Blogs

Sales Process Q&A – Part Two of Three

Continuing with the second installment of a three-part blog series, here are answers to more sales planning questions, prepared in response to a trade pub editor’s request.

Three Timeless Rules for Closing the Communications Gap

For leaders and employees, it is important to clearly communicate all expected boundaries within a mutually agreed to parameter.

Three Ways to Keep in Touch with Customers Over a Holiday

When the holidays come, we are all ready for some well-earned time off. During that time off, It’s time to forget about printing for a few days and enjoy the break. But you don’t want your customers to forget you...

Other Staff Bloggers
Sales and Marketing

Continuing with the second installment of a three-part blog series, here are answers to more sales planning questions, prepared in response to a trade pub editor’s request.

For leaders and employees, it is important to clearly communicate all expected boundaries within a mutually agreed to parameter.

When the holidays come, we are all ready for some well-earned time off. During that time off, It’s time to forget about printing for a few days and enjoy the break. But you don’t want your customers to forget you...

Digital Printing

I attended the recent Dscoop Americas event in San Antonio and was struck by a few trends, such as value-added special effects, digital laser cutting, PrintBeat (which will be the heart of PrintOS for HP Indigo users), the overlap of inkjet and electrophotography, and Print in 8 (the idea that print could be delivered anywhere in the world in eight hours).

Lots of companies are willing to tweak a process step or two to streamline their production workflows a bit; but who is willing to rip out existing equipment and processes and suspend business for three months to fundamentally change how they do business? Barksdale Portraits balanced the potential of leapfrogging ahead of the competition by three years to the risk of losing the company within a year and made the right call.

More than the general print sector, newspapers in general have been heavily impacted by the internet and mobile devices.

Sustainability

Last week, USA Today published a column entitled "Paper may be bad for trees, but it is good for people," by Tal Gross, an assistant professor at Columbia University. Here at Two Sides we could not agree more with the findings and statements related to the benefits of paper for education and learning.

It’s a long way from printing plants in Wisconsin or New Jersey to the rugged wilderness of Canada’s northwest coast and its’ Great Bear Rainforest. Nonetheless, there is a strong and meaningful connection between the hum of the presses and the soft sounds of the vast, living ancient forest.

It's been said by many strong voices, including Forbes as early as 2010, there is "no sustainability without transparency." To tackle customer skepticism and growing expectations of truly sustainable performance, companies must be increasingly willing to share information on their efforts to improve CSR and their impacts across multiple touch points.

Binding and Finishing

It's no secret that we're dealing with a greatly compressed printing industry as opposed to the "roaring '90s." For trade binderies, the news has been even worse. In the last few years, some of the largest trade shops in the Chicago-land, the East Coast, and more have closed their doors. But, amidst the bad news, there are trade binderies that are not only surviving, but doing well, thank you. What are their secrets?

Barcodes are simple and adaptable. They can be easily printed via imposition subroutines, and they can contain lots of information, depending on the symbology used. Barcode readers are both capable and affordable. A barcode printed on a sheet, signature, or cover can trigger actions on a finishing system and record important data such as job number and collation order at the same time.

Many finishing operations wonder which machines to invest in. Given the shifting sands of the market, this is not an easy decision.

Consumables

New research highlights the importance of forests, and the future of straw can revolutionize the printing industry.

Slowing down and following a "Best Practices" method to paper trials and qualification will save you time and ink costs by focusing on ink and paper surface compatibility. As your cost for a better inkjet paper and print quality go up, your ink usage should go down. But only if there are best practices in place.

Quick! Name two consumables that are indispensable to operation in the bindery. If you named adhesives as one, you'd be on the mark. But...if you included knives, (yes, they are a consumable), you would be quite savvy. Cutting and trimming are part of almost every finishing operation. And the quality of those cuts are essential to the quality of the finished product.

Business Management

A diagram of a Customer Experience Map is a great document to have in your Operations Manual.

Print customers evaluate printers by something intangible and quite impossible to quantify: the perceived value you provide them.

I've been fortunate to have had great mentors and business owners/partners throughout my career. Consistently, they placed a high degree of importance on culture and are what I call 'oozers.' In each leadership role I've held, including my current role at Alliance Franchise Brands, I begin by focusing on finding the team members who represent the kind of value and energy that will make the organization successful.

Mergers and Acquisitions

we’ve seen a number of articles suggesting that last year’s boom in mergers and acquisitions may be running out of steam.

Who would have thought that we'd ever be talking about negative interest rates? Now we have to, because in many places, they’ve become a fact of life. While the likelihood of negative rates in the U.S. seems small, the Federal Reserve has said it doesn’t rule out using them for emergency stimulus in an economic crisis.

Because of consolidation, there are fewer firms in operation today than there were 10 years ago.

Production Inkjet Printing

The latest offering from thINK and Canon Solutions America is "The Inkjet Edge: How to Transition Your Business to Inkjet," a new book that will be a valuable tool for print service providers of all types. The book follows in the footsteps of "The Designer’s Guide to Inkjet," which was published last year. "The Inkjet Edge" takes a more business-oriented approach in an effort to help print service providers that are considering, or are in the midst of, an inkjet transition.

With the announcement of the Brenva HD production inkjet press, Xerox is showing its first product to be jointly developed from start to finish by the combined Xerox and Impika development teams. The device is a cut-sheet color inkjet printer capable of speeds of up to 182 letter/197 A4 images per minute. At first glance, it looks like an iGen, and though it is built on an iGen frame, it will become clear that under the covers the differences are extensive.

A few weeks back I had the honor of attending Canon Solutions America's Anniversary Event in Boca Raton. If you have never been to a Canon Solutions America function, make your calls now and get on their radar — you won't be disappointed in their product offerings or their events. While this particular event was for press and analysts, I found myself sitting with Canon Solutions America customers Matt and Mark Landaal of Landaal Packaging Systems quite by accident, and quickly fell in love.

Workflow/Web-to-Print

Companies really need help managing their collaterals and marketing assets. And they are willing to pay for this help.

Please take this short survey about your use of Cloud-based serives, and the results will be posted in a future blog.

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.

Productivity/Process Improvement

There has been a lot of change in the printing and marketing services industry’s use of the cloud and SaaS since 2012.

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.

Market Watch

R.R. Donnelley calls this “transformative separation” the next stage in its evolution.

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.

Wide-format Digital Printing

On July 1st, EFI made two announcements: One was the acquisition of the Israeli Matan Digital Printer, and the second was the acquisition of Reggiani Macchine. Both acquisitions are part of EFI’s stated strategy to invest and grow its product portfolio in adjacent markets and technologies.

Mailing/Postal

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.

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:

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.