April 25th, 2013
Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL
I mentioned in a presentation recently that the print industry has been in the midst of a perfect storm for a decade now, leading someone to ask if I thought we had bottomed out, or better yet, if we are moving toward a recovery. I thought the question was incredibly relevant and worth expanding on in a blog.
As most people know, the concept of a perfect storm usually involves two or three major storms combining to create a super storm, as the folks in the Northeast experienced with Hurricane / Superstorm Sandy.
In the printing industry our perfect storm is the result of several major disruptions such as the cyclical changes in our economy, the structural changes like rising postal rates, more work done on local printers and copiers, technology changes which include both Internet tools like the web and new printing technologies such as inkjet, and last but not least, changes to the business model such as the decline in purchases of traditional products such as offset lithography and the increase in new products such as digital printing and digital services.
The question of whether we’ve bottomed out or not, really depends on who you ask or what data you look at. If you look at the big picture, we see that the percentage of money spent on lithography from 1998 to 2012 fell from approximately 90% to 50% and is not bottoming out. If you look at the number of printing companies in 1992 compared to 2012 you see that companies declined from approximately 40,000 to 26,000 and is not bottoming out.
But if you look at some specific indicators such as print sales, we are seeing a modest, albeit inconsistent improvement. In a recent NewsTalk live webinar sponsored by Xerox, Andy Paparozzi, NAPL’s VP and Chief Economist said, “Business picks up, but then slows right back down. It’s nothing sustained; it’s nothing we can count on. Let’s look at sales. Sales from all sources were up 1%, on average, during the first half of 2012 for the owners we survey. As always, results varied dramatically from company to company, with sales up an average of 22% for the top 20%, but down an average of 15% for the bottom 20%. And while one-fifth report sales growth of 10% or better, nearly one-fifth report sales fell by 10% or more.”
So if you’re one of the leading companies, not only has the recession bottomed out for you, you are also in the midst of a recovery. The next group of companies under the profit leaders are not achieving a 20% growth, but are seeing a 10% or modest growth. If those two groups make up about one third of all companies, then we could say that third are doing well and two thirds are still struggling.
If you are one of those companies struggling some questions to consider are:
What are you doing to create your own recovery? And,
How are you going to increase sales, decrease costs, or identify new revenue streams?
If you enjoyed this post, you may also be interested in:
- In-Plant Professionals were In-the-House, Sharing Strategies to take Business to the Next Level
- Understanding the True Cost of Printing
- Four Web-to-Print Issues You need to Overcome
- Bolstering the Bread-and-Butter Production Role of Black-and-White Printers
- Is Digital Printing Killing Offset Printing?
Howie Fenton is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.
February 25th, 2013
Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant
One of the most interesting things you learn when you visit a lot of companies is that their greatest strength can also become their greatest weakness. We see this all the time even in leading companies. On a recent assignment we discovered that a company’s strength, which is their can-do attitude, can also become a weakness because it deemphasizes a focus on process improvements.
An article entitled, “Don’t Let Your Strength Become Your Weakness” by Gill Corkindale, published in the Harvard Business Review (October 21, 2009) says, “The fact is that our flaws are often the mirror image of our strengths, and it’s important to realize that we should not over-develop our strengths, causing them to turn into flaws.” The article points to research in the U. K. done on 18,000 company leaders which found that their strengths can become their weakness.
We were reminded of this issue in a recent assignment in a leading company that was hyper vigilant on getting the work done and then moving to the next job, neglecting to focus on improving the process.
It was not an issue the vast majority of the time when staff had to make decisions to complete each job. But it became an issue for one job that had to be run across multiple shifts with multiple people.
Here are three questions to ponder:
- Have you ever seen an example of a strength becoming a weakness?
- Are there things that your company does well that also have a penalty?
- If you answered yes to either what can you do about that?
Howard Fenton is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.
February 6th, 2013
Written by Jo Oliphant
Manager, Continuous Feed Europe
When was the last time you bought a newspaper? When did you last read one?
It’s mind boggling how effortlessly our connected world is able to link together information through an array of sources. The information comes in many forms…some is factual, some anecdotal, others consist of opinions via blogs and social media, and of course, there are those that blend both facts and opinions. Key to this is access to content. Smart-phones and tablets enable access like never before and in almost any location too, giving you ‘news on demand’ as breaking stories unfold. It can make newspapers look incredibly out of date when they appear the next day (worse if the headlines have fundamentally changed since the newspaper went to press). And yet, as a newspaper reader (and purchaser), there is a vastly different experience to be had from reading a newspaper and feeling the substrate between your fingertips.
I buy one newspaper every Sunday for its content, presentation and in-depth analysis that I am not able to find on free-to-view websites (the publisher charges for access to their news). I also read the physical newspaper because it isn’t on a screen and there are no other distractions to take me away from what I’m reading. Truth be told, between having eleven tabs open on my web browser and fidgeting through my iTunes playlist, it would take far less than a pop-up to distract me and encourage a behaviour of trying to do five things at once.
A printed newspaper promotes a more linear approach to absorbing information, with far fewer distractions.
One of the more recent emerging trends are free newspapers, as an example, my local city, London, has three of them. Admittedly, the content in one of them is relatively light, one is business focused and the last one is more like a conventional newspaper; but each has a lot more in the way of advertising. I often wonder to myself how long these newspapers will carry advertisements, especially with the abundance of easy click-through advertisements populating the Internet. Without the ability to leverage a click-through advertisement, the advertisers call-to-action for consumers is to have them visit a website, taking them away from the newspaper. And unless the advertisement contains a tear-off coupon or promotion code, it gets tricky for advertisers to track metrics and ROI for their advertising efforts.
The one area where there has been some movement is with personalized newspapers. Personalized newspapers create a unique experience for the consumer, populated with content based on the readers’ preferences. Taking the same basic form of the mass produced title, personalized newspapers offer many opportunities, including relevancy to the users’ specific needs. With the ability to reach specific demographics, advertising space now carries a premium among interested advertisers. And with the cost of fuel and shipping rates rising, the efficiency offered through production at point of need is essential – especially given that people are willing to pay a premium to obtain items with higher perceived value. Lastly, by not being built on the ‘sale or return’ model, this process also reduces waste. This represents a truly win-win situation for consumers, advertisers, printers, and the environment.
While this is all well and good, it doesn’t solve the underlying challenge at hand: online content can make newspapers out of date the second they go to press.
The crux of the issue is: do you think there’s a sustainable business model with printed newspapers?
With Hunkeler Innovationdays fast approaching, Xerox will be helping customers answer these questions and many more. Be sure to subscribe to this blog to stay up-to-date on the latest news, as well as follow the conversation using #XeroxHunkeler on Twitter.
Interested in similar topics? You may want to check out:
January 29th, 2013
Written by Bill Michael
eMarketing Manager, Xerox Corporation
In today’s challenging business environment, products that help make your life less complicated and your business more successful do not go unnoticed. Quick Printing announced their nominees for the ‘2013 Top Products Award’, which features many breakthrough products that have created the most excitement in the industry and have proven to be valuable asset to businesses all across the world.
It is with great pleasure that Xerox shares news that four products have been nominated for a 2013 Quick Printing Readers’ Choice Top Product Award. The nominees are….drum roll please…
- Color Digital Devices: Xerox iGen 150 Press
- Color Digital Devices: Xerox iGen4 Press
- Binders & Bookletmakers: IntegratedPLUS Finishing Solution for Booklets
- VDP Software: FreeFlow Variable Information (VI) Suite
Through March 15, 2013, you have the opportunity to vote for the products that have had the strongest impact on your sales, service and bottom line.
Winners will be featured in the May 2013 issue of Quick Printing magazine! Vote today and make your voice heard!
January 14th, 2013
Written by Bill Michael
eMarketing Manager, Xerox Corporation
With the new year fully upon us, we all find ourselves armed with new ideas, new visions, new inspirations and new strategies to make 2013 a successful year for our businesses and ourselves. Xerox is excited for what lays in the year ahead and the opportunities to continually serve our customers and their businesses. The following are examples of some upcoming events and sponsorships (Disney’s Lion King and Cirque du Soleil feature many shows around the globe. Check their website for show dates and details), providing Xerox with the privilege to connect with our customers.
- EFI Connect (January 15-18, Las Vegas, Nevada)
- (MFSA) Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association (February 5-8, St. Petersburg, Florida
- Hunkeler (February 11-15, Lucerne, Switzerland)
- Webinar: The Future isn’t what it used to be! (February 13)
- Disney’s Lion King Tour (February 13-March 10, Detroit, Michigan)
- Graphics of Americas (February 21-23, Miami, Florida)
- Cirque du Soleil – KOOZA (March 1-May 5, Madrid, Spain)
- HIMSS Annual Conference (March 3-7, New Orleans, Louisiana)
- Expo Print Digital (March 13-16, Sao Paulo, Brazil)
- Webinar: Targeting the Right Markets (April 17)
Of special note is Hunkeler Innovationdays, renowned as the biennial industry gathering for digital continuous feed printing and finishing businesses alike, and taking place February 11-15 in Lucerne, Switzerland. Xerox is excited to provide attendees with demonstrations of a new configuration of the CiPress Inkjet System. Additionally, subject matter experts will be on hand to provide attendees with learning sessions catered to their specific digital printing needs. To see the CiPress in action, check out this open house video at dmh Marketing Partners, attended by customers and industry analysts.
We invite you to register today and join us for this exciting event! For updates on the latest Hunkeler and Xerox news, be sure to check out the latest tweets from @XeroxEvents. Follow the conversation on Twitter using #XeroxHunkeler.
December 29th, 2012
Written by Christina Vullo
Social Media Marketing Analyst
We asked people here at the Gil Hatch Center in Rochester, NY to share their favorite way to celebrate the new year, and this is what a few of them said:
“For at least 35 years I have been together with the same group of friends. The group is a little smaller and some only make it every couple of years but a core gets together every year. We rotate host around Rochester . Over the years most of us have been married and our kids join if home. We all bring things to pass and the stories of the last year. By the way this started as a RIT group living at 1186 Lake Av.”
“Well this year I will be spending it with friends and family. Reflecting back on the past and anticipating what the future holds. Making resolutions only to probably break them, but not without trying to keep them first. Every new year I consider a new beginning and hope to live each day true to myself and others.”
“I don’t really have a New Year’s tradition. Last year, I spent the evening playing Words with Friends with friends around the country and enjoying a glass of wine while I was on breaks from painting my bathroom. This year I’ll be heading out for the first time in a long time to dinner with a friend and some late night celebrations. Happy New Year!
How do you bring in the new year? What are your New Year’s traditions?
December 26th, 2012
Written by Bill Michael
As the remaining days in 2012 begin to dwindle and we look ahead to the start of a new calendar year, we find ourselves amidst a very busy period of time. Personally, many of us are spending time with friends, family, and loved ones. Professionally, we are doing our best to bring a successful close to the 2012 year, while placing our aspirations and targets into a vision that we can implement as we enter 2013.
To help put a close on a very busy year, we’re counting down to the most popular blog posts from 2012. Spots 10-7 feature a drupa recap, common business card mistakes to be sure to avoid, application ideas you can implement to grow your print business, and an early-2012 preview of Xerox’s leadership position within the graphic communications industry. Enjoy!
10. What do comfortable shoes & bratwurst have in common? Well, if you’re at drupa 2012, you know!
Jeff Jacobson, President of Global Graphic Communications within Xerox, discusses the state of the print industry at drupa 2012, and shares which hot technology is capturing much of the buzz – including the Xerox CiPress™ 325 Production Inkjet System, the Xerox iGen™ 150 Press, and the IntegratedPLUS Finishing Solution for Booklets.
9. A Dozen Business Card Mistakes to Avoid:
If long after an initial meeting, you are remembered by prospects and clients based on your business card, then you will want to be sure it leaves a lasting positive impression. Check out 12 common business card mistakes you will want to avoid.
8. 3 Application Ideas For Your Shop.
Get inspired with 3 application ideas you can take into the new year! See how security imaging, experiential direct mailers, and dimensional mailers can open new opportunities for your clients and your business.
7. Xerox’s Leadership in the Graphic Communications Market.
With digital page volume estimated to reach 800 billion pages by 2013, this post features a glimpse into the technology that will make a splash in 2012.
Check back tomorrow for blog posts 6-4!