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Archive for September, 2009

The following article accurately identified four significant trends for the printing industry – (1) Digital Technology (2) Consolidation (3) More Services (4) New Print Technologies, however the article fails to mention what is perhaps the most significant trend – the introduction of print aggregation models that will revolutionize the commercial printing industry in a way that is similar to what travel aggregation models did for the travel industry a decade ago.

Why has the commercial printing industry been dragging its feet in adopting the aggregation models? The short answer is fear.

The following is an excerpt from the trends article:

“Trends in the Commercial Printing Industries

1.  Transition to Digital Technology: Digital presses have become the norm in commercial printing; industry growth is coming almost entirely from digital printing. The commercial printing industry is shifting to faster production of smaller order quantities with more color, the major benefit of digital printing over offset and other printing methods. While digital inkjet printers began at the small end of printers, technology is increasingly able to make digital printers with greater capacity.

2.  Industry Consolidation: Consolidation has characterized the US commercial printing industry since the 1990s, and is ongoing due to the dramatic changes in the marketplace. Industry consolidations are driven by technology shifts and companies seeking to grow by expanding into new geographic markets through acquisitions. Most consolidations are private companies, losing value and unable to keep up technologically, selling to another private firm. Small, family-run printers are least likely to be able to afford digital printing technology and the investment it requires.

3.  Transition to Service Business: Commercial printing has traditionally been a manufacturing industry. While it maintains its manufacturing focus, it’s evolving into a service business. Smaller printing runs, subject to customer changes, edits, and faster deadlines, are becoming the norm. Almost all industry growth comes from companies with digital printing capabilities, able to respond to smaller runs and changing customer needs quickly.

4.  New Print Technologies: With the introduction of digital plate-making, the entire printing process can be handled most effectively using digital technology. The traditional printing process relies on cameras and photographic film as an intermediate step in the photochemical production of the plates used in printing. New processes can make film from digital images without using a camera.”

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Many of the leaders in the commercial printing industry are seeking the best high tech solutions to help them compete in a struggling marketplace. However none of these “leaders” is planning to offer “print aggregation portals” as a true sea change in an industry that remains well rooted in the last century.

For an example, in the 20th century the travel industry attempted to add efficiencies to the old way of doing business by developing software that made things incrementally better, and these technologies did incrementally improve performance. But the travel industry didn’t join the 21st century until Priceline and others created a travel aggregation model that truly revolutionized travel sometimes called ‘Travolutionary”. 2goTools.com is the only company that is providing a true “print aggregation portal” solution in today’s commercial printing marketplace.

The following is an excerpt from a Dow Jones Newswires article:

“Xerox Corp. (XRX) said it was buying business services provider Affiliated Computer Services Inc. (ACS) for around $6.4 billion in cash and stock. The Norwalk, Conn.-based printer giant is hoping to expand outside of its slow-growth core business by adding more lucrative services, like custom book publishing and major print run management.

Xerox isn’t the only printer maker trying to goose sales by tacking on professional services. Canon Inc. (7751.TO) and Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ) recently struck a deal that lets H-P sell more of the Japanese company’s printers along with its own “array of software and service offerings.” Other printer makers, like Hitachi Ltd. (6501.TO) and Lexmark International Inc. (LXK), have added Internet connections to their machines to provide pipelines for delivering services, like photo-book printing, directly to customers.

Dressing up printer businesses with professional services takes a page from the playbooks of tech giants like International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) and H-P. These companies, which started off as computer makers, are integrating professional services with their hardware. That, in turn, is spurring demand for their computers and servers.

The Xerox-ACS deal is “further validation of the business model of offering integrated solutions consisting of hardware, software and services,” Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said in an email interview.

Already, the changes at printer companies are making their mark. Last week, Palo Alto, Calif.-based H-P said the operating margin for its printer division could be as high as 17% in fiscal 2010. That’s stronger than the 15.6% the division posted in fiscal 2008, the last full year for which the company has reported results.

The new enthusiasm is driven by sales of wireless and multi-featured printers, plus commercial and digital printing services, H-P said. Among its plans: Opening what it calls a “Printer Application Studio” that will let H-P printer owners download specialized software onto their machines.

How well the industry’s strategy will pay off has yet to be seen. While no one sees the demise of paper, options to printing are becoming more affordable and prevalent.”

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How often do you receive a traditional looking business letter. No junk “teaser copy” on the envelope. No overly salesy copy or promotional graphics that scream “buy buy buy” in the letter. Just a thoughtful letter to you the customer (or prospective customer) that quickly gets to the point in a sincere one-to-one communication. Based on conversations with many executives, this kind of letter is relatively rare these days. And because it is so rare, it will make a greater impression on the receiver than the typical email amid hundreds of emails.

So, the advice in the following article is do not forget the corporate stationery as a primary media for successful marketing.

“As an advertising practitioner, you need corporate stationery that will aide in your marketing and branding efforts. Corporate stationery such as letterheads and envelopes can be significant resources for your advertising firm.

Letterheads and envelopes represent your brand identity because they contain your company name and logo. Your letterhead and envelope design should reflect your brand image, ensuring your clients can easily identify you. Below are a few reasons why you should utilize professionally printed letterheads and envelopes:

–  Client Meetings: Show your professionalism by using your corporate stationery for all company communication. You can offer your stationery for note taking during client meetings. Make sure that your letterheads and envelopes are impressive so as not to leave a bad impression.

– Direct Mailing: Project your brand both inside and out by using your letterheads and envelopes for client correspondence. Clients won’t consider your mail junk if you make use of professionally-printed corporate stationery. Online letterhead and envelope printing is an excellent investment for your advertising agency; therefore, you must choose a reliable online printing company to get the best value for your money.

– Client Presentations: Present yourself in a confident and professional manner by providing handouts printed on your company letterhead. Presentations are all about impressing the client. So, put your best foot forward and hand them corporate stationery produced by a reputable online printing company.

Introducing letterheads and envelopes to your marketing arsenal strengthens your branding efforts. Online letterhead and envelope printing services allow you to maintain durable and professional-looking printed materials.”

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What options do the approximately 36,000 commercial printers have to immediately begin utilizing their press capacity beyond the 20%  going on today. One substantial new option is to participate in the rapid growth of print aggregation portals. These commercial printers have an opportunity to register with the 2goTools.com system.  Once a printing vendor is accepted into the 2goTools system, they will begin bidding on print jobs that best fit their unique capabilities and geographic location.

Below is an excerpt from an article that further describes the current printing industries marketing landscape.

“… There are approximately 36,000 commercial printers (not including neighborhood print shops) in the United States. However, this number is falling dramatically as more and more printers fail due to the recession, an increase in bulk mail rates by the U. S. Postal Service, and the government’s on-going unwritten policy of manufacturing print in-house rather than reliance on the private sector.

“Not too long ago, 51% of everything printed ended up going through the mails. When the bulk mail rate went up, direct mail volumes went down in favor of on-line advertising and other less expensive forms of marketing. This changed the print business dynamics,” Gindlesperger said. “Not only did the U. S. Postal Service get itself into deeper financial trouble by reducing this major source of contribution to its overhead, but it hurt the print industry. Now, instead of printers utilizing 70% of their capacity on a day-by-day basis, the utilization figure dropped like a rock. In some cases the capacity utilization is now 20% and less.”

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The printing industry is in search of a new beginning. So goes the mantra as Print ’09 comes to its conclusion. The theme and focus has been on production efficiency, and who would argue with that. However, production efficiency is only one of several slices of the total cost reduction pie. Print aggregation portals address the whole pie. Print aggregation portals represent a sea change in the print industry business model.

Just as Priceline changed the travel industry and Lendingtree changed the loan industry, 2goTools, print aggregation portals is changing the printing industry today. Aggregation systems create efficiencies from the buying and ordering process end. The system accurately facilitates the best geographic locations to help cut down on shipping costs. And the system rewards the best production efficiencies by keeping those print vendors busy all the time. As more and more industries turn to the web to revolutionize their core processes, 2goTools is poised to solve the current print industry dilemma with a web-based solution.

The following is an excerpt from the article At Print 09, the Search for A New Beginning Is On

“Why the steely-eyed focus on production efficiency? One of the panelists explained that because print buyers are as relentlessly committed to “saving nickels” as printers ought to be to not wasting them, “operational excellence” is the only way to safeguard the profit margins that wily buyers will try to erode. “At the end of the day,” said another of the printers, “the lowest-cost producer wins”—and overcomes the cutthroat pricing that “desperate” competitors resort to when their own inefficiencies drive them to that type of behavior.

“Anyone who is not trying to drive cost out of the system is not going to survive,” another panelist said. If this is correct, and if Vince Lapinski’s view of the industry’s pace of technology adoption is also correct, there may not be all that many survivors. “Most facilities are not running anywhere near as efficient as the technology is capable of,” he said, adding that some of manroland’s customers are exceptions to that rule. Lapinski, CEO of manroland’s North American business, urged all printers to make the necessary investments in high-efficiency production, acknowledging that limited access to capital is making it difficult for many to do so.”

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Print ’09 is being described as “one big mash-up” – an interesting choice of terminology. By one definition “a web mash-up is a web page or application that integrates complementary elements from two or more sources.” And example would be mashing up auto traffic data with Google maps to visually represent in real time how long it might take to drive from one part of town to another.

Internet experts will sometimes refer to web portals as mash-up technologies. For example, with print aggregation portals, data from many print vendors and data from the customer’s printing project specifications are being mashed up in order to lower the cost of printing dramatically. Data aggregation, web portals and mash-ups are here to stay as each major industry continues to discover innovative ways to apply these technologies for improved efficiencies and performance.

The following is an excerpt from a Print ’09 article “Converting-tech “mash-up” at PRINT 09”

“Here’s a great collection of package-printing and converting-related technology tidbits from the PRINT 09 and Pack Print events. PRINT 09 continues, exhibitors are using the Chicago show as a platform for both live demonstrations, and to trigger an avalanche of news—delivered in person to attendees, and online to those back at the plant. The show is thus become one big “mash-up”—an online term for a site that gathers information from all over the place.”

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What’s the buzzword for the Print ’09 show in Chicago? Differentiation.

Of course, differentiation comes in many forms, e.g. larger formats, magazine quality production, hybrid presses and the like. But the most dynamic differentiation is coming from a revolution in the printing business model itself in the form of “print aggregation portals” as introduced by 2goTools.

The following is an excerpt from a Print ’09 article:

“The big buzzword for commercial printers at Print ’09 was “differentiation.” Stand out from competitors by offering larger formats (printing images of 43 inches or more) or foiling or embossing. For newspapers the pitch was, step up your quality to commercial printing levels.

All the big printing press makers were showing UV or heatset color for magazine-quality production on newsprint. The idea is not only to improve the quality of the newspaper, but to diversify into other products.

At KBA’s booth, for instance, Ulrich Wicke, vice president of sales and service for the web press division, was showing off a thick Avon catalog with impressive color quality. “The woman looking at this would never guess that this came off the same press that printed her newspaper,” he said.

AVT/GMI — the newly merged company that combines AVT’s commercial printing-oriented inspection and quality monitoring with the GMI color and press controls more familiar to newspapers — expects that newspapers will adopt more commercial practices as it takes on new work, Advanced Vision Technologies Inc. President Gal Shamri said Monday.

“As newspapers with hybrid presses take on more semi-commercial and even commercial work, color quality becomes a major factor,” he said. Newspapers will also need to become more efficient as they adjust to the reality of commercial print jobs these days: short runs, a necessity to cut make-ready times, and cost pressures.”

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