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Graphic Design Employment Up +6%, Agencies up +2.8%

Content creation is in a strong uptrend based on the latest employment data. Graphic design employment is up +6%, and has taken over from public relations employment as the surging area of hiring.


Dr. Joe's Reading for a New Day

Recommended reading from Dr. Joe Webb: It's the end of days for London's print newspaper New Day. Atlanta Fed's GDPNow Model Estimating Q2-2016 GDP at +2.2%, Lingering Effects of Recession, Justice Denies Staples and OfficeDepot... Again. Rubbing Sahl in an Old Wound


A Puzzling Future for Specialty Magazines – April 2016 M&A Activity

April 2016 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries


Working In vs. Working On Your Print Business

The temptation is to roll up your sleeves and work in your business. The only job that you can’t delegate to anyone on your staff is working on the business (future plans, strategy, diversification).


New Leadership at NPES/GASC: A Conversation with Thayer Long

A little over a week into his new role as President of NPES/GASC, Thayer Long, who has taken over from Ralph Nappi, speaks with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne in this WhatTheyThink exclusive interview about why he is excited about his new role and what he expect to achieve moving forward


Pride of Place for Labels and Packaging at Pazazz

Warren Werbitt is a passionate printer, and one of his most successfully cultivated passions is the production of high-quality, high-margin labels and packaging.


The Latest Latex Wideformat Printers

Last week, HP announced two new series of Latex printers, so this seems as good a time as any to offer a little “Latex 101” primer for those who may be new to the topic and technology.


Do You Have a Culture of Honest Data? (Premium Content)

The latest employment report had analysts scratching their heads. One ugly report does not a recession make, and things may not be as bad as it seemed. It could just be the same old lackluster recovery. Joel Quadracci had some interesting comments about Quad's restructuring efforts that have a good lesson for all managers. Honest data can take a beating in politics, whether they're in elections or in business offices. Does your business have a culture of frankness in the way it reports information?


Ink Ado: Frank Visits with Benny Landa

Benny Landa drives fast. I think he is in a hurry to reach the future. We had been on a whirlwind visit to the several Landa facilities in Tel Aviv, Israel and we were heading to a secret lab buried in the bowels of a non-descript industrial building.


Selling to SMBs: It’s Time to Get Your Digital Game On! (Premium Content)

Just like large enterprises, small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) want to look credible and professional as they spread the word about their businesses. This article explores the top business priorities of today’s SMBs, how the marketing mix is changing, and what it takes to win in this market.


19 Consecutive Months of Improved US Commercial Printing Shipments

US commercial printing shipments have increased compared to the prior year for 19 consecutive months. March 2016 shipments were up +$85 million (+1.1%) in current dollars compared to 2015, and +$22 million (+0.3%) after adjusting for inflation. February 2016 shipments were revised up by $2 million.


Recovery Indicators Better than the Recent General Economic News

The recovery indicators are more positive than the general economic news. One of our indicators, the NASDAQ, is down -1.7% since last month. It's been on a rocky road for the last three quarters. Its recent peak was 5218.86 in July, and it has not gotten really close since. Stock market concerns have focused on a decline in the rate of corporate profits, and Apple's recent financial report did not really help matters. There was a bullish rise in non-manufacturing orders. Manufacturing new orders index might look like a decline, but it is still indicate moderate growth. Proprietors income, a measure of the health of small business, was up only slightly. Other reports of small business health have not been good, especially the recent NFIB Small Business report. This month's recovery indicators don't indicate recession, a word that is bandied about with greater frequency lately, but support the continuing unsatisfying levels of slow but positive growth.


Top 5 Priorities for Your Print Business Website (Premium Content)

Your print business website should be a living, engaging, and a results delivering part of your business growth plan. For business-to-business printers, this means delivering qualified leads to your sales team.


Pitney Bowes Seeds the Cloud with a New Set of Commerce Enablers

The company, traditionally known for postage meters, sees a $40 billion marketplace for its digitally enabled shipping and transaction services.


Innovative Digital Print Production Strategies Drive Dramatic Growth at Quality Tape and Label

In 2008, this full-service label & packaging company saw the writing on the wall with respect to the looming impact of digital printing technologies on its business and wanted to get ahead of the curve with digital adoption.


Eyes on the Packaging and Labels Prize: an Interview with Sappi’s Mark Odgers (Premium Content)

Sappi’s credentials as a supplier of coated fine papers are impeccable. Now the company is taking steps to achieve the same high profile as a source of papers for packaging and labels.


Software for Wide-Format: Beyond the Creative Cloud (Premium Content)

Two weeks ago, at Roland’s second annual ImagiNATION user conference, Giveme Help’s Mark Rugen ran down a list of some lesser-known image editing programs and other utilities for professionals doing design and production for wide-format graphics. Here are some highlights.


Infographic: Driving Smarter Customer Engagement

IDC recently conducted research to gain insight into the evolving Customer Communication Management (CCM) landscape. The study focused on the healthcare, a traditionally document-intensive industry. This infographic provides key insight into the document strategies used within the US healthcare system.


Q1-2016 GDP +0.5%; Inventory Correction Finally Arrives

US real GDP for Q1-2016 was reported at annual growth of only +0.5% compared to Q4-2015. On a year-to-year basis, the growth rate was +1.95%. The inventory adjustment that the economy has needed finally came, with the lowest net inventories in two years. Real GDP growth less inventories was +2.3% on a year-to-year basis.


Harte Hanks Leverages Technology and Direct Mail in the Multi-Channel Customer Journey (Premium Content)

As marketers seek techniques to create effective direct mail, technologies like high-speed, full-color inkjet are creating opportunities to produce personalized and customized direct mail items that will truly capture consumers’ attention. This article explores how Harte Hanks has leveraged advanced digital printing capabilities to effectively deliver targeted, personalized direct mail touches that weave seamlessly into the multi-channel customer journey.


S&P 500 Revenue Per Share Still Lags Economy

Everyone knows that the stock market is up from its lows at the bottom of the recession,but one obscure but key measure underscores how sluggish the economy has been. The S&P 500 should have a bias of steadily increasing revenues. It has most of the best companies in the world, with international presence in the globe's growing markets and a foundation in the established ones. It is rare for companies to be dismissed from the S&P 500, but companies are added all the time. When S&P companies merge, they create a new entity of combined revenues, and another company is added with new revenues to add to the index. The other upward bias should be the high level of stock buybacks buy these large companies, as they borrow money at low interest rates and create “shareholder value” by reducing the number of shares and increasing the value of each share of stock. We've called this cowardly, as it increases earnings per share (EPS) without needing to increase total profits. So this revenue per share should be steadily increasing with a growing economy in a recovery that started in mid-2009. It seems that companies have done a much better job of financial engineering than they have in creating revenues.


Growing a Modern Print Business: Sales versus Marketing (Premium Content)

Growing your business is more about marketing than it is about hiring more sales people today. The sales cycle is moving online where good marketing programs can nurture prospects from initial inquiry to paying customer.


"Best Dscoop Ever!"

This is the refrain Senior Editor Cary Sherburne heard over and over again during and after Dscoop 11, held in San Antonio TX. The conference attracted double the number of companies as compared to last year and featured outstanding keynotes, content and activities.


Inkjet drupa 2016 – Continuing the Story – Kodak Enterprise Inkjet Systems

In this article, David looks at current and future state of Kodak Enterprise Inkjet Systems Division (EISD), the Stream and ULTRASTREAM Technologies as well as PROSPER products and future technologies.


Personalized Packaging is Here

For printers and packaging converters looking to take advantage of the market opportunities offered by customized or personalized packaging, the Zoxxbox story is an interesting one. Learn how the company is leveraging digital tools to make customized packaging an affordable reality in this article sponsored by XMPie.


ISA Sign Expo: Beyond Signage

If the ISA Sign Expo 2016 demonstrated one thing—and it demonstrated far more than one thing—it was that “signage” is part of a much larger graphic ecosystem than can include products and applications seemingly far-removed from signs.


Less Gets More, Models and Supermodels, and Why True and False Should Add Up (Premium Content)

The latest government data show fewer commercial printing establishments, fewer employees, but higher pay. Now that more economic data are negative, we should really know if forecasting models economists use make any sense beyond predicting the past. Many of those models use spreadsheet software, and some programs can't make what's true and what's false add up. Yes it's a Dr. Joe potpourri.


Inkjet Summit 2016: The Market is on the Move! (Premium Content)

Now in its fourth year, nGage’s 2016 Inkjet Summit (April 18-20) focused on critical trends and new applications in direct mail, book publishing, commercial printing, and transactional printing. This article provides a brief history of the event and also discusses some of the highlights from this year.


At Last, Nano Is Now as Landa Nanographic Printing Presses Line up for Market Entry (Premium Content)

The wait has been long, and the anticipation has been intense. But, Landa Digital Printing believes it can amply reward both with what it will debut at drupa 2016.


NFIB Small Business Index: A New Recession for Main Street?

Economic data have been conflicting of late, but there is one consensus in the data that is clear: the small business economy did not recover from recession, and looks like it’s back in recession territory. There are many indicators we use for small business but one that is watched often is that of the NFIB. It is published monthly and has a long history. US government data focuses attention on the largest businesses because they represent big chunks of the economy and report some kind of data, especially payroll data, with great frequency. Think of it as counting whales rather than minnows. Their recent analysis said “The small business sector... is underperforming, doing little more than operating in maintenance mode. Slow economic growth is now just a result of population growth, more haircuts, retail customers, health care patients, etc. But there is no exuberance, no optimism and not much hope, the numbers make it clear.” Economies stuck in +2% growth mode tend to do that.


The Patent Trolls Lose and the “Good Guys” Win One – The HQPI Cases Dismissed

In one of the latest and most visible cases, High Quality Printing Innovations (HQPI) a shell company, under the troll company of Modern Universal Printing, LLC v. numerous print service providers and OEMs, all of the lawsuits were dismissed.


The Trapped Data of the Print Industry (Premium Content)

The print industry’s technology is too closed, too proprietary, making it overly difficult for print businesses (the entities that make this whole ecosystem work) to access, use, distribute, and learn from the data their business’ generate every day. If we keep at this, we will choke off the only thing that matters (growing print businesses).


2014 US Commercial Printing Capital Expenditures: New Purchases Down, Used Purchases Up (Premium Content)

The US Department of Commerce recently released its Annual Survey of Manufactures Capital Expenditures report, issuing data for 2014.


HP Previews Extensive Catalog of Print Innovations for drupa 2016 (Part II)

HP’s sense of itself as a change agent for digital printing is strong. The very broad range of digital solutions it will show at drupa 2016 befits the size of its ambition.


New Avenues of Success: Landaal Packaging Systems Thrives On Adversity (Premium Content)

When the auto industry crashed and burned in 2007–2008, and their biggest client pulled most of their business, Michigan’s Landaal Packaging Systems saw an opportunity to reinvent itself with digital wide-format printing.


Inkjet drupa 2016 – Continuing the Story – HP Indigo

In this article, David looks at HP Indigo, the technology, and what we can expect from them at drupa 2016. Even though Indigo is not inkjet, there will be a number of new products at drupa and it is worth covering in these series.


Print: Changing the Customer Experience with Augmented Reality (Premium Content)

Motivated by an increasingly sophisticated range of online and offline shopping opportunities, consumers are eager to experience higher-quality shopping experiences. Retailers can delight their customers by providing an experience that is relevant, personalized, and engaging. This article provides examples of augmented reality applications that are designed to deliver much more effective and engaging communications


The Fed Never Really Stopped QE3

This week’s chart shows the aggressive actions of the Federal Reserve after the housing bubble. For decades, the Fed’s balance sheet increased by about 6% per year, averaging about half inflation and half economic growth. The rocket-like rise when the bubble burst is clear, and then the three steps up of each of the quantitative easings are plainly seen. The Fed has wanted to raise rates for some time, but they have also wanted to stop the buying of government instruments that characterized the QE programs. They create shortages of publicly traded bonds which increases their prices, which makes the effective interest rates low. Rather than ending their purchases, the Fed has been replacing matured obligations. In effect, this keeps QE3 going. Can the Fed ever end it? They may hold on and hope that over time that economic growth and inflation catches up to them in time, but that can take forever, or perhaps longer. It will be difficult for the Fed to end its policy without robust economic growth that will give them the flexibility and opportunities to unwind their holdings. Should a recession begin, or a new financial crisis emerge (even an internationally) the Fed might need to create an additional QE effort.


ESKO: Driving Change in Flexo

At a pre-drupa briefing last month, duomedia hosted a large crowd of press and analysts from around the world to hear from eight different companies about their drupa plans and general strategies. This article includes links to other WhatTheyThink reporting on these announcements as well as a focus on the announcements made by the Danaher family of companies including Esko, Enfocus, X-Rite and Pantone. This included a flexo platemaking breakthrough announced by Esko that is set to create a shift in that market.


Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: Infigo

Technology decisions can be costly, not just in licensing/subscription fees but in the time and effort it takes your team to implement, learn, and launch technologies to your customers. One of the aspects of the Infigo product suite is the ability to add modules as you continue to diversify.


Inkjet drupa 2016 – Continuing the Story – HP PageWide, Corrugated, and PageWide HD

In this article, David looks at HP, and its drupa 2016 introductions of the PageWide Corrugated and HD production inkjet presses.


Justice Department Saves Newspapers (really?)

March 2016 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries


USPS, Shiny Objects, Recovery, and Recession (Premium Content)

The USPS exigent price increase has expired, and USPS says they “will lose approximately $2 billion in annual revenue resulting from a price reduction” which they knew was going to expire. The increase was to help “recover for the massive volume and revenue losses resulting from the Great Recession.” Yet, Dr. Joe shows that the declines in USPS volume kept declining after the economic recovery began in mid-2009. Then Dr. Joe talks about recession in light of recent economic data. Yeah, they’ll be calling him Dr. Doom again.


Personalization: The Missing Link (Premium Content)

Today’s consumers have grown comfortable with the ideal of establishing a one-on-one dialogue with marketers, and many consumers have come to expect this level of intimacy. This article cites recent research to explore consumers’ practices and preferences when interacting with direct mail and other types of content.


Peer Collaboration and the Optimization of Print Software

Find peers to collaborate with at all levels of your company. When your web-to-print person gets stuck, they should have life-lines to other printers who have the same technology. Don’t rely solely on the vendor. Industry events are the best places to meet peers who share your challenges.


Can USPS Price Increase Rollback Get EDDM Moving Again? (Premium Content)

The USPS is always in the news, and last month's Annual Compliance Determination report was not particularly positive. “The majority of products failed to meet service performance targets for FY 2015” read the Postal Regulatory Commission press release. The PRC directed “the Postal Service to improve service performance and provide a comprehensive plan within 90 days.”


HP Previews Extensive Catalog of Print Innovations for drupa 2016

If you are planning to attend drupa 2016, make sure your agenda gives you plenty of time to review what HP will be bringing to Hall 17. There is going to be a great deal to see.


Twenty-one Months of Consecutive Increases for US Commercial Printing Shipments (Premium Content)

The US Department of Commerce issued its latest report of US commercial printing shipments (NAICS 323) and the data show 21 consecutive months of positive comparisons to the prior year current dollar shipments. The trend started with June 2014, and has been an average increase of +3.3%, +$225 million per month, for that period.


Recovery Indicators Say “Recession? Don't Know the Word”

We may have gone through the first six week recession in history. That's said a bit tongue-in-cheeck, but many of the economic measures seem to have bottomed or are in the process of doing so. Besides that, recessions are measured in quarters, not weeks. The doom of the global economic slowdown and the worldwide currency crises seems to have left with a whimper.


How Labels and Packaging Can “Touch the Future”: an Interview with drupa’s Sabine Geldermann

A decision to attend drupa 2016 represents a major investment of time and travel expense. The director of the global event talks about why label and packaging producers are among those who should most seriously consider making it.


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