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10. Stop Printing and Start Communicating!
I recently attended an evening TweetUp and the next morning a supplier focus group for a regional industry support and training center. At the supplier focus group there was a great deal of discussion about the printing industry since several of the attendees manufacture equipment like printing presses and bindery equipment. As we sat in a building named for Harry Quadracci I was reminded he once said that, we are not a printing company we are a communications company. We do not compete with other printing companies we compete with other communication options. so, my thought is stop printing and start communicating.
Having come from the TweetUp the evening before I began to wonder why you still refer to yourselves as printers working in the printing industry. Sure you still print, but the growth area of the industry is variable data, cross-media, digital campaigns. In such a campaign digital print will represent maybe 10% of the total campaign cost. Do you really want to be the printing company in that equation?
No, stop printing and start communicating.
Instead I would follow the path out of print and into communications like my visionary friend Rick Littrell has done. Rick’s company Magicomm puts together kick butt cross-media marketing campaigns for some really big companies. I have seen his offices and while one of the tangible parts of most campaigns is a printed piece you will find no printing press at Magicomm. You will find experts in social media like Twitter, Facebook, PURLs, variable data video, and all sorts of other cool new communications technology. No need to tell Rick to stop printing he figured it out all on his own.
So how does a guy like Rick who spent most of his career working for a manufacturer of consumables to support the print industry end up being a communications superstar with no real ties to print anymore? (Other than writing the check for 10% of the campaign value to his printer) He does what you all have to do, think outside the box. If my company, ColorMetrix, was still trying to survive on sales of our ColorMetrix Classic product line I have news for you, I would be looking for a job today. Do I still sell that product? – Sure but I have also looked out at the color verification and process control landscape and found niches that other large players could not or would not fill. I have gone after and won that business to keep ColorMetrix a growing and viable company.
The time is now to learn about all the communications mediums you are complaining are taking away your business. Remember you still have the customer. Before the social media entrepreneurs steal him from you perhaps you should figure out how to sell him a cross-media campaign. There are a whole lot of social media consultants (and people who pretend to be!) out there you can hire to make it work. Instead of getting 10% of the campaign from the campaign owner, pay someone 10% and own the campaign!
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11. Color & The State of Printing Industry 2010 It never ceases to amaze me how integral color knowledge is to the graphic arts industry at large, yet how few people in the industry really understand the topic. The problem is that color, like the game of chess, is very easy to learn and almost impossible to master. I believe this is because true color knowledge requires solid math skills. Color Science, after all, is applied physics.
In 2010 and beyond, the printing companies that thrive (profit leaders) will be leaders in color knowledge and implementation. For example, the GRACoL G7 methodology is the practical application of color science to achieve a more consistent and predictable print result regardless of where the digital files are converted to ink on substrate. Gee, sounds like a Real, Authentic & Sustainable way to reduce waste and increase productivity.
A significant advantage ink on substrate has over other information delivery methods is color vibrancy and consistency. Sure my iPod Touch, my Blackberry, my computer screen, and my TV screen can all deliver amazing and eye catching visual messages, but how consistent is the color fidelity of the same message delivered to multiple devices? (It was a rhetorical question, but the answer is awful).
On the other hand, you can produce a corporate color like "Coke Red" on just about any substrate anywhere in the world if you choose to do so, and I wrote about it here. The printing industry also has the capability to create amazing color messages by utilizing interesting combinations of unique spot colors. The key again is you can control the color and consistency of these colors like no other medium that is delivered to the general public.
The color challenge I issue for 2010 is twofold. First, invest the resources necessary to become a high level practitioner of color science, or provide the means for someone in your organization to do so.
Second, keep your eyes open for projects that benefit from the delivery of a high level of color fidelity and color consistency to the general public. Go after these projects with a vengeance selling the benefits that you as a printer can provide over any other message delivery method!
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12. Feature Post: Printing (on paper) vs. Google Authors Note: If you do not work in the printing industry, read this post from the perspective of accepting change in your industry and recognizing who your real competitors are.
Your competition is not the printer down the street. Your competition is Google. Right now, they are kicking your butt.
The Situation - The last decade has not been an easy one for the Graphic Communications (we used to call it Printing Industry). Many organizations failed to accept that changes in information delivery are permanent and ever increasing. Others were slow to adapt and now are scrambling for their very existence. For those companies with a real, authentic and sustainable business model built to sniff out change and hustle to adapt - good times are ahead.
For large segments of the population electronic communication is overwhelming. Use of email, and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter will increase, but the noise that must be overcome for your advertising signal to be heard make these mediums less than ideal for advertising and promotional dollars. On the internet you get about 2-3 seconds to capture the prospects mind so they commit to look further at your message.
The Opportunity - How many emails do you delete each day without even opening them? That is after spam filters have captured a large percentage of the noise for you. Now, take a look at your postal mailbox. If your pile of mail is like mine it is about 1/4 to 1/3 the size it used to be. There's so little junk mail I actually look at the pieces now. All of them.
Some of the junk mail I receive is beautiful printing. Extended gamut, die cut, spot coated, hyperpersonalized so that the piece speaks to my needs and solves my problem. Occasionally pieces are so impressed I hang onto them and show my wife. Yes, that matters - a marketing touch is a marketing touch. Do that with an email I deleted.
Direct marketing merchants are still printing catalogs, lots of them. Each catalog may have fewer pages and mail to fewer recipients but that just means there are more targeted higher quality versions of the catalog. The direct merchants know that a printed catalog increases the likely hood you will visit their web-site and continue to browse and ultimately purchase. Their catalog is no different than a pay per click ad, designed to drive traffic to the point of action where you can spend your dollars.
The Plan - I have worked with the leaders, the followers and the "now out of business." I have watched, listened and learned in my almost three decades in this industry. If you have a sales staff that can sell and do the things listed below together we can be successful, very successful.
1. The golden age of printing is ahead of us not behind us, so you can stop whining and complaining now.
2. Stop watching re-runs on TV and read one business book a week instead. Yes, one a week, it's a cake walk when you turn the TV off.
3. Learn what your competition is doing - not the printer down the street, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. (Hint: If you don't have accounts on all four of those - do it right now. You don't have to love them, but you have to understand them before they eat your lunch.) Verified Color Handbook | 19 Please Visit http://ColorMetrix.com/blog for Similar Content
4. Embrace the G7 methodology and learn what GRACoL is all about. (have you read all the FREE documents here?) There will be plenty of commodity jobs to fill the presses that require GRACoL and G7. With the first four steps you just became a break-even printer.
5. In order to achieve and maintain the GRACoL master printer status you will need a top notch continuous improvement and process control program in place. Without a such a program in place the next step is out of your reach so don't even bother.
6. To print stand out pieces extended gamut, die cutting, spot coating and hyper-personalization are the future. Do you understand the technology and consumables you will need to get there? (Hint: The future is now and you are already behind if you don't have the a plan.)
7. Pick your suppliers and outside experts carefully. Ask yourself if they have skin in the game. If they are drawing a paycheck as opposed to holding an equity stake in the business the answer is no. Your local dealer rep (working for a mega dealer) scrambling to meet his sales goals and sell you more of the consumable you already use (that are less than ideal for your environment) seldom has the time or motivation to help you with the six steps above.
So, there you have it seven steps to create you own golden age of printing. If you decide to join me steps 1-3 can be completed by the end of the day and you can be well on your way to step 4 by this time tomorrow. The hard work will not even seem like hard work when you start to see the results.
Comments are open on this and all posts at JimRaffel.com. Join the conversation and let me know what you think about the above post and how implementing the steps is working out for you.
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13. Printing is Not Dead or Even Dying If printing is on the verge of death, then why when I searched Twitter for "Is Print Dead" did I find over 20 tweets in the past 4 hours? For something dead or dying, printing sure generates a lot of conversation in the Twitter community.
The blogosphere also has plenty to say about printing being or not being dead.
The seed for this post was planted when I read Debbie Kipp's If Print Were Really Dead... post.
It's not so much the post as the 20 comments (and responses by Debbie) that the post generated. For those of you that don't write a blog, getting 20 responses on any post is amazing - getting 20 comments on your third ever blog post is the stuff dreams are made of. This is clearly a topic that gets people thinking.
Over on Samir Husni's blog I found his post Start spreading the news: Print is NOT dead... This is a very thought provoking post with an embedded video from some very unlikely bedfellows - five titans of the magazine industry. They got together to tell us in video that printing magazines is not dead and it ended up embedded in a blog post - huh?
When Six Pixels of Separation author Mitch Joel jumped in with Print is Not Dead I knew it was time to join the conversation. While Mitch is a great blogger it's important to remember that his primary job in life is running his 100+ person creative agency TwistImage. So, when Mitch Joel says print is not dead, trust me folks, print is not dead.
I shared some of my own thoughts on the subject in a recent post Printing (on paper) vs. Google.
The print industry is definitely changing. Some sectors like packaging and digital print are hot. Others like traditional magazine and insert printing on web presses - let's just say not so hot.
A stronger sense of community and less cut throat competition is what all industries need. Before you try and decimate your competitor take a second to understand who your real competitor is - the alternative technology. While I talked about Google being a bigger threat to printers than other printers what I didn't go into in that post is the good stuff. I and others in the print industry have been using the internet and associated technologies to build communities where we can work together for the betterment of our industry.
What print communities are you an active participant in? Are they on-line, off-line, or best of all a blend of both? Share with us where we can find you on-line. I'll be keeping my eyes on the comments and I'm looking forward to finding some new print communities to jump into.
About ColorMetrix and Jim Raffel ColorMetrix Technologies, LLC ColorMetrix is a leader in the verified color industry. The company has been providing color verification and process control solutions worldwide for more than fifteen years. For more information
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