Blogs

The Bare Minimum Sales Call

You’ve just hired a new rep and need to get him/her started in sales. After some product education, you hand the young’un a list and a phone and then...what? While you can’t expect Zig Ziglar to appear right off the bat, you need a starting point. That’s what Bill Farquharson gives you in this week’s blog.

Standard Mail Flats: Ending the Controversy Without Fixing the Problem

The long-standing controversy over the U.S. Postal Service’s money-losing “Standard Flats” mail is apparently being tamped down in true Washington fashion – not by raising prices, cutting costs, or solving a problem, but by changing a definition. Flat mail that was sorted on an FSS machine. By USPS accounting, Standard Flats have been losing money…

Keith Bellows: A Traveler Arrives At His Final Destination…

Listening to Keith Bellows’ presentation as he spoke at the ACT 5 Experience last year on October 8, one could hear in his speech that Keith was talking about his journey, his future, his final travel trip and his final destination. I have known and worked with Keith since he was an editor at Whittle…

Other Staff Bloggers
Sales and Marketing

You’ve just hired a new rep and need to get him/her started in sales. After some product education, you hand the young’un a list and a phone and then...what? While you can’t expect Zig Ziglar to appear right off the bat, you need a starting point. That’s what Bill Farquharson gives you in this week’s blog.

If you need help getting your marketing and sales teams on the same page, try these tips

What’s the absolute worst sales day of the week? And what’s the second? Find out what happens if you believe those two statements.

Inkjet Production Printing

Some lesser-known players in production inkjet are starting to make their mark. One such entity is Super Web Digital of New York.

Despite numerous advances in inkjet print quality, inkjet is not going to replace either web or sheetfed offset anytime soon.

Konica Minolta has released information on a new generation of print heads aimed at the evolving graphic arts, industrial, and functional printing markets. Konica Minolta is manufacturing these print heads using Micro Electro Mechanical Systems (MEMS) fabrication. The high precision print head is capable of jetting a range of inks and functional materials such as resins. These new capabilities will enable innovative new products in a range of industries.

Mergers and Acquisitions

There are two ways to build a printing company’s top line: by increasing share of market, and by increasing share of customer.

Once you’ve decided to sell or to acquire another firm, your best negotiating tactic is to let someone else handle some of it for you.

With the right price in place, the investment banker then can market your firm confidentially to multiple potential buyers.

Workflow/Web-to-Print

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.

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.

Business Management

When it comes to strategically planning for the future, there is one absolute question that any company of any size needs to answer.

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.

Consumables

Let’s take our collective heads out of the sand and face the fact that our work is never done. There are always print jobs to be saved and awarenesses to be raised. It’s our job to leave those creatives saying one thing, and one thing only: "Wow. And I mean, wow."

Growing up, my crazy uncle used to say “You can call me whatever name you like, just don’t call me late to dinner.” A clear name is important and I think of my uncle whenever someone asks me "Why does a paper change its name when used in different markets?"

While everyone else still zigs, these artists zag. They are renegades who defy the "people-only-buy-based-on-price" theory and produce stunning, handmade wares. And their business cards zag right along with them.

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.

Binding and Finishing

I've written more than once on the rapid evolution of finishing, which is being driven by the equally rapid adoption of inkjet web printing. Inline web finishing was always something of a "black art" in the offset web world. Since high-speed offset web presses don't print at the push of a button, performing complex finishing operations inline with the web press took a lot of engineering expertise.

This is a story that's no doubt been repeated more than once. You're a company with a long and glorious tradition of manufacturing first-class finishing equipment. You've had a terrific run through the 70's, 80's, 90's and into the 21st century. But in the last four years, things have shifted.

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.

Digital Printing

Today, Xerox announced the availability of a new member of the iGen family: the Xerox iGen 5 150 press. It’s the imaging station that is the biggest differentiator between the new iGen 5 150 and earlier iGen models.

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).

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.

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.

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