Blogs

Making a Strong Case for Inkjet

Last week, Canon Solutions America held a special inkjet event at one of its best customers, IWCO Direct in Chanhassen, Minnesota. IWCO Direct produces millions of letters a month as part of direct mail campaigns for many major brands. The variable component of these campaigns is printed and finished on a range of equipment including Canon Océ monochrome toner and color inkjet offerings.

Five Ways to Rank Higher on Google

As we are now halfway through 2015, it’s a good time to reflect on what marketing techniques have worked this year, and what we can improve on in this next quarter. So, let’s start by taking a look at how we can improve search engine optimization moving forward.

How Inbound Marketing Works: Content Distribution (Part Two)

In a previous blog, we covered the first four elements of how inbound marketing/content distribution works: 1) content usage, 2) search engine optimization, 3) landing pages and 4) lead scoring. But there are three more. Let’s pick up right where we left off.

Other Staff Bloggers
Consumables

Last week, Canon Solutions America held a special inkjet event at one of its best customers, IWCO Direct in Chanhassen, Minnesota. IWCO Direct produces millions of letters a month as part of direct mail campaigns for many major brands. The variable component of these campaigns is printed and finished on a range of equipment including Canon Océ monochrome toner and color inkjet offerings.

If your swatchbook is 2+ years old, make sure to check and see if a newer version is available; your clients are relying on you to be the well-prepared professional we both know you are.

I was stunned. Stunned that someone I would consider an industry expert obviously did not know their stuff. With an easy swagger he interchangeably used the terms "whiteness" and "brightness" and "shade." Well, my mother taught me "If you cannot say something nice..." Anyway, here I am to set the record straight.

Sales and Marketing

As we are now halfway through 2015, it’s a good time to reflect on what marketing techniques have worked this year, and what we can improve on in this next quarter. So, let’s start by taking a look at how we can improve search engine optimization moving forward.

In a previous blog, we covered the first four elements of how inbound marketing/content distribution works: 1) content usage, 2) search engine optimization, 3) landing pages and 4) lead scoring. But there are three more. Let’s pick up right where we left off.

Why use 160 words to say what can be said in just 10? Letters get scanned. Books get "eaten." Now, more than ever, we need to be mindful and respectful of the time restraints of others and be economical with our communication choices. Read Bill’s blog this week and discover the power of brevity (although he takes his sweet time getting to that point!)

Workflow/Web-to-Print

I was interviewing Dr. John Leininger, Graphic Arts professor at Clemson University, about best practices in using social media for lead prospecting and, in just a few minutes, he made me really think hard about how I’m using social media.

A couple of weeks ago I asked people in the industry to share the VDP languages, workflow solutions and MIS solutions they use. It is always good to take a quick pulse of the industry and the results confirm much of what I already suspected. Here’s what I found.

One great thing about being in this industry for the past several decades, is that I’ve had a chance to witness and participate in the birth and evolution of some of the technology and services. One that has perhaps changed the most is how printers digitally receive jobs.

Binding and Finishing

Last week, I had the pleasure of visiting Japs-Olson of Minneapolis—a printer that can trace its roots all the way back to 1907! Japs-Olson embodies the lean manufacturing approach to today's direct mail. What I saw was a "holistic" integrated process. Japs-Olson is capable of sending more than four million pieces a day into the USPS mail stream. To do this efficiently, you need critical thinking to be applied at every stage of the process.

Back in the day, the bindery (and finishing in general) was a fairly distinct environment, with some established processes and workflows that had not changed in many decades, (or longer!). This continued to be the case up until several years ago, when high-speed continuous inkjet presses began to take off.

Steve Johnson, founder and owner of Copresco, is a bit of a legend in the digital book business.

Mergers and Acquisitions

All told, the content value chain represents a $1 trillion market—and printing is the least profitable piece of it. If the bulk of your revenue comes from printing, you have a major incentive to find new sources in areas of the value chain you are not currently addressing. With the right guidance and the appropriate systems and equipment, you can learn to leverage these lucrative opportunities.

We may be in a seller’s market now, but that can and will change with time. It always does. As with almost everything else in life and business, timing can make all of the difference in the degree of success you will achieve in a sell transaction.

Nobody likes interruptions to their best-laid plans, but they happen—and M&A deal making isn’t exempt from them. When something happens to impede the sale of a company, it’s natural to want to proceed with caution until the obstacle is safely out of the way. Sometimes, that’s the correct strategy. In other cases, it can be a mistake.

Mailing/Postal

Contrary to some opinionators, direct mail is going strong. Internet ads can't compete with a well-designed, creative, physical mail piece. You might spend a microsecond on a Web ad, but a mail piece has "got you" for 30 seconds at a minimum. So today's mailers are high-tech and well-equipped to keep this medium going strong for many years to come.

I’ve always been a proponent of clean mailing lists. Why would you want to ship your or a client’s direct mail piece or catalog to anyone that is not remotely interested? So, as we approach the New Year and resolutions are bound to be made:

Welcome to my everything-is-backward, what-are-we-coming-to, bizarro blog this week. Ever since the Senate passed the postal reform bill that delays elimination of Saturday delivery by two years and slows the shutdown of mail processing facilities, it seems like everything is the exact opposite of what I would think.

Business Management

I spoke recently at a user group meeting composed largely of commercial printers when the topic of the 'Cloud' came up. I was a bit surprised to hear a very high level of suspicion. I asked the audience: "Who is excited about the opportunities presented by the Cloud?" Two hands went up. "Who’s not?" About half the audience raised their hands. Multiple questions were put forward about data security, possible integration issues, and overall viability. The bad vibes were much stronger than I anticipated.

Procrastination is a paralyzing quandary that many of us deal with on a daily basis in business. It's easy to become sidetracked, even immobilized, choosing to deal with non-essentials that require little commitment or perseverance, rather than face opposition or confrontation.

WHY do so many owners choose to endure PAIN on a daily basis? WHAT could I possibly say to convince them, that without written processes for their day-to-day operations, they are doomed to endure longer and longer hours, stress, errors, lost revenue, rework, sleepless nights, tears, internal backbiting, dissatisfied customers—two steps forward and three steps back?

Digital Printing

AppForum 2015 was awesome. Drew Davis, best-selling author of "Brandscaping," gave a keynote address titled "The Future of Digital IS Print," and kept the audience riveted for a full hour. I’ll never capture everything he covered in a blog post, but I have jotted down some highlights and compiled a few key moments into a video so you can see the energy and passion of his delivery.

We hear a lot about workflow automation, but today I’m going to discuss some tools designed to help your operators do their jobs quicker and more efficiently. I’m looking at EFI’s Fiery Graphic Arts Package, Premium Edition (GAPPE).

Sometimes it seems as if everything is doom and gloom in the printing industry with ongoing reports of plant closures, shrinking margins, and dwindling print volumes. But then I get a chance to chat with someone like Bill Wieners, president of Digital Lizard, about how they started as a $4-5M digital printer in 2011 and have grown an average of about 65 percent a year over the past four years.

Sustainability

As many of you know, Two Sides has been working with several Fortune 500 companies in North America to encourage best practices for environmental marketing related to paper. Our ongoing campaign has been successful, with 33 companies out of 60 removing their claims—a 60 percent success rate to date. But our target is 80 percent and we continue to add new companies to our list regularly.

From working at a computer to socializing, playing games, paying bills, taking notes in class, doing homework, reading books, watching TV and texting, we are all spending an increasing amount of our lives looking at screens. But at what cost to our health?

Despite what many people think, harvesting trees for wood and paper production in a sustainable manner does not cause deforestation. The area occupied by forests in Canada has remained stable over the last two decades while in the United States it increased by 3 percent over the last 60 years.

Inkjet Production Printing

Each year, I am proud to be a part of the Inkjet Summit. It is the only industry event where competitors (printers and vendors) can come together and really share their experiences and technology offerings to advance inkjet adoption.

With no yoga required, you, as a manager, can sense changes in your facility and start a conversation with senior management.

Last week, I participated in the Canon Solutions America anniversary event and had a chance to see, first hand, what they’ve accomplished and where they’re headed. Today, I’m going to write about what Canon Solutions America is doing to drive growth in the inkjet market.

Market Watch

I don't think the large shows like drupa, Ipex, and GRAPH EXPO will be shutting down any time soon. But we will increasingly see major targeted events run by manufacturers that will compete with (and draw attendees away from) the traditional shows.

Shows are expensive, requiring big checks up front. Kodak says it sees a better return from bringing more prospects to its demo center in Rochester, NY and stroking customers at GUA, the company’s user association. The question is whether this is enough.

For the past year or so, the Ipex email machine has been spewing out regular updates, telling me how spectacularly wonderful the show is going to be in its new digs at the ExCel conference center in London.

Color/Quality Control

Sabine’s out-of-town client, a very sophisticated direct marketing agency, had examined the press okay process, jettisoned accepted assumptions, and along the way demolished the model entirely. Air travel, hotels, loupe, D50 lighting, heck, even dots. Who needs any of it?

The task that color management sets out to achieve is by no means easy. Recently at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT), I completed a color management systems course and afterwards took on the challenge of color managing a weekly magazine.

Sheetfed Offset Printing

The 150 VIP attendees at Heidelberg’s recent President’s event witnessed a mix of high and low energy. The “high” was a kickoff tribute dinner for former president Jim Dunn; the “low” was an educational program focusing on low-energy UV printing.

UV Offset Printing

We were told upon the arrival of the sales and tech rep from the roller manufacturer that the $30,000 worth of rollers that were previously ordered and installed by my client were not compatible with full UV inks.

Starting out with the topic of LED UV, Steve Metcalf and Jon Graunke gave an update on where this new technology is currently and where it’s going. They noted that AMS successfully installed its first production unit in Japan on a four-over-four machine last fall, with more units to be installed here in the states this year.

With yet another sold-out conference last week, Print UV 2011 opened with a record audience count. The attendee list included almost 170 participants with representatives from more than 60 individual printing companies, along with some of the leading vendors.

Productivity/Process Improvement

In this blog, I will discuss my prediction for the future of the print production workflow powered by JDF (Job Definition Format) and how this will reshape the way companies structure their workflows—from start to finish—in the near future.

As the new school year begins, I could not be more excited to return to RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology). The campus is alive with students and the school year promises to be a busy one. As I meet people throughout the industry, I always find it interesting to hear how familiar they are with the school.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to rain on industry efforts to better define quality expectations in printing. Certainly industry standards, such as SWOP, GRACoL, SNAP and Bridges, are noble and important. These standards seek to help buyers and their print solution providers communicate quality issues more effectively. And when used properly, they are effective. But with the exception of perhaps SNAP, print buyers for the most part aren’t paying that much attention to industry standards. And some print buyers don’t even know what they are.

In a Print Buyers Online.com survey of over 62 top print buyers, buyers were asked “How relevant