Blogs

Direct Mail: It's All In the Quality of the Letter

How do you know if you have a good letter or not? We will break it down for you here.

The One Thing We Should Stop Stealing

There is one discipline that you should adopt and stick with above all else if you truly want to be successful. It is the foundation to successful athletic teams, as well as a disciplined focus in the military.

For Sellers, There's No Time Like the Present

You may be at the peak of your career as a printing company owner and still years away from selling what you’ve created. Nevertheless, you need to prepare for that step while time is still on your side.

Other Staff Bloggers
Business Management

How do you know if you have a good letter or not? We will break it down for you here.

There is one discipline that you should adopt and stick with above all else if you truly want to be successful. It is the foundation to successful athletic teams, as well as a disciplined focus in the military.

You may be at the peak of your career as a printing company owner and still years away from selling what you’ve created. Nevertheless, you need to prepare for that step while time is still on your side.

Interactive Print

On Thursday May 11, around 150 Konica Minolta production print users gathered in Vienna for a day of presentations at the inaugural meeting of PROKOM, the Konica Minolta user community. With the focus, at least at first, on users of cut-sheet light to mid-production color and black-and-white digital print, the opportunity for PROKOM is unlike many other user groups, which tend to focus on higher levels of production.

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.

Some marketers want to use technology whether it makes sense—and thus provides a good user experience—or not. A good user experience takes work. Lots of work. It has to be planned and executed well.

Software

How important is data in digital finishing? It’s critical. You’re probably relating this to the fact that digital is (by its file-based nature) all about variable data. But beyond creating personalized documents and books, there is the larger question of integrating production data into the plant workflow and MIS systems.

The fifth annual installment of the Inkjet Summit recently took place in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla. I have been lucky enough to attend all five Summits, and once again, it did not disappoint. Each year, approximately 100 printing company owners and senior-level operations and sales executives attend this invitation-only event.

In another series of workflow blogs we have been walking through the path of auditing the current workflow in your environment and identifying ways to optimize through automation. It’s a long story that has been unfolding over many months. Along the way, many have asked specific questions about some of the fine points of automation and what tools would be on the “must review” list.

Finishing

I was at the 2017 Inkjet Summit a few weeks ago. As usual, the buzz on inkjet was intense, with many good presentations covering the latest advances in inkjet technology. But the one item that jumped out at me during one of them was that well over 90% of print was still being created by offset technology. Digital print technology accounts for less than 3% of the total print market.

With the growth of digital print, lots of consideration goes into designing the optimum finishing process. The short-run nature of digital presses means the finishing process must be carefully analyzed. So let's look at the in-line and off-line options, and the arguments for each.

Although there have been many new finishing systems introduced in the past two or three years, one type of system has caught my attention. The spread of high-quality, cut-sheet digital presses has created a real opportunity for short-run finishing for all sorts of packaging, labels, stickers, boxes, pocket folders, greeting cards, and retail display material.

Training and Education

So, why did I title this small piece “bragging rights?” Well, when we (IBIS) attended the awards dinner on Wednesday at our first Inkjet Summit, it turned out that we had been nominated for the best case study in the publishing segment. We didn’t WIN, mind you, but we got a nomination, in company with some of the biggest industry vendors. It was a great way to end our first Inkjet Summit.

Dscoop is part tradeshow and part education event, with an agenda that included A-List keynotes and mentalist Lior Suchard as emcee. The sessions were the expected array of customer success stories, successful selling solutions and product reviews, but there were also a variety of sessions covering finishing, packaging and 3D printing.

Last week I went to Boca Raton, Fla., for the 2016 thINK Conference. The sessions that I attended were well done and thought provoking.

Digital Printing - Production Inkjet

InfoTrends defined the Zone of Disruption as an opportunity for products with price points below $1 million, speed faster than most electrophotographic cut-sheet color printers, very competitive running costs, and production-oriented features. A handful of products have appeared in the Zone of Disruption over the past few years and this week a new one joined the fray: Canon’s Océ VarioPrint i200.

After more than a year of public statements that Kodak’s Enterprise Inkjet division was for sale, the company has decided to keep it.

Maybe it was the mountain air. But seeing cool technology for print and direct mail can leave you a little breathless.

Digital Printing - Digital Offset

What follows is an interview with Rosemarie Breske Garvey, VP at Blooming Color in Lombard, Ill. Blooming Color is doing some pretty spectacular work beyond traditional four-color printing and I wanted to learn more.

A young designer I spoke to the other day was very frank about the fact that she did not like digital printing because you could only print on white paper. Granted there are some print providers that prefer to print on white coated stock all day long (digital or offset, it does not matter to them). And these few give our whole industry a bad reputation.

Mailing/Fulfillment

“Told you so. Now don’t try to slap us with a Stupidity Tax.” That, in essence, is the magazine industry’s response to the USPS.

In 2016, mailing list gaffes simply shouldn’t happen. But one might have cost the University of Michigan a prized football recruit.

Households with incomes above $100,000 receive three times as many periodicals as households earning less than $35,000.

Consumables - Paper

Concerned about all of that paper we’re writing and printing on, the Yadong Yin research group at University California Riverside decided to come up with a substrate that could be “written" on, and subsequently erased, through a variety of methods. This piqued my interest.

A multi-country survey on "The Attractiveness and Sustainability of Print and Paper" was conducted in June 2016 by global polling firm Toluna Inc. and showed some positive results on how people perceive and use print and paper. In general, there was a preference for print on paper across all age groups, likely indicating a more fundamental and more human way that people react to the physicality of print on paper.

Back in 2014, Microsoft struck a deal to supply the NFL with Surface tablets as a coaching tool. I am sure it has many benefits …

Data Management

Why is it that so many marketers fail to have a database marketing strategy in place?

I have been writing about using “model-based” personas stemming from a 360-degree customer view for personalization for some time now.

Last week, I attended a customer relationship marketing conference for retailers, by retailers. I have to say that I barely made it through the conference without spontaneously combusting from the speed of change in the retail marketing sector.

Digital Printing - Wide Format

During the One Canon press/analyst event (March 7-9) in Boca Raton, Fla., Canon unveiled worldwide the Colorado 1640 and Mal Baboyian, Senior VP of Canon U.S.A.’s Business Imaging Solutions Group for Océ Product Marketing and Support, thinks it is Océ’s most important wide-format graphic arts product introduction in 25 years.

It’s no surprise to see wide-format shops attracting their fair share of attention in the M&A marketplace. We’ve represented a number of them as sellers in transactions this year, and they make an interesting contrast with our commercial printing and packaging clients.

No one predicted that wide-format inkjet would open a new market for printers for signage, vehicle wraps, building wraps, back drops, and more. Go back and look. The first wide-format printers were introduced as proofers for color printing. As Benny Landa has said: anything that can go digital will go digital. That is why the growth markets are packaging and new media — and by media I mean new substrates.

Offset Printing

We were in Japan last month, and as luck would have it, we were there at the same time that Komori held an open house to showcase its newest digital print solutions. This international event took place at Komori’s facility in Tsukuba, Japan, and drew hundreds of attendees from all over the Asia Pacific region. It also provided the opportunity to showcase its Impremia IS29, a B2-format, sheetfed, UV inkjet printer.

In a sense, Berlin Industries was once the king of Chicago. Last week, the remaining assets were auctioned off. If you were there, you could have purchased a Heidelberg Sunday M3000 five-unit web press for a mere $47,000.

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.

Mergers and Acquisitions

It looked like a good fit. The seller, unfortunately, didn’t see it that way.

As a trade association president, I knew that one of my most important jobs was to offer our members a friendly, well informed, third-party perspective on strategic business issues. Today, our New Direction Partners clients want the same thing: not just information about the mechanics of M&As, but also a genuine understanding of the industry and the mindsets of the people who own those companies.

For many years, I had the privilege of serving in leadership positions with Printing Industries of New England (PINE), the largest printing trade association in the Northeast. Then as now, I was greatly impressed by the resiliency of our members and their ability to adapt to changing business circumstances.

Binding

Hardcover book production seemed to be under serious threat not too many years ago.

The manufacture of hard-cover books has never been more advanced or accessible for the average printer.

We see tons of packaging in retail every day, but luxury packaging is a different breed.

Digital Printing - Toner

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).

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

It was around Valentine’s Day when a red-striped promotional piece captured my paper lover’s attention within a millisecond. GLS, a single-source marketing services provider based in Minnesota, used CMYK and a triple hit of white to produce a beautiful striped pattern and ribbon effect. But it was the striking look and velvety feel of some of the hearts and stripes in the design that left me weak in the knees.

Consumables - General

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.

Adhesives are widely used in finishing, this includes perfect binding, folding, mailing, and folding carton applications. And coatings and various chemical solutions are used in the digital print process to both enhance image quality and make the paper more "finishing-friendly." Both chemistry and environmental control have a lot to do with systems performance.

Digital printing has thrown a curve at both coating and film systems manufacturers due to the surface properties of many toner printed pieces. These make it difficult for many films and coatings to properly adhere to the substrate.

Consumables - Ink

The fifth housing station in the upgraded Xerox 800i/1000i series can now also deliver metallic inks: gold and silver.

Color/Quality Control

Whether it's uncoated, coated, gloss or matte, every sheet reacts differently on-press. That’s the reason why our industry has developed sets of guidelines and recommendations to help print buyers, designers, and specifiers work more effectively with their print suppliers.

A new Pantone book is not only there in case your issue has faded or to update you on the new colors Pantone has added...Pantone reserves the right to adjust some of your tried-and-true colors from year to year. I learned this the hard way on a press check a few years ago when my printer’s PMS 362 did not match mine.

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?