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WhatTheyThink

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Maximizing Your Recycled Waste Revenue

The print industry keeps growing more competitive, and finding new revenue streams can be difficult to find. An often-overlooked area to increase your profits is recycled waste. John Braceland takes you through a thorough review of your recycling process to help you determine if you can’t squeeze a little more revenue out of the trash.

Dr. Joe reviews the latest economic data

Dr. Joe reviews the latest economic data and explains where we're headed for the third and fourth quarters and why.

Viva direct mail!

Recent innovations in variable data printing have created huge opportunities in direct mail. Are you taking advantage of it? If not, Frank Romano lists a variety of reasons why you should be.

Your Mobile Marketing Strategy: Where Does Text Messaging Fit In?

Mobile marketing is becoming a popular segment of multi-channel communication campaigns. With the rise of mobile device users, new marketing opportunities are opening up for marketers and service providers. What is your strategy for participation?

Quad/Graphics adds iPad app to digital edition

Quad/Graphics has once again demonstrated a high level of innovation, being one of the first, if not the first, print manufacturer in our industry to provide its customers with a customized iPad application that offers clients another distribution channel for their publications. Hear what Jason Sawtelle, Director of Premedia Sales, has to say about this exciting move.

RR Donnelley – Driving Forward in Inkjet Printing

RR Donnelley is the largest commercial printer in the world, but they are also way ahead in high-speed inkjet. Andy Tribute moderated a talk at IPEX with Ronnie Sarker of RR Donnelley, and he’s reported his insights on how they’re staying ahead of the curve.

First Quarter 2010 Profits for U.S. Commercial Printing Businesses

The first quarter of 2010 was a significant change compared to the same quarter of last year. The industry had a difficult time in 2009, and the profits that were initially reported for the fourth quarter of 2009 were swept away in a data revision by the Commerce Department. But 2009 was profitable, and this first quarter of 2010 was very encouraging. Profit levels are increasing, not because of higher market prices, but because of employee downsizing, and the departure of weakest printers. Dr. Webb emphasized that there are still challenges ahead because of the continuing growth of new communications that will affect the demand for print. We must remember that just because the industry may be having a tough time, there are profitable companies who are offering innovative services to their clients. The restructuring of the industry will be built on the entrepreneurial actions of these firms.

"Print is Not Dead" Should be DOA

A man walks into a pet store, holding a bird cage by its handle, and approaches the counter. At the bottom of the cage is a blue parrot, claws up. The man and the clerk engage in some banter, not about the bird being dead, but how beautiful its plumage is. Why is it that “print is not dead” only conjures up some decades-old Monty Python sketch? Dr. Joe explains how just having a pulse does not qualify one for a new and dynamic communications marketplace... how new technology is conspiring to make us a craft industry, yet again.

The Buck Stops Here - Managing Your Purchasing

As the Manager of a purchasing cooperative I get to see firsthand how many different printing companies manage their purchasing decisions. Companies that don’t manage this critical area don’t stay in business. Although some companies do a good job, I find that old habits die hard.

In-Plant Managers Dream in Color at IPMA Conference in Albuquerque

Barb recently had the opportunity to participate in IPMA’s 2010 Conference themed “Dream Color” in Albuquerque, New Mexico. While there, she interviewed IPMA President John Sarantakos and Past President Debbie Pavletich to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing today’s in-plants. This article considers industry opinions on the issues that in-plants will face throughout 2010.

Keep a Close Eye on Inflation

With much of the media focus on recently enacted health care reform legislation, pending financial reform, and the continuing large number of unemployed, the government's inflation reports for the most part have been pushed to the back burner - not eliciting much attention when released. One reason for the muted reaction: Overall inflation has been relatively benign to non-existent. But that may be changing.

April 2010 commercial printing shipments

April 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.05 billion, down -1.9% compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were down -4.1%. For the first four months of 2010, shipments were down -4.7% on a current dollar basis.

Are QR Codes Finally Catching On in the U.S.?

We have been hearing about QR codes for some time, but adoption rates in the U.S. have been slow compared to the rest of the world. Not sure what QR Codes are or what business opportunity they represent? This interview with Val DiGiacinto of Manhattan’s Ace Group tells the story.

Positioning your Business for the Future

Past articles of “Thinking Creatively” have focused on creating a unifying, differentiating strategy to help position your business for the future. One key input is to look at trends -- both near term and longer term trends. This entails some imagination but can lead you to a path of sustained growth. In this article, we cover four categories, including a few that may be quite surprising.

Value Innovation and the Blue Ocean

In the international bestselling book entitled Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant, the authors assert that a “blue ocean” strategy is about creating uncontested market space by simultaneously pursuing differentiation and low cost. Too many companies are swimming in the “red ocean” of bloody competition, where there is limited room for real growth. This article provides a brief description of some businesses that are seeking their own blue ocean.

IPEX – A Digital Printing Show

Based on our experiences at IPEX 2010, it’s finally looking like the mood of the industry has changed and we might be entering a period of economic growth. The event showcased developments in a variety of areas, but the greatest interest seemed to be in the rise on inkjet printing. Andy Tribute offers his thoughts.

How to kill inkjet

IPEX 2010 affirmed that inkjet is here to stay. The show is over but the memory lingers on. There are almost 300 roll-fed production inkjet printers sold or installed in the world. And Xerox validated inkjet by showing an inkjet technology. But we could see inkjet die very quickly if suppliers and users do not re-invent the way they do business. Here's how they might fail.

Ipex Post-Mortem: International Social Networking - In the Flesh

So you thought you might like to go to the show? If so, you discovered that the best thing about trade shows like Ipex, Drupa, Print, and Graph Expo isn't necessarily checking out new products and technologies - although that helps. Instead, these shows are forums for the original social networking.

You can't manage what you don't measure

In this analysis, Barb addresses the challenges that marketers face to show how profitable ad campaigns can be. She provides examples of companies that were able to achieve the goals of their current clients, but also measure the success of their ads to strengthen their position in the marketing arena.

Don’t Count on a Non-Compete

The challenge facing printing company owners over whether and how to secure non-compete agreements was debated recently with a lively exchange of views on the NAQP listserv. Having encountered this issue from an M&A and business valuation perspective for many years, and being sensitive to the legal implications, given my background as a lawyer, I unequivocally weigh in that a Non-Compete Agreement is NOT the ultimate solution to protect general intangibles.

Is the Case for the Double-Dip Recession Stronger Now?

Double-dip usually means a diet-busting serving of ice cream. If ice cream is easy money, and the diet is the judicious use of credit, then it's another way to explain Europe's economic crisis. To paraphrase the old saying, “What if they gave a V-shaped recovery and nobody came,” might be what's happening to the economy. When no one's certain what's ahead, they focus on what they know.

Is Your Firm Fit for Acquisition? Here’s How To Make Certain It Is

When selling out is the best exit strategy for your print company, there’s careful planning that needs to happen from the moment you make your decision. Patrick is joined by Tom Williams and Jim Russell of New Direction Partners, to review the long range preparation that will put you in the best position to make the sale.

Could Happy Days Be Here Again? Optimism at Ipex Portends Potential Industry Renaissance

"Smiles, everyone, smiles!" That's not something one has heard at a printing industry trade show in rather a long time, but this year’s Ipex—which opened Tuesday, May 18, at the NEC in Birmingham, UK—is one of the happier occasions I (or many) can recall in a good long time.

Today is the First Day of the Rest of Your Printing Industry

IPEX is many things – a celebration of print, a Euro-centric gathering of major and minor vendors, a walkable show that makes it easy to enjoy the variety of offerings that compose our industry – but it’s certainly no drupa.

Photobooks Meet Facebook

In this analysis, Barb takes a look at the impact of social networking Websites on printed photos and photo merchandise. She also provides examples of companies that are evolving their methods and creating photo applications for social networks to maintain revenue and attract potential customers.

Commerce Department Revises Printing Shipments Data

The Department of Commerce revised almost 10 years of printing industry shipments data last week. The WhatTheyThink economic data elves dug into the data and explain what those revisions mean, what years were revised up, and which ones were revised down.

“We Really Want To Make Things in Chicago Work”: An Interview with GASC’s Ralph Nappi

The best news that the Graphic Arts Show Company (GASC) has heard in a long time is that cost-saving reforms finally are coming to McCormick Place, the Chicago home of the Graph Expo and Print events. And while these much-needed changes can't guarantee a successful show by themselves, they should go a long way toward easing exhibitors' concerns about the high costs and logistical headaches of taking part in what continue to be the industry's leading trade expositions.

Where to Look for Creative Inspiration

Sometimes it can be difficult to put yourself into the “creative zone”. We’ve assembled a collection of ideas and links that should help you open your mind and expand your thinking.

Photo Merchandise is the Gift that Keeps on Giving... Profitably!

Photo merchandise items such as photo greeting cards, photo books, and photo calendars have caught the attention of consumers and retailers alike. Consumers like photo gifts because they are thoughtful, emotional, and can take the place of more expensive merchandise. Retailers like photo gifts because they command a higher price than traditional photo prints and represent a growth market. This article discusses how Fullerton Photographics, a photo lab and studio in California, is using photo merchandise to increase its profits.

Francis McMahon at Océ: The Details

At the end of March, Francis McMahon, director of marketing for HP's US Graphic Arts Business, Imaging and Printing Group, departed HP after being there for eight years. Effective April 12th, he joined Océ North America as the Vice President of Marketing reporting to Mal Baboyian, President of Océ Production Printing Systems Division based in Boca Raton, Florida. Here is what McMahon has to say about his new company and the Canon acquisition.

Does it Have Legs? The Economy's Still Wearing Long Pants

The unemployment report was released Friday, and though it was almost 10%, there was good news. Will it last? Print and GDP continue their decade-plus estrangement. Disposable income is not the money you throw away, but the money you can spend as you wish. Well, maybe it is the money you throw away. Unless something changes, some of that money will go to filling out forms. Nothing like bureaucracy as a growth business.

Students help predict the future

None of us know what the future holds. Frank Romano teaches a class in print media trends, and he asked his students to look into their crystal balls. Here's what they thought the future might hold.

EFI Announces 15% Revenue Growth for Q1, Acquisition

Cary Sherburne talks with EFI CEO Guy Gecht about their recent earnings release and acquisition of Radius Solutions.

If You Haven’t Done It, Why Not?

Production digital printing technology was introduced to the market 20 years ago. The Xerox DocuTech was introduced on October 2, 1990 and its major competitor was the Kodak Lionheart. Since then, a plethora of new products have made digital printing more affordable and colorful. This document discusses six compelling reasons for investing in digital color printing.

Will Inkjet Printing Kill Offset?

If one reads many of the projections being made about the future of printing there is a belief that offset printing is in serious decline and the new high-speed inkjet printing will kill the offset business. Various claims have been made that we could see offset being replaced in almost all areas by inkjet printing by 2020 or earlier. What do I think about that? I think it is a total load of rubbish.

Year/Year Changes in Real GDP vs. Real Proprietors Income

The first quarter GDP showed that the economy is growing, but that was compared to the fourth quarter. How is GDP changing on a year-to-year comparison? The GDP data are about the whole economy, but how is small business doing? Dr. Joe explains how a rarely reported part of the quarterly GDP data helps us judge the health of small businesses.

Getting the Most Out of Vendor Relationships

There are many important relationships in business. Certainly, the customer relationship is critical. The employer - employee relationship is a key one as well. But one that is sometimes overlooked is the vendor relationship. At one time vendor relationships were seen as adversarial. Less was more when revealing information to your vendor about your operation. Then, when it came time to negotiate price, each side's goal was to get as much as possible.

2010 CMO Outlook: Intentions and Investments

This article provides a brief overview of the CMO Council’s 2010 Marketing Outlook to assess the trends in strategic marketing progress and performance, the marketing plans of influential organizations, and the priorities and intentions of industry leaders. It outlines the key goals and strategies for marketers while also discussing the implications for print service providers.

Profit by being a good employer

Why motivate employees to join and stay with your organization? First of all, because it’s good business. Companies that strive to attract and retain skilled personnel show consistently higher bottom-line profitability, increased value to customers, and stronger sustainability, especially in challenging times.

On Recoveries and CAPEX Investment Cycles: Why This is Different

A rising tide makes everyone a genius, even the bad managers. The improving economy is a less powerful trend than the upheavals that digital media are creating. Capital investment by printers is being affected by consolidation, the upside-down condition of interest rates, investments in new media, and a shift in industry print processes. For those waiting for the old economic and investment cycles to repeat themselves, this will be disappointing.

Printing Leadership Made Easy: Interview with Joan Davidson of the Sheridan Group

Leading a printing company can be a challenging task in the best of times. Not only do you have to keep up with all the technology, maintain connections with and a deep understanding of your customers’ business needs, but you also have to build the right team and inspire them to carry your message to customers and prospects. A recent keynote by Joan Davidson at EFI Connect sheds some light on how a successful leader is accomplishing these objectives.

Reynolds DeWalt: Playing in the Blue Ocean

Instead of dividing up existing (and often shrinking) demand and benchmarking competitors, the blue ocean strategy is about growing demand and breaking away from competitors. This article discusses how Reynolds DeWalt, a cross-media communications company, is striving to do just that.

Adobe CS5 Makes Its Debut

Proficiency in the dark art of prepress once required expertise in a bewildering array of applications; there was QuarkXPress and Pagemaker and Photoshop, but also Freehand, Streamline, Suitcase, Trapwise, INposition Lite and a host of others. Now that prepress has become premedia, the twenty-first century skill set centers on color management, PDF workflows and automation. For most shops, these tasks are made easier by the integration and powerful tools found within Adobe’s Creative Suite software bundle.

EFI Connect Draws 500+ EFI Customers to the Las Vegas Wynn

This is the 11th EFI Connect conference and the fourth time it has been held at the Las Vegas Wynn. Compared to 2009, the conference has 50% more attendees, and users are seeing first-hand enhancements made to PrintSmith, Pace and Monarch, EFI’s three MIS product families. Also taking center stage are inkjet offerings from VUTEk, Rastek and Jetrion, as well as Fiery.

Inflation-adjusted and Annualized Publishing and Advertising Revenues

The trends in industry revenues of advertising and publishing sectors each tell an interesting story. They get more interesting once iPhones, Kindles, and iPads are added to the mix. Dr. Joe explains it all, but may have more questions than answers, which might spell opportunities for print businesses.

Kodak’s Eric Owen Discusses Kodak Strategy, Shares Advice for Printing Success

Eric Owen, newly appointed as Kodak’s Worldwide Vice President of Customer Development for Digital Printing Solutions started at Scitex and moved to Creo, then Kodak, as a result of acquisitions. Read what Eric has to say about the key strategic objectives of his current position, where he sees inkjet and toner fitting, and his advice for print service providers as the economy begins to recover.

The “Irreplaceability” of Direct Mail

Even though the world is now consumed with electronic communications like Twitter and Facebook, it is reassuring that mailboxes are still brimming with advertising mail. Here are five completely unique reasons why direct mail will be a medium of choice for years to come.

Mediaware: Making a Difference with Digital Packaging

Digital printing is the same technology that has been used by commercial printers, in-plant shops, and corporate offices for quite some time. In industrial printing, however, the technology is just starting to transform packaging design; inventory management; and the ability to respond rapidly to changing design, brand management, and regulatory requirements. This article provides a brief overview of how Mediaware leveraged the digital packaging opportunity through an agreement with Microsoft.

For Sellers, Six Scenarios—and a Word about Timing

Like a weak hand at the card table, a weak offering in the M&A market won’t be improved by the length of time it’s in play. Unlike a poker hand, it can’t be bluffed because the “cards”—the fundamentals of the business—are always in plain sight of the buyer and its due diligence.

FedEx Office, Canon and HP Announce “Game-Changing” Deal

Yesterday, FedEx Office, Canon and HP jointly announced an alliance to create an unmatched network of printing and imaging capabilities. Over time, FedEx Office will be sole-sourcing its black & white and color staffed and self-service copying and printing equipment from Canon, wide format from HP, and will take advantage of other technological advantages and innovations derived from the three companies and their partnership. Read what Canon and FedEx Office have to say about this major announcement.

A Look at the B2 Digital Press Market

The first B2 format sheet fed digital presses will come to market this year. This article doubts there is a market for the B2 format compared with the market for the current B3 format digital presses. Among the reasons for this are there are few applications that cannot be handled on the B3 format digital presses, and the increasing efficiency of B2 format offset presses and the arrival this year of Presstek 75DI B2 format D.I. press.

Print is Not Vital but the Print Business Should Be

The power of print. Print is vital. Print has had longer than a decade of power outage. Print is not vital, print is a choice, and sometimes that choice is "no." Now what? In this kind of environment, the printing business becomes more important than the print medium. How that all plays out is up to our entrepreneurs. Dr. Joe explains.

Xeikon at the Crossroads

Xeikon and Basys Print are likely to have new owners before Ipex starts. One of the largest private investment companies in Europe has made an offer that values Xeikon and Basys Print at $96m. At Ipex, Xeikon will introduce a new industrial label press they claim to be the most productive press in the industry. They will also introduce an enhanced Xeikon 8000 press for document printing.

The Rapid Adoption of Mobile Technology and the Implications for Marketing

With the increased focus on interactivity and multi-channel communications, marketers want to integrate online media with documents to enable a cohesive and unified marketing tool. We are beginning to see an increased emphasis on QR (quick response) codes. This article discusses how mobile marketing will take center stage in 2010 and beyond.

New PANTONE iPhone App Unifies Pantone Systems

Pantone has become virtually the de facto color standard for the graphic arts industry, but we often forget that they also serve other industries, including fashion, home and industrial. Increasingly, designers need to be able to match colors across all or several of those systems for integrated projects. Today’s announcement is designed to simplify that process for designers using either an iPhone app or a free application available on the Pantone web site.

ISM Manufacturing Index Shows Eight Months of Growth

The ISM Manufacturing Index is one of the most watched economic indicators. It's up for 8 consecutive months, and the latest release was one of the strongest of this decade. Dr. Joe gives some background and explains what this latest reading means.

VDP for you and me . . . finally

VDP volume is less than 10 percent of all digital printing and digital printing is less than 15 percent of all printing. The use of variable data (or document) printing has been retarded over the last decade by short-sighted suppliers, specifications, and associations. Now perhaps we are on the cusp of opening VDP to all users, big and small. ISO is about to release a worldwide standard for variable data exchange.

CPI – Turning a Vision to Reality

This article looks at how HP partnered with Europe’s leading monochrome book printing group CPI in creating a totally new fully automated book production solution. This is a system that takes in digital data and outputs with out any manual intervention totally finished books. The article also provides an update on the current market status of HP’s T300 high-speed inkjet printing systems.

Effective job descriptions: What to put in them & how they help you achieve employee excellence

Although creating and maintaining effective job descriptions are both considerable tasks, most employers will recognize how indispensable the end results are in helping staff understand their responsibilities. After all, without a job description, how can an employee properly commit to—let alone be held accountable for--a position?

Winning New Fulfillment Services Business

Selling fulfillment services requires problem-solving skills. This means understanding how your customers develop their products and how they are used. Once their job has been printed and bound, for instance, why do your customers feel that you must ship the job to them and take up space at their facility?

Positive Signs for the Printing Industry? Standard Register and a review of Global Document Solutions and Astoria Graphics

There is no question that 2008 and 2009 were difficult years for our industry.  It seemed that every week, we received news of another plant closing.  This week, Dr. Joe Webb, Director of WhatTheyThink’s Economics and Research Center, indicated that we are “climbing out of the swamp” and may be getting a little closer to the safety of economic high ground. We have a ways to go, but there are positive signs if you look for them.

Bundling - Know What It’s Costing You

Bundling is a popular way to sell more products or services. You, as a buyer, hope that the extra money spent delivers a bargain. Just make sure to keep your eyes open!

Capitalizing on the Photo Merchandise Opportunity

The new revenue potential within the traditional photo printing market is decreasing, but photo merchandise transforms those digital photos into dollars for service providers. This article provides a brief overview of the current photo merchandise market and includes some recent survey data to highlight the opportunity.

How to be the "Pro" in Transpromo

Transpromotional communications… a fantastic business opportunity for those of you who have acquired the capabilities to offer it to your customers. Here are five examples from my own mailbox. These are companies I regularly do business with, who have Transpromo opportunities that they are just plain missing.

First, The Good News

Dr. Joe gives us the good news... first... and there really is some! Then he explains how some of the good news is like a Hollywood movie set: great facades, and then only braces and forms behind them, but some of it is really good. He then reminds us that turmoil creates opportunities, and turmoil also creates content. The challenge to printing entrepreneurs is to translate that to value for their businesses.

What do print buyers think?

This week Frank presents a review of responses to polls included with Margie Dana's Print Tips. These polls provide insight into print buying trends. Frank also includes one of his song parodies.

Packaging… The Next Major Analog-to-Digital Opportunity (Part 2)

Packaging is a key opportunity for the digital printing market. The global packaging industry is still in the beginning stages of adopting color digital printing as a key tool, which means there is big opportunity in digital packaging print. This article explores the top nine drivers for double-digit growth in the packaging arena.

M&A Activity to Remain on the Upswing as the Industry Regroups

Despite the industry's shrinkage, printing companies continue to be born “under the radar screen” as firms win new leases on life by merging with other firms. New Direction Partners foresees an increase in M&A activity as the industry regroups around the strengths of its healthiest and most survivable firms.

New For Ipex - What to expect

With Ipex rapidly approaching more and more companies are putting out advance information of what they will showing at the event. Today’s article covers Heidelberg, Atlantic Zeiser, EskoArtwork, Enfocus and Kodak. The more we hear the most interesting Ipex appears as a not to miss event.

As The Industry Churns

The Census Bureau publishes printing industry births and deaths data, but the data take years to be published. The latest data are from 2006, but Dr. Joe estimates what's happened since,especially 2008 and 2009.

A Look at the Quad/Graphics and World Color Press “Arrangement”

The joining of Quad/Graphics and World Color Press followed an intricate dance between giants. Quad/Graphics was the smallest of the three players in the contest for ownership of World Color Press. RR Donnelley's attempt to buy World Color out of bankruptcy failed and, shortly after, Quad/Graphics began discussions that brought the much larger World Color Press under the control of the Quadracci family.

EFI’s Marc Olin Speaks about EFI Connect

EFI Connect, one of the larger user groups in our industry, will be taking place in April at the Wynn in Las Vegas.  Since the event overlaps with the On Demand Conference in Philadelphia, WhatTheyThink is splitting its forces to cover both events.  Marc Olin, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Advanced Professional Print Software, of EFI, shared his thoughts with WhatTheyThink about what attendees can expect to experience at the 11th Annual Connect conference.

Packaging: The Next Major Analog-to-Digital Opportunity

Packaging is the material surrounding a consumer item that serves to contain, identify, describe, protect, display, promote, and otherwise make the product marketable and keep it clean. Packaging is also a key opportunity for the digital printing market. This article highlights the opportunities that digital printing technology can bring to this market.

Reinventing Your Business: It Can Start by Taking This Simple Test

This article introduces you to a powerful tool -- highly useful in a brainstorming setting -- that can spark a new level of discovery about how to adapt your business to today’s realities. It is all about considering what you have refused to consider before.

Weathering the Employment and Printing Shipments Data

The employment report was better than the cable channel talking heads thought it would be. Printing shipments continued their unfortunate relationship with economic growth. The Postal Service continues  a summer sale initiative that only fat cats can like.

Marketing Communications: Making Customers

he primary goal of marketing communications is to build awareness of a business, its products, and its position through customer-facing materials such as brochures, press releases, Web sites, and trade show presentations. Marketing communications can transform non-customers into customers or get existing customers to buy more or purchase new products and services. Successful print/marketing service providers have integrated marketing communications that reinforce their messages with target audiences and motivate customers to buy using multiple marketing channels.

Third Annual Print UV Conference in Las Vegas, March 7-9, 2010

Make your reservations, buy your plane ticket, pack your golf clubs, and head to Print UV 2010 at the Wynn Resort in Las Vegas. This year’s event takes place beginning Sunday, March 7, and concludes on Tuesday, March 9.

Donnelley and Bowne: Financial Printing Powerhouse

What will DonnellyBowneBantaMooreWallace look like? The addition of Bowne’s products and services will support and leverage Donnelley’s financial print, statement outsourcing, document business process management, and print management services.

IPA/IDEAlliance Merger: What does it mean for members and for the industry?

Although there has been much discussion in the industry about whether we have too many associations and how much consolidation is needed, IPA and IDEAlliance seem to rarely come up in those discussions. WhatTheyThink spoke with the Executive Directors of both organizations to learn what brought them together and the benefits they believe will come from the new integrated organization. It is a fascinating discussion. David Steinhardt: “We don’t want to be fighting or addressing past issues. We want to be moving forward with a new model and new definition…we have to get out of our bubble to get reengaged where [the market] is moving.”

The Grapes of Wrath: The Brand Protection Conference Offers a Sobering Look at Wine Counterfeiting

At the Brand Protection Conference, the hands-on demonstration of wine label counterfeiting draws some sobering conclusions about brand protection, fraud prevention, and digital printing.

Graphics of the Americas Takes On New Dimensions

Graphics of the Americas keynote speaker looks at the future of interactive displays--it's all very touching.

B2B: It’s A Social Opportunity!

Buyers are embracing social media, and the tools and possibilities for collaboration continue to improve. As a result, social media is becoming a critical channel for print/marketing service providers to help buyers find one another and market to them. This article provides a brief overview of some recent social media initiatives and offers examples of companies that are getting into the game.

Freight: Additional Profit Opportunities

Most companies do a reasonably good job controlling costs in the outbound freight area. This responsibility usually rests in the shipping department, where shippers take pride in getting the lowest price. However, there are ways to lower your freight costs which may be overlooked.

Making Every Hire Count:  Maximizing Your Human Capital Investment

With today’s leaner staff and budgets, every new hire counts drastically. Badly conducted hires will yield you staff who amount to little more than a cost of doing business. But although the money you spend on payroll could well be your largest cash commitment, a staff of properly hired and maintained employees can increase your profits far beyond their cost. Your staff is therefore an investment—easily the most important investment your business ever makes.

Just When I Thought We Were Becoming Japan, Stagflation Seems More Likely Again

Is the U.S. Economy playing out like 1990s Japan or 1970s U.S. stagflation? Dr. Joe changes his mind... again. All it took was the Producer Price Index and Consumer Price Index releases of last week. Well, so much for his lecturing about the tendency of managers to react to the last thing they hear rather than pondering things. He also suggests buying oil with gold might be a good idea after looking at the last 20 years of data. That should be interesting to try during the New England heating season when the oil truck stops by. And if you thought Keynes was dead, you should see his new rap video with Frederich A. Hayek. If dead economists can make a rap video, can Elvis be far behind?

35th Annual Graphics of the Americas Comes to Miami Beach

It’s that time of year again, when graphic arts snowbirds flock to the Sunshine State to take in the pastel-hued wonders of South Beach—and learn about the latest developments in graphics and printing.

The era of our ways

When Komori and Heidelberg drop out of a Graph Expo show, it portends seismic changes in the printing industry. But it is all part of 500+ years of changes. All things have a lifespan, whether they are living things, inanimate things, or even the universe (the ultimate collection of things). They start out as nothing, become something, and ultimately become nothing again. This pseudo-philosophical statement begins a discussion about technological change, a subject dear to all of our hearts.

So you say you want to be a marketing services provider? Tips on closing the “credibility gap”

For printers who want to make the transition to a marketing services provider, we provide some ideas to help answer the question: How do you gain credibility in the eyes of your customers, that you aren’t just the print services vendor they know…but that you can be a communications problem solver for them?

I Want MY Book!

The custom book market offers tremendous opportunity for a number of different constituencies, including creative content providers, Web publishing solutions, and print service providers. The combination of more affordable high-speed digital devices, Web-based content and tools, and a desire for personalized content is causing the custom book market to grow. This article highlights examples of two companies (Penwizard and RPI) that are capitalizing on this opportunity.

Heidelberg & Komori pass on Graph Expo 2010; KBA, manroland and Presstek to exhibit

As the 2010 show season begins, the emphasis has shifted increasingly toward digital solutions, including printing equipment as well as workflow. WhatTheyThink spoke with several offset press manufacturers to find out more about their plans for the most significant North American printing show, Graph Expo, scheduled for October 3-6, 2010, at Chicago’s McCormick Place.

Ipex – An Indicator for the Future

Last week’s Ipex Media summit in London outlined what we can expect at the Ipex show in May. In this we can expect to see many of the products previewed at drupa now becoming available in the market. The article outlines the size and scale of Ipex and why it is such as important show this year. It also gives a few briefs on new products being shown there.

Pitney Bowes President, Document Messaging Technologies, Ramesh Ratan Shares PB Strategy, Industry Outlook

In September 2009, Ramesh Ratan left his position as COO at The DMA (Direct Marketing Association) to become President of Pitney Bowes’ Document Messaging Technologies (DMT). In this interview with Senior Editor Cary Sherburne, Ratan talks about his reasons for joining Pitney Bowes, his top strategic initiatives for the organization, the role printers can play in the age of digital media, and much more. 

Broadband hours and the statistical relationship with printing volumes

Broadband use by adults has been increasing and the number of households with broadband service has almost doubled since 2005. What's the relationship with commercial printing volume? Last year, there were about 48 billion hours of broadband use by households, and every additional hour of use decreases commercial print volume by about $2.

MSP Digital Marketing and TecDoc Digital Solutions: The Case History of an M&A Transaction Done Right

When four print industry veterans decided to form a national network of digital services for marketing communications, they knew they would need the help of an M&A expert. Realizing that the digital universe is huge, they understood that locating the right acquisition targets within it was a task they could entrust only to an advisor possessing "industry knowledge, financial acumen, and a great database." Read how MSP Digital Marketing, with the help of New Direction Partners, took a successful first toward building its network with the well-executed acquisition of TecDoc Digital Solutions.

Your Web Site… It’s Where Prospects Find You!

Possibly the most important reason that print service providers need to have an active Internet marketing strategy is because of the transformation that has occurred in how print buyers seek information. Yes, customers and prospects still talk to sales representatives, look through magazines, and talk to business associates to gather product information, but print service providers need to understand that customers and prospects are turning en masse to the Internet as their primary knowledge source. More than three-quarters (78%) of adult online consumers in the U.S. made some type of purchase via the Web in the previous six months. According to a survey from Nielsen Online, the top transaction categories are travel, credit card management, and online banking.

Nothing Confuses Like Statistics

Things are not always what they seem, especially when statistics are involved. How else can one explain a GDP report of +5.7% and a decrease in the unemployment rate being matched with long faces and pessimism? The economic side-step is continuing, and a mild upturn is being viewed with suspicion. Every time there's good economic data, it seems to barely survive the headline and first paragraph of its press release without devolving into adjustments, revisions, and clarifications. Our job as managers is not just requiring navigation skills, but seems to need a refresher course in defensive driving.

The acronym that is improving graphic arts education

ACCGC. You never heard of it? Accrediting Council for Collegiate Graphic Communications. Doesn’t ring a bell? It is a group of dedicated graphic arts educators and industry suppliers who foster graphic arts education at the college level. Accreditation is how colleges and universities serve professions and industries—by making sure that educational curricula meet the needs of professions and industries.

Print Service Providers Are Going Social!

Now that social media has entered the mainstream, print service providers that build the right marketing strategies have more opportunities than ever. A number of savvy print and marketing service providers are getting into the game and effectively leveraging social media to keep the lines of communication open with their customers. This article discusses how companies like Vistaprint and Tukaiz are using social media to drive business results.

An Interview with Mark Hischar, KBA North America

As it did to every other print equipment manufacturer, 2009 brought a host of challenges to Koenig & Bauer AG (KBA). Declining orders, a change of leadership at the top, job cuts further down the structure, and uncertainty about the future cost this global distributor of sheetfed and web offset presses some momentum.

Differentiating Your Business: Make Sure it’s More Than Just Talk

After presenting you with the tools to develop your Differentiating Strategy and Unifying Business Idea, we’ll turn our focus to creating real differentiation in your business. This means, going beyond what you hope to be…and just peppering your marketing and sales materials with “the new strategy.” This means aligning your entire organization; your policies, practices, products, services, hiring, pricing AND your communications to your new Unifying Business Idea. The stories we share show the payoff.