The last ten months of US commercial printing shipments have increased +3% compared to the same months of the prior years. For the first calendar quarter, shipments are up +3.5% compared to the same quarter of 2014. There has not been this kind of growth for about ten years. Please note, however, that the Commerce Department is revising at least three years of historical data next week; it's not possible to determine how the data will change. Assuming the pattern of these data remain the same, it's not a long term bottoming of the shipment level that will turn upward again. The march of digital technologies that offer alternatives to print will continue (read what 5G networks will bring in 2020, for example). It's more likely a pause that should be used to reposition well-running print businesses for the future, consider investing in capabilities and businesses that will take advantage of the new communications innovations ahead, and develop alliances with others whose talents will be needed to do so. This might be 2005-2007 playing out again for us. If your business is growing, don't rest on your laurels. Appreciate the flexibility your business has to prepare for the future and use the time wisely. Never hunker down and wait for things to play out.
During the 2015 Inkjet Summit, a number of innovators acknowledged the need to leverage emerging technologies to profitably accelerate business growth. This article explores how Access Direct has reinvented itself as a leader in data management, variable messaging, and inkjet printing. It also demonstrates how Access Direct’s actions parallel the advice given in Josh Linkner’s book entitled The Road to Reinvention: How to Drive Disruption and Accelerate Transformation.
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.
Dynamic digital signage is becoming a hotter and hotter topic, and while there are ample opportunities for companies to get in on, if not the ground floor, than at least the mezzanine, it’s not to everyone’s taste. Here are some arguments for—and against.
The GDP estimate of Q1-2015 growth was at +0.2% when consensus was +1.0%. The estimate will be revised at the end of each of the next two months. That consensus estimate of professional economists has been revised down regularly since the beginning of the year, with many of the original estimates at +3% or higher.
In what is perceived as a commodity-oriented marketplace, print sales reps struggle to maintain a proper balance between features and benefits. This article explores how Symeta (Brussels, Belgium) has transformed its business with strong sales and marketing and a value-based approach to communications.
The 2013 County Business Patterns report was just released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, one of the most valuable of all government economic reports. The data are based on Social Security tax filings made by employers. In this manner, the BLS can count the number of business establishments and the number of employees of those establishments with great accuracy from analysis from the mandatory filings of Form 941, submitted with company payroll taxes. As the data show, content creation businesses have much higher per employee annual salaries. This makes these industries very attractive to new employees, especially those starting their careers. The most interesting to me is the rise in public relations agencies. In the late 1980s, the payroll for ad agency workers was about one-third more than public relations. In 2005, they were about the same. In these 2013 data, PR employees are paid about one-eighth more.
This article is a part of a series of articles by David L. Zwang that focuses on the processes and products that can lead to the transformation of your current workflows and business to prepare you for the new challenges ahead. In this article, Zwang looks at the release of PRINERGY 7, in the context of Kodak’s reinvention.
Founded 10 years ago, SpeedPro Imaging is a network of 120 franchises—or “studios”—located in 30 states that specialize in wide-format printing, from trade show and event graphics, to vehicle graphics, to wall murals, and beyond.
We recently learned that Kodak has hired a new workflow chief. Allan Brown, formerly with HP and Xerox, joined the company as General Manager of its Unified Workflow Solutions business. Read what Brown has to say about workflow and Kodak strategies moving forward.
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.
Service providers of all sizes are constantly talking about the need to transform their businesses from commodity-oriented organizations to marketing and communication service specialists. A recent article from McKinsey & Company details six steps for driving revenue and margin improvements, and these steps are discussed in this piece.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes many indexes of inflation, the best known of which is the Consumer Price Index. The BLS also publishes hundreds of other indexes in the Producer Price Index (PPI) series that track price changes in industries, products, and commodities. This week's chart shows the year-to-year change in CPI (orange line) and the PPI for printing (blue line) on a monthly basis for a little more than ten years. For most of that period, printing prices have lagged consumer prices, often by wide margins. Since December 2004, printing prices are up +14% while consumer prices are up +27%. That is, printing prices are increasing at about half the rate of consumer prices. Or, looked at differently, printing prices are about -10% less than the change in consumer prices: print is getting cheaper every day. But print owners and their workers cannot spend printing dollars when they go to the supermarket; they have to make up for the 10% shortfall in prices somehow. This is difficult since many of the prices printers need to pay for wages and materials more closely follow consumer prices. It's a double-edged problem: lower revenues, higher costs. Profit leaders have figured out how to survive in this environment as they still stand out from their peers. But these double-edged pressures have caused weak companies to leave or offer themselves as consolidation candidates.
Kevin Cushing, formerly CEO of AlphaGraphics, has accepted the position of President of the Marketing & Print Division of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC (parent company of Allegra Network LLC). Hear what he has to say about the company, franchising in general and the importance of a learning environment.
BR Printers discusses how production inkjet printing is changing the way the company does business and opening up new business opportunities in a highly competitive marketplace. This article is sponsored by HP.
Whether you have recently acquired a new Print MIS system or you’ve been using the same one for a decade, we recommend you assess it as the “trusted system of record” for your print business. This assessment is critical in our increasingly data-driven world.
Nobody uses terms like exciting, sexy, or compelling when they talk about their Print MIS solution. Your Print MIS isn’t supposed to be sexy; its job is to serve up the story of your business in the form of data collected in a trusted system of record.
Eliminate the peel-away part of a pressure sensitive label while protecting it from the adhesive on the backs of the other labels it’s rolled or stacked with: it can be done and is being done in the solution known as linerless labeling.
This article explores the increased interest in color management software among corporate and commercial printers. It cites research from InfoTrends to illuminate how more and more businesses are beginning to recognize the benefits of implementing a color management program.
The monthly NFIB Small Business Index took a step back after it nearly reached the pre-recession high. The chart shows that high of a few years ago as a green line. The index fell almost to the bottom of the 2003 recession level. For a few years the Index seemed range-bound between that recession and the lows of the recession of the early 1990s (the two red lines). This particular survey had all ten elements of its index fall, which is highly unusual. The Index bears watching as there are very few data series that follow small business activity.
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.
Industry Analyst Junichiro Yamashita recently attended the MarTech Conference in San Francisco to learn about the latest trends in Marketing Technology (MarTech). He shares his thoughts with our readers about the opportunities and challenges MarTech provides for Commercial Printers.
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.
Yesterday, on the eve of the opening of the ISA Sign Expo, HP took the opportunity to launch five new products in its high-end Latex and Scitex families. These are the HP Latex 370, the HP Scitex FB550 and FB750, HP Scitex 11000 Industrial Press, and HP Scitex 15500 Corrugated Press.
Do you know about the joint NPES/PIA program for raising Print’s Voice in the Nation’s Capital? We all complain about Congress not getting anything done, but how many of US actually do anything about it? Here’s a great program that gets the word out about print and pokes at Congress to get stuff done.
Because of new and emerging technologies, today’s business owners face a whole new set of challenges. According to Josh Linkner’s book entitled The Road to Reinvention, the way that you position your company and communicate to your various audiences and target markets is a critical component of transforming your business. This article highlights real-world examples of how the art of storytelling can help accelerate businesses transformation.
The average number of employees in commercial printing establishments has declined over the years for many reasons. Among large printers, volumes of magazines, catalogs, inserts, and other long run length products produced on web offset and gravure presses have declined, leading to plant closures and consolidations. Desktop publishing shifted work to graphic designers, publishers, and other content creators. That, combined with direct-to-plate and digital printing have nearly eliminated the need for prepress departments. Presses require less staffing than older ones. In smaller printers, copies and digital printers have reduced the need for press operators. Other technologies, such as search engines, e-commerce, advances in administrative software have reduced employment in other functions. Even voice mail, cell phones, and e-mail have gradually reduced the number of staff required to run a printing business.
We’ve written a fair amount about digital publishing in this space since we believe it presents a good opportunity for new revenue streams for printing firms – not only for traditional publishing applications but increasingly for sales enablement and other enterprise dissemination of information. Adobe is about to take this to the next level with its summer launch of Adobe Publish.
Your role is to enable your customers to meet their needs, grasp their opportunities, and defend against their threats. Whether you like it or not that’s how your customers see your role. If you’re not doing one of those three things, you’re a distracting and useless waste of time. Period.
Direct, early access to the real decision-maker – not someone whose power is limited to saying “no,” but the person who has the authority to say the final “Yes” – It’s the Holy Grail for professional B2B salespeople. And it has gotten harder and harder to gain.
The relentless pace of change is exacerbating the challenges that business owners face today. According to Josh Linkner’s book entitled The Road to Reinvention, leading companies are disrupting the status quo to achieve growth and economic gain. This article explores how businesses can take Linkner’s advice to avoid losing ground.
Some B2B salespeople I encounter baffle me. My work brings dozens of them across my path each year. There’s a significant segment who claim to desire and expect productive careers but who show almost no sign of investing in themselves. I don’t get it.
I have a confession to make. I’m not a Funnelist. I don’t worship at the altar of Funnelism. Never have. It's deadly. Ben Chestnut (founder of MailChimp) was right when he compared the “marketing funnel” to a meat grinder.
Proactive sales and marketing investments are vital to growing and driving business results. Citing research from McKinsey and Company, this article explores strategies for building superior marketing and sales capabilities.
The chart shows one of the rates for Treasury securities called the “constant maturity rate,” used to set rates for instruments like mortgages. The line in the chart is that monthly rate less the year-to-year change in the Consumer Price Index for that month. The Fed has worked hard to keep their interest rates below inflation to stimulate the economy, as well as make housing prices rise so that fewer mortgages were “under water.” It hasn't worked that well, but that's a different topic for a different day. But with all of the worries about the Fed raising rates, the combination of their inertia and changes in the inflation rate may be producing what they've wanted: a Seinfeldian case of “nothing” becoming something. At the end of 2011 the real rate in the chart was -3%, and the last observation in the chart is about +1.5%, a 450 basis point move. For about three years, the CPI has been below the Fed's target of 2%, and in December and January it was negative. February CPI was just reported as an annualized 2.4%, so this rate rise may disappear soon
Standards for “green” or eco-friendly printed products and processes are still in flux, and don’t always gibe with environmental compliance reporting requirements. It pays to know what the differences are.
The horror in his face made me laugh out loud. I was in a videoconference coaching session with a VP, Sales & Marketing. I was coaching some of his salespeople and to track with them, he was doing with me what they were doing. He and I had designed a new business development process from the ground up, and were vetting each stage and step. We were deep into the process, and focused on how to gain access to a decision-maker.
A Chinese computer-to-plate systems manufacturer and an American counterpart have joined forces to offer CTP devices that they say are as good as if not better than any other such solutions now on the market.
In this article, David reviews how four companies are using the technologies he has been reviewing to their advantage. Wilen Direct, K&H Integrated Print Solutions, Hansaprint and Documation have implemented current generation inkjet presses from Kodak, Canon Océ, HP and Ricoh, respectively
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.
On the face of it, all the GASC announcement says is that there will be a one-year detour to Orlando between now and 2017, when the Print show will have its prescheduled run at McCormick Place in Chicago. That’s also where we’ll be heading for Graph Expo this year—no change there, either. So, what’s the larger story?
Some print service providers are automating production with Web-to-print software, but this strategy does not work for all companies. This article explores why some companies succeed with Web-to-print while others fail.
She was so close. She had worked to develop the opportunity for two years. She had created a couple of key relationships, and developed them very well. She had a good understanding of the customer’s circumstances and special needs. With help, she created a strong proposal and delivered it to her primary contact. Her primary contact recommended that her proposal be chosen. So she rightly believed she was in the lead. And then she lost it. Why? She didn't ask for the opportunity to make a presentation before the final decision was made. She thought her excellent proposal was enough.
On Wednesday, March 18, the Feb removed the word “patient” from the announcement of a potential rate hike, but as the Washington Post explained “Well, the Fed really said that it's going to be more patient than it was before, even if it's not officially so. In other words, it could hike rates at any time starting in June, but it's less likely to do so. And even when lift off does happen, it'll probably happen slower than people thought it would.” There you have it: Janet Yellen does a great Alan Greenspan impression. No one knows what he meant but everyone knows what he said. Dr. Yellen also explained that while the Fed is no longer in the act of quantitative easing, they are replacing all of their holdings as they mature. What got less coverage is that the Fed lowered their forecasts of GDP. For 2015 and 2016 they lowered their prior forecasts by three-tenths of a percentage point. Each tenth is about $150 billion. So their forecast was reduced by $450 billion, or the equivalent of six commercial printing industries. Such data analogies can make one's head spin.
While many other trade events are struggling to survive in a dynamically changing environment, Hunkeler Innovationdays, which has taken place in Lucerne, Switzerland, every other year for the past 22 years (11th event this year!) has continued to grow in both size and vitality. Here’s an overview of the 2015 event.
High, wide, and in its own way, handsome: that’s the kind of machine HP and KBA are out to build in HP’s T1100 Simplex Color Inkjet Web Press, a solution meant to introduce digital printing to top liners for corrugated packaging.
Quad/Graphics has been in the news a lot of late … first with its agreement to acquire at least 20 HP T-Series Inkjet Web Presses, and then with the attempt to acquire book printer Courier Corporation. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with CEO Joel Quadracci to get more information and find out what else Quad is up to.
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.
Books were ascendant in the printing deal space as RR Donnelley swooped down and snatched Courier Corporation right out of the arms of Courier’s suitor of choice, Quad/Graphics. Almost two and half times larger than Quad, RRD was not about to let this opportunity escape as it did last year when Quad acquired Brown Printing in a sweetheart of a deal.
Infrastructure includes the basic physical and organizational components that contribute to the success of an organization in terms of the sale and delivery of products, services, and solutions. This article is part of a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry. It explores the infrastructure investments that are critical for success in today’s market.
Don't let four jagged lines on a chart confuse you, because there's good news hidden inside. The labor market is very dynamic, more dynamic than commonly understood. About 2% of the workforce quits jobs every month, and between 1.5%-2% separate from their positions in other ways because their projects are completed, fired for cause, or downsizings. About 3% of the workforce is hired in different positions every month. What's made the improvement in total employment this past year is the increase in job openings (the blue line in the chart). Note that it has a higher upward slope than the other lines. The number of job openings is now around 5 million per month, more than double that when the recovery started in mid-2009. The bottom line, in red, is “quits.” Most workers do not quit their jobs unless they have something better lined up. That line has a general upward slope, and it is common for this to increase as economies improve and workers feel more comfortable changing positions. Though not population-adjusted, the lines are definitely moving in positive directions, with job openings as the most encouraging of them. What's this mean to printers? Never consider your business contacts in companies as “safe.” As economies improve, job changing increases. Be sure to have multiple engaged contacts in your most important clients. Also, be sure your key employees are kept “gruntled” because disgruntled key employees can be valuable elsewhere.
The Constantia Flexibles Labels Division of Spear Inc. recently announced that it has found a way to make pressure sensitive labels compatible with recycling methods for bottles molded from PET (polyethylene terephthalate) plastic. This is a breakthrough, says the company, because it offers an affordable and environmentally friendly solution for bring pressure sensitive labeling to the 400 billion PET bottles the world uses annually.
Yes, I’m talking to you. You knew exactly what I meant when you saw the headline: itinerant salespeople who move from company to company on about a two-year cycle. Of course they hope that this time will be different, that this gig will last. The problem is they are going to sell as they have before while hoping for a different outcome. The companies that hire them reinforce that false hope, and set them up for one more spin through the failure cycle. It's ugly. And it's expensive.
Facing typical offset run lengths of 750 or less, make-ready waste of as much as 50%, and with evolving customer expectations for more color and higher expectations of color quality and consistency, Liturgical Publications turned to production inkjet as a strategic gamble which has turned into a strategic advantage for this innovative publisher.
The most successful packaging printing companies that Jürgen Grimm has seen are the ones that have their processes most thoroughly under control. In this interview, the president of Heidelberg USA talks about how that control can be achieved.
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.
Not living anywhere near Arizona, I was unaware of the recent “Phoenix Llama Drama,” which is apparently not some new reality TV show. Rather, last month, a brace of the beasts escaped while—and I have to quote ABC News here—“making a therapy visit to residents at an assisted living facility.”
In his book entitled Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Peter F. Drucker states that an entrepreneur “always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity.” This article explores the ways in which entrepreneurs and service providers can leverage existing technologies to successfully innovate.
In early February, Ricoh and Avanti announced that Allegra Network had chosen Avanti Slingshot as the core of its WorkStream™ integrated web storefront/MIS/workflow automation solution. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with the franchisor’s executives to get the details of what this means for franchise members and customers.
There is a general (and natural) assumption that commercial printing and the economy as measured by GDP move together. The chart below shows the year-to-year percentage change of the two data series, GDP in red and printing in blue. The chart tracks current dollars and are not adjusted for inflation. Except for a brief period from the second quarter of 1995 through the first quarter of 1996, shipments have lagged GDP growth. What was special about that period? The Internet bubble was beginning, and in September 1995, Netscape had its initial public offering. For those four quarters, commercial printing was an average of 4.5 percentage points better than GDP growth. Prior to that, commercial printing had lagged GDP during a period of slow economic growth. Since Q2-1996, the difference between nominal, unadjusted GDP and commercial printing has been 5 percentage points. The last two quarters of 2014 commercial printing had positive growth compared to the prior year, but still lagged GDP by -1.6 percentage points.
New features, sessions, programs, and speakers at the upcoming International Sign Expo aim to educate present and prospective signmakers about the latest business and technology trends in this growing industry.
Senior Editor Cary Sherburne joined a group of 40 journalists and analysts to help Canon Solutions America celebrate its 2nd anniversary and to learn what is new from the organization and where it is going in the future
Flexo claims almost two-thirds of tag & label market production, but some brand owners still view it negatively. By 2018, 50% of installed tag & label presses will be digital. There’s more—keep reading.
This articles looks at the new Océ VarioPrint i300 sheetfed Production Inkjet press. Additionally, we will take a quick look at the newly announced Océ ImageStream 2400 and the ColorStream 3000Z rollfed presses.
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.
In today’s world of instant gratification, it is really hard to be patient. Rather than walking down the hall to talk to your colleague, you can email them from 20 feet away and then march down the hall 15 minutes later to say “didn’t you get my email?”. In the information age, most of us have forgotten what it’s like to not be instantly connected whether we are on vacation, in a restaurant and now even on planes. It has largely destroyed our ability to be patient.
By now, you may have heard about Kodak’s ChiefPackagingOfficer, a new online resource for packaging professionals. If you haven’t, its publisher, Joshua Fedeli, wants you to know why the portal is worth your time, attention, and participation.
Although wearable technologies are still in the early adopter phase, the power of connectivity is driving change at an unprecedented rate. With the information available from wearables, marketers will be able to understand context and generate much more relevant messages. This article is part of a series exploring trends worth watching in the printing industry.
The Fed stopped Quantitative Easing a while ago, and the value of its balance sheet fluctuates around the $4 trillion level. As their holdings mature, their aggressive position in the bond market will slowly unwind. Or will it? The Fed is likely to decide to re-invest proceeds in more bonds and obligations, replacing the matured debt with new ones, but not adding to their overall position unless there is a crisis again. Until their first moves where they doubled their balance sheet quickly, from $800 billion to $1.6 trillion, this measure of the money supply moved steadily at about a 6% annual rate, sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less, about half equal to economic growth and the other half to inflation. Whether or not the Fed will reduce its balance sheet or not is still a question in my mind. They could just hold steady, and let inflation and growth catch up to them, which will take quite some time, but not scare the markets. But something always happens that's not according to plan, and the Fed will be interesting to watch as they move from this unchartered territory to another.
The last time we took a good look at Impika inkjet offerings was prior to drupa 2012 and the Xerox acquisition. Since that last article, Xerox has integrated the Impika organization into the Xerox organization, its former offerings into the Xerox portfolio and now into the Xerox master brand. With the announcement of the Xerox Rialto 900 Inkjet Press, Xerox is releasing the first true collaborative effort following the acquisition.
Parenting and your print MIS have many characteristics in common. They are both long-term investments that essentially never end. There is great potential combined with great frustration and common stages that you will pass through before feeling any sense of accomplishment – always in retrospect.
The US Department of Commerce issued their latest report about capital investment spending in 2013, and we've written about it in a recent blogpost. As part of our analysis, we applied the rate of investment to industry shipments and arrived at the chart below. It shows two rather distinct periods, 2003 to 2007, where capital investment was not as good as the late 1990s, but recovered and stabilized after the first negative wave of digital media. Some of this was replacement of late 1990s equipment that had come off lease. Then there's the 2008 credit crisis and recovery. Capital investment declined in volume as industry shipments fell from the introduction of social media, new devices, and cheaper and faster communications. But the rate of capital investment is slowly rising, even though shipments are shrinking, and the number of plants is contracting. The survivors tend to be healthier establishments, who survived the downturns, and are likely making better investment decisions.
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.