Friday, December 16, 2005


Where Have All the Profits Gone?

This past Monday, the Commerce Department released its Quarterly Financial Report, and its printing industry data were disappointing. The four- quarter moving total of inflation-adjusted profits before income taxes moved lower, from $3.89 billion to $3.59 billion annually, the lowest level since Q2- 2002, when it was $3.15 billion. This means fewer dollars for needed investments to reconfigure our industry's plants for greater productivity. It also means the pressures for consolidation are yet more intense (and we thought they were intense already!). Consolidation forces capital that would have been used for new plant equipment to be used for acquisitions instead. On one hand, more productive companies become stronger through the acquistions, but the industry-wide installed base of equipment does not necessarily improve because the dollars were spent elsewhere.

Commerce Department Quarterly Financial Report

Thursday, December 08, 2005


Repositioning Print Starts with Ourselves

Last issue, I discussed our being pushed aside as the “offline media industry.” This time, I’ll review the steps that we must take to remain viable in the communications marketplace.

We have to look at ourselves in the eye and say:
Our industry has the skills to effectively and efficiently manage the multichannel communications logistics that clients need in order to reach their fragmented target markets and to address the “I want it now” attention span of those marketplaces.

The first step toward solving a problem is to admit that you have one.

So let's take our first steps. Let's say it together: "Electronic media have undeniable and pre- emptive advantages in the marketplace." There, that was good. Now add this: "The recognition of those advantages is growing."

Okay, now add this: "I will do something that adds new media to the marketing arsenal of my printing business, and I will use new media myself as a means of showing that print executives understand the new world of communications."

It's exciting to get into a new business, and internalizing these concepts is the first step. If we don't do this, we will become marginalized as the "offline media" business, and that's not a good thing. After all, "The Offline Media Council" does not have a compelling ring to it.

The next big ad:tech is in April in San Francisco. They also have smaller events around the country and the world. Attend one and learn as much about your new media competitors as you can. After all, they're striving to get the same scarce marketing dollars from clients that we are.

Link to Ad Tech Events

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Welcome to the"Offline Media" Business (Oh, by the way... that's printing!)

For the past few weeks, I've been noticing that print media are being referred to as "offline media." It's not a name we picked for ourselves; it has been assigned to us. "Off" is probably the operative word. Great! Now we're lumped in with events, product placement in movies and TV shows and samples. Most of the discussions that used this term came out of the recent ad:tech show in New York, where were many presentations about multichannel marketing and marketing mix issues.

The ad:tech show is where all executives interested in cutting edge business communications go. But no printer had a booth. No printer was on a panel. I don't know whether any printers attended, but if they did, I imagine the represented a tiny portion of the attendance.

The ad:tech attendees are the kinds of people who are helping organizations like the Phoenix Visitors Bureau switch away from print. That was quite a story, if you haven't heard it. Would-be vacationers were ordering brochures, only to have them arrive after their vacation was over. In about six months, the Bureau saved $60,000 in costs by switching to "e-brochures."

The ad:tech attendees are telling decision makers that print is expensive and ineffective. No one was there to make the case about how our industry offers some of the most innovative applications for increasing response rates for new media marketing as well as for delivering lower long-run total costs for clients.

I have yet to see the industry make a strong and consistent statement that pounces on the documented deliverability problems of e-mail promotions. Strangely enough, there was a presentation at ad:tech about using print and mail to clean up a company's e-mail list. By doing so, their e-mail bounces were reduced to 1%.
Our industry needs to be among the best of the new media practitioners. If we believe that we are in the "communications business" (I say we're in the "communications logistics" business, actually), then we have to act that way.

Our industry is a small business industry, and we serve small businesses regularly. Yet, we have let Staples/OfficeMax/OfficeDepot/FedEx Kinko's take our customers away from us; most of the customers of those services have no idea what a printing business is or what it can do for them. Printing? Oh, I have a Staples coupon for that... It's time to change.

Read about the Phoenix Visitors Bureau

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?