Blogs

My 'A-HA' Print Moment...Courtesy of E-Statements

It wasn’t until yesterday that I had a significant A-HA print moment that really reminded me of the value of print as an official record and reignited my respect for print.

Mobilegeddon! (Part Two of Two)

Today’s mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes. It is imperative that your Website optimize the viewing experience no matter which type of device your prospective customers use. Consider making the jump to a responsive Website, even if a redesign of your current site wasn’t in this year’s game plan.

My First Sales Manager: Mom

She taught you lessons as a child that translate perfectly to sales. You were taught manners, proper behavior, and responsibility. She was your first sales manager and given that her big day is coming up on Sunday, Bill Farquharson’s is all about Mom.

Other Staff Bloggers
Sales and Marketing

It wasn’t until yesterday that I had a significant A-HA print moment that really reminded me of the value of print as an official record and reignited my respect for print.

Today’s mobile devices come in all shapes and sizes. It is imperative that your Website optimize the viewing experience no matter which type of device your prospective customers use. Consider making the jump to a responsive Website, even if a redesign of your current site wasn’t in this year’s game plan.

She taught you lessons as a child that translate perfectly to sales. You were taught manners, proper behavior, and responsibility. She was your first sales manager and given that her big day is coming up on Sunday, Bill Farquharson’s is all about Mom.

Binding and Finishing

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.

Many of us over 40 years of age marvel at the digital proficiency of the 20-somethings. We look at the millennials (and those younger) and their desire to be software engineers, programmers, entrepreneurs, video game developers. But, we wonder, who's going to run the saddle stitcher?

In a bid to keep cash flow robust, bindery systems vendors embarked on a campaign to offer extensive maintenance and upgrade services.

Business Management

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.

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.

If you have reached a decision to sell, don’t delay setting the process in motion. If selling isn’t yet a step you’re ready to take, keep building your business in ways that will bring you to the attention of the private equity players. They’re attracted to companies that show they aren’t afraid to make the investments that set them apart as leaders of the positive change the industry is undergoing.

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!

Inkjet Production Printing

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.

Inkjet has created wonderful personalization and marketing options for customers. How does your sales team “work it” to benefit your customers’ marketing message?

Sustainability

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.

Most consumers want a paper option for their bills and statements. Like earlier studies carried out in the United States and the United Kingdom, a recent nationwide survey conducted for Two Sides US by the research firm Toluna showed that 64 percent of consumers say they would not choose a company that did not offer a paper bill option and 88 percent want to be able to switch between electronic and paper bills without difficulty or cost.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Knowing from the get-go exactly what you want to accomplish by purchasing another firm puts you in a winning frame of mind and increases the acquisition's likelihood of success. At New Direction Partners, we know that when a prospective buyer comes to us with a clear picture of the kind of company he or she wants to buy, we can zero in that much more quickly on candidates that will be complementary or accretive to the buyer's present business.

As 2014 winds down, it's satisfying to report that the year has been a mostly good one for mergers and acquisitions in the printing and packaging industry. Looking back, we can see that a normal level of M&A activity has returned to the industry and that—assuming we get no more shocks from the general economy—opportunities for dealmaking will carry over into the year ahead.

When a buyer and a seller reach the letter of intent (LOI) stage, they'll have agreed that the potential fit looks good and that due diligence—the research phase that structures and certifies the transaction—can begin. In this post, we'll review the steps the seller should take once both parties have signed the LOI.

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