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From Digital to Fulfillment

April 2008 BY ERIK CAGLE
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ONE OF the biggest selling points of the annual Web Offset Association (WOA) conference is that it hasn’t turned into a statue that’s firmly cemented and unmoving. The venerable conference’s year-old name, Offset and Beyond, suggests that its participants view technology favorably and don’t consider themselves forever locked into the past.

Not that we’re turning our backs on offset lithography, mind you. It’s not being thrown under the technological bus. But it stands to reason that web and sheetfed offset printers need as many guns in their arsenal as possible to remain competitive in a congested marketplace, and the good folks who bring you Offset and Beyond have rustled up a few ancillary offerings to provide added firepower. Day-long programs on selling fulfillment and digital printing highlight the newest offerings at the 2008 Offset and Beyond.

The following is a brief rundown on some of the new programs at this year’s conference, which is running concurrently with the Binding Industries Association (BIA) Mid-Management Conference.

Selling Fulfillment: Tom Quinn, director of fulfillment services for the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association, will be proctoring the session on how to sell fulfillment and make money at it. The fulfillment session, which is aimed at graphic arts salespeople, will be held on April 28 from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Among the topics he will be covering: the categories and types of fulfillment, and the marketing value chain. Quinn will explore the five basic fulfillment applications, as well as the importance of workflows. He will cover both transactional/one-off sales and establishment/contract deals.

Quinn will also provide an overview of the sales model for fulfillment, prospecting tools and proposals. The importance of quality service in providing new business is another area of focus.

He will introduce a fulfillment sales model and provide a framework for understanding the fulfillment industry, adding a new dimension for the printing salesperson in need of an overall value proposition tutorial. Quinn will also stress the differences between selling printing, mailing and fulfillment.

Go Beyond with Digital: This will be a crossover event with focus on the Digital Printing Council (DPC). The one-day program, held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on April 27, is ticketed as a digital printing business brief and networking event. The aim of the event is to help focus and enable members to profit from digital printing work. The program will be directed by PIA/GATF’s Julie Shaffer, with input from Clemson University’s John Leninger and Brad Lina from PIA/GATF. DPC sponsors and its steering committee will also be participating.

“We’re looking at it as the digital print business you can afford and can’t afford to miss,” notes Mary Garnett, executive vice president of PIA/GATF. “Attendees will be able to network and hear what is the latest in the digital printing area. It will have a lot of energy focused on sharing information about profiting in digital printing.”

The program will cover the infrastructure of a digital printing business along with the selling process. The DPC will discuss its compensation studies, of interest to the ROI-conscious, and discuss their findings. Printers will provide their success stories, and future trends will also be examined. Sponsors will host breakout sessions for attendees to talk about specific technologies.

“We saw the (Offset and Beyond) program as offering everything that’s important in offset, but we realize that offset printers are going beyond just offset lithography,” Garnett adds. This one-day program will immerse participants in the digital business.”

Green Showcase: The PIA/GATF has invited roughly a half-dozen printers to share exhibits touting the success they’ve enjoyed with environmental initiatives. Each printer will showcase, on a 3x4-foot freestanding bulletin board, a display detailing their green initiative. The three-part display will include: 1.) A specific area of “green” the company has set as a goal; 2.) What the company did toward that end; and 3.) The results of their efforts. Printers will be on hand to discuss their projects with conference attendees. The showcase will be set up near the resource center, not far from the suppliers, sponsors and tabletop exhibits.

For instance, a company’s display may feature a paper/aluminum/plastic recycling program and how it has saved hundreds of dollars a month on Dumpster rental fees and reduced the number of disposal units, thus saving space.

“This reflects the Offset and Beyond Conference’s encouragement of green practices,” says Garnett. “Our role is to encourage green practices and encourage printers to showcase what they’re doing so others can develop their own ideas, big and small, regarding green initiatives within their companies. It’s part of the journey of becoming a sustainable green printer.”

The Green Showcase is being sponsored by Adobe Systems and Printing Impressions. Garnett hopes to use this first-year showcase as a springboard to even bigger projects at future conferences.

Student Outreach Program: With the printing industry fending off claims that it is a mature profession, the WOA is reaching out to college students who represent the future of printing. The students chosen have demonstrated a strong interest in graphic arts at their respective schools.

Backed by the PGSF scholarship fund, the students—from Chicago area schools—will be invited to the conference and assist in the overall program. This will allow them to network with conference attendees, familiarizing them with the inner circle of key players from both the printer and vendor sides.

“We’re trying to bring them into the ‘family fold’ as soon as we can to encourage them to see printing as an exciting occupation and a rewarding career,” Garnett remarks. “We want them to foresee a career ladder within the industry.

“We’ll help dispel any reservations they might have about this being an older media and show it in a complimentary light. Hopefully, it will help confirm their choice to opt for a graphic arts career.” PI

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