Blogs

How Are Your Sales and Marketing Going?

Regardless of the type of business you run, your company’s ability to create new customer relationships is the lifeblood that will keep your company growing—not to mention profitable.

Five Tips for Selling Services

Once you’ve determined that selling line item products is no longer working for your print business, it’s time to shift to selling complete solutions to your customers. But, how do you go about successfully pitching your service offerings?

Why Are People Mean? Don't Be a Jerk

Once upon a time there was an owner of a printing company, John, who was very difficult to work for. John demanded a great deal from his employees and continually barked orders at them. He rarely had anything positive to say (even to his long-term employees) and almost never said thank you.

Other Staff Bloggers
Sales and Marketing

Regardless of the type of business you run, your company’s ability to create new customer relationships is the lifeblood that will keep your company growing—not to mention profitable.

Once you’ve determined that selling line item products is no longer working for your print business, it’s time to shift to selling complete solutions to your customers. But, how do you go about successfully pitching your service offerings?

Once upon a time there was an owner of a printing company, John, who was very difficult to work for. John demanded a great deal from his employees and continually barked orders at them. He rarely had anything positive to say (even to his long-term employees) and almost never said thank you.

Binding and Finishing

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

We have to salute the team at Studio Hinrichs who designed the following Calitho promotion to create an impact with size, color and presentation. Standing out at a stately 35x23, the commemorative rendition of the U.S. flag makes a bold, graphic statement.

The cost for producing a sewn book that's digitally printed, adds a considerable lift to the overall production price. Now there are certain markets, school yearbooks, some wedding albums, and higher-quality hardcovers which demand sewing. And in those one-off segments, price is not such an issue. But for other segments, it's a harder sell.

Mergers and Acquisitions

It’s said that in business, timing is everything. In an acquisition, it’s many things: some of them controllable, others not necessarily up to the principals. Make the deal clock keep the right time for you by being clear about your objectives and reasonable about your expectations.

As an investment banker to the printing and packaging industries, New Direction Partners has participated in scores of such transactions. While no two mergers were exactly alike, all of them followed a five-part sequence of events that we recommend as a model to all of our clients seeking to merge with other companies.

One of the most useful research tools we have at New Direction Partners is our printing and packaging stock index. With it, we track the stock price performance of nine printing companies and the seven top packaging companies from 2006 to the current date. We then can compare trends in the two segments with what has been happening on a more macroeconomic level by looking at them next to the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) and the S&P 500 Index.

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.

Consumables

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.

Advertising media, interactive displays, product labeling and packaging, security—all are perfect playgrounds for NFC technology. Yes, some of the marketing applications are similar to QR codes, but without the ugly square that has been driving design-minded folks crazy for years.

Print service providers are given the opportunity to earn the trust of designers every day, by doing their homework and listening to the needs and ambitions of their customers.

Digital Printing

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.

The key to making this strategy a success is getting to know your customers as well as you can and then presenting a customer experience of exactly what they have been searching for. The funny thing is, they’ve been listening all along. Marketers need to catch up!

Business Management

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?

The next time you feel that your jobs are too complex to automate, or that your job mix is too broad to automate, think again. Perhaps you don’t have sufficient volume for it to make sense, but you certainly don’t need to have 1,000 jobs a day to justify it. And if Standard Register can make this work in their high-complexity, high-variety, high-volume world then perhaps something like this could work in yours.

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.

Mailing/Postal

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.

A recent edition of The Week came with a letter from the editor concerning mail delivery. A lot of readers value their traditions and were upset that they’d no longer be able to count on receiving their copies by Friday.

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.

Workflow/Web-to-Print

Greetings from South America! I am spending my summer working for Heidelberg in its lead market, São Paulo, Brazil. Similar to my time with Heidelberg in Germany, I am working within the company’s integrated workflow system, called Prinect.

The “cloud”—once the purview of IT geeks and software developers—has gotten personal. For several years, there’s been a movement to transition software from the desktop or local server to the cloud. One example is Web-to-print software, typically offered as Saas (software-as-a-service).

Nearly a quarter of the firms surveyed that subscribe to software through a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) model subscribe to Web-to-Print software. The benefits of using SaaS include a universally accessible Web-based interface, reduced start-up costs, and decreased risks in developing and launching new services.

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