Heidi Tolliver-Walker is former print industry magazine editor and long-time industry analyst, content developer, author, and blogger. She has written for the industry’s top publications, research companies, and private companies for the past three decades — so long that she still has an AOL address, which she signed up for back when AOL was still cool. You can reach her at [email protected]
The Printing Industries Alliance has released a new report, “Recruitment, Retention, and Pathways to Employment in the Printing Industry” (April 2022), that looks at the realities of the hiring gap in the printing industry and practical solutions for addressing it. Here are seven takeaways from that report.
Older Americans, representing 100 million consumers and more than half of the nation’s wealth and annual spending, are being overlooked by marketers. Two reports from Alive Ventures, “Growing Older Better: Insights and Opportunities” and “State of the Market 2022,” challenge the stereotypes fueling this oversight and shine a spotlight on the opportunities that you can share with your customers.
When a 50-something in Colorado making $100,000 per year starts to look more like a 30-something in Connecticut making $50,000 per year, it leads us to wonder: what role does demographic targeting play in today’s world of direct marketing?
When you want to create an authentic replica of one of the most famous and treasured historic artifacts ever discovered, where do you turn? If you are the curators of the Shroud of Turin, you turn to EFI Reggiani. Heidi Tolliver-Walker looks at this unique printing project.
Is augmented reality (AR) ready to explode onto the marketing scene? It’s already deeply embedded in enterprise applications, where it is being used to speed, simplify, and reduce errors in a wide variety of training, service, and maintenance operations. It’s important to be aware of these uses, since the more commonplace a crossover technology becomes in the workplace, the faster it will make its way into the consumer arena, and AR has become SOP for many enterprises.
With 70–80% of a buyer’s journey already complete before they hit your website, how does your site stack up against others? Contentsquare’s 2022 Digital Experience Benchmark Report provides important benchmarks for buyer experiences. While focused on B2C websites, the lessons translate to all industries, including ours.
Ambika Anand Prokop is the author of Greenfeet Guides, a growing series of travel guides for parents who want to help their children more deeply and emotionally engage with cultures and landscapes around the world. She has also been on a sustainability journey that has led her to understand the value of evaluating printers based not just on their website claims, but on in-person conversations.
Augmented reality is no longer a niche technology used for entertainment and brand-building. It has evolved into a true revenue-generating tool. For printers looking for opportunities to build new revenue streams, AR has arrived.
As the printing industry struggles to maintain a pipeline of new talent, keeping the talent we have becomes all the more important. A new survey on the value of “workations” illustrates one simple way that print providers can retain the talent they have.
In the United States, more than one in five children live in poverty. In the printing industry, finding qualified employees and maintaining the pipeline of new talent into the workforce remains one of the top challenges. A bridge between the two is the Mariano Rivera Foundation. Heidi Tolliver-Walker explains the benefits of this foundation, and what it can mean for finding the next generation of industry employees.
As sustainability becomes bigger business, the emergence of recyclable, compostable, and other eco-friendly plastic alternatives for use in packaging, signage, and mailing is growing, too. But making those investments count may take a commitment on the design end, as well.
As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic and move into the endemic phase, many printers are taking stock of their businesses, asking, “What’s next?” For some, working with a print distributor might be a great option.
Jordan Patterson, vice president of Virtual Packaging (Grapevine, TX), shares his experience working with a Landa S10P Digital (Perfecting) Press—how they’ve used it, what their experiences have been, and what new markets the press has opened to them.
Augmented reality (AR) has been growing in packaging, nonprofit, and retail, but it’s been used primarily for branding and engagement and much less for direct sales and fundraising. But that is changing. This article looks at one revenue-generating AR application: the use of holotwins to promote the Utah Black Business Expo.
The USPS continues to add expanded features to its Informed Delivery service, but based on the USPS’s own year-over-year customer satisfaction data, are these new features actually creating a better user experience?
What is the metaverse? Why does it matter to our industry now? With real-life applications and accessibility to even small print shops and agencies, the metaverse something that we should all be paying attention to.
Clients are increasingly looking for vendors who “walk the walk” when it comes to sustainability. A look at EcoPrint, a printer committed to environmentally responsible services, as an example of how one shop does this well.
The USPS continues to add expanded features to its Informed Delivery service, but based on the USPS’s own year-over-year customer satisfaction data, are these new features actually creating a better user experience?
In a large-scale field study conducted by Harvard Business Review, a luxury e-commerce retailer found that by adding print catalogs, it increased sales by 28% and inquiries by 77%. It also yielded a direct ROI of 600%.
Miss the “Landa Nanographic Printing in the Market” webinar on November 3? Here is a recap of Landa’s portion of the presentation, giving an update on its expansion, its installed base of users, and what it’s learned about the crossover points with offset.
If you haven’t noticed, the emphasis on marketing to Millennials is shifting. Today, it’s all about Gen Z. One of the fundamental characteristics of Gen Z, however, is that they distrust the brands trying to market to them. What does that mean for marketers?
Workplace satisfaction matters. Unhappy employees equal higher turnover. Higher turnover equals higher HR costs and, especially in the printing industry, real concern about the ability to fill open positions. A workplace satisfaction survey from Parallax, while focused on the digital services industry, shines a spotlight on issues that many other employers should consider, including those in the printing industry.
Part 2 of a two-part series based on the What They Think webinar “Print Production Outlook: Tracking the Turning Points.” In Part 1, presenter German Sacristan of Keypoint Intelligence analyzed Keypoint and other data on the industry’s growth and key turning points, including the shift to high-speed inkjet. In Part 2, Sacristan analyzes the current and future state of industry applications, as well the state of packaging and labels.
Part 1 of a two-part series based on the WhatTheyThink webinar “Print Production Outlook: Tracking the Turning Points.” In Part 1, presenter German Sacristan of Keypoint Intelligence analyzes Keypoint and other industry data on the state of the industry’s growth and key turning points.
The United States Postal Service’s Informed Delivery Service is not only growing in subscribers, but it is expanding in services. Its interactive campaigns now offer marketers the option to replace the grayscale scan automatically provided with the service with a full-color “representative” image of each mail piece instead. But is this an option that mailers should rush to embrace?
According to a new survey by Insightly/Zogby Research, consumers would rather have a tooth pulled, learn a TikTok dance with their kid, and wait in line at the DMV than resolve an issue with a company’s customer service department. Why? Because companies are over-confident in their customer relationships and are more interested in talking than listening.
In case you haven’t noticed, the USPS’s Informed Delivery (ID) program has been growing quietly but steadily. It has grown not only in numbers, but also in trust among ID users. Features have been enhanced, and more PSPs are quietly promoting it as an extra value to their customers.
“Enhancing the Print Customer Connection,” a new report from NAPCO Research/Canon USA, 2021, finds that print quality and customer service may not help printers hold onto customers the way they think. Print management, tracking, and reporting tools may be equally or even more important.
Round-up of key data points from WTT’s lunch-and-learn “Interactive Print in the Real World: What’s Really Working?” The data reinforce why AR is not an up-and-coming technology, but rather one that is already here—and a force to be reckoned with.
Merkle’s Q3 2021 Media Insights Report looks at the fundamental changes brought to the U.S. economy by the COVID-19 pandemic—changes that remind us that, even once the U.S. economy is back at full steam, it may not look exactly like the economy that existed before the pandemic.
We’ve been hearing that print is going interactive for years, not just with QR codes, but with technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and near-field communications (NFC). Some of the applications are truly astounding, but are they relevant to the printing industry at large? Heidi-Tolliver-Walker looks at some examples of how “interactive print” is relevant to commercial printers.
Even as CMOs’ 2020 marketing budgets were being slashed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMOs were hopeful that those budgets would bounce back in 2021. But Gartner’s just-released “CMO Spend Survey” tells a different story. Not only are budgets not bouncing back, but they have dropped to the lowest level in the history of the survey. Is there any good news for PSPs in here?
To what extent is this industry merely talking about relevance-based personalization and to what extent are we actually doing it? Insights from Who’s Mailing What!, a national database of direct mail, raises some interesting questions.
As the U.S. economy continues to bounce back, “state of marketing” surveys are giving conflicting pictures. One says marketing budgets are falling. Another says they are rising. What to make of this conflicting information?
Paper and packaging companies are not only consumers of natural resources, but they are striving to be protectors of them, too. Here are five “feel good” stories about how members of the paper industry are doing their part.
Until recently, growth and excitement around augmented reality (AR) has been limited among printers since the barriers to entry were high, and other than for SnapChat filters and niche applications (such as gaming), few consumers were using it. Even as AR experiences became more robust and effective, they required an app, and marketers found that people don’t want to download apps. Now AR has developed a symbiotic relationship with QR Codes, and that changes everything.
Why has one QR code usage gain traction when others haven’t? What lessons can we learn from it? Can QR code use be turned into further print work, even if the code itself “steals” certain types of business?
Recently, Keypoint Intelligence released data from a new vertical market survey that reflects how a classic concept—unboxing—has become today’s news. No company illustrates the power of unboxing more than Apple.
For many printers and their clients, QR codes offer many opportunities for improved customer engagement and better customer service. But for some industries, they could actually represent the potential for lost business for printers, too.
The Who’s Mailing What! Database contains an astounding wealth of information about direct mail. The database is growing by leaps and bounds, currently containing more than 130,000 mail pieces and with 13,000 mail pieces added every 30 days. Because these mail pieces are searchable, you can slice and dice the database any way you want—by industry, by sub-category, by search term, by color, by mailing format, and the list goes on.
Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, a recruitment firm specializing in the printing industry, shares his insights on the challenges of maintaining the pipeline of skilled workers into the printing industry, along with some of the solutions and opportunities that a good staffing agency offers.
It’s rare that a survey is the bearer of truly good news, but the recent consumer attitudes survey out of McKinsey is one of them. Here are seven nuggets of good news from the survey that should make the grass a little greener and the sky a little bluer this morning.
A new Shoppers.com study finds that Americans are more likely to boycott a brand due to their political positions than they were one year ago. So be careful how you post, share, and comment on your social media pages. You could be driving away potential customers.
How careful are you with sharing information about your company, your sales practices, or your processes and technologies in public, thinking, “Nobody knows me here”? Could you be giving away compromising information without realizing it?
If you were asked to come up with a list of ways that QR codes can be used in marketing, how many could you list? Could you come up with at least 10? As QR codes see a resurgence, being driven by everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to USPS postal promotions, it’s time to take stock of how they are being used, as well as the opportunities that are being missed.
This is the third in the series about what can be done to keep the pipeline of new talent flowing into the printing industry. In this article, we look at the relationship between the graphic arts schools (or lack thereof) and the local printers and the profound impact this has on the pipeline.
Following up on last week’s article on the current state of high school and trade school graphic arts programs, what can be done to keep the pipeline of new talent flowing into the printing industry? Has anyone asked the teachers of high school graphic arts programs on the front lines? Here is a selection of responses to a query about what can be done from their perspective...and they had a lot to say.
Jeff White, director of development for the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, solicited insight on the dwindling pipeline of skilled labor from the teachers of graphic arts programs at the high school level. The results reveal why printers can’t wait for someone else to fix the problem.
Do you have a client who seems to be doing everything right in its direct marketing campaigns, yet its metrics are not what they should be? Before the client pins the blame on you, they might want to check two potential culprits that lie between the campaigns and the sale: the website and the call center.
Who’s Mailing What! recently released its report “18 Direct Mail Trends for 2021,” with predictions from leading industry experts about what they are seeing on the horizon for this year. First on WMW!’s list is “more sophisticated personalization.” But what, exactly, does “more sophisticated” mean?
We all know that content is king. Connect with your audiences using the right content and you’ve got engagement, attention, and sales. But that’s if you are sending the right content, and one survey shows that in the B2B market, there is a disconnect between what buyers need and what marketers are sending—and a big one.
There are lots of reasons to encourage your customers to beef up their in-store signage and displays. Great marketing. Safety and regulatory compliance during COVID-19. But did you know that really good signage can also make your customers less price-sensitive?
Consistently, surveys show that giving back to the community increases a brand’s favorability among buyers. Never has this been more true than during the pandemic. That’s why stories like “Mactac Gives Back” resonate so deeply.
Customer product reviews are a powerful tool in e-commerce, and positive reviews often make the difference between someone making a purchase or not. Those reviews are in the public domain, so why not use them in print marketing, too? This company did.
Even if printers are not in the market for a new marketing automation system, tracking the new and updated features of available platforms provides insight into where marketing is going and what they (and their customers) need to watch, both now and in the future. One such change is the increased use of AI to speed and simplify the identification and understanding of customer journeys. As COVID-19 ramps up and consumers tighten their belts (again), the timing couldn’t be better.
Direct mail retargeting is starting to go mainstream. In this post, we look at some key supporting data for growth in the direct mail retargeting market and the approaches used by three printers offering these services.
Gone are the days of evaluating campaigns largely in terms of response rate, conversion rate, and dollars per sale. When we read case studies, listen to webinars, and browse industry coverage, we see a wider range of marketing metrics being used than ever before. It’s no wonder that 90% marketers now see measurable results from their personalization efforts.
The way B2B buyers make purchases is changing, and PSPs and their customers must change along with them. But it provides opportunity, as well. Results from the latest DemandGen “B2B Buyer Behavior Study.”
B2B buyers are using more pieces of content in their research than in prior years. This means more things you can print and distribute digitally for your customers. But exactly what types of content do they see as valuable enough to register for and for which they are willing to provide information about themselves and their companies?
Many print companies have reinvented their business models and service offerings to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic, but not every printer can develop a new proofing solution or create 100% automated, touchless production. But that doesn't mean that you can’t make changes that improve your ability to weather the pandemic and set yourself up for success. Heidi Tolliver-Walker offers some tips from an organization outside the printing industry.
Is the COVID-19 pandemic fueling a rise in the use of QR codes? Yes, and for a simple reason—they provide a safe, touchless way to communicate between businesses and their customers. We see this anecdotally, but data from a recent poll by MobileIron support this observation, as well.
As it has become clear that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be deeper and longer than many expected, printers have an important question to ask: What differentiates the companies that thrive during a recession and those that do not? In this Part 2 on this topic, we look at two additional examples of printing companies that have invested and innovated their way to success.
As it has become clear that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be deeper and longer than many expected, printers have an important question to ask: What differentiates the companies that thrive during a recession and those that do not? In this article, part 1 of two-part series, we look at the research and the first of three examples of printing companies that have invested and innovated their way to success.
When you get a chance to learn from someone else’s mistakes, take the opportunity while you can. In a document titled “Top 10 Mailing Mistakes,” the United States Postal Service offers four examples of mistakes in formatting and design that rendered the mail pieces of four real-life marketers unmailable.
The U.S. Post Office’s Informed Delivery service offers a free interactive campaign feature. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think it through. It’s a great opportunity. Don’t waste it!
When clients are used to traveling for press checks of color-sensitive documents, then a global pandemic severely hampers business travel, how do you continue to meet the needs of those clients? You create a brand-new proofing solution. At least, that’s what you do if you’re Continental Web Press.
DemandMetric and PFL have released their 2020 “State of Multichannel Marketing” report, a survey of 600 marketers on their use of multichannel marketing and coordinated marketing efforts. This is the second year that the companies have paired up to conduct the research, so we look at some highlights of the year-over-year results.
If you are engaging with print buyers, you know that the process looks very different from the way it used to. Just ask Maeghan Nicholson, marketing manager of Suttle-Straus, a large commercial printer just outside Madison, Wis. After a wide-ranging conversation about changes in the process, here are three takeaways.
When you are helping your clients select the target audiences for upcoming campaigns, are influencers on the list? We hear more and more about “influencer marketing,” but how does it work? Should you be helping your clients do it?
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s trading card is the TOPPS Company’s best-selling card of all time—and a product of the ruthless efficiency of the company’s production workflow. What lessons are there for the rest of the industry?
During times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers look to brands to provide leadership. It’s not enough to provide great products, great prices, and great service. Consumers are looking to brands to have a social conscience, as well. This look at statistics collected by Engage for Good provides a number of lessons for both printers and their customers.
Marketers are anxiously awaiting the world to “return to normal,” but what does normal look like? Even when consumers start buying again, there may be radical changes in product categories, segmentation, and product positioning that will outlast the pandemic. Do your clients know what they are? Are they prepared to adjust to them?
Growing data repositories, fractured data management, and the need for automated solutions to extract actionable insights are among the top challenges seen in the data of Salesforce.com’s sixth annual “State of Marketing Survey.”
Just because certain types of personalization have become easier to implement doesn’t mean that the human element isn’t important. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever. Software makes it easier to spit out “personalized” documents, but the people behind those documents still have to think.
As the U.S. economy begins to gradually reopen, marketers are wondering what consumers are thinking. Do they intend to return to shopping as normal? Are their feelings about their favorite brands changing? How do they want marketers to interact with them in these new and changing times? An April 2020 survey from Influence Central provides some insight.
Most companies understand the value of data in driving their marketing campaigns. The problem is, most marketers don’t understand or trust the data they have. In fact, when data contradicts preconceived beliefs—the very time data is most important—companies often dismiss the data and go with their guts instead. So what good is it?
Multi-touch campaigns aren’t just for direct mail and email anymore. Internet search company DuckDuckGo is using the power of coordinated billboard messaging to communicate a more complex message than we typically see on billboards and taking OOH messaging into new territory.
Today, Millennials outnumber Boomers in the US population, and Millennials and Gen Zs are said to account for more than one-third of the workforce. When we are talking about Millennials, we are talking about us. Is it time to start talking about Millennials differently?
Your print shop is still open and you don’t want to lay off or furlough employees unless you have to, but the work isn’t flowing in like it was. How can you justify keeping them on? One of the answers is to see this as an opportunity to invest in strategies that will pay off in an even stronger, more profitable workplace for everyone long term. Here are five ideas for starters.
Part two of Heidi Tolliver-Walker’s interview with Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, a job placement service for the printing industry, about opportunities in a post-COVID-19 environment. Kahn describes opportunities for the right candidates to make lateral moves into new areas, such as changing market verticals or applying skill sets to new printing sectors.
What is the secret to keeping customers from switching to a competitor with lower prices, faster curbside pickup, or a coupon that drops at just the right time? Motista, a provider of predictive intelligence, thinks it has the answer. Customer affinity. A look at the conclusions and data from its two-year study.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that QR codes may be on their way back. In a recent post, I gave two examples of where QR codes should have been and weren’t, and now I’m going to give two examples of where QR codes weren’t, but now they are and why.
A look at the conclusions from “Market Trends 2020,” a new report from Chief Outsiders, a network of top CMOs. The bottom line: We have become accustomed to marketing being driven by buzzwords like “customer engagement” and “focus on the customer,” but those things now must be tied to real, measurable company growth.
If customer experience is king, then maybe we need to stop making fun of QR Codes and take them more seriously, especially with the growing reliance on cellphones for both in-home and out-of-home interaction and with so many situations in which AR and NFC just aren’t practical. Two lost opportunities for customer engagement tell the tale.
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.