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2012 Preview : A Trade Show Redefined

September 2012 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor

There are many observers within the printing industry realm that believe the term marketing services provider has gotten out of hand. Marketing is such a macro concept and, at the granular level, purveyors of such services are offering such diverse and changing capabilities that it's nearly impossible to pin down. No one knows exactly what it means and no one is bothering to define the standards.

Fortunately, print is still a significant aspect of an integrated marketing package. And that's where Graph Expo can provide its greatest support in the quest to define who you are, as a printer, if this whole "marketing" thing leaves you confused and frustrated. Want to talk marketing? Let's worry about marketing the printer's capabilities first.

The Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) has compiled an impressive array of learning opportunities offered in a variety of formats. In addition to the show floor, packed with more than 450 vendors, a host of new learning opportunities will include more than 50 seminars in 31 educational categories; new sessions for a 12th industry segment (photo imagers); an in-plant seminar track; 48 co-located conferences, user group meetings and events; the new Converting and Package Printing (CPP) Zone; and the Marketing Pavilion (yes, marketing). And that's only scratching the surface of all the events that will be happening when the masses converge on McCormick Place in Chicago from Oct. 7-10.

However, as the face of the industry continues to morph, printers need to know how they can best serve the evolving needs of their clients, and the first step is becoming thoroughly immersed in the latest tools available. With knowledge comes confidence, which makes the printer a more effective shopper. After all, you can't just pop in a how-to DVD that was taped to the side of your new wide-format printer and become a signage producing stalwart.

"Companies can't sit back—not attend events like Graph Expo—and say that they'll invest when the economy gets better," notes Ralph Nappi, president of GASC, which produces the Graph Expo and PRINT shows. "Whether they're commercial printers, photo imagers or transactional printers, they all realize this is the new reality, the new normal. And that's why, despite the fact that the industry is still struggling, we were up 12 percent on company attendance and 7 percent in individual attendees last year. And, I believe we'll see increases again this year."


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