February 17th, 2011
Written by Howie Fenton
Hi, my name is Howie Fenton and I am a guest blogger for Xerox. As you may know, I am not “on staff” at Xerox. I am a consultant with NAPL specializing in workflow and digital printing. For me, blogging is more of a hobby than a job but like many people, I am just as passionate about my hobby as I am my job.
I find engaging in conversations through blogs fun and somewhat addicting. I look forward to sharing some ideas and I hope to engage you in the conversation. I can’t think of a more engaging subject than the PSP-MSP (Print Services Provider to Marketing Services Provider) controversy.
The motivation is simple but the concept has created quite the debate. The printing industry is struggling with cyclical and structural changes, which is reducing the demand for printed products and changing the products offered. The cyclical change is tied to the economy, while the structural changes are from technologies that are disruptive to the printing industry such as the Internet/email, cell phones, and e-books among others.
Clearly, the greatest issue is the threat of substitute products and services from sources such as computers, the internet, cell phones, and laser printers and copiers. One way to overcome this threat is to create new solutions that do not have a comparable threat of substitution. Variable data printing is one example of a product that has existed for years but more recently companies have started to offer other products that might be considered more of a marketing service than a printer service.
Among these new solutions are email marketing, Purls, SMS (texts), social media marketing and QR codes. As companies evolve and offer these marketing and value-added services, this trend has been coined the PSP-MSP transition.
This trend has created some fans and some critics. You may have read about this when Margie Dana the founder of Print Buyers International wrote in her blog, “I’ve had it with printing companies masquerading as marketing solutions providers…Who’s the cluck behind this movement, anyway? Do you really think that print customers, creatives and corporate marketing managers won’t eventually find out that you’re a manufacturer? Why are you hiding it, anyway? You’re not ashamed of being a printer, are you?”
I heard this loud and clear almost a year ago at NAPL’s Top Management Conference. During one panel discussion with print buyers, a few print buyers said they were not interested or happy that printers were offering or branding themselves as marketing service providers.
Clearly, there are many sides to this story. Which side are you on? Should printers offer marketing services? Should printers brand themselves as marketing providers?
January 13th, 2011
2011 is here and how quickly it came. With 2010 behind us, it is time for many businesses to start planning and/or executing a game plan to help build upon the momentum that was created in 2010. Gina Testa, vice president of Graphic Communications Industry for Xerox, took a moment in a Ready for Real Business video to suggest how to grow your business with minimal investment. Here are a few suggestions:
Meet With Your Top Customers
The #1 priority in early 2011 is to sit with your top customers. Many of them have established their budgets, their marketing communication’s plan –how can you become a partner in accomplishing their business objectives?
The Buzz of Cross Media Services
You provide print services but how can you position yourself to become more than a print service provider and more of a full service provider? Ask yourself, what can I offer to be a full service marketing provider? Take a close look at Cross Media Services.
Are Investments Needed?
Your customers may have different priorities and requirements for 2011, are you equipped to meet these requirements? Are investments needed in new skillsets? New software? New technology?
What are your plans for 2011 and how are you going about creating your strategy to grow your business in 2011?
December 15th, 2010
The highest value print work usually involves variable information, yet less than 10 percent of all digital printing is variable, according to Rochester Institute of Technology Professor Emeritus Frank Romano.
Progressive Communications, based near Orlando, Fla., is working to buck that trend. In a little more than two years after initiating digital color printing, more than 85 percent of the firm’s 1-million-plus monthly digital color pages were variable. Today I wanted to share with you how they’ve made the leap so quickly.
Seeking ‘More Bang for the Buck’
Like many traditional printers, by mid-decade Progressive felt the economic pinch. “Our customers were cutting their marketing budgets, print runs and mailings,” said Gabe Hernandez, general manager, Progressive Communications. “We wanted something that could give us more bang for our buck, so we started looking at digital printing.”
This wasn’t the first time Progressive had explored new directions. Founded in 1975 as a newsletter production company, the firm evolved into a commercial printer and became a full-service print, fulfillment, direct marketing and multimedia design operation with two 2002 acquisitions. Today, Progressive has 220 employees and is a division of printing and marketing services company Taylor Corporation.
Their digital color exploration began in 2007 with the acquisition of a Xerox® DocuColor® 242 Digital Color Printer/Copier. “We responded to the opportunity in partnership with Xerox, because we want to be more than ink on paper,” Hernandez said. “We want to provide solutions to our customers to help them increase their sales.”
Progressive already had many of the skills required for digital color variable information success. A 12-member design department regularly wins awards for direct marketing and promotional pieces, and Progressive’s data team routinely programmed basic black-and-white personalization. By adding a person experienced in Xerox’s XMPie software, the firm could execute a wide range of personalized direct marketing programs.
Tapping into Xerox Business Development Support
For help in selling and marketing the new services, Progressive turned to a Xerox Business Development Consultant, who worked with them for three months while providing consultative sales training and also helped develop a marketing plan using the Xerox® Marketing Accelerator Kit. This professional support service is offered by Xerox to help organizations operate at peak efficiency, and Progressive took full advantage.
To ease entry into the somewhat recession-proof healthcare and education markets they targeted, Progressive used the Xerox® ProfitAccelerator® vertical market kits and landed several new clients. And they referenced the Xerox® ProfitAccelerator Open House Kit to plan ongoing “Summer School” educational seminars, promoting its services to prospects and clients.
In addition to the campaign work they do for clients, Progressive also regularly runs self-promotion campaigns. A recent multi-touch effort used a PURL to offer a calendar with images incorporating the prospect’s name in exchange for filling out a questionnaire on their marketing needs. Results included a 17 percent response rate, a 68 percent conversion rate, more than 20 one-off jobs and several ongoing communications programs. In addition, this campaign helped Progressive win the Best Overall Solution Award in the 2010 Xerox Best-of-the-Best contest.
Focus on Personalization
With so much preparation, Progressive quickly grew its digital color business. In just six months, they needed a larger press and acquired a Xerox® iGen3® 110 Digital Production Press. A year later, they added a second, and subsequently upgraded both to Xerox® iGen4® Presses.
“Initially we thought we would just do short-run, quick-turn static work,” Hernandez said. “But since we had the ability to produce truly personalized pieces that get better results, we said, ‘Let’s go for it.’ We discovered that many of our customers were gathering data on their customers’ demographics but weren’t using it—until we helped them.”
Digital color has driven growth at Progressive in two ways. First, while offset has slipped from 95 percent of the shop’s print volume three years ago to 80 percent today, digital has grown to 20 percent, with about half of it coming from new clients. In addition, digital drives more work in other Progressive divisions. Some 95 percent of digital jobs use Progressive mailing services compared to 50 percent with offset, and 80 percent are designed by Progressive’s creative team, compared to 25 percent with offset. The cross-selling of services opened up through digital has proven to be extremely profitable for Progressive.
By 2015, Hernandez believes that half of Progressive’s business will be color variable printing, in which case, Progressive is not just bucking a trend; it is leading one.
December 9th, 2010
Welcome! Come on in and make yourself at home! Feel free to take your shoes off or leave them on – whatever makes you comfortable. And please help yourself to a slice of birthday cake on the table!
Some people have extravagant celebrations, others prefer to turn their birthday into a week-long festivity…but here at the Digital Printing Hot Spot, we have decided to celebrate our one-year birthday all month long! (…although the cake may not last)
So what does our one-year birthday really represent, and what’s up with the silly cake, you may ask? I am very excited to say that with this birthday we are celebrating our commitment to you, our customers, as this marks a full year of delivering you tips and helpful information to get the most out of your production print equipment. Our goal is to help you meet your business objectives and succeed, while making your day-to-day operations run as smooth as possible.
Through the sharing of success stories, industry trends, best practices, technology, workflow efficiencies, and much more – we truly hope that when you visit this site, you are able to walk away (or close out of your browser) with a helpful piece of information previously unbeknownst to you. We know that you face business challenges that keep you up at night. Our objective is to equip you with all the necessary information to help you best handle these challenges.
In our one-year of existence, we have shared many exciting success stories of customers much like yourself, discussed many fascinating issues within the industry, and shed light to various best practices and helpful tips.
In case you’ve missed some, here’s just a small sampling of a few of the many stories that have been shared:
• Digital packaging opportunities
• How to design for digital
• Tips for printing on textured stocks
• How to design for Clear Dry Ink with the Xerox Color 800/1000 Press
• Running lightweight paper on your Continuous Feed device
• An award-winning 100% variable magazine
• Book printing: It’s easy being green
• Achieving new levels of productivity with automation
• Front-to-Back registration suggestions
• The story of a digital printer banking €150,000 a month with digital book venture
I would really like to take an opportunity to thank you, our readers; because if it wasn’t for you consistently visiting this blog and providing us with great feedback, we wouldn’t be able to share this very special birthday celebration with you right now!
If you are interested in keeping up-to-date with our latest stories, please subscribe to this blog and/or follow us on Twitter (@XeroxProduction)!
And what would a birthday celebration be without gifts?! We have an assortment of giveaways that we’d love to share with you, including: Print Providers Guide to Social Media written by Peter Muir, ProfitAccelerator Data-Driven Print Book, a Customizable Calendar Kit, ProfitAccelerator Individualized Media Essentials Book, and a Best-of-the-Best case study/success story book. Quantities are limited and will be given on a first-come, first-serve basis.
To receive one of these fantastic resources, please comment and let us know what information you find helpful from this blog and what topics you’d be interested in hearing about as we begin the exciting journey towards our second-birthday!
Thank you for stopping by and celebrating with us!
November 18th, 2010
Don’t you love it when you are casually browsing the Internet and stumble across something that you find to be completely engrossing and captivating? Fascinating to the extent that you look up at the clock, and a full hour has passed by without you even noticing it! Well, this happened to me last night, and I’m not the least bit embarrassed to admit that it was on our very own Xerox.com. I came across a collection of new product demo videos, leading industry consultant discussions on interesting topics, and videos of Xerox customers sharing stories of how they are growing their businesses, delighting their customers, and thriving in challenging economic environments.
I had known the content existed, but not nearly to the degree that I found myself sifting through last night…and I wanted to be sure to share it with all of you!
I know that for some, Graph Expo is a distant 40-day-old-and-counting memory staring at you in the rear-view mirror. It’s a bit cliché to say, but we do live in a more frantic and fast-paced world than we could have ever imagined ten years ago. Time is money, and if you aren’t checking mail from your smart phone while inhaling breakfast and putting on your slacks, then you just are not being productive enough. Perhaps you were one of the lucky ones that were able to find time to take away from the office and visit Graph Expo. Even then there likely didn’t seem to be enough hours in the day to see the latest technology in action, or talk to the experts to find out how that software offering can integrate with your business.
Xerox created a repository of multimedia, all captured from the Xerox booth at Graph Expo. This virtual environment is filled with tons of great information, including:
• Multimedia videos with full product demonstrations of the Xerox™ Color 1000 Press, Xerox™ Color 550/560 Printer, and Xerox™ iGen4® EXP Press.
• Industry leaders Howie Fenton, Frank Romano, Andy Tribute, and Dr. Joe Webb discuss a variety of topics, including the needs facing your customers in the print industry today, an overview of web-to-print, today’s hot applications, how social media impacts the industry, and which verticals are embracing digital the most.
• Watch Bo Jackson, former NFL running back for the Los Angeles Raiders and Major League Baseball player, as he delivers a Marketing Keynote on transformation.
• Virtual video tour of the Xerox booth with Vice President Tracy Yelencsics. See how you can delight your customers, grow your business, become more automated by getting more jobs through your shop, and reduce your costs.
• Have access to the complete Real Business Magazine, Fall Edition, through an interactive PDF.
• Watch Xerox customers talk about their businesses and the ways they are staying successful in today’s challenging environment.
It’s all outstanding content, and I wanted to make sure that you were all aware of it. You will need to register with your email address (it really only takes a minute or so), but rest assured – you can easily opt-out of any mailing list, if desired.
If you’d like to see all the great content mentioned above, and much more, please check out our Virtual Graph Expo site.
July 23rd, 2010
I’ve learned many times that the quality of what you get out of a digital press is only as good as what you put in. It can be easy to blame the printer for a poor looking file, but it could actually just be the result of a file designed incorrectly for that technology. When creative agencies are designing jobs for digital print, it is important to know there are many ways to maximize the full potential of digital printing equipment to ensure files are printed right the first time.
To help with this, we’ve created a guide that provides tips and techniques to help creative professionals set up their design applications and prepare their jobs for output. And we cover these top 5 topics:
1. Paper information and recommendations
2. Color settings and soft proofing devices
3. Design considerations for graphics, images, text and variable data jobs
4. Pre-flighting files and PDF creation Techniques
5. Print settings and finishing options
If you often find your files are not designed to the best quality, or are new to digital technology, or just looking to fine tune your skills, this Xerox Job Preparation Guide for Designers could be the tool to answer your questions.
I will send this design guide to the first 15 readers to comment on this post! What do you find the biggest design issues are when it comes to designing for digital, or what is something you are curious to learn more about?
June 25th, 2010
Building customer relationships is extremely important when it comes to maintaining business. I appreciate when companies I’ve purchased products from check up on me throughout the year, and not just when my time is coming due for a new purchase! By connecting with your customers on a regular basis, brand loyalty can grow—and brand loyalty is a very powerful tool to have on your side.
Something we developed for Xerox customers, within our suite of ProfitAccelerator Business Development resources, is a really nice collection of customizable calendars which they can print and give to their customers.
This collection contains source files and high resolution PDF file of colorful calendars for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012. There are three different themes, and each of these files have areas that allow for personalization as well— whether it is with your customer’s name and logo or your company information promoting your business throughout the year.
These calendars are annual gifts to hand out to help stay in the mind of your customers all year round. And everyone always likes a nice gift!
I’ll send this Customized Calendars Print Kit to the first 10 readers who comment on this post about how you build relationships with your customers!