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Digital Digest

April 2010
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Digital Printing Comes Alive At Dscoop5

DALLAS—More than 1,800 HP Indigo owners and users recently gathered for Dscoop5, the 2010 installment of the group's annual conference. Contributing to the record number of attendees was the organization's ongoing efforts to expand participation from companies outside the United States.

Fitting right in with its road sign motif, this year's event got rolling with optional bus trips to local HP Indigo users for company presentations and plant tours. Around 200 attendees were able to go on one of the four half-day trips.

Among the stops was Taylor Publishing, best known for producing student yearbooks, which offered a look at an offset and digital printing workflow optimized to handle extreme production demands on a cyclical basis. Some of its production stats include needing to make some 1,500 plates in an eight-hour shift during the busy season and going from the last sheet of one job to the first good sheet of the next in eight minutes, including hanging eight plates, on its sheetfed presses.

Ken Schmidt, former communications director for Harley-Davidson, then gave an entertaining and thought-provoking keynote address. Schmidt asserted that when consumers make a logic-based, data-driven buying decision, they'll buy at the lowest possible price. Harley's answer was to "appeal to the heart and gut to get them to like us more than the people we compete against," he revealed.

Schmidt recommended that audience members do a simple exercise: gather up "go to market" materials for their companies and competitors, cover up any company identifications and give employees 15 seconds to see if they can pick out their company's marketing materials. Speaking from experience, he noted that Hog motorcycle sales suffered when the company started emulating the rest of the industry by using the same messaging backed up by numbers attesting to its quality and reliability.

Photo Session a Big Draw

Engaging customers was critical to Harley-Davidson's turnaround, Schmidt said. This included holding events where people could test drive its bikes, a move motorcycle sellers had considered too risky for liability reasons.

These traveling road shows also provided an opportunity to ask prospects face-to-face, "What do we need to do to this bike to make you want to own it?" The Harley representatives on hand made sure to have a pen and paper in their shirt pockets, Schmidt added, because "writing down what people say makes them feel important."

Sessions on the photo publishing sector and applications were moved to a larger room after the "Photo Market Emerges" panel drew a standing room only crowd that spilled out the door. Those who managed to squeeze in heard from three executives whose companies are expanding the market beyond the consumer-oriented Websites for producing personal photo books, like Shutterfly, blurb and Snapfish.

Even though he was able to stake an early claim to the photo book market in Brazil, Marco Perlman of Digipix, explained how he was still striving to smooth out the seasonality of that market by targeting business clients with photo-centric gift items, including hats, bags, cups, calendars and more.

DME's Mike Panaggio shared how his company has gotten into event books and sports-related offerings. Using DirectSmile software, it has partnered with colleges, for example, to offer memorabilia such as a personalized print of the football stadium with the person's name spelled out by a digitally generated representation of the school band. The company also is working with NASCAR stars, since its facility is across the street from the Daytona International Speedway in Florida.

Calling New York home enables Duggal Visual Solutions to focus on high-end applications such as limited run books for artists and professional photographers, as well as modeling cards for talent agencies. Books for a gallery show can go for as much as $3,000 a piece, reported owner Michael Duggal.

In his overview, Alon Bar-Shany, HP Indigo's vice president and general manager, characterized the market more broadly as "photo-intensive" products. He said HP is forecasting 177 percent customer page growth in the photo publishing sector this year.

Bar-Shany noted that the company is targeting professional labs and photo finishers in offering digital printing as a replacement for silver-halide prints, which is where the new HP Indigo WS6000p press fits. For the typical HP Indigo user, he sees opportunities in short runs of cookbooks, catalogs, real estate listing books, event materials and self-publishing of brand books, portfolios, children's books and more.

The new HP ElectroInk White for sheetfed models introduced during the conference has potential for photo publishing applications, Bar-Shany added.

A Learning Event

Even as shops look to expand into new markets, many ad agency professionals still have a limited knowledge of the marketing capabilities digital printing affords, reported Bob Boucher, vice president and creative director of Cole Creative in Boston, in the "Pitching and Partnering with Agencies" session. That insight came from a focus group HP conducted with 20 ad agency professionals, which Boucher attended. Group members were enthusiastic about what they learned, he noted, adding that these agency reps said they saw it as HP's role to communicate such information rather than it coming from their print service providers.

All told, attendees could choose from more than 100 educational sessions and five hands-on workshops that addressed business and operational issues facing users of HP Indigo and Scitex wide-format printing equipment. They also could gain more product-specific information from a slate of special partner presentations and by visiting the event's Solutions Showcase that set a new benchmark as well, with 90 partner vendors highlighting their products and services.

Among the other highlights of the conference was the naming of the 2010 Jack Glacken Award winner—Moe Farsheed, CEO and co-founder of MindFireInc. The "outstanding contributions to the Dscoop community" that Farsheed was recognized for included his involvement in the organization's founding and ongoing service as a trusted advisor to the Dscoop board of directors. PI

—Mark Smith



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