The fifteenth year of Dr. Joe at WhatTheyThink comes to a close, and he’s got a lot of topics (and some charts, of course) to get off his mind. Tax reform, recruitment, hours online, profits, consolidation...you name it, it’s probably mentioned in this year’s final column. Oh, and we forgot Bitcoin...that’s here too.
More industry consolidation in response to decreased demand. Yet, encouraging business conditions, and challenges with managing productivity. Meanwhile, inkjet continues to conquer the world and new print product and business opportunities emerge in strange new places. Let’s take a look back at the year that was.
There has been a lot of hype over the last few years about 3D printing, or additive manufacturing, being the next big thing in the print-related world. We recently learned that EFI hired Gal Barak as its Inkjet Eastern Region Sales Manager. Barak most recently worked for 3D printing company Stratasys. Why did he make this move and what are his thoughts on 2D versus 3D? Read more.
When approached to participate in a survey, the initial response for many is to decline because participation takes time and the value proposition is not always clear. This article explores the benefits that survey data can deliver to the industry as a whole.
With the exploding growth in e-commerce, the ability to prove print’s value as a primary driver of online activity becomes increasingly important. This includes m-commerce, which is growing even faster than e-commerce in general. This makes investment in print-to-mobile technologies a must.
Are you reaping the benefits of free consumer trends reports to benefit your client base? If not, you are leaving opportunity to help your clients refine their targeting, improving their messaging and channel mix, and better understand the competitive landscape.
Direct-To-Shape (DTS) has become a commonly used term in recent times. We want to try to clarify a little around the definition of DTS and to describe the state of this particular art. We are prompted to do this by our recent visit to the InPrint Europe Industrial Print show in Milan, Italy, where there was a lot of discussion of the potential of DTS as a market.
This holiday season, savvy retailers are working to meet customers on the channels where they are shopping and buying, whether it’s in a physical store, online, or via social media. This article highlights how various retailers are driving sales and encouraging engagement with multi-channel integrated campaigns.
Brick and mortar retailer has been struggling with foot traffic. According to early estimates all signs are pointing to more ecommerce, less in-person commerce this holiday season. What does this mean for retail graphics?
When we think about the cloud, we think about benefits such as anytime, anywhere access, cost savings from the elimination of servers, and automatic updates. But there is one benefit that many people don’t think about—computer agnosticism.
What’s more important than tax reform? A tenth anniversary! It’s been ten years since the recession started. What does one get as a gift? We’re told it’s tin or aluminum. Does that mean someone’s giving all of us litho plates? Tax reform is a much better gift for the celebration. The reform is flawed, but better than nothing. There are some signs that the economy is improving for real, and Dr. Joe has his unique twist to offer.
Even in this digital age, tried-and-true direct mail communications continue to get noticed. This article cites recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends to explore how direct mail can be used to cut through the clutter and capture the attention of today’s “always on” consumers.
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.
Whether it’s for administrative, production, or marketing initiatives, the cloud brings significant benefits to businesses of all sizes. One of those benefits, and one that is the easiest to implement, is collaboration. Let’s take a closer look at this low-hanging fruit from the cloud.
Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE) is a powerful tool that can be used to benchmark, identify areas for improvement, and measure progress. It combines equipment availability, performance, and quality (waste) into a single metric.
As an industry, have we moved past the terms “prepress” and “workflow”? Are they too broad to provide any significant benefit to the industry discussion? There is an argument to be made that it’s time to break up the process and discuss it in terms of its discrete elements.
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.
A new report from eMarketer looks at the growing use of marketing automation to help marketers better manage their marketing consistency and effectiveness across channels. Data is drawn from third-party data over the multiple years. The results beg the question: What are the implications for MSPs and print?
Look at the shiny object, and please don’t peek behind the curtain. It’s a data game that’s played by many, and it starts with a good headline, and sometimes includes a great chart. A rising stock market without increasing revenue? Declining e-book sales that conveniently ignore niches that are contrary? And then there’s one for the record: the LP record. A pretty chart makes that story convincing, but only if you forget history. Don’t fall into that vinyl LP trap: there’s a hole in the middle of it.
Printing business executives and managers who have learned to fortify their companies' business plans and strategies with a consistent flow of useful and compelling business data will be much better positioned to unlock growth potential and protect against sales declines. This article explores how business leaders can use internal and external information to drive business expansion.
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
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.
The company’s unique rebranding project resulted in an anthology of current authors writing about work, a series of videos, and a book launch event with author readings at New York’s venerable 92nd Street Y.
Call tracking provides vital insight and marketing intelligence to help clients optimize their marketing channels, messaging, and focus. This post takes a look at how three clients benefited from using call tracking to prove and optimize the value of their direct mail.
Wide format printing is a profitable and complementary product offering for print service providers that are seeking new markets and higher-margin businesses. This article discusses the three key practices for success in this market.
OSG Billing Services, now owned by PE firm Aquiline Capital, adds first bolt-on with acquisition of Microdynamics, label printer Brook & Whittle acquired in secondary buyout, Vomela buys another commercial printer; and more…
Following last week’s announcement of the strategic alliance between EFI and Xeikon, transferring sales, marketing and service responsibility for Jetrion inkjet label presses to Xeikon, Zwang and Sherburne had the opportunity to speak with Benoit Chatelard, President & CEO of Flint Group Digital Solutions, to gain a bit more depth to the story. He was joined by Mark Brussel, CFO.
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.
In our rapidly evolving world of often disruptive technology, making sense of the options available to printing companies can be challenging. Buying a new press is no longer a sufficient investment to ensure ongoing profitability. Printing companies must also invest in a range of solutions that optimize productivity and streamline workflow. In this article, Bondy and Sherburne provide concrete advice that will help printing companies in making the right technology decisions as they plan for 2018 and beyond.
We have a new chair at the Fed who is likely to stay the course, no matter how damaging that is. This month’s shiny object is the unemployment rate; don’t look at how it got there. A kerfuffle and a scuffle, and it all happened because of used equipment, which means the once mighty aren’t any more. And printing shipments… can we talk about something else?
This week, after several months of negotiation, EFI announced a strategic partnership with Xeikon whereby sales, marketing and servicing for the Jetrion line of digital UV inkjet label printers would be transferred to Xeikon with the Jetrion trademark and ownership of ink manufacturing remaining with EFI. Zwang and Sherburne dug into the details.
Are your customers mapping their customer journeys? If so, those journey maps can provide critical insights into where your customers are using their channels well and where opportunities are being missed. These insights can help you help your customers while also getting a greater share of wallet.
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.
I was recently given the opportunity to review a new book, Pioneers of German Graphic Design. Did you know that modern graphic design originated more than 100 years ago in Germany? I didn’t. The book is fascinating and includes fabulous imagery. I’ll recap some of it here, but you might want this one for your personal library!
It seems like we just finished with drupa 2016, yet Labelexpo Europe 2017 appeared to be a subset extension of that event. Everyone in Label production on any level from around the globe was there, showing and looking at the latest products and trends. It is a very exciting time, with a very promising future for label production. In part one of this two-part series, we looked at some of the major trends and product announcements at the show. In part two of the series, David continues to look a bit deeper at some trends and some interesting futures.
Ricoh hosted a small group of media and analysts at its Global Executive Briefing Center in Boulder CO last week. This is one of four sites worldwide that has extensive capability to demonstrate Ricoh’s production printing portfolio, with the others being in Telford (UK), Thailand and Singapore. The company shared its strategy for the Commercial and Industrial Print Group, formed last April, as well as provided a tour of the facilities, including the demo center and some of the labs.
All too often, it seems that within the printing industry, we spend more time talking to each other than to customers. Ask yourself: How well do you truly understand your customers’ businesses, the issues they face every day, and how your services could help them meet their goals and objectives in truly unique ways? What services could you add to be able to do this even better?
A case story isn’t just something that you leave behind before you walk out the door. It is a tool that is delivered in a framework to bring personality and credibility to your business. This article explores how the ability to tell a compelling story can create a meaningful connection between a brand and a customer/prospect.
This article contains a young professional’s perspective on how to find a successful career in graphic communications. While it is directed at students, it is also an excellent piece that teachers and professors can use to inspire their students, and that parents can also use with their kids.
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.
Today, Idealliance announced a new program – BrandQ, designed to provide brands with the proper tools and language to better manage print quality across complex supply chains. What is not addressed in the press release is what that means for packaging converters and suppliers to the industry. We spoke with Idealliance Vice President, Global Print Technologies & Workflows, Tim Baechle to find out more.
It’s an interesting time at the Fed, especially when Dr. Yellen’s turn is expiring and one of Dr. Joe’s favorite candidates is in the running. There’s a lot of claims about jobless claims, and the claims are not really what they’re claiming. Labels and wrappers? That’s a tiny niche market in the big printing industry. Now 1 in 8 commercial printing dollars are in that specialty.
The first-ever Xeikon Café North America drew a larger-than-expected audience. Xeikon has been using this platform as a gathering point for its customers and prospects at its European headquarters for the last several years. The success of the event prompted Xeikon to launch a North American version, which the company reported would be convened on an annual basis moving forward.
The third annual thINK 2017 event took place during October 9 – 11 at the Boca Raton Resort & Club. The sold out event was the largest thINK conference yet. This article outlines the key highlights and speakers at the show.
Phoenix-based Techniprint needed to adjust its business to account for a growing trend to digitally distribute document sets for architectural and construction projects rather than printing a large number of copies of these sets. Adding two HP PageWide XL 8000 wide format printers to its business resulted in a 25% increase in revenues in the first six months.
The interest in Augmented Reality has grown, especially with recent attention paid to the technology by Apple, Google, Snap and others. But there is also a great deal of confusion about Augmented Reality – what is it, really? How is it different from other technologies like QR codes? What is the relevance to print? Read more.
This year’s LabelExpo event in Brussels was so much more than a trade show that gave vendors a chance to meet customers and impress prospects. This article provides a brief overview of the event, which invited attendees to “Gain an Unfair Advantage.”
Many in the industry were surprised by this week’s announcement by SGIA and NAPCO about the launch of a reinvented SGIA Expo called PRINT United, designed to draw in more segments of the print market, including commercial print, publishing, 3D printing and more. I had a long conversation with Thayer Long of NPES, the organizers of two longstanding events, PRINT and GRAPH EXPO, to understand the organization’s reaction. Long was kind enough to provide a statement.
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.
New Orleans may have dodged a bullet when Tropical Storm Nate veered to the east, but strong winds of change were nonetheless buffeting the Ernest Morial Convention Center, as 2017’s SGIA Expo opened on Tuesday with the surprising—some even thought shocking—news that the long-beloved Expo was undergoing a major change.
Digital inkjet is driving promotional products—aka ad specialties—from mass-market to short-run personalized production. These items ared used to promote a product, service or company program, including advertising specialties, premiums, incentives, business gifts, awards, prizes, commemoratives, and other imprinted or decorated items—is a market highly dependent upon print.
The hurricanes affected not just the lives of the people who experienced them, but also affected basic economic data. And yes, you can be employed and unemployed at the same exact time, in the same exact government department. The data seem strange, but the long term trends stayed the same. That’s why we call them long term trends. And August’s printing shipments? Don’t ask! There’s a video from a distinguished leader that’s worth seeing… and worth pondering… about print as a medium and you as a business.
Barry-Wehmiller consolidates ancillary print equipment sector in a robust deal environment for all things print; makers of equipment, manufacturers of materials and distributors of supplies are in demand; a look-back at the past year; and more
Inflation and population changes often distort the analysis of economic trends. This chart shows the changing nature of retail sales on a per capita (per person) and inflation-adjusted (using the Consumer Price Index) basis by the percentage change compared to the same period of the prior year.
This past July, the Paper and Packaging Board launched its 15 Pages a Day Challenge, which encourages everyone to commit to reading 15 pages each day. This article cites recent research to highlight the benefits of reading on paper and also provides information on the challenge.
This executive report is based on the latest results of the WhatTheyThink print executive survey. It details the state of the industry at mid-2017 and looks ahead to what can be expected, economically and technologically, as we head toward 2018. The foundation of the report is the WhatTheyThink Printing Industry Survey of June 2017. This survey of more than 300 industry executives gauged their current business conditions, top business challenges, and planned investments for 2018. They also described how the volume for offset, color digital, black-and-white digital, and wide-format printing, as well as non-print-based services has changed.
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?
Yesterday, EFI announced the acquisition of Escada Systems, a provider of Corrugator Control Systems for the packaging market. The UK company adds another puzzle piece to EFI’s growing ecosystem for corrugated, with its earlier acquisition of CTI (ERP) and development of Nozomi (direct-to-corrugated printer). We spoke with Nick Benkovich to get the inside story.
It seems like we just finished with drupa 2016, yet Labelexpo Europe 2017 appeared to be a subset extension of that event. Everyone in Label production on any level from around the globe was there, showing and looking at the latest products and trends. It is a very exciting time, with a very promising future for label production. In part one of this two-part series, we look at some of the major trends and product announcements at the show.
What Millennial in their right mind would seriously consider a career in the printing industry? There seems to be no place to hide from the preconceived notion of print being an outdated media that’s run by old-school companies who are going downhill. As a 26 year old who has been involved in print since 16, I have experienced my share of career scrutiny everywhere from family gatherings to young professional networking events.
A good sales management plan can help you develop a high-performance team that delivers consistent performance. By developing an understanding of what you need and your current team’s capabilities with today’s new selling approaches, you can hire the right people, onboard them successfully, and give them the support they need to be effective. This article outlines InfoTrends’ 7-step process for developing and implementing a sales management plan.
What do the failed launch of the McDonald’s crab cake sandwich and databases have in common? If you don’t know your audience, it doesn’t matter what you’re marketing or the tools you use to do it. It’s going to be an epic fail.
HP and others introduced a new range of inkjet corrugated printing presses at drupa 2016. Many of them were improvements and advancements on existing multi-pass machines, but a few, including the EFI Nozomi and the HP PageWide C500, offered unique single-pass inkjet mainstream production solutions. These new machines open up a wide range of new opportunities for using corrugated in mainstream packaging. However, the HP PageWide C500 may be the only solution at this point that can bring this to primary ‘food safe’ packaging.
There are many “common wisdom” assumptions in the industry. One that refuses to die relates to print volume being related to GDP. The data are very clear; it’s technology that plays a bigger factor than macroeconomics. The other is that the effects of digital media will come to an end or will slow down. That one is obviously false; Moore’s Law may not be what it used to be, but we see how technology gets faster, cheaper, and more convenient every day. Bad assumptions lead to bad strategy, lead to dismissing opportunities that should be pursued, and reduce the urgency to act. Don’t let that happen to you or your business.
More than 60 journalists from around the globe gathered in Würzburg, Germany, at KBA headquarters to begin celebrating with the company its 200th anniversary. The event theme is 200 years: Future needs an Origin. It was a unique experience and total pleasure to be part of this historic event, which included a factory tour and a formal gala at the local convention center. Read more.
Companies are making it easy to combine direct mail with Facebook, so here’s why it matters. This post takes a closer look at DirectMail 2.0, which combines direct mail advertising with call and mail tracking, as well as ad retargeting through the Google network and Facebook.
Although we all know that “great service” tends to be referenced in many company value propositions, it really does little to help a business stand out. Market leaders are now focusing on the customer experience, and this article explores how an engaged customer experience can become an effective competitive advantage.
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?
At drupa 2012, Benny Landa introduced a new inkjet printing technology to excited crowds with great fanfare. Now five years later, the first Landa Press is installed and there are two more right behind it, as well as a waiting list. David Zwang was one of about 100 people, mostly potential customers, from around the globe to visit with Landa at his facilities in Rehovot, Israel, to get a closer look at the man, his vision, and the machines.
The old adage goes: Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. As we look at the adoption of high-speed inkjet, both the technology and the applications, are we seeing history unfold ... again?
Who didn’t envy or aspire to become a big, high profile printing business? The print business has been turned on its head, where small and medium businesses are outperforming their much bigger counterparts. The latter are still dealing with the relevance of legacy processes and assets while trying to bring new focus to rich digital media interactions to static formats like print. There’s no doubt: The Third Wave is being released at a pivotal moment. While the industry is churning, there are warning signs in the economy and for content creation markets. Dr. Joe is getting that 2008 feeling: he doesn’t like it.
Today EFI announced a new Fiery platform. The company reports that digital front ends (DFEs) based on the EFI Fiery FS300 Pro platform will drive presses across sheetfed, high-speed continuous feed, B1 folding carton, and corrugated digital production systems. This is perhaps the most aggressive Fiery release in some time and is being described as the platform for the next decade.
The recovery indicators (when we started these we thought they’d be around for about a year or so) had four of its six factors turn negative, with one of those falling back to its recession level of December 2007. Yes, that’s when the recession started. That long ago.
Are you ready to think about how your operation can start taking advantage of the cloud? It’s an inevitable evolution as everyone seeks to produce higher quality, push through higher volumes, and manage more workflows using the same staffing and resources.
What is the current state of marketing? A just-released survey from Salesforce provides insights into digital channel growth, along with the current state of integration. The takeaway for MSPs? If you haven’t invested in marketing automation, it’s time to take a closer look.
Many historians agree that there have been three industrial revolutions to date, but interconnected digital technology might be triggering the fourth. Print 2017 is nearly upon us, and the concept of “Industry 4.0” will likely be a major theme at the event. This article discusses some of the Print 2017 advancements that are expected to change how print is manufactured, what service providers produce, and who print service providers will become as they transform their businesses to better align with digital technologies.
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.
We’re in another wave of media change, the first with the consumer Internet, the second with social media, tablets, and smartphones, and now a third with an infrastructure built for heavy volume and high speed. Through two waves, there were printers who got out ahead with savvy judgment that went against the common wisdom and blazed their own paths of market engagement and abandoned industry practice. This third wave is already more intense, as printing shipments in the last six months are down more than -7%. Success in this third wave demands a new philosophy, a different understanding of capital, and a new assessment of risk. Dr. Joe offers The Third Wave, a new book, that addresses these issues.
With Informed Delivery, the USPS has created a platform to promote consumer engagement with physical mail before it arrives, adding new value for marketers and recipients alike. According to recent research from Keypoint Intelligence – InfoTrends, the initial perceptions about Informed Delivery are encouraging for the USPS.
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.
Last week, Zwang and Sherburne joined a small group at Memjet headquarters in San Diego for an exclusive preview of the company’s new pigment-based DuraLink ink, inkjet printheads, and modules, together with an overview of the company’s strategy moving forward. They provide insight into what this announcement means for Memjet and for the industry.
Want to help your customers improve their direct mail marketing? Help them market on Facebook. Here’s how you can use insights from Facebook’s business pages to introduce your clients to demographic targeting — for free — and enable them to reap the benefits.
We’re mercifully more than halfway through 2017. How is the industry faring thus far compared to last year? Our new Economics and Research Center report looks at the latest economic, technological, and cultural trends affecting the industry.
Printers may not yet be fully comfortable with social media marketing, but it’s critical that they understand the basics. Here are the primary conclusions of “2017 Social Media Marketing Industry Report” just released by the Social Media Examiner to help in that effort.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.