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.
A number of today’s commercially available digital printing solutions have added units beyond four-color, either inline or offline, to enable special effects that enhance digital print. Unique imaging capabilities can transform printed materials from commodity, price-sensitive offerings to higher-value products that command a premium. This article explores how special effects can enhance the value of print and create new growth opportunities for service providers.
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.
As we ramp up to Print 17, three lessons from trees felled in a ferocious storm provide business lessons we can all learn from. Strength of foundation, flexibility, and integrity keep your “tree” upright under changing and challenging business conditions.
Last month, the PIA Alliance hosted a “Digital Think Tank” in New York City that brought together 150 equipment manufacturers, their customers, and other printers to talk about the latest technology and trends in digital printing and the industry in general. Here are the highlights.
According to InfoTrends’ research, high-performance print sales organizations follow clearly-defined sales strategies, hold their sales staff accountable, and continually adapt their organizations to keep pace with ever-changing market conditions. This article is the second in a two-part series highlighting the 10 common best practices reported by survey respondents that experienced double-digit sales growth in the past 12 months.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis released the Q2-2017 GDP data and revisions to historical data beginning with 2014. Back in mid-May, the Commerce Department updated historical commercial printing shipments (NAICS 323) as part of its manufacturing shipments revisions. This week’s chart shows an updated view of both data series in current dollars (sometimes called “nominal;” both terms mean that data are not adjusted for inflation). The red line is year-to-year growth rate in GDP, and the blue line is year-to-year change in quarterly shipments. Since around 1997 printing shipments have not met GDP growth except for a moment between 2010 and 2015. The most recent printing shipments trend at the right of the chart are remarkable for their direction. A discussion of the GDP revisions and the current status of printing shipments can be found in the column of August 7.
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.
At drupa 2016, Shutterfly placed an order for 25 HP Indigo 12000 digital presses, with an aggressive installation plan over the summer to be ready for the company’s peak season. Now Shutterfly has added another phase of HP Indigo 12000s to the mix. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Shutterfly to get the details.
You can’t protect an iPod in a digital box and you can’t replace vehicle wraps with email. Sure, there is some encroachment of digital technologies on the sign and banner industry, but there are limits based on the role that these products play. This article looks at some of the statistics on the current state of these two industries.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne tuned into Kodak’s Second Quarter Earnings Call to get an update on Kodak’s strategy. There were some surprises in the call, and more detail about strategic initiatives moving forward.
Time and again, we have seen non-traditional competitors storm a market to the detriment of the establishment. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne came across a fascinating story that could be a bellwether indication of trouble ahead for the textbook industry.
According to InfoTrends’ research, high-performance print sales organizations follow clearly-defined sales strategies, hold their sales staff accountable, and continually adapt their organizations to keep pace with ever-changing market conditions. This article is the first in a two-part series highlighting the 10 common best practices reported by survey respondents that experienced double-digit sales growth in the past 12 months.
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)?
July 2017 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries. LSC Communications rebuilds diversified publication services; Quark transforms; DG3 acquires UK printer Leycol; Multi-Color goes all-in with deal for Constantia Labels; and more…
Catalogs and direct mail can help overcome the ‘digital fatigue’ that many consumers are experiencing today. Our customers are frequently telling us that when done right -- personalized and relevant to each recipient – it is the printed piece, especially when married with other media, that helps marketers boost response rates.
What is OEE and why should you care? How does this metric – Overall Equipment Effectiveness – play in the world of digital printing? Those are questions addressed in a new report from jzarwanpartners. We’ve got a summary of findings for you!
Revisions to GDP last month showed a slower economy in 2016 and a better one in 2014 and 2015. That’s fine – but we have to make decisions today, not three years ago. Do changes to economic data really matter? They do, but perhaps not the way you think. The stock market is up and setting records, so the economy must be great! A different metric says otherwise. Economic data: it’s a strange place. And commercial printing shipments? Pass the ibuprofen, please.
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.
Life stage targeting takes advantage of a powerful truth in consumer marketing—for the most part, consumers are creatures of habit, and the times they are most likely to make major purchases is during times of transition. Understanding and tapping into those transitional times is where life stage marketing comes in.
Companies within in the printing industry have historically had a manufacturing mentality—they subscribe to the labor theory of value, which states that the value of a service is determined by the amount of labor that goes into production. Now, thousands of firms in a variety of industries are pricing their services according to the external value created—as perceived and determined by the client—rather than the internal costs incurred in generating services. This article explores the concept of value-based pricing and highlights some real-world examples of companies that are embracing this strategy.
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.
Management Information Systems (MIS) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions in the printing industry have the reputation of being inconsistent and extremely diverse. We led a recent study for PRIMIR to explore the typical features of MIS/ERP solutions purchased and to what extent they have been implemented and integrated into print shop workflows. The result provides insight for both commercial printers and MIS/ERP vendors into which capabilities are most important, what their shortcomings are and improvements that can be made.
Having a list of addresses simply isn’t enough in this modern age. Modern marketers are obligated to create an easy path to purchase, especially in an age where brick-and-mortar stores must compete with easy online purchases. This article explores how Geoservices tools can guide people to products by defining clear targeted areas for marketing campaigns.
Software is the toolset that enables you to solve the business challenges required to win the print that results from them. Your sales process is going to look like software as the main dish with print as a side dish.
Digital embellishment was a hot topic at drupa 2016, and more companies are entering the fray. We came across JetFX at an event earlier this year and were intrigued by their approach. Read more about JetFX approach to foiling, spot varnishing, embossing, and high end digital holograms.
When personalizing marketing communications, it’s easy to default to demographic targeting, which tends to be straightforward and easy to understand. But lifestyle targeting crosses demographic lines and offers new levels of opportunity that can be explored.
What’s new? You should say “print,” because so many of the media decision-makers have not had noteworthy experiences with the medium. Selling what you know can actually be dangerous, because you need to know what your client and prospect know, first. Only then can you have a chance at relevance. Print is actually a baby, and reference to its glorious past diminishes the many new offerings and tactics that can involve printed materials and specialties in meeting the challenges and objectives of communicators.
Print service providers that are currently supporting the customer communications outsourcing market are taking a number of approaches when it comes to navigating from a print-focused core competency to true omni-channel offerings. This article cites recent InfoTrends research to explore how providers are reacting to declining volumes and evolving customer needs.
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.
When it comes to targeting customers, most marketers think about demographic data, such as age, income, gender, and lifestyle. A recent white paper from AccuData lists some less common demographics that may be easily overlooked but that can add a richer dimension to your marketing.
In this article, Sean Smyth – Print Consultant with Smithers Pira examines the results of a new report that looks at the growth of Digital Print for Packaging to 2022. This report breaks down the projected growth by packaging application, and shows some surprising results.
Helping customers navigate complex and constantly changing postal regulations has historically been a vital value-added service for commercial printers. The various rules and regulations regarding signage today provide an opportunity for sign printers.
Savvy service providers are merging online and offline technologies to compound the effectiveness of their campaigns. This article discusses how IP targeting is being used to add value to today’s direct mail campaigns.
According to the USPS, consumers’ “mail behavior” generally falls into one of four categories: sorters, scanners, weak habits, or skimmers. Each category has a different generational makeup, and it may not be what you expect. Knowing what category your customers tend to fall into can help you develop mail that resonates.
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.
Hearst, Gatehouse, Lee, Ogden, Phillips and Adams stir up the local newspaper business; Sandy Alexander acquires Designers’ Press; tuck-ins abound and more in the June 2017 – Mergers, Acquisitions & Restructuring in the Printing, Packaging & Related Industries.
The economy is sluggish on the positive side, and it would be grand if commercial printing would be the same. Recent printing shipments trends are a concern as the industry continues to reshape itself in response to a dynamic communications marketplace that is seems to re-create itself daily. One Midwest printer lands a big contract for signage… but of the kind that a third wave of media change mandates.
The Fed has been so reticent about raising rates, and in the process, rates for the 10-year US Treasury actually were negative in February. No, that’s not market rates, that’s the 10-year rate less the year-to-year Consumer Price Index. Since that time, the rate calculated in this manner has moved up 80 basis points. The rate peaked in September 2015 and it’s been down since then. The Fed is having problems making the decision to raise rates, and often announced more rates in a future period but increasing rates at a slower pace. They have a target inflation rate of 2% (which means you lose about 25% of your savings over 10 years on a compounded basis). If you believe that the inflation rate is calculated in a manner that makes it seem lower than it actually is, then the Fed’s desire to see inflation at the 2% rate before they start pushing interest rates higher may be be difficult to reach or sustain. That means long term rates will stay artificially low (on purpose) for a longer period of time than most experts expect.
85% of people will open mail if it “looks interesting.” But what makes mail “interesting”? While we tend to talk about the elements of direct mail in isolation, the reality is, it’s not one element or the other—but a combination of elements whose results are multiplicative rather than additive—that make mail interesting. It’s important to get that combination right.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne recently spoke with Xerox executive Jacob Aizikowitz about his new role as head of the new Xerox Software Products Group to learn more about how the new Xerox is bringing together its diverse software development efforts.
A number of very large and profitable companies got their start by focusing on specific market segments, and the same is true for some service providers. Aiming your marketing efforts at a target market can offer a number of benefits. This article focuses on those benefits and outlines the steps that print service providers should take to get started with a targeted marketing approach.
What’s the future of the paper business? One company has a bright vision of its future and is making the requisite changes to get there. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Mark Odgers, Director, Packaging Grades at Sappi North America, to get more details.
Prices tell us a lot about how media is changing and what’s ahead. It’s funny – the categories that are growing the most are the ones where prices are dropping. That’s strange. But media preference surveys can be misleading because they can assure media producers of the love of the marketplace, and divert their strategic attention to competitors impinging on that affection. What does Mary Meeker know? A trade association executive says she’s biased. That’s okay. Dr. Joe has different data.
Customer Experience (CX) is the product of an interaction between an organization and a customer over the duration of their relationship. This interaction is made up of three parts: the customer journey, the brand touchpoints the customer interacts with, and the environments the customer experiences (including digital environment) during the engagement. This article explores why the customer experience should be a top priority for marketers.
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!
In this article, David looks beyond the hardware at prepress, and how new developments will play a significant role in driving the growth of digital packaging production. This is not surprising, since we have been here before in other areas of the industry.
Industrial revolutions are momentous events, and many historians agree that there have been three to date. Interconnected digital technology might be triggering the fourth revolution, and this article explores the actions that printers should take to remain at the forefront of Industry 4.0.
How is the United States Postal Service perceived by key members of the mailing supply chain? A recent Idealliance study lays it all out, the good, the bad and the ugly. While there is certainly room for improvement, and it is unclear what the USPS response to this study will be, be sure to read to the end for a view of what mail and communications would be like if the USPS wasn’t functioning as well as it is!
Last month, I attended EskoWorld for the first time. This was the 26th EskoWorld, so I am a little slow on the uptake. But the event was well worth attending and had quite a different feel from other user groups I have attended.
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.
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.
Sadly, the industry lost one of its loyal behind-the-scenes advocates, Kip Smythe. His coordination of efforts involving industry research, statistics, standards, trade, and others, was appreciated by everyone who worked alongside him. Dr. Joe has a special remembrance.
US commercial printing shipments and profits are in a pattern that suggests another re-set of media communications strategy is underway. The national employment data looked great on the outside, but were disturbing on the inside… again. The latest publishing revenues suggest that content’s kingship status is not what everyone thinks it is.
QR Codes have been trending. What does a deeper dive into online search data tell us about interest in QR Code adoption and usage? What market categories show the greatest curiosity? Here’s a look at what Google Trends has to say.
Printing and mailing customer communications, statements, and bills is a critical business process that can benefit from outsourcing. This article explores how BMS Technologies is capitalizing on the transaction document outsourcing services opportunity by supporting its customers’ ever-changing needs and investing in inkjet technology.
Augmented Reality has the potential to open a world of possibilities for brand owners who are seeking to drive an immersive consumer interaction with their products. When applied to packaging, the digital information is visible through mobile or tablet devices and is enabled by an app. Customers are becoming more receptive to AR, and this article explores how brand owners are leveraging packaging to integrate the technology into the customer experience.
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.
You may not be able to make a commitment to implement full workflow automation, but this does not mean you should write off workflow efficiency gains entirely. Why not try going lean instead? This printer did.
The Commerce Department’s revisions to industry shipments show a much different picture of a key metric for the industry, sales per employee. The chart was created using 12-month moving totals of inflation-adjusted shipments and the 12 month moving average of total industry employment. The latest reading through March 2017 is $182.65 per employee, a meager +1.5% higher than it was at the end of 1992. It fell from a peak of $195.51 which was just before the burst of the housing bubble, the rise of social media platforms, tablets, and smartphones. The fall in this calculation has some interesting characteristics. Historically, large printing businesses focused on magazines, catalogs, and newspaper inserts, had sales per employee that were significantly higher than the industry averages, anywhere from 30% to 50% higher.
Advances in inkjet technology have print service providers asking “not if, but when” they should invest. This article highlights recent interviews with a number of inkjet users to find out the critical strategies they are following to accelerate their organization’s path to profitability.
In late March, Xeikon announced that Benoit Chatelard, at the time the Vice President, Production Printing, for Ricoh Europe, would be joining the company as President & CEO Digital Solutions, Flint Group, Xeikon’s parent company. Chatelard began his new role May 8th, and speaks with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne about his vision for Xeikon.
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.
The same technologies that have enabled the proliferation of wide-format graphics are also profoundly changing the traditional specialty printing market. Here’s how print service providers can take advantage of the “nichification” of commercial print.
Despite all the talk about the need for automated workflow, printers are still not rushing to invest in these solutions. How long can they hold on to fractured and inefficient workflows without this becoming a serious liability?
We love numbers, especially when they go in a direction we like. Accuracy of the information we use in decision-making should not be a matter of liking numbers, the numbers are what the numbers are. What happens when one set of numbers you relied on are revised on the basis of new and better information and describe a different scenario than before? Dr. Joe helps sort it out… we think.
Under the “Connecting Your Network” theme, the 2017 Xerox Forum focused on business growth opportunities in today’s dynamic graphic communications market. This article highlights announcements and speakers from the event.
Marketers’ love affair with a digital-only strategy has begun to wane, and while they are continuing to invest in digital channels, print is regaining ground as an important part of the overall media mix. This opens the door to a more active role for print service providers in moving upstream and becoming engaged with helping marketers develop and execute an effective omni-channel strategy that aligns with the way consumers want to interact with brands. We spoke with some experts to learn their secrets of success.
Savvy print service providers recognize the need to offer relevant, integrated services to an ever-changing market. Investing in the right technologies will play a key role moving forward. This article discusses some of the technological areas that can fuel growth in today’s complex marketplace.
The Commerce Department tracks the number of business establishments by industry, and among he more interesting reports is the calculation of new and closed businesses. The data take a while to be released, and these new data about 2014 were recently made available. There’s a word of caution here. If someone was a corporation and decides to become a partnership or a proprietorship, that counts as one business closed and one business opened. And then there’s “poor man’s mergers” where two business owners decide to close their two businesses and open one new one. Same people, same equipment, no real change except to the tax authorities and government statisticians. The most important number is the net change of births less deaths. In the worst of the recession, the net number was 6% of establishments. For 2014, that had fallen to a little more than 2%.
Sheridan Group is sold, Intelligencer joins with Pemcor, Kennedy Group and Resilience Capital form Lux and buy National Label, ProAmpac and Resource Label acquire, summary of equipment manufacturing deals, and more.
The economy is showing signs, but no one can figure out what kind of signs they are. GDP is down, employment is up. Apple confounds the analysts with a financial report worthy of corporate envy, but the analysts were not happy, and seem to blame Apple for the analysts bad guesses! And then there’s printing shipments: let’s change the subject… it seems many printers are doing just that by changing the process. Do policies in your company insulate you from the detection of market changes and opportunities? It’s not always denial, it’s procedure. That’s not a good thing.
Even as people continue to hate on QR Codes, we see them popping up in more and more places, including mobile banking and payments. This article takes a look at three places we regularly see QR Codes in the world of mobile payments and why we should pay attention.
Attendees at the recent Inkjet Summit reported that inkjet technology is mature, profitable, and offers printers a variety of options in terms of size, format, and speed. The event attracted 48 sponsors and 139 attendees from commercial print, direct mail, book manufacturing, data center, service bureau, and in-plant operations.
Last month, NPES announced it was taking on sole ownership of the Print/Graph Expo show franchise in order to give it the flexibility to make necessary major changes to the show. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with both Printing Industries of America and Idealliance to get their take and to better understand what their involvement would be moving forward.
Tucson-based Spectrum Printing recently underwent the Idealliance G7 Master Facility Qualification process by leveraging G7 Expert, Jeff Collins, National Color Solutions Manager for Konica Minolta. We checked into learn more about the process and the early results. We’ll touch base again in about a month to find out what longer term benefits the company has achieved.
We are about to be hit by a “Third Wave” of technology disruption that will negatively impact the demand for print. Or will it? Not all print is created equal these days. Here are some suggestions for how to weather the storm.
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.