of these messages actually get the consumer engaged. This article explores how marketers are using personalization to create customized communications that help them stand out from their competitors.


Manufacturing May Be Declining, but Real Retail Sales are Still Positive

Data about manufacturing from the ISM and the Commerce Department have show a contraction compared to the prior year. In some cases that slowdown and contraction has been in process for 18 or more months. Retail sales and consumer spending have been the brighter spots of the economy. The inflation-adjusted growth rate of retail sales has been slowing since the beginning of 2015.


Buying and Selling Print Software by the Pound

When you buy and sell software by the pound (# of features), you get distracted as a buyer as to what business challenge is actually most important to solve. As a vendor when you build software by the pound you keep adding without going back and refining the core features of your solution.


Hyde Opinion: the Sale of DG3 to Resilience Capital Partners

DG3, a significant player in the NYC metro, national and international market for commercial and financial printing, has entered another phase of its storied existence of acquisitions, going public, sale of the company, management buyout, return of the founder, sale to private equity and now a secondary sale to private equity and special situation fund Resilience Capital Partners.


A Toast—and Another One—to the Genius of Corrugated

Corrugated packaging protects effectively, presents handsomely, and succeeds environmentally. What’s not to like or to give credit where due?


Traditional Publishing Ebbs, and Oh, Those CMOs (Premium Content)

Remember that “content is king” thing? The king is losing money. Worldwide ad agency Carat is forecasting moderate growth in advertising, but major shifts in the way ad budgets are spent. It's a fascinating look at worldwide communications with significant implications for printers of all sizes. And then those CMOs... just when they think they have it figured out, they're getting fired again.


You Are the Package. Do You Like What You See?

We interact with packages so much and so often that we sometimes begin to merge with them—and they with us.


SGIA Expo 2016 Kicks Off in Las Vegas

What happened at this year’s SGIA Expo may have happened in Vegas, but it’s not staying in Vegas. Our report from Day One of the show.


Book Publishing: Printed Books Live On! (Premium Content)

Even in today’s digital age, printed books are alive and well. The death of printed books has been greatly exaggerated, and emerging technologies and consumer preferences are converging. This article explores the tools and techniques that can help resolve the supply chain.


Pew Offers Essential Insights into Book Readership

The Pew Research Center's recent report about book reading gives us a peek at the relationship of print and digital media. The report says “A growing share of Americans are reading e-books on tablets and smartphones rather than dedicated e-readers, but print books remain much more popular than books in digital formats.” The chart shows what formats their respondents used in the year prior to the survey. Only 6% were digital-only readers. The report states that 26% read no book in the last year; they may have read other things, but not books. Contrary to many reports about the “demise” of e-books, that has risen from 17% to 28%. It's been stuck there for three years. Print-only readers were 39% (remember: that used to be the entire market of book readers). Print and digital readers are now at 29%. Add the 6% digital-only, and you're at 35%. Content needs to be available in multiple media. Media selection is based on many factors, such as time, convenience, price, income, education, age, and others. Pew also offers insights into the use of audiobooks. The report is free can be downloaded from the Pew Research Center. One other note: when you hear that tablet sales are down or that e-book reader sales are down, keep in mind the versatile use of smartphones and their growing role in content engagement. Among readers 18-29 years old, 22% of them are reading books on their smartphones, 4x more than read them on e-book readers.


The Number 1 Factor in Successful Print MIS Implementations (Premium Content)

Implementing Print MIS software is an undertaking that touches every corner of your business. The belief system you go into this process with determines your success more than any other factor.


Thomson Reuters Sees Opportunity in Monochome Book Printing

Thomson Reuters Core Publishing Service focuses on short and long runs of monochrome legal and other publications on lightweight papers. Adding a HP PageWide Web Press T360 with an inline Magnum Flexbook has significantly improved efficiencies for mid-sized to short runs. Learn more in this article sponsored by HP.


Private Equity LOVES Labels – August 2016 M&A Activity

Massive global private equity funds move aggressively into the label and related printing segments, marketing services provider Firespring acquires Jacob North and does good, Supremex rolls up US envelope production, the newspaper chess game goes on and more.


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