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Business Lessons after the Storm

As we ramp up to Print 17, three lessons from trees felled in a ferocious storm provide business lessons we can all learn from. Strength of foundation, flexibility, and integrity keep your “tree” upright under changing and challenging business conditions.


PIA Alliance Printer Panel Identifies Opportunities and Challenges for Digital Print Businesses

Last month, the PIA Alliance hosted a “Digital Think Tank” in New York City that brought together 150 equipment manufacturers, their customers, and other printers to talk about the latest technology and trends in digital printing and the industry in general. Here are the highlights.


Are You Ready for Emojis in Marketing?

Emojis have become an integral part of today’s communication. If you want to communicate in the language of your customers, like it or not, you need to think about integrating emojis.


Best Practices of High-Performance Print Sales Organizations: Part 2 (Premium Content)

According to InfoTrends’ research, high-performance print sales organizations follow clearly-defined sales strategies, hold their sales staff accountable, and continually adapt their organizations to keep pace with ever-changing market conditions. This article is the second in a two-part series highlighting the 10 common best practices reported by survey respondents that experienced double-digit sales growth in the past 12 months.


Updated Commercial Printing and New GDP Data (Premium Content)

The Bureau of Economic Analysis released the Q2-2017 GDP data and revisions to historical data beginning with 2014. Back in mid-May, the Commerce Department updated historical commercial printing shipments (NAICS 323) as part of its manufacturing shipments revisions. This week’s chart shows an updated view of both data series in current dollars (sometimes called “nominal;” both terms mean that data are not adjusted for inflation). The red line is year-to-year growth rate in GDP, and the blue line is year-to-year change in quarterly shipments. Since around 1997 printing shipments have not met GDP growth except for a moment between 2010 and 2015. The most recent printing shipments trend at the right of the chart are remarkable for their direction. A discussion of the GDP revisions and the current status of printing shipments can be found in the column of August 7.


Ask More Questions, Make Fewer Assumptions, Sell More (Premium Content)

People buy workflows; therefore sales is a discovery process that reveals the challenges in their workflows that you might be in a position to solve. You have to ask more question and make fewer assumptions.


It’s All About Me!

An image used in presentations at EskoWorld struck me as a telling comment on changing consumer behavior. Take a look.


Shutterfly Standardizes on HP Indigo, Adding More HP Indigo 12000s (Premium Content)

At drupa 2016, Shutterfly placed an order for 25 HP Indigo 12000 digital presses, with an aggressive installation plan over the summer to be ready for the company’s peak season. Now Shutterfly has added another phase of HP Indigo 12000s to the mix. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Shutterfly to get the details.


Wide Formant and Packaging are "Digital Proof" But But Where are the Real Opportunities for Printers?

You can’t protect an iPod in a digital box and you can’t replace vehicle wraps with email. Sure, there is some encroachment of digital technologies on the sign and banner industry, but there are limits based on the role that these products play. This article looks at some of the statistics on the current state of these two industries.


Kodak: An Update on Strategy and Performance (Premium Content)

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne tuned into Kodak’s Second Quarter Earnings Call to get an update on Kodak’s strategy. There were some surprises in the call, and more detail about strategic initiatives moving forward.


That Can-Do Spirit: New Trends in Beer Consumption Open Up a Can of Opportunities—Part 2 of 2 (Premium Content)

Canned beer isn’t your daddy’s tinny-tasting brew. As microbreweries move small-batch production from bottles to cans, it opens up opportunities for short-run can decoration.


Is the Future of the Traditional Textbook Business at Risk?

Time and again, we have seen non-traditional competitors storm a market to the detriment of the establishment. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne came across a fascinating story that could be a bellwether indication of trouble ahead for the textbook industry.


Best Practices of High-Performance Print Sales Organizations: Part 1 (Premium Content)

According to InfoTrends’ research, high-performance print sales organizations follow clearly-defined sales strategies, hold their sales staff accountable, and continually adapt their organizations to keep pace with ever-changing market conditions. This article is the first in a two-part series highlighting the 10 common best practices reported by survey respondents that experienced double-digit sales growth in the past 12 months.


How Well Does Your Staff Know Your Software? (Premium Content)

We train on presses, we engage with the press vendors. We make sure operators are competent – why don’t we do the same for software solutions (especially Print MIS, production workflow, and web-to-print)?


Transformation and Rebirth – July 2017 M&A Activity

July 2017 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries. LSC Communications rebuilds diversified publication services; Quark transforms; DG3 acquires UK printer Leycol; Multi-Color goes all-in with deal for Constantia Labels; and more…


Packing a Punch with Print: Catalogs and Direct Mail

Catalogs and direct mail can help overcome the ‘digital fatigue’ that many consumers are experiencing today. Our customers are frequently telling us that when done right -- personalized and relevant to each recipient – it is the printed piece, especially when married with other media, that helps marketers boost response rates.


Does OEE Apply to Digital Presses? This study says Yes

What is OEE and why should you care? How does this metric – Overall Equipment Effectiveness – play in the world of digital printing? Those are questions addressed in a new report from jzarwanpartners. We’ve got a summary of findings for you!


GDP Revisions Offer New Perspective; Printing Shipments Remain Troubling (Premium Content)

Revisions to GDP last month showed a slower economy in 2016 and a better one in 2014 and 2015. That’s fine – but we have to make decisions today, not three years ago. Do changes to economic data really matter? They do, but perhaps not the way you think. The stock market is up and setting records, so the economy must be great! A different metric says otherwise. Economic data: it’s a strange place. And commercial printing shipments? Pass the ibuprofen, please.


Conversations on Print - Ep 3: Owning The Creative Relationship - Featuring Peter Gunning

Jennifer Matt talks with Peter Gunning, CEO of Grafenia about how owning the creative relationship has moved from print to the website - our industry needs to evolve with that change. Grafenia's Nettl brand provides print service providers the tools they need to compete in the digital world.


Opportunities and Challenges in Life Stage Targeting

Life stage targeting takes advantage of a powerful truth in consumer marketing—for the most part, consumers are creatures of habit, and the times they are most likely to make major purchases is during times of transition. Understanding and tapping into those transitional times is where life stage marketing comes in.


Pricing Strategy: Labor Theory of Value versus Value-based Pricing (Premium Content)

Companies within in the printing industry have historically had a manufacturing mentality—they subscribe to the labor theory of value, which states that the value of a service is determined by the amount of labor that goes into production. Now, thousands of firms in a variety of industries are pricing their services according to the external value created—as perceived and determined by the client—rather than the internal costs incurred in generating services. This article explores the concept of value-based pricing and highlights some real-world examples of companies that are embracing this strategy.


Print Business Investments: Presses vs. Software (Premium Content)

Successful print companies have always been re-investing in their business to remain competitors. Up until now, that investment centered around production equipment and systems. Technology in the form of software will be a primary differentiator moving forward.


MIS Systems: Where are we now and where are we going? (Premium Content)

Management Information Systems (MIS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions in the printing industry have the reputation of being inconsistent and extremely diverse. We led a recent study for PRIMIR to explore the typical features of MIS/ERP solutions purchased and to what extent they have been implemented and integrated into print shop workflows. The result provides insight for both commercial printers and MIS/ERP vendors into which capabilities are most important, what their shortcomings are and improvements that can be made.


That Can-Do Spirit: New Trends in Beer Consumption Open Up a Can of Opportunities—Part 1 of 2 (Premium Content)

Canned beer isn’t your daddy’s tinny-tasting brew. As microbreweries move small-batch production from bottles to cans, it opens up opportunities for short-run can decoration.


Locating Who to Talk To… It’s an Art and a Science!

Having a list of addresses simply isn’t enough in this modern age. Modern marketers are obligated to create an easy path to purchase, especially in an age where brick-and-mortar stores must compete with easy online purchases. This article explores how Geoservices tools can guide people to products by defining clear targeted areas for marketing campaigns.


Software with Print on the Side

Software is the toolset that enables you to solve the business challenges required to win the print that results from them. Your sales process is going to look like software as the main dish with print as a side dish.


Digital Embellishment Still a Hot Topic: JetFX to bring offline sheetfed solution to Print 2017

Digital embellishment was a hot topic at drupa 2016, and more companies are entering the fray. We came across JetFX at an event earlier this year and were intrigued by their approach. Read more about JetFX approach to foiling, spot varnishing, embossing, and high end digital holograms.


Opportunities and Challenges in Lifestyle Targeting

When personalizing marketing communications, it’s easy to default to demographic targeting, which tends to be straightforward and easy to understand. But lifestyle targeting crosses demographic lines and offers new levels of opportunity that can be explored.


Print is a Baby, Not a Geezer: The Newness Crisis (Premium Content)

What’s new? You should say “print,” because so many of the media decision-makers have not had noteworthy experiences with the medium. Selling what you know can actually be dangerous, because you need to know what your client and prospect know, first. Only then can you have a chance at relevance. Print is actually a baby, and reference to its glorious past diminishes the many new offerings and tactics that can involve printed materials and specialties in meeting the challenges and objectives of communicators.


50 Billion Customer Communications Can’t Be Wrong!

Print service providers that are currently supporting the customer communications outsourcing market are taking a number of approaches when it comes to navigating from a print-focused core competency to true omni-channel offerings. This article cites recent InfoTrends research to explore how providers are reacting to declining volumes and evolving customer needs.


The Intellectual Property Buried in Your Print Business

Every person in your business solves challenges every day with the tools they have at their disposal and the tools they are comfortable deploying. There is a rich set of intellectual property buried there which can be retrieved by listening and understanding how humans looks for ways to build trusted systems.


Demographics Less Traveled

When it comes to targeting customers, most marketers think about demographic data, such as age, income, gender, and lifestyle. A recent white paper from AccuData lists some less common demographics that may be easily overlooked but that can add a richer dimension to your marketing.


Digital Print for Packaging: The pace is steady and picking up with lots of room for growth (Premium Content)

In this article, Sean Smyth – Print Consultant with Smithers Pira examines the results of a new report that looks at the growth of Digital Print for Packaging to 2022. This report breaks down the projected growth by packaging application, and shows some surprising results.


Know Your Codes: As Signage Becomes a Hotter Commodity, Printers Can Offer Regulatory Guidance

Helping customers navigate complex and constantly changing postal regulations has historically been a vital value-added service for commercial printers. The various rules and regulations regarding signage today provide an opportunity for sign printers.


Adding Value to Direct Mail through IP Targeting (Premium Content)

Savvy service providers are merging online and offline technologies to compound the effectiveness of their campaigns. This article discusses how IP targeting is being used to add value to today’s direct mail campaigns.


Do You Know the Four Types of Mail Behaviors?

According to the USPS, consumers’ “mail behavior” generally falls into one of four categories: sorters, scanners, weak habits, or skimmers. Each category has a different generational makeup, and it may not be what you expect. Knowing what category your customers tend to fall into can help you develop mail that resonates.


Avoid Common and Costly Traps of Print Software Evaluation (Premium Content)

Evaluating software is not a math problem, please don’t count the number of features and award the deal to the highest score. Print software must solve your challenges, in the order of importance to your business.


Family-Owned Newspapers Roll It Up – June 2017 M&A Activity

Hearst, Gatehouse, Lee, Ogden, Phillips and Adams stir up the local newspaper business; Sandy Alexander acquires Designers’ Press; tuck-ins abound and more in the June 2017 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries.


They Say It’s Great, But That’s Up for Debate (Premium Content)

The economy is sluggish on the positive side, and it would be grand if commercial printing would be the same. Recent printing shipments trends are a concern as the industry continues to reshape itself in response to a dynamic communications marketplace that is seems to re-create itself daily. One Midwest printer lands a big contract for signage… but of the kind that a third wave of media change mandates.


Bobst Group and Radex Launch Mouvent for a Focus on Digital Print (Premium Content)

The Bobst Group and Radex formed a new company, Mouvent, to spearhead its digital printing strategy and has announced two production inkjet system for labels and textiles.


Did You Know Interest Rates Have Been Falling?

The Fed has been so reticent about raising rates, and in the process, rates for the 10-year US Treasury actually were negative in February. No, that’s not market rates, that’s the 10-year rate less the year-to-year Consumer Price Index. Since that time, the rate calculated in this manner has moved up 80 basis points. The rate peaked in September 2015 and it’s been down since then. The Fed is having problems making the decision to raise rates, and often announced more rates in a future period but increasing rates at a slower pace. They have a target inflation rate of 2% (which means you lose about 25% of your savings over 10 years on a compounded basis). If you believe that the inflation rate is calculated in a manner that makes it seem lower than it actually is, then the Fed’s desire to see inflation at the 2% rate before they start pushing interest rates higher may be be difficult to reach or sustain. That means long term rates will stay artificially low (on purpose) for a longer period of time than most experts expect.


What Makes Mail “Interesting”?

85% of people will open mail if it “looks interesting.” But what makes mail “interesting”? While we tend to talk about the elements of direct mail in isolation, the reality is, it’s not one element or the other—but a combination of elements whose results are multiplicative rather than additive—that make mail interesting. It’s important to get that combination right.


The New Xerox: What It Means for Software Strategy

Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently spoke with Xerox executive Jacob Aizikowitz about his new role as head of the new Xerox Software Products Group to learn more about how the new Xerox is bringing together its diverse software development efforts.


Target Marketing: It’s Time to Differentiate Your Business! (Premium Content)

A number of very large and profitable companies got their start by focusing on specific market segments, and the same is true for some service providers. Aiming your marketing efforts at a target market can offer a number of benefits. This article focuses on those benefits and outlines the steps that print service providers should take to get started with a targeted marketing approach.


Understanding Order Entry from Your Customer’s Perspective (Premium Content)

Too many online order entry tools are discounted because the printer fails to see the value from their customer’s perspective. Don’t let your competitors use your customer experience to replace you.


A Look at 3 Great QR Code Applications

Even with AR/VR on the rise, QR Codes are still very much an important and functional tool for marketers. This blog takes a look at three recent and well-crafted uses of QR Codes.


Sappi 2020Vision: One Paper Company’s Aggressive Plan for the Future (Premium Content)

What’s the future of the paper business? One company has a bright vision of its future and is making the requisite changes to get there. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Mark Odgers, Director, Packaging Grades at Sappi North America, to get more details.


Preference and Data and Prices, Oh My! (Premium Content)

Prices tell us a lot about how media is changing and what’s ahead. It’s funny – the categories that are growing the most are the ones where prices are dropping. That’s strange. But media preference surveys can be misleading because they can assure media producers of the love of the marketplace, and divert their strategic attention to competitors impinging on that affection. What does Mary Meeker know? A trade association executive says she’s biased. That’s okay. Dr. Joe has different data.


Former Xeikon CEO Wim Maes Lands at Summa NV.

People seem to move around a lot in our industry, and sometimes it is hard to keep track. In this edition of “Where Are They Now?” we share Wim Maes’ thoughts on his new gig at Summa NV.


Five Steps to Helping Your Clients Optimize the Customer Experience (Premium Content)

Customer Experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts: the customer journey, the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences (including digital environment) during the engagement. This article explores why the customer experience should be a top priority for marketers.


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