Published January 17, 2018
Every industry has different roles, in the software industry there is a role called the “Product Owner” also referred to as the “Product Manager”. First, I’ll explain this unique role in the software industry; then I’ll make a case that as print continues to evolve and become more digitally friendly and software dependent printers are going to have to have this role in their organizations.
Published January 10, 2018
What makes your print business unique? This is a question every print business should ponder over the new year. In 2018 how will you guide your company to create differentiation? Will it be based on the past or the reality of our shared future?
Published December 6, 2017
I’ve been interacting with a lot of customers of web-to-print lately (the people who order from web-to-print, not the printers). In every single interaction I learn something new.
Published November 29, 2017
Creating results in your company takes coordinated effort by a group of people – some would call that a “project”. Project management is the art of keeping all the contributors to the project on task “herding the cats.” This skill set and this role is underappreciated in our industry. When you need to get complex things done with a group of people – you need a project manager to drive the project to successful completion.
Published November 22, 2017
When you buy print software for your business, it needs to “fit” into the technology stack you already have. This means that it solves challenges you cannot solve with your existing software and it will fit with the other pieces of your technology.
Published November 16, 2017
The Print MIS/ERP system is the foundation to your overall print business technology stack. It is the system that should run your business. Many Print MIS solutions have and continue to expand their support for a diversified printing operation. One of printIQ’s strengths is its approach to and the execution of a modular approach to supporting additional manufacturing processes
Published November 15, 2017
The solution sale only works if you’re solving the problems that are most important to the customer. The race to find solutions often results in sales teams wasting tremendous effort solving the wrong customer challenges. When you first agree on the challenges and their importance to the customer – solution selling works.
Published November 8, 2017
Purchasing new software is exciting; it’s full of potential, the vendors invest a lot in making the sales process enjoyable. This influences our reaction to when our existing technology gets hard or frustration – it can feel easier to quit and buy a different platform thinking that will solve all our challenges.
Published November 1, 2017
We are biased towards solutions when the most valuable thing we can do it clearly define the problem first. The tech startup world calls this innovator bias (falling in love with solutions) – there are always many ways to solve something, the more time you spend understanding the problem, the better chances of getting to the optimal solution.
Published October 25, 2017
There is no magic innovation button, there is a boring execution button that can differentiate your business. Consistent execution on complex tasks is a path to profitability – checklists are a key tool to help you get there.
Published October 18, 2017
There is an educational gap in the print industry, our industry events are still centered around buying and selling equipment rather than preparing printers to compete in the internet age.
Published October 11, 2017
Everyone is talking about workflow automation; this article is about our attachment to artifacts of common print workflows. We have failed to upgrade our thinking beyond the “page” metaphor for sharing information and gaining agreement.
Published October 4, 2017
Are you interrupting a lot of people to find the few who are in need of your products and services? Or are you working very hard to be found by the customers that are actively seeking out your services?
Published September 20, 2017
What can your customers do online with your print business? How easy is it for your customers to do business with you? Are you asking your customers to use their precious time because your ordering process is inefficient and not available online?
Published September 6, 2017
Leadership is about embracing change as an iterative process of improving upon how your business operates. In modern times that equates to getting software to do more work for your business so your human labor can focus on higher-value activities.
Published August 30, 2017
Print is an artifact of a business process/workflow. You should get very curious about the overall workflow so that you can provide more value than just the print. This is the path to embedding your services with a customer and increasing the areas where you can add value.
Published August 23, 2017
A manual, labor intensive workflow makes your print business inefficient – that is obvious. The hidden impact of manual workflows is the impact it might be having on your customer services team’s growth mindset.
Published August 16, 2017
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.
Published August 9, 2017
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)?
Published August 4, 2017
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.
Published August 2, 2017
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.
Published July 26, 2017
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.
Published July 19, 2017
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.
Published July 12, 2017
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.
Published June 28, 2017
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.
Published June 21, 2017
Every software tool sets out to solve a set of problems, all too often the problem is never defined because the sales process focuses on solutions, benefits, and features. Take the time to understand the problem print software solves and most importantly whether you have that problem!
Published June 13, 2017
Your print business runs on software, more and more of that software is being delivered via the cloud where resources can be precisely controlled and scaling (both up and down) is configurable in real-time. Kodak’s flagship workflow product – PRINERGY Workflow is no exception to taking advantage of what cloud computing can do to a printer’s production workflow.
Published June 13, 2017
In this podcast we talk to Susan Moore about the various roles Susan has had in the printing industry: supplies sales, printing business owner, MIS platform provider. We talk about becoming a data-driven company and how MIS transitions are hard but they create a great opportunity to restructure your business model and to transition to today's world.
Published June 7, 2017
Buy, implement, build – software is part of your everyday business life now. It is the primary tool of all businesses.
Published May 31, 2017
Making good software is like building a nice home, it takes multiple resources who are coordinated to deliver on your needs. The more a printer understands the software process, the better they will be at managing it for internal projects or influencing the software roadmap of their vendors.
Published May 24, 2017
We want to be efficient, we want to feel smart. When we hear even the first words of a challenge, we categorize it and start trying to solve it based on our available tool set. This prevents you from a real understanding of the problem.
Published May 17, 2017
People don’t like change, they need to be led through change because the transition between “how you’ve always done it” and the “new more tech-focused way to do it” can be a river of misery.
Published May 10, 2017
Change management is considered a soft skill (maybe because it can’t be measured easily in a spreadsheet). Change management can cause a lot of hard problems with technology change when it ignored.
Published May 3, 2017
A print software strategy is a definition of where you want to end up – an objective, a goal for how you want all the software components in your business to work together.
Published April 26, 2017
There is no “one software package” that runs your entire business. Businesses of all sizes have a technology stack (a collection of software). How well your technology stack fits together (like a beautiful puzzle) greatly determines your success in today’s market.
Published April 19, 2017
Clear communication is essential when implementing print software. When you don’t ask clarifying questions, you assume that if there were more relevant details about the integration they would have shared them with you. Do not assume. Ask clarifying questions. Be that annoying person who keeps asking questions.
Published April 12, 2017
We apply tools from our toolset to solve business challenges, often those tools create silos of data and processes inside our company that prevent us from becoming a truly data-driven organization.
Published April 5, 2017
I wish you could just buy the right print software product and it would make you successful. You can’t. Success with software takes your execution. Software doesn’t implement itself, vendors can’t implement it without your active involvement.
Published March 29, 2017
You can call it change management, I prefer the wise words of Seth Godin – change requires you to embrace stupid. Our market requires all of us to keep learning, “the pre-learning state is stupidity.”
Published March 22, 2017
Selling print online requires knowledge of how to both accept artwork and deliver print assets to the manufacturing facility. Generic ecommerce firms don’t understand this which can cause printers to spend their time and money educating resources about what makes print ecommerce unique.
Published March 15, 2017
Mistakes are part of our lives and our businesses. Nobody likes to make them, how you react to your mistakes dictates what kind of business culture you’ll create. Software changes are an excellent environment to create a learning culture and avoid a fear based culture.
Published March 13, 2017
Jerry Kennelly started his print career in a sweat shop run by his parents in their basement. When a wall in your house has to be removed to get the press downstairs, you know you might be working the 3rd shift someday. Jerry is an entrepreneur, founder of Stockbyte, Tweak and the Junior Entrepreneur Programme in Ireland. In this podcast we talk about what Jerry has learned and how passionate he is about both the impact and value of print in our digital world.
Published March 8, 2017
Step back and regroup. Stop looking at features and focus on the overall business objectives of your software solutions. All of us (vendors and printers) need to get out of the feature focus so we can make better software decisions AND make the software we have work better for us in spite of the lacking features.
Published March 1, 2017
When both parties in the print software sales process make assumptions, poor decisions are made. Money is wasted. Time is squandered. Replace assumptions with clarifying questions so you come to a common understanding of the truth.
Published February 22, 2017
User conferences are an incredible opportunity to load up on learning from the speakers, the vendors, and most importantly your peers. With Dscoop next week, this article covers the importance of the well-formed, thought out questions that can help you get the most out of events by preparing and focusing on your learning goals before you arrive!
Published February 15, 2017
Building good software takes a (small) village of people with distinct skills sets. Don’t try and build software with only a developer, you’ll end up with software that only developers will want to use!
Published February 8, 2017
Retiring software solutions can be overwhelming. Continuing to pay maintenance on legacy software solutions is maddening. Start the process of transition by setting a realistic date – draw the line in the sand, rally your troops around what it takes to get from where you are today to throwing a retirement party for your legacy software.
Published February 1, 2017
Your print software strategy is your responsibility. It requires strategic thinking to both define the challenges and the results you want to create (vision). Don’t make the common mistakes with your print software strategy.
Published January 31, 2017
There are two major workflows that a job travels through in your print business. The production workflow which results in a printed product and the business workflow which results in an accurate invoice. The job must travel through both workflows; often in parallel and frequently requires some collaboration and/or communication between the workflows to reach both desired results - high-quality print product(s) delivered on-time and an error free invoice.
Published January 25, 2017
Your business should be run by your print software systems; your people should run the systems. These print software systems require attention for both short-term initiatives and long-term strategy.
Published January 18, 2017
Finding a niche for your print business (a target market with specific pain points) is not about aiming small, it’s about FOCUS and EXECUTION to build a repeatable product offering and to dive deeper into learning about your customer’s problems.
Published January 11, 2017
User group meetings create a space for you to find peers for collaboration. Use these meetings to find your people. Do not proceed in these disruptive market conditions on your own! I invite you to attend the sessions. For those of you who are not planning to attend, I want to provide you with some of the key learnings that will be delivered.
Published January 4, 2017
When people get frustrated with software, they are looking for an easy answer to get closure. One of the most common reactions to web-to-print frustration is to shop for a different solution. Before you start shopping, take a long hard look at your investment in really learning the web-to-print solution you already have.
Published December 21, 2016
Implementing a Print MIS is challenging, it requires a focus on end results without an attachment to “the way things have always been done”, persistence, and adaptability. Look for these personality traits in the people you assign to lead your Print MIS implementation.
Published December 7, 2016
As software takes on a larger and larger role in your print business, your technical leader plays a greater role in all aspects of your business performance. With the right internal technical leader, software can deliver almost everything that was promised in the demo! Without the right technical leader, you’re going to feel like your software investment was a complete waste of money.
Published November 30, 2016
Aleyant PrintJobManager™ is a cloud-based entry into the Print MIS market. Most printers will recognize Aleyant as the maker of the popular Aleyant Pressero™ web-to-print solution. Aleyant is entering the Print MIS market with a stand-alone solution PrintJobManage
Published November 16, 2016
Your web-to-print needs to solve two core challenges, the challenge of e-commerce and the unique challenge of selling print online. Design ‘N’ Buy took a different strategy for getting to market with a print-enabled e-commerce solution. They left the e-commerce part to the open-source community by proactively integrating with the most popular open source e-commerce platforms.
Published November 9, 2016
Scaling your print business requires the removal of bottlenecks from order inquiry to accurate invoice payment. Your Print MIS is the system of record that can drive you to a more efficient business and enable you to scale.
Published November 2, 2016
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.
Published October 19, 2016
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.
Published October 12, 2016
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.
Published October 5, 2016
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.
Published September 21, 2016
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.
Published September 14, 2016
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.
Published September 7, 2016
Inevitably, Cimpress (parent company of VistaPrint) is expanding beyond its roots with the micro business and the business card product. Pixartprinting, a 2014 Cimpress acquisition, targets the creative professional with a 100% upload-and-print model supporting an ever growing collection of product workflows.
Published August 31, 2016
Coding is one aspect of software. Making great software takes a team of well-coordinated resources. When we oversimplify software to just a coding event, we get unexpected results
Published August 24, 2016
Web-to-Print isn’t for the printer; it is a self-service option for your customers so that ordering from you is more convenient. Customer preference is strongly in favor of self-service options for virtually all business processes, print is no exception.
Published August 17, 2016
Going to live industry events is a great opportunity on many levels – get out of working in your business and focus on working on your business. Building relationships with peers and vendors is critical to your future success, live events are where these relationships are cemented.
Published August 10, 2016
Printers get frustrated with complex software solutions, this frustration often results in the purchase of additional complex software solutions. Don’t rush to buy your way out of the challenge – it might be more effective to learn your way out of it by doubling down on your commitment to the software you already have.
Published August 3, 2016
Customers come to printers to solve communication challenges. Transactional customers get their specific challenges solved. Transaction print is a tough business these days. Printers who inquire about and look to solve bigger picture challenges develop partners with their customers, moving above the transactional level.
Published July 27, 2016
The recent move by the U.S. women’s national soccer team (USWNT), to ask for a raise is leading by example for women of all ages. Their performance from top to bottom has been exemplary, on and off the field, and for them, this would be a performance-based raise. As it turns out, simply “asking” requires the courage to work against how we’ve been socialized to behave as females.
Published July 13, 2016
Web-to-Print software is sold to printing companies. Yet, the primary users of web-to-print solutions are a printing company's customers. This situation is the cause of many issues with the success of web-to-print programs. We have three perspectives at work (only one really matters).
Published July 6, 2016
The biggest mistake in software decisions is relegating the discussion down to the feature level. The feature is a potential solution to an often ill-defined problem which may or may not be relevant to your business.
Published June 29, 2016
If sales isn’t involved, your business-to-business (B2B) web-to-print project is going to fail. Web-to-print projects aren’t about features (solutions), they are all about solving the right customer challenges.
Published June 15, 2016
User experience is the product. 1,000 features does not necessarily equate to a valuable product. When features are embedded into a confusing an cumbersome user experience – they don’t get adopted.
Published June 1, 2016
A Product Workflow is a term I use in web-to-print projects; it defines the different offerings you enable online through self-service user interface. Defining terms is critically important to any project, product workflows is one of the key terms to every web-to-print project.
Published May 25, 2016
Print is a communication challenge solution. Typically, the printed product is but one part of a much larger challenge. When your sales people learn to take their “print googles” off and uncover the bigger picture challenge, they embed your company deeper into your customer’s business process and ultimately uncover more opportunities for printed products.
Published May 18, 2016
Communication is the primary thing we all do for work. This article outlines some of my favorite tools for communicating, tracking how we use our time, capturing our ideas, organizing projects, and improving remote meetings.
Published May 4, 2016
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.
Published April 27, 2016
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.
Published April 20, 2016
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).
Published April 13, 2016
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.
Published April 7, 2016
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.
Published March 30, 2016
Your customers don’t want to be trained, your customers want you to make them look good in front of their boss, get them promoted, and generally make their lives easier. Don’t try and educate your customers, sell them on what’s in it for them if they adjust their behaviors (e.g. use your web-to-print system, submit print-ready PDF files, etc.)
Published March 23, 2016
One workflow for all job types results in wasted labor, unrealized profits, and slower turnaround times. The modern print business has to drive automation by creating different routes for different job types. The approach has to be strategic, because automation in one area can create congestion in another.
Published March 16, 2016
Web-to-print is a strategic initiative that creates two service level paths through your organization; self-service and full-service. Your leadership is the key ingredient required for success.
Published March 9, 2016
As we move more business online, utilize digital communication channels, and look to diversify – our print business marketing becomes more critical to our overall business success.
Published March 2, 2016
At Dscoop this year, we will be presenting a series of Tech Talks in the Dscoop Collaboration Station on the show floor. We are all on a steep learning curve when it comes to technology. Join us to get a dose of technology education across a wide range of topics. Bring your technology leaders to Dscoop; their importance to your business is growing!
Published February 24, 2016
Your web-to-print initiatives should be focused on the “jobs-to-be-done” for your customers. What can the customer “hire” your web-to-print system to do for them? Web-to-print ROI comes from a 100% focus from your customer’s perspective.
Published February 17, 2016
Customers ask for a lot, they want us to service them but they also need us to apply our expertise to their challenges. The customer can and should be challenged based on your expertise.
Published February 3, 2016
Business meetings can be horribly ineffective, yet with a set of small hacks you can unleash the productivity and innovation your company desperately needs. Here’s the good news, all you need is some Post-It Notes and a phone.
Published January 27, 2016
As technology continues to change at a rapid rate, collaboration needs to extend into the functional areas of your business. Don’t stop at creating a peer group for print owners, encourage your accounting lead to get into a peer group, each functional area should have multiple sources of knowledge sharing.
Published January 27, 2016
In studying the Propago product, a consistent theme reverberated throughout the product; this product was built based on real-time feedback from live users in a large scale deployment. The approach to solving the business challenges of web-to-print are rooted in data-driven decisions rather than theoretical solutions to ill-defined challenges. Propago came out of a large commercial printing organization that consisted of twenty-five companies across the nation.
Published January 20, 2016
It’s time to stop talking about what we should become (marketing services providers) and actually take the steps that move us in that direction. Think through a go-to-market strategy for offering digital products, execute on that plan on your print business’ marketing, enable your sales team, and start diversifying your revenue streams for the digital age.
Published January 13, 2016
In Print MIS implementations, your business data entered into the Print MIS database structure creates the data model of your business. Your attention to detail at this critical juncture of Print MIS implementations can set you up for success.
Published January 6, 2016
Cimpress (parent company of VistaPrint) is expanding into the core of the print market; “upload-and-print”. They are buying demand generators and no doubt investing in user experiences that will enable self-service online purchasing of print for the largest segment of the print industry (manufacturing of the customer’s design/file).
Published December 16, 2015
Last week I attended Singularity University’s Executive Program in Silicon Valley. The best way to describe what happened to me after a week of hearing some of the brightest people in tech talk about the future is that they dramatically changed my perspective. Come to find out, I had a very narrow lens through which I viewed the world; they replaced it with a wide angle lens that goes beyond our planet and looks far into the future.
Published December 9, 2015
Rather than face the reality that all print businesses need to evolve, many print owners default to staying “busy” running the business the way it’s been run for years. Don’t be tempted to “numb yourself” by keeping busy, the market conditions are indisputable, the past performance of your print business is not indicative of future results. We are operating in a different reality with very compelling digital alternatives to print communication.
Published December 2, 2015
Most printers are business to business (B2B), they do business with other businesses that they have a working relationship with. Business-to-consumer (B2C) is the term used for online businesses that serve anyone who shows up on the website (not necessarily just consumers). As printers consider B2C, they need to understand what it takes to build a successful online business.
Published November 18, 2015
Integration projects span a wide spectrum, from cheap and easy to complex and very expensive. Focus all your attention about print software integration from one place – your business objectives.
Published November 10, 2015
Your Print MIS or Print ERP is the most important print software in your business. The process for purchasing a Print MIS is dysfunctional; avoid these five common mistakes in your Print MIS sales process.
Published November 4, 2015
Web-to-print is a critical piece of your online presence. The ability for your customers to easily transact with you online is no longer a differentiator, it’s an expectation.
Published October 21, 2015
This pace of change is outrunning your print business’ technology decisions. A web-to-print platform decision you made two years ago could be completely out of date with the mobile-first world we live in today. Your aging ERP/Print MIS system has no way of understanding a product that exits your building via an Ethernet cable rather than a shipping truck.
Published October 7, 2015
All printers should be thinking about “workflow automation” as a strategic initiative; produce more with less labor, less waste, in less time as a way to remain competitive. Time savings should be strategically invested in diversification, new skills acquisition, and cross-training.
Published September 2, 2015
A sales focus is external. A production focus is internal. A sales focused print business leader is constantly asking the question, “How does this activity/investment improve my customer’s experience or business?” A sales focused print leader escorts the external rate of change into the business at a rate that often makes their employees uncomfortable.
Published August 26, 2015
A web-to-print demo is your chance to demonstrate how your print software technology solves the relevant challenges of a specific customer. The key words are “relevant challenges” and “specific customer”. Do your homework so your demonstration addresses what the customer actually cares about.
Published August 19, 2015
Print software is eating your budget because software is becoming the tool of choice for industry leaders to create differentiation in the marketplace.
Published August 12, 2015
Maintaining and paying for multiple web-to-print solutions is more expensive than you think. Transitioning off legacy systems has positive repercussions for your technical resources and your customers.
Published July 22, 2015
Launching any new print software technology can feel risky. With the rate of change in both our businesses and software technology, we have to create a culture that is comfortable with launching early and iterating through issues. It is impossible to predict every possible scenario; it is liberating to accept that finding issues post-launch is part of the plan.
Published July 15, 2015
Print software is an infrastructure investment in our increasing online and digital economy. Adopting a strategic infrastructure approach to investing in and implementing print software will be a key differentiator for print businesses moving forward.
Published July 8, 2015
Staffing your technology is as important as staffing your presses. The top characteristics for good technical resources: understand the limits of your knowledge, resist making assumptions, and see opportunities rather than roadblocks.
Published July 1, 2015
As the online world continues to expand, your prospects and customers can become more educated buyers. Your response to this is to invest in your online presence so that first impressions count.
Published June 24, 2015
Software is mission critical to your business, like other infrastructure investments it takes time and effort to make the best decisions, plan to get the most ROI, and continue to build differentiation in the marketplace. Optimizing your print software investments comes with challenges which every printer faces in order to compete in an increasingly online, digital world.
Published June 17, 2015
Inbound marketing is the strategy of choice for online marketing, content is the main ingredient to any successful inbound marketing strategy. Your content has to be optimized for two audiences; your target customers and the search engines.
Published June 3, 2015
Web-to-print is our term for moving customer engagement online. This represents a big change for most traditional business-to-business printers. This article describes the top five mistakes I see when working with printers through this transition from an offline business to an online / self-service customer interaction model.
Published May 27, 2015
When you need a custom software solution, think about assembling a puzzle rather than building from scratch. The software landscape is full of integrate-able pieces that can give you ‘expected’ functionality so you can focus your custom development on what makes you ‘unique’.
Published May 13, 2015
Looking backwards won’t help you navigate the uncharted waters of the future. The print businesses of the future will adapt to remain relevant in a digital, online, and data-driven world.
Published May 6, 2015
Your marketing should talk more about your customers than about you. Compelling marketing content is about telling customer success stories to teach and attract more customers who find your content relevant to their current challenges.
Published April 24, 2015
What’s more costly, opening up a new successful retail location or a new successful online brand/store? The answer is “it depends”. Just because making a new e-commerce site is “cheap” doesn’t take into consideration all the costs of driving traffic and getting conversions.
Published April 15, 2015
Self-service is a growing preference among customers, pricing transparency is a feature of our online world, and speed is a growing differentiator in all aspects of our business. arifiQ has focused on a pivotal function of print – estimating/quoting; enabling printers to adapt to the new realities of our increasingly digital, online, and fast-paced business environment.
Published April 14, 2015
MarTech – the Marketing Technology Conference took place March 31, 2015 in San Francisco. I attended to see how print is being represented within the modern marketing mix.
Published April 10, 2015
You haven’t updated your website in over two years. You don’t remember if you have a LinkedIn page, you thought someone once tweeted something, and you recently had a customer complain about not being able to find you online.
Published April 6, 2015
A data-driven print business starts with a trusted system of record and then as selected meaningful metrics that influence your business decisions and your staff’s daily behavior.
Published March 30, 2015
The online channel is in the language of the customer and you have to compete to be found. These fundamental characteristics of this channel should drive your online presence at every level.
Published March 23, 2015
Expand your thinking in many directions, beyond the four walls of your manufacturing operations, beyond your business into your customer’s business, and beyond print to the other communication methods that are complimentary to print.
Published March 16, 2015
Marketing is about delivering qualified leads to your sales team. The online world has converted marketing into a role that can be precisely measured. Start thinking of marketing as a role with a quote (# of qualified leads delivered), stop thinking of marketing as your brand colors or business card design.
Published March 9, 2015
If your focus is all internal, you are missing the broader context of how your products and services are utilized within your customer’s business. Loyal customers are created when you help them achieve their business results, that means engaging with customers in the broader context of their business.
Published March 2, 2015
The first impressions of your business will be online. How does your online presence compare to you offline presence? Can prospects understand your business and what you can do for them from your website, your blog, and your social media channels? Your online presence sets up your sales team for success.
Published February 16, 2015
Do you approach change as an incremental, keep everyone comfortable manner? Or do you see how much the external conditions have changed while your company has stayed still? Is your print software able to support your current and future business needs?
Published February 9, 2015
Let’s get one thing perfectly clear, you DO NOT invest in print software to run your business as it is today. The whole point of software is to enable you to run your business differently - creating more efficiency.
Published February 4, 2015
Twenty years ago when we described the function of marketing we would have started with terms like “creative” and “messaging.” Then we would have talked about distribution channels for getting these creative assets and messages out to the target audiences, primarily consisting of print, TV, and radio.
Published February 4, 2015
When local businesses moved from “getting found” via the yellow pages to internet search so much changed.
Published February 2, 2015
Every business owner has ideas, plans, and a vision for what they want their company to become. There is never a shortage of ideas; there is a severe lack of execution. Good project management can convert more of your ideas to reality through a disciplined execution process that annoys most people involved (especially impatient, attention deficit prone business owners).
Published January 28, 2015
The dining experience at fast food restaurants isn’t about the dining experience at all. It’s about the price, the availability, and the consistency no matter where you are in the world. The value proposition is clear, you serve yourself, you’re encouraged to clean up after yourself, and clearly by the comfort of the seats, you aren’t encouraged to linger.
Published January 26, 2015
Frustration happens, especially with print software projects like Print MIS and web-to-print. When frustration happens do you flex, adjust, look for a solution or do you stay in that frustrated state? Find evidence of the behavior you want more of and reward that behavior, in your people, in your vendors, in your partners – that will accomplish more than yelling, escalating, and threatening will ever do.
Published January 19, 2015
EFI Connect, Dscoop X, AMPS Executive Leadership, NPOA, and PODI, the upcoming industry events where you have an excellent opportunity to connect and collaborate with peers. Do you want to do everything in your power to assure your next print software decision is a good one? Get the whole story from a peer who has already implemented the solution.
Published January 12, 2015
The checklist RFP (Request For Proposal) fails to deliver the best purchasing decision. Your peers (the voice of current customers) are your most trusted source of information about how print software products perform in live environments and how print software companies support their customers after the sales process.
Published January 7, 2015
The PrintVis MIS solution has a phenomenal product span, meaning the ability to “flex” in both directions, respond to growth and decline. In this Product Spotlight, Jen Matt reviews the PrintVis MIS solution.
Published January 5, 2015
Change is viewed as risky because we want to believe that past success guarantees our future success. Your customers are changing, technology is changing, and your competitors are changing, why would you think that maintaining the status quo is anything but the riskiest thing you can do? Standing still is the only way to assure your business’ decline
Published December 15, 2014
Often the best way to drive a print software solution’s adoption rate is to eliminate the complexity. How ironic is this? We buy print software products based on extensive feature lists and then we drive adoption of the software by turning most of the features off so people will actually use the tool. Isn’t that an awesome irrational cycle we put ourselves into?
Published December 1, 2014
Your people have the power to resist print software technology changes by focusing on the challenges instead of finding solutions. Your job as a leader is to portray technology as a complimentary tool for your people to work more effectively.
Published November 24, 2014
Web-to-print technology and the customer facing resources working in print today need to evolve together so we can support online “collaborative commerce”: a procurement process that requires collaboration between the buyer and the seller.
Published November 19, 2014
CoreBridge is a cloud based, multi-tenant software solution whose business model is subscription based. Like pure technology startups, CoreBridge’s pricing model is easy to understand, available on their website, and allows you to start small and grow with CoreBridge through volume and/or functionality.
Published November 17, 2014
First impressions of your business matter, especially to new prospects. More and more first impressions are online. How does your online presence compare to your offline one?
Published November 13, 2014
Unless you are a large public company who needs to “protect their brand” and produce appropriate messaging for Wall Street (otherwise known as corporate marketing), the primary role of marketing in your organization should be lead generation.
Published November 10, 2014
The raw potential of what technology can do for our business is unlimited, like a book a matches there is great possibility. Execution is about determining which match (project, goal, objective) you are going to put your energy into to ignite and then sustain your focus to create real change. Dreaming helps you think big, executing forces you to act within the constraints of your environment (resources, market, customers, and budget).
Published October 31, 2014
I am involved in a lot of conversations where companies and people are trying to solve a business challenge with software. Communication is so compressed nowadays, people’s time is limited, and we are almost always communicating across multiple time zones and frequently across cultures. This makes a common understanding difficult and opens up lots of opportunity for confusion.
Published October 27, 2014
Online search has replaced the Yellow Pages as the primary way local businesses get found. This change requires a very different approach by businesses and a steep learning curve. The online world requires you to compete to be “found” for a lion share of the search traffic. The competition is constantly changing, therefore local businesses need to make a sustained investment.
Published October 24, 2014
Change evokes fear in some, excitement in others, and dread in many. What we can all agree on, change is picking up the pace.
Published October 20, 2014
Efficiency requires the segmentation of your workflow into at least three different workflows: self-service, light-service, and full-service. Each workflow applies the appropriate amount of labor and technology to deliver on the promise to the customer in the most efficient manner possible.
Published September 29, 2014
Change is difficult for most people; everyone travels at their own pace through a process that starts with resistance and for most finishes in acceptance. You can improve your chances of success by communicating a lot in the beginning, providing emotional support in the middle and then becoming more of a coach once people are starting to accept there is really only one option – adapt or leave.
Published September 29, 2014
Web-to-Print and Print MIS vendors have always been represented at Graph Expo mostly hidden amongst the presses, wide format devices, and finishing gear. The trend we are seeing is less heavy equipment at the show, hence more room for software solutions to get the air time they deserve.
Published September 26, 2014
This product spotlight focuses on three areas of the PageDNA offering: the store building wizard and project management approach to configuring new storefronts, their open approach to integrations, and the flexibility of their services model.
Published September 19, 2014
Adapting to the new realities of our digital world is a challenge for all industries. Digital Darwinism impacts all of us because the rate of change in technology and society is outpacing our organizations. Change is inevitable; the pace of change has to accelerate if you’re going to be on the survivor side of Digital Darwinism.
Published September 17, 2014
This product spotlight focuses on three areas of the EPMS Print MIS offering: the continuous expansion of Print MIS direct users, the support for an industry that is aggressively diversifying, and the ability to make EPMS work uniquely for your business through customization and integration.
Published September 8, 2014
The three top reasons web-to-print projects fail; the lack of business leadership, the sales team fails to sell the solution, and the customer fails to adopt the solution.
Published September 2, 2014
We confuse tools for solutions. Print software is a required tool that is part of an overall investment in making your business more productive, profitable, and competitive. The business results come from your vision, your plan, and the deployment of your labor who utilize the tool to deliver the business results you desire.
Published August 28, 2014
Lots of Print MIS systems have added CRM modules to their offering. This makes sense, the Print MIS should be your system of record for all the interactions you have with current customers, adding a layer on top of your Print MIS would give you access to all the business the customer transacts with you.
Published August 25, 2014
Would you put your Sales department in charge of your next IT project? Heck no! So why do you put your IT department in charge of your web-to-print projects?
Published August 18, 2014
Customers expect more from their vendor partners than simply delivering the product on time and at a fair price. As the print industry continues to contract, differentiation is required to remain competitive. Printers are at risk from print-manufacturing independent service providers because customers are looking to reduce the number of vendors and engage with vendor partners who make doing business with them very easy.
Published August 14, 2014
Published August 11, 2014
Customer preference is trending towards self-service, yet most printers continue to offer only one way to do business with them – a full-service order entry process that involves multiple back and forth communications between customer and printer via e-mail/FTP.
Published July 24, 2014
Print technology of all kinds; presses, production software, Print MIS software, and web-to-print technologies have one thing in common – they are constantly changing. This one factor probably causes the most pain in the purchasing process. As a buyer you want to feel confident with your purchasing decision, yet the very thing you’re investing in is in a constant state of change.
Published July 9, 2014
A printer e-mailed me recently and said, “the Vice President of Procurement at our biggest customer is open to a meeting but she wants to know what I can do to save her money.” Of course she does, she’s always wanted her vendors to engage with her in a way that solves her business challenges and makes her look good.
Published July 1, 2014
Your sales team creates customer demand for your products and services, your production team fulfills that demand by manufacturing quality printed products on-time. Both your sales team and your production team need to be SOLD on the strategic, long-term importance of creating digital connections to your existing customers and using digital connections to win new customers.
Published June 24, 2014
Customers have challenges; the best way to increase your sales is to provide your products and services wrapped into solutions to your customer’s challenges. Solution selling is an easier topic to write about then it is to execute on. Too many people write about the idea without providing guidance on how to get from where you are today (selling print jobs) to selling print programs or solutions.
Published June 17, 2014
Last week I was in Bali, Indonesia, speaking at Dscoop Asia. The event, the travel, and the reading I did along the way came together with a common theme which can best be summed up by a quote from the book I read on the way home.
Published June 5, 2014
When you are the customer, you’re always right – correct? Maybe not always but the relationship between customer and vendor is a tricky one.
Published June 3, 2014
A web-to-print site is all about customer convenience, enabling your customers to order from you in a self-service fashion. One thing to understand about your customers is whether they are ordering or shopping.
Published May 29, 2014
We think we know our customers, we think we know our market; we think we can predict the future, we can’t and we shouldn’t invest lots of money without building in the ability to test our assumptions with data rather than opinions and theories.
Published May 13, 2014
Web-to-Print is a sales and marketing project that happens to involve technology, yet most printers delegate the leadership of web-to-print projects to their technical resources. We are collectively as an industry putting too much emphasis on the technology and not enough emphasis on the sales and marketing aspects.
Published May 6, 2014
There are several marriage mistakes that lead to divorce: cheating, dishonesty, addictions, and major changes in priorities. What does this have to do with your print management information system (Print MIS)? I am suggesting that your Print MIS is your most important business partner.
Published May 5, 2014
Welcome to Print Software, WhatTheyThink’s new special interest section. Because software is the primary tool of the information age, we wanted to create a specific area dedicated to this topic. Virtually every decision you make about your business involves some software technology or the requirement for connectivity/integration.
Published April 30, 2014
The sales process sets up the critical transition period from lead to customer. Customers remember what was said in the sales process and they often use this to guide their approach to implementation. Don’t inadvertently focus your soon to be customers in the wrong direction.
Published April 21, 2014
Activity does not equal results. You can be really busy, work really hard and fail miserable because you were busy doing the wrong thing.
Published December 17, 2013
The online world enables good online marketing to escort prospects through the sales process (know me, like me, trust me, and pay me). Online marketing is a path to scaling your sales reach.
Published December 3, 2013
Technology promises great potential to create leverage in our business. Leverage isn’t created in the purchase of technology; real leverage comes from how the use of the technology changes the behavior of the people who use it.
Published October 11, 2013
When I interview print sales representatives and ask them why their customers do business with them, they almost always say because we have a great relationship, our service is great, and our people are great. Relationship selling is a very common way to sell.
Published September 24, 2013
The default for decades has been, when you want to communicate something (a marketing message, information, education, compliance message, etc.) you contacted your printer and discussed the timeframe, manufacturing specifications, and quantities. Printers could be passive
Published August 27, 2013
Outbound marketing is promotion-based; spread the message about my company, my products, and my services to as many people as I can interrupt in the hope that some will find the message relevant. Print examples of this are blasting out huge direct mail campaigns to strangers, newspaper advertisements, and billboards.
Published August 20, 2013
A 2002 Standish Group study of software projects found that 45% of features were never used and only 20% features were used often or always. We base our software investment decisions on the number of features a product has and then we fail to utilize 80% of those features. Does that make sense to anyone?
Published July 30, 2013
We collectively make a lot of poor software decisions, according to my very bias and unscientific research we make way more mistakes in this area than we do with other business decisions. What is it about technology that causes a collective brain freeze when it comes to making good decisions?
Published July 23, 2013
For many years I cringed every time I heard someone in the print industry say, “printers need to become marketing service providers.” My initial reaction was always, are you kidding me?
Published July 2, 2013
I was involved in an RFP-like process recently, the organization made the following statement which I haven’t stopped thinking about since it dropped into my consciousness.
Published June 18, 2013
The number one best answer to any question posed by a prospect during the sales process is a clarifying question (hopefully several of them). The two best clarifying questions are, “what business challenge are you trying to solve?” and “how would you define wild success?”
Published June 4, 2013
Doing business online requires an infrastructure investment. Your business needs to be able to control content, commerce, and customer engagement online from your home base online – your domain.
Published May 21, 2013
A commitment to real change requires real risk because you have to be all-in for it to work. Too many technology projects fail because nobody was committed to bring forth the change necessary for success.
Published May 7, 2013
Technology alone does not create value, differentiation, or competitive advantage. It has to be combined with strategy and execution (by your people) – that’s where real differentiation happens.
Published April 9, 2013
Business-to-business commerce may not be getting the headlines in the print industry, yet across all industries in the US it’s nearly twice the size of the business-to-consumer market. It’s vital that printers understand the B2B opportunity and not confuse it with jumping into a price war with retailers online.
Published March 12, 2013
Web-to-print is a product that should do a “job” for you and/or your customers. When you look at technology purchases through the lens of “jobs” you focus on what’s really important.
Published March 4, 2013
The greatest investment you can make in your business is to assure you living the example of a lifelong learner for your organization and then surround yourself with other lifelong learners.
Published February 12, 2013
Too many mistakes (big ones) are being made in our industry around software purchases at a time when nobody can afford expensive mistakes. Virtually all of these mistakes are preventable.
Published January 21, 2013
There is no shortage of talk about web-to-print technologies; there is too little talk about printer’s online strategies. Printers can talk for hours about how this or that web technology has failed them or this or that technology is what made all the difference.
Published December 7, 2012
We have a choice how we react to mistakes/failures. This is an area where we can learn from the technology startup world. Mistakes are learning events; sometimes very expensive but invaluable learning opportunities which should be analyzed to get everything you can out of them. Learning from mistakes requires you to remove the moral mindset to your reaction and replace it with an economic mindset.
Published November 16, 2012
The print industry is facing a tectonic level change in the communication business. You have to chart a new course that takes these changes into consideration in order to remain competitive. There are many options; the only one that isn't viable is the status quo.
Published October 19, 2012
Being busy does not equate to delivering results. We are so caught up in the culture of busy we forget to reflect on why we're doing what we do and how it contributes to the results we seek.
Published October 5, 2012
The web-to-print market is fragmented and hard to determine clear leadership or market share. EFI's acquisition of OPS consolidates the market (slightly). EFI's market share will grow, their product offering will be more comprehensive, and OPS will benefit from EFI's well developed channel partnerships.
Published September 14, 2012
Web-to-print has to become the set of tools that enable printers to be competitive on the web. This is a whole lot more than a B2B business card site. It requires us to rethink the way we shop for solutions and partners.
Published August 17, 2012
Who do we respect most in business? The individuals or companies who talk the best game or the individuals or companies who execute?
Published July 30, 2012
Much like Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs for humans, printers need to elevate their offerings above quality, service, and price in order to stay competitive.
Published June 19, 2012
Software is the tool to remain relevant and integrated with the new communication methods. The print industry’s future will depend on embracing software like we did manufacturing – creating new reasons to print and optimizing and integrating existing applications.
Published March 23, 2012
Why has marketing been given such a long leash for so long or, in most cases, the only leash is the budget? Spend as you wish, hope it has a positive impact, and stop when the budget is gone. Marketers are good at pointing out their impact but when pressed, they typically can’t identify which part of their spend had the desired impact.
Published February 17, 2012
Technology on its own cannot solve your business challenges. It can play a part, it can enable your strategy, it can free up your labor but the real benefits of technology come from the people and the processes around it.
Published December 6, 2011
If you’re walking around trying to push your products and services on potential customers, you’re asking them to give you a slice of their pie (their business). This is a hard sale because you’re dipping into a limited resource.
Published June 7, 2011
Every established business works with previous decisions, no matter their subject (technology, business strategies, or personnel), they all share a common challenge to change. You are faced with moving from a certain state (your legacy decision) to an uncertain state (the better results you seek).
Published May 17, 2011
Innovation can increase the size of existing markets by expanding the addressable market size. While many printers are looking to expand outside of print, there is still room to expand the print market into previously unaddressable segments by leveraging technology.
Published April 8, 2011
Sales isn’t just about being able to meet the stated needs of the prospect. Sales is a dance that starts with a gut feeling. First gain trust and show respect. Only then will your prospect be tuned into your intellectual pitch.
Published March 17, 2011
Sales is the start of every business process, this is where expectations are set. The temptation to say “yes” to everything has repercussions downstream especially with technology sales.
Published February 25, 2011
The business process of print spans the needs of several technology solutions. Whenever multiple technologies exist, there is potential overlap and the need for integration. Get clear on what each technology’s core purpose is and then determine your source of master data throughout your workflow.
Published January 21, 2011
Where does your business transition start? Changing WHAT you do or HOW you do it? The first step to evolving your business in the digital economy is to transition your existing business from an offline business to a primarily online business (HOW you do your business is leveraging the digital infrastructure).
Published October 4, 2010
These days software companies are building products that they know will get used in larger “mashup” solutions. The trend in software has moved towards simpler, interchangeable apps with fewer features but better functionality. The recent Mimeo-FSI partnership highlights a great example of an existing company getting dragged into the present to make the adjustments necessary to be competitive.
Published September 7, 2010
We hear a lot about cloud computing being the next big thing. WhatTheyThink’s Jennifer Matt explores how this new platform is impacting printing, and how three major players are planning to use it to change how you get your printing done.
Published August 10, 2010
The modern marketing budget has many more choices beyond print, and some of these choices are essentially free to implement. What are the roots of this massive change and how does it relate to the print industry?