by Paul White November 4, 2003 -- Now that y'all have spent a few days in the capitol of Georgia, it's time for some Xplor trivia. How many of our readers know that Georgia is really famous for peanuts? Although everybody knows President Jimmy Carter is a Peanut Farmer, how many Xplor attendees know that Georgia accounts for 40% of the nation's peanut production? All this time license plates have sported the Peach State moniker. Maybe somebody thought Peach State sounded better than Peanut State . Maybe so, but peanuts comprise Georgia's largest cash crop—contributing $1 billion annually, to Georgia's economy. In fact, Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue proclaimed March as official Peanut Month. I love peanuts, so this is good news that peanuts are finally getting their due in the Peach State. Growing peanuts has greater relevance to Xplor than you may think. Xplor continues to grow its organization each year and harvesting new members who are engaged in the electronic document business and have successfully passed the Electronic Document Professional (EDP) certification program. Recently, Xplor inducted 157 new EDPs from around the globe. In the words of Frank Romano, "The world of electronic communication is vast and complex—Xplor helped to create a profession and EDP keeps it professional”. EDPs focus on the ongoing task of keeping up with technology and trends through a vast network of regional chapter meetings that supplement topics and information exchanged at the annual convention and trade show. For instance, the September Chicagoland Chapter meeting invited Scott Bannor, EDP, and National Sales Manager for PrintSoft to talk about Taking the Mystery out of Variable Print. At that meeting, Scott noted that commercial print organizations are starting to use digital presses, but they don't understand data—this is a group that needs to be brought under the Xplor umbrella. The hidden industry is comprised of Xplor members—the producers of digital documents, according to Bannor. He maintains that variable print is good, because traditional print volumes will plateau and decrease over the next 20 years, while variable print will allow new revenue sources and increased document value will increase profits. The promise of CRM software has failed to materialize because the variable CRM information collected hasn't been integrated into a variable digital document that can be sent to the customer. Bannor suggests Xplor members take the following actions to provide value added services to customers: * Become a Document Provider in any media required: paper, web, e-mail. * Don't fall into the PDF trap. If a customer sets up the job and just gives your organization a PDF file, then it can be sent it to anybody who can do it cheaper. * Don't sell print or technology, sell results. * Use Targeted Marketing to sell Targeted Marketing. * Add color to raise the document response rate. Scott Bannor's comments are right on target, and good advice that Xplor members need to implement. As CAP Ventures found in its recent Future of Mail Study, the vast majority of people prefer receiving printed direct mail for marketing purposes—this preference will bode well for Xplor members who add value added services to these documents. Therefore, I am going on record to forecast growth for Xplor members in this important area. Since all manner of barometers are used to predict future conditions, I am going to adopt a completely new forecasting standard for the Electronic Document Industry. Although knowing the percentage increase in annual DocuBlobs processed may be important, I believe the Georgia Peanut Crop to be a more significant and leading economic indicator. According to Southeastern Farm Press, 70% of peanut farming acreage was planted between May 1 and May 25. Initial 2003 estimates forecasted that Georgia producers would plant 500,000 acres, but the preliminary Certified Acreage Report from the Georgia Farm Service Agency indicates that 536,766 acres were planted—an increase of 7%. Based on this year's Peanut Forecast , I am going on record to forecast a similar growth in 2003 for the Electronic Document Industry. And, a 7% increase in a $125 billion document industry isn't peanuts!