As you consider how to position your business for the future, one important step is to look “outside in”. This means looking beyond your core strengths, even looking beyond the needs of your customers. This involves an understanding of big, broad, macro trends that will influence how people will live and work, as well as where opportunities will exist for businesses like yours in the years to come.
The term “analytics” is now a common part of the business and technology lexicons due to the increasing importance and ubiquity of data. You may have heard of analytics, but what’s it all about and why does it matter to your print business? Bryan Yeager helps you wrap your head around analytics.
Digital technology has disrupted and transformed the established teaching and learning paradigm. Today’s students are captivated by the personalization and socialization of online tools - the ability to build large networks of friends; share their thoughts, feelings, and goals; and communicate as they wish. Digital tools are having a tremendous impact on the educational publishing market. This article discusses how Mercury Print Productions is addressing today’s changing market dynamics.
Since 2001, InnerWorkings has been swiftly growing and trying to position itself to overhaul the print procurement world. The future does appear bright for the Chicago-based company; however, it still has to work against established trends in printing and angle itself to be different - even revolutionary - from its competition.
Lancaster, Ohio, based Cyril Scott, a CGX company, has invested some $10 million in equipment, technology and people over the past two years, despite a difficult economic climate. Senior Editor Cary Sherburne spoke with Cyril Scott President Matt Coltharp to find out more.
In this final part of a four-part series, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne interviews two more printing firms about their social media experiences. Part One examined the reasons why printing firms need to be engaged in social media and reviewed offerings by MarketingIdeasForPrinters that make social media as easy as a click of the mouse. Part Two reviewed the Grow Socially offering for Social Media services. And Part Three looks at the experiences of a supplier, Komori and a printer, Quad/Graphics.
Things are never what they seem in economics, like how we paid $10.78 per gallon for gas in 1980. Dr. Joe explains the strange math that reminds us about the distortions of inflation and the wonder of ingenuity, and how news reporters unaware of them. Pepsi made a huge blunder with social media, but we should be encouraged by their mistake because it should inspire print business executives that they are just as smart as those Ivy League execs with all their market research reports. We may have the ultimate weapon: common sense.
We’ve asked if the print industry can still support multiple trade shows. Now Frank is wondering about trade associations. He went to a couple recent events and he’s reported back to us on what kind of year we’re having on the event circuit.
A successful M&A transaction is the sum of many carefully fashioned parts. This month, New Direction Partners and Margolis Becker delve into the details with comments on how deals can be influenced by client concentration; plant ownership; non-compete agreements with salespeople; acquired management teams; post-acquisition price increases; and personally guaranteed debt.
Michael Kucharski is a longtime printing executive boasting a career at Xerox where he became senior Vice-President of Graphic Communications Business. He was also General Manager of Integrated Media Solutions with Vertis Communications. WhatTheyThink caught up with him picked his brain about where he sees the print industry going.
In this third part of a four-part series, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne interviews one printing firm and one supplier to the industry about their social media experiences. Part Four will contain the final two printer interviews. Part One examined the reasons why printing firms need to be engaged in social media. Part Two reviewed Grow Socially’s offering for Social Media services.
If you don’t have an up-to-date view of the needs of your key customers – at a deep level – it can be hard to expand your key customer relationships today. If you are looking to move “upstream” and get more involved with customers in terms of marketing services, creative work, mission critical applications and business processes, the question is: Have you had “The Talk” with your customers?
In this second part of a Four-part series, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne reviews another option for printing firms to get into the social media game, from Grow Socially. She spoke with CEO John Foley to learn more about the kind of value they’re offering their clients.
This is a follow up to last month’s article, “Paper is Getting a Bad Rap”. It focuses on what individuals and organizations are doing to help clear up some of the misinformation surrounding paper and print.
While printers have been pursuing workflow automation to increase efficiency for a number of years, there is always room for improvement. Bryan Yeager provides the latest data to highlight trends on printers’ workflow priorities & initiatives.
Things are looking great for Heidelberg. Andy Tribute looks at the recent moves the company has made to position itself financially and strategically and discusses how its relationship with Ricoh could influence its future.
Today's economic conditions make economists wish they had more hands and while making the common people more frustrated in their attempts to figure it out. Oil and food are rising in price, but the economy seems better in some ways with some reports of improving employment. GDP is still rising, but some industries are still suffering. Dr. Joe explains why just staying busy is not enough and that it's what you're doing that really matters.
Five printers representing nearly half the installed base of KBA Rapida 205s in the U.S. say that the performance of this 59.5" x 81" press is as impressive as sheet size. They speak assuredly of the big improvements that the industry’s biggest press has made, or is fully expected to make, to the foundations of their businesses.
Sales isn’t just about being able to meet the stated needs of the prospect. Sales is a dance that starts with a gut feeling. First gain trust and show respect. Only then will your prospect be tuned into your intellectual pitch.
There is a new value chain for book publishing. Instead of trying to guess about print runs (especially in the face of e-books), major publishers are simply printing books on demand. Authors are using this model and selling their creations directly to the public. This has caused the market to become considerably more unpredictable.
The smallest format it can print is a bigger piece of paper than most sheetfed plants have ever handled. It’s hard to avoid superlatives when describing KBA’s 59.5" x 81" Rapida 205, the world’s largest sheetfed offset press—especially when five printers representing nearly half of its installed base in the U.S. say that its performance is every bit as impressive as its sheet size.
Dr. Joe Webb has compiled reports on US commercial printing profits going back to 1995, and brings it all current to Q4 2010. This report examines the latest trends in shipments, profits and capacity for the industry, of which the Federal Reserve just made revisions going back almost 25 years. How does Joe recommend printers steer the course? What will it take to get the print industry out of the hole? Dr. Webb has insights that can help.
In this first part of a three-part series, Senior Editor Cary Sherburne looks at options for printing firms to get into the social media game. This article examines offerings by MarketingIdeasForPrinters that make social media as easy as a click of the mouse.
Dr. Webb looks at February's shipments, Canada's January shipments, and updated forecasts for the North American printing industry to 2017. There's an updated GDP Forecast model and commentary on why that model is not totally reliable for forecasting the print industry. Will the rest of 2011 be as positive as January and February? Dr. Joe discusses.
Marketers of all sizes are seeking providers that can create automated programs to welcome new customers, cross-sell and up-sell to existing customers, nurture new leads, increase customer satisfaction, and win back customers. Fundamentally, these marketers want to add science to the art of marketing. This article provides examples of companies that are currently focused on driving marketing automation.
The planned sale of St Ives Web to Walstead creates the largest magazine printer in the UK. Is this trend for consolidation a key for bringing the magazine market under control with capacity geared more at publishers needs, and also bringing production prices back to realistic levels? Will this consolidation trend continue in other print markets?
Yesterday saw the conclusion of On Demand 2011, which also ran in conjunction with info360 (formerly AIIM) and a new conference, PublishingXchange, at the Washington D.C. convention center. Two key digital printing players, Xerox and Kodak, were absent. What's in store for next year when the show(s) move to New York's Javits Center in June of 2012?
Brands, agencies, and traditional media marketers are finding innovative ways to utilize mobile barcodes as an effective means of passing product information in-store, bringing static ads to life, and engaging customers through contests or loyalty reward systems. This article considers some of the things that successful marketers are doing to optimize the print/mobile customer experience.
We’ve all heard about the promise that personalized communications can deliver, and many service providers have gotten in the game, creating more competition than ever before. While there is substantial opportunity, service providers need to expand capabilities, differentiate offerings, and meet marketers’ needs to remain competitive.
While he loves computers, when it comes to dinnertime, Dr. Joe still prefers food. Seems the Fed would prefer we think otherwise. As far as understanding inflation at its core, a good meal can go a long way if you have the money for it. He takes a new look at a dead French economist. And considers the print execs you won’t see in San Francisco mid-April.
We have all seen the words at the bottom of the email “Save a tree – Don’t print this”. Paper is getting a bad rap and it is important that we communicate the positive aspects of paper. Domtar and other industry members have been working to educate the public on paper use and its impact. This article summarizes some of the key issues.
HP is upping the ante in the inkjet game with the new T400 Color Inkjet Web Press announced today during a press event being held at Los Angeles based O'Neil Data Systems. With a 42” web width, the T400 offers more than just raw speed, promising to be a game changer for several target markets.
"What's my company worth to a buyer?" Easy to ask, but not so easy to answer correctly. This month, New Direction Partners and Margolis Becker explain the multiple-of-EBITDA formula that's used to determine pricing in many conventional acquisitions. They also discuss asset-based valuation for tuck-ins and note the commission structures that sellers can expect to receive in M&As of this type.
Andy hadn’t heard much reporting on the process of adding inkjet printing heads to existing equipment - so he went out looking for it. He’s covered the latest and greatest on inkjet finshing , and he visited one of the largest UK direct mail printers to see how they’re utilizing the technology.
On Friday, March 4th, DG3 North America announced the acquisition of substantially all of the assets of The Ace Group of Manhattan. DG3 touted its ability to expand its Interactive Services group through this acquisition. This interview with Ace Group’s Val DiGiacinto and DG3’s Tom Saggiomo digs deeper into the transaction and what it holds for the future of both firms.
In 2010, Scott Belsky published a book entitled Making Ideas Happen. In last week’s article, Barb Pellow discussed how the recent Dscoop6 conference provided a demonstration of Belsky’s ideas in action. This article explains the dynamics required to make ideas happen. It also details how executives from companies like Tukaiz and Frecklebox are leading by example.
The Fourth Annual Print UV Conference brought printers and vendors together to pool their knowledge, share tips, techniques, and processes, and solve problems. Two days’ worth of sessions showcased new ink and substrate developments, case studies, and a plethora of panel discussions and interactive Q&As.
Dr. Webb comments on what the forecasting models are projecting for shipments out to 2017. The podcast also includes an analysis of how the industry has changed between 2000 and 2009 based on the latest data from the Commerce Department.
Over the course of the last decade, Web-enabled printing has grown from 3% of overall print shipments to 15%, and that number is expected to double over the next five years. It is clearly time for print businesses to overcome the technological, cultural, and educational barriers of Web enablement and engagement to capture this growing opportunity.
Reading past the headlines seems to be Dr. Joe's specialty since no one else is doing it, especially with last Friday's unemployment report. Printing shipments were up in 2010, and January was a strong month, but printing employment seems to tell a different tale. Beware of academics bearing jargon: Dr. Joe explains why “Ph.D.” sometimes, as the old joke goes, means “piled higher and deeper.”
In 2010, Scott Belsky published a book entitled Making Ideas Happen. The premise for this book is that anyone can develop the capacity to make ideas happen. In this article, Barb Pellow discusses her experiences from the recent Dscoop6 conference and explains how the event provided a demonstration of Belsky’s ideas in action.
Baltimore-based Vertis Communications exited from its second bankruptcy in two years just before the start of 2011. As Gerald Sokol Jr. replaces former Xerox executive Quincy L. Allen as chief executive officer, the company now hopes to make big changes and advance into new partnerships.
Knight Foundation director of digital media John Bracken gave the keynote address at Graphics of the Americas last week in which he discussed the future of media and journalism in the age of social media. Other sessions focused on traditional print business issues, as well as integrating new and social media initiatives.
One of the more important announcements at Hunkeler Innovationdays was the Xerox waterless production inkjet engine; Xerox updates its positioning. Soon after this event was the long-awaited announcement by Heidelberg of its digital partner—Ricoh. Sherburne highlights pros and cons of this arrangement and shares a prepared statement from Xerox along with some interview comments about the deal.
The FESPA Americas’ Global Business Forum devoted a half-day suite of sessions to sustainability in the printing industry, offering perspectives from equipment vendors, commercial printers, certification organizations, and independent consultants—as well as a keynote address from Nike.
The business process of print spans the needs of several technology solutions. Whenever multiple technologies exist, there is potential overlap and the need for integration. Get clear on what each technology’s core purpose is and then determine your source of master data throughout your workflow.
Two-dimensional barcodes have become the hot new response mechanism to use in marketing campaigns. While they add interactivity to print by connecting it directly to mobile devices, mobile barcodes can easily be misused and abused. By delivering a seamless, engaging experience, print and marketing service providers can achieve mobile marketing success and repeatable business.
The upcoming Print UV Conference in Las Vegas will offer a wealth of information and resources about the technological, environmental, and business opportunities to be had with UV printing. Sessions run the gamut from new inks and substrates to selling and marketing UV-printed products.
As Heidelberg announces its plans to partner with Ricoh on a digital printing venture, Andy Tribute sees that Heidelberg has learned its lesson from its last foray into digital. He looks at the features of the press, its place in the pressroom and Heidelberg’s new relationship with Ricoh.
This year’s Hunkeler Innovationdays, held in Switzerland every other year, was a resounding success by anyone’s measure. More than 5,000 attendees descended on Lucerne, Switzerland, taking up just about every available hotel room, to benefit from this highly focused digital printing event. Several suppliers chose this venue to make important announcements and to discuss future and planned digital printing/finishing innovations.
Just as the economy seems to be improving, Dr. Joe is back with his Dr. Doom persona. He thinks it's justified based on the latest inflation and wage data, and makes the case accordingly. The pace of technological change seems to be independent of the economic situation, and while Dr. Joe suggests that caution is the economic watchword, he says that the continued rapid rate of technological change should lead to urgent and direct management action in print businesses.
Next week’s 36th annual Graphics of the Americas show, colocated with FESPA Americas, increases its focus on educational programs for present and prospective wide-format service providers. The show also retains its focus on traditional printing, as well as content creation via the colocated Cre8 Conference targeted to graphic designers and publishers.
Being in a rapidly evolving industry is always challenging. As you decide where to focus your business for the future, think about looking outside the industry for inspiration and new ideas. Here are two very different industries that bear an uncanny resemblance to printing/graphic arts – and offer lessons you can use in your own business.
Generating relevant marketing communications generally means creating personalization or customization for potential customers. Print and marketing service providers that are successfully participating in the more lucrative data-driven marketing value chain have four common traits—culture, people and processes, data, and technology. This article discusses the importance of these traits and includes examples of companies that are profiting from data-driven marketing.
This article examines how to differentiate your printing company through the use of large format press equipment. It looks at how large format presses can create a competitive advantage for your company. Costs associated with moving to large format press equipment are also considered.
The partners at New Direction Partners join financial management firm Margolis Becker for the monthly Cup O Joe, a conference call with printers on a selected topic. With the help of NDP partners Peter Schaefer and Jim Russell, Cup O Joe tackled the topic “Acquiring A Company from an Owner’s Perspective.” Some excerpts are presented here.
Hunkeler Innovationdays running this week in Switzerland will cover trends and developments in digital printing and print finishing for digital printing. The following is a brief outline of the event, identifying some major announcements being made. WhatTheyThink will report on the event, keeping up to date with the latest news.
Xerox chose Hunkeler Innovationdays 2011 in Lucerne, Switzerland as its platform to make its long-awaited production inkjet announcement. The company has been showing technology concepts, beginning with drupa 2008, and speculation was it would be some time before they were able to get a product to market. That time has come, with an innovative waterless printing process that can use virtually any type of uncoated substrate without pretreatment.
Customers are clearly in control of the media they consume. Mobile devices, iPods, DVRs, and the Internet have changed marketing forever. Effectively utilizing cross-media communication and giving prospects a variety of ways to respond can have a dramatic impact. Media dynamics are changing and we’ve covered how businesses are taking advantage of this evolution.
Océ’s Envision the Future Forum, held last week in Houston, TX, drew on keynote presentations, strategy sessions, networking opportunities, and a print shop tour to help printers understand which aspects of print are growing, get a sneak peak at some cutting-edge “interactive print” applications, and develop business strategies for success.
Print businesses are actively diversifying their services to include marketing services, online print ordering, and more. To enable quicker time-to-market and offer greater differentiation, printers are shifting the roles of their IT departments away from administration and closer to development. This article discusses why this shift is occurring and how your business can effectively deal with it.
Sometimes you see a lot by looking, according to famed economist Yogi Berra. Somehow, the labor statisticians’ “whoops” factor involves over-counting the number of employed people by a mere half million. Then they say unemployment got better, except, of course, for the parts that got worse. At least there was exceptionally good news from the Institute of Supply Management reports, the best in quite a while. Dr. Joe explains what printers should assume in their planning, saying that skill really matters, and that luck will have nothing to do with it.
December 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $347 million (+4.9%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +3.3%. This brought the year's shipments to $86.7 billion.
Andy Tribute looks at how the agreement between Océ and manroland is about more than just distribution but an opportunity for these two companies to leverage their strengths. And Andy tells us what's the big deal about Kodak entering the consulting business for the printing and publishing markets.
In mid-January, show organizers for PrintChina 2011 hosted more than 40 journalists from around the world to raise awareness about the importance of PrintChina and to encourage foreign visitors to attend the show. WhatTheyThink represented North America at this event, which featured presentations from government, industry and supplier representatives as well as a visit to a Chinese printing factory. Interesting data, and some thoughts about the future of print in China. Read more.
Last week, EFI and Heidelberg announced an agreement under which Heidelberg will distribute the VUTEk GS series of superwide format digital printers to the commercial print market across the U.S. WhatTheyThink spoke with both Heidelberg and EFI to get the inside scoop on this deal.
This article provides a case history of the Allegra Network, a Michigan-based company that began franchising in 1977 and launched its franchise brand name in 1996. The Allegra Network is embarking on an aggressive plan to help its members evolve into cross-media specialists and marketing service providers who also excel at the delivery of print.
Vistaprint has been a unique model of success within the printing industry – particularly during financial downswings. Here is a closer look at the company as it seeks to stay ahead with new product lines and capitalizing on the Asia-Pacific market.
As social media become more and more popular for personal use, it is becoming an increasingly common tool in the corporate world. Companies utilize social media in a number of ways to accomplish a variety of tasks. The print industry is not immune. Learn how they’re finding value in posting, updating and tweeting online.
Knowing when to do the deal is probably the trickiest judgment call in any merger of printing companies. Correct timing is a must for both parties, but choosing the right moment to step forward into the M&A marketplace rests with the seller. It’s a decision that calls for introspective as well as strategic thinking.
Where does your business transition start? Changing WHAT you do or HOW you do it? The first step to evolving your business in the digital economy is to transition your existing business from an offline business to a primarily online business (HOW you do your business is leveraging the digital infrastructure).
As communications channels and tools undergo seismic changes…and as sourcing options continue to expand…it has never been more vital to understand, build upon and expand your core competencies and company strengths. Here are some tools, techniques and elements that can help you discover and take maximum advantage of what your company really does best.
November 2010 commercial printing shipments were $7.48 billion, up $303 million (+4.2%) compared to 2009. Adjusting for inflation, shipments were up +4.2%. “This was a very encouraging month, and continues the consecutive gain in current dollar shipments for eight months,” explained Dr. Joe Webb, director of WhatTheyThink's Economics and Research Center.
It’s no secret that the methods companies use to communicate with the public have begun shifting to electronic media. As printers shift to electronic media services and print e-commerce storefronts, the sources they use to obtain industry information are also changing. Recent research gives us a glimpse into the top sources that printers are leveraging to stay informed.
The recent study by PRIMIR showed the changes in the printing market for offset and digital and looked at when the “tipping point” when digital would be of more value than offset would take place. This article looks at the PRIMIR projections and compares them with figures generated by Heidelberg. The assessment shows that the “tipping point” is still years away and that there is a good future for offset printing.
FESPA Americas 2011 comes to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, in February, and offers business strategies, market trends, new technologies, and unique hands-on workshops for commercial printers, wide-format specialists, and screen printers. The Wrap Cup Masters is an open competition where contestants vie to wrap a variety of vehicles right at the show.
Dr. Joe digs into the details of the economy now that it's three years since the recession started, and eighteen months since the recovery started. Does it really feel like a recovery? The headlines of the various economic news stories seem to be quite different than reality, so Dr. Joe explains what's happening behind the scenes as he starts his ninth year with WhatTheyThink. And they said it wouldn't last.
This article includes tips for saving money and improving your operational excellence by using all your resources – especially your vendors. Areas covered include: consumables, freight, paper, and recycled waste. By picking one or two of these ideas you can improve your operation and lower your costs.
It's a New Year, and we all know what that means... resolutions! Deciding what we want to achieve is easy, but actually reaching our objectives can be quite challenging. This article outlines eleven value-added strategies that graphic communications service providers can consider for additional success in the year ahead.
Bill McGlynn was well-known to many of our readers during his 25 years with HP, where he helped accelerate the company’s printing business from $150 million to $24 billion in annual sales, including his role in the Indigo acquisition which led HP’s entry into the commercial printing space. Now McGlynn is building Memjet’s Home & Office Business as its President. Read more…
Mailing giant Pitney Bowes has announced a new secure online mailbox initiative. Volly is a secure repository for bills, promotional mail and even household documents that attempts to solve many of the issues that have been barriers to more rapid adoption of online billing. Read more...
As the WhatTheyThink team prepares to head for Lucerne, Switzerland in February to attend the Hunkeler Innovationdays, we talked with Hunkeler CEO Stefan Hunkeler to gain insight into what to expect at this unique event. We also asked Hunkeler to share his thoughts about the current state of the industry.
What better way to end the year than by having a conversation with Joe Davis, CEO of Consolidated Graphics and WhatTheyThink’s Print CEO of the Year. Davis tells us what’s new at Consolidated Graphics, talks about acquisition strategy, and shares valuable insight into the strategies that have delivered business success for the company.
In the time-honored tradition of ending the present year with resolutions for improvement in the year to come, New Direction Partners offers guidance for print company owners who may find themselves on one side or the other of an M&A transaction in 2011.
Press headlines and reported hiring trends in both the U.S. and Canada indicate a modest increase over the past few months. PrintLink believed employment would start to moderately improve at the end of Q3/beginning of Q4 2010... and our stats demonstrate this is indeed the case. See how this should impact the way your thinking about hiring.
In the twelfth and last article of this series, industry expert and WhatTheyThink contributor David Zwang finishes his discussion about cross-media communications and production basics, this time with a review of what you should be doing and why you should be doing it.
Retailers are working to combine the power of mobile and print as they attempt to convince consumers to shop with them. They can get the word out about holiday sales via print, SMS, the mobile Web, and branded applications, while brands can use various forms of mobile advertising to achieve their holiday-specific goals. This article provides examples of several retailers that are using mobile marketing to increase their reach.
In the minds of media professionals whose the icon is the iPad, how much attention can print and other traditional channels expect to command? Speakers at this high-level event indicated that no matter what media are used, the quality of the content is what spells the difference between virality and oblivion for the brand message.
In a recent article titled “How Well Is Your Business Positioned for the Future”, we posed a series of six strategic questions designed to prompt some reflection. In this article we elaborate on the question: What Business Are You In?
This past year several publishers realized they could increase their print runs for digital books beyond what was previously thought profitable. The key was high-speed, continuous inkjet printing. WhatTheyThink caught up with Pearson Publishing to explore their thoughts on this new format.
Set to open February 24th, FESPA Americas 2011 is the best opportunity the print industry gets to bring its international community together. We’ve highlighted six special features of the show that promise to entertain and enlighten.
The third quarter of 2010 continued a welcome continuation of profitability for the industry. It has had seven consecutive months of increased sales, but it's clear that the profits trend is increasing, but the long term sales trend is flat.
Even if you know the price of new equipment, do you really know the total cost? We show you the questions you should be asking to get a comprehensive picture of what your total cost of ownership looks like.
The formerly manageable world of marketing that primarily used print and mass media has exploded into countless choices related to cross-media communications. Marketers can now successfully engage their customers to achieve higher brand awareness and consumer ownership of their brands.
New Direction Partners has taken its M&A consulting on the road in a series of presentations. In these briefings, NDP offers an overview of the business climate for mergers and acquisitions, along with practical advice for owners pondering the next step in the life cycles of their companies.
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.