I just got back from Dscoop4, the 2009 gathering of
HP-Indigo owners, that took place at the Gaylord Palms resort in
Orlando, Florida. The venue was gorgeous, the conference sessions rich
with ideas, perspectives and information, and the sense of community
the strongest I've seen at any print industry event. Ever. If all the
other trade associations in this industry put on events like Dscoop4
there'd be a lot more very profitable print shops and digital printing
applications would have a substantially greater share of the market.
The difference is in the positive attitude and optimism of the members
and the community they have built. More on those topics further down
We should have some video we shot there available in a week or so and I'll send you a link so you can see what I mean.
Noel Noel Ward Director Brimstone Hill Associates 603-672-3635 firstname.lastname@example.org
Community is Cool Everyone Benefits
Dscoop, as my colleague Marion Mathieson pointed out, embodies the same
sense of community that computer user groups had back in the day when
people shared knowledge to get the most out of their computers. A
quarter century on, the "users" at Dscoop have made substantial
investments in digital print engines and are seeking the best ways to
maximize them. No one knows everything, yet everyone has something to
contribute. All benefit.
Providing such roadmaps to success have
long been the goal of print industry trade shows, conferences and trade
associations. Yet truly useful sharing and collaboration has been
uncommon because print providers eyed their contemporaries as
competitors and were reluctant to share information. Now reality has
set in. The typical printer today isn't just competing with someone
down the street for local customers but someone he never heard of in
another time zone. This flattening of the marketplace is (finally)
lessening the fear of competitors "stealing one's ideas" while
hastening the realization that success in this digital age comes from
learning from others and applying knowledge in creative and innovative
ways. Then sharing what you've done with your peers.
everyone I spoke with echoed the sense that such collaboration was a
tide that would lift all boats. "There's more digital printing to be
done than any of us can do," one Dscoop member said to me. "We all
become stronger and more successful by sharing, collaborating and
I couldn't agree more. The print providers
who share knowledge today are going to be the leaders --and maybe even
the survivors-- just a few short years from now.
The Photo Oncle Tom's Pizza
My favorite food is pizza. I literally have it everywhere I go. So when
I went to Switzerland for a few days after drupa 2008 there was never
any doubt pizza would be on the menu. In Grindelwald I asked the
twenty-something woman from Australia at the front desk of the hostel
where she would take her best friends from home if they came to visit
and insisted on great pizza. She said Oncle Tom's Hutte (literally
Uncle Tom's Cabin! Sorry, no website) had the best pizza there was.
Anywhere. And she was right. It's a small place with wonderful Italian
hospitality, good wines, and the best pizza on the planet. At least so
5 Steps to Effective Success Stories
Are yours worthy of your technology?
One of the best ways of communicating
the power of your company's technology is showing how customers are
using it to solve business challenges. This is usually done using
written or video formats that describe how a customer uses a given
technology. Most every vendor has a few of these success stories, case
studies or application briefs. Too bad many of them don't work very
The most common format is the formulaic one, usually
specified by marketing or PR folks who either inherited this style as
corporate boilerplate or are afflicted with terminally linear thinking.
This format divides the story into discrete chunks, sometimes with
specific word counts. These sections often bear predictable subtitles
such as: The Company. The Challenge. The Solution. The Benefit. These
aren't necessarily bad in themselves, but they tend to constrict the
way a story flows.
The core information is probably there, but
with rare exceptions this format yields bland, stiff, unimaginative
documents that are light on details, have all the allure of material
safety data sheets, and barely scratch the surface of how a product
solved a particular challenge. Your technology deserves better.
So Tell the Story Instead,
a story in a format and style that engage the reader. Since tales
of printing equipment and software merge technology and business
issues, it's important to explain how this happens in ways readers can
relate. The best results come from working with writers who understand
both your technology and the business and operational issues your
should read like a good magazine article. This can require more words
than the formulaic approach, so tight writing is important. It's fine
to keep within a specific word count, but make all the words work to
tell the story while keeping it alive on the page.
readers can identify with and do it right at the beginning. If
they don't see "what's in it for them" they will bail out fast. The
story should provide enough detail to show that the problems and
challenges described are clearly not trivial and are ones with which
other companies can identify.
Interview two or three
people at a company and use quotes from all of them. Ideally you want
someone at a management level speaking to business issues and others
further down the food chain who have their hands on the actual jobs to talk about
the operational side. That way you tell a complete
story that's more useful to readers.
about the benefits of your technology and what they
mean to the featured company. Whenever possible, quantify
labor and cost savings, lower cost of ownership, improvements in
efficiency, greater throughput, faster turnarounds, better staff
utilization, and so on.
the product the hero but
don't beat the drum too loudly. It's a story, not an advertorial. Your
message is far more effective and credible if the customer is the
winner, i.e., more efficient or more profitable, through adoption of
your technology. Throw PR agency policies aside and don't use your
product or company name more than two or three times. Readers aren't
stupid; they know what you're talking about. (And don't put the
company/product names in bold type, either.)
A key upside to
this format is that a trade magazine editor is more likely to be
willing to run the story (after relieving it of any product pitch)
because it requires minimal editing. This is not the case with stories
using the formulaic approach that are too structured around a product
to be used in a magazine without serious editing or rewriting --for
which magazines have paper thin budgets.
This same process is true, with a few more details, for video versions of success stories. But that's a tale for another day.
A Free Man in Paris
If you have operations in Paris, France, consider taking advantage of "A Free Man in Paris,"
a unique video opportunity for vendors with customers in Paris
or even western Europe. We'll be in Paris in late May and are filling
up a videotaping schedule of print providers with a story to tell about
how they solved difficult challenges and implemented compelling applications.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect
of Dscoop4 last week was the sense of optimism. Here we are in the
throes of the worst economy in 70 years, with businesses of all sizes
feeling the pressure of just trying to stay afloat, and over 1300
people show up at a conference on digital printing. This in a time when
the Philadelphia "show hotels" for the AIIM/On Demand show still have
rooms available a month before the event.
folks weren't there for a boondoggle in sunny Orlando. There was only
one pre-conference golf outing, no trips to theme parks, and days were
filled from breakfast into the late afternoon with conference sessions.
Many companies brought multiple people charged with gathering
information and bringing it back to their teams at home. Every Dscoop
member I talked with was upbeat and positive, seeing the economic
downturn as an opportunity to position their company for the future and
get their share of whatever business is out there. They are cautious
and concerned, but are acting and moving forward, not sitting around
It's all about attitude. An across-the-pond colleague, Colin Thompson, has a new book, Accelerate with Impact in
which he discusses the importance of attitude. He notes, "A positive
attitude, i.e. your willingness to think positively, affects many
people, from your immediate family to the stranger you smile at in the
grocery store. The optimist sees opportunity in difficulties, while a
pessimist sees difficulty in opportunities." Attitude, says Thompson,
the "advance man" of our true selves
has inward roots but outward fruits
is our best friend or worst enemy
is more honest and more consistent than our words
is an outward look based on past experiences
is a thing which draws people to us or repels them
is never content until it is expressed
is the librarian of our past
is the speaker of our present
is the prophet of our future
Thompson, by the way, is offering a complimentary e-book version of Accelerate with Impact to anyone getting The Brimstone Report who registers on his website and subscribes to his free newsletters.
can all get through this difficult time. It won't be easy. But the
worst thing to do is to sit around worrying or just letting
circumstances (or fear) paralyze you. Market your business, look for
ways to serve your customers better and add value. You know your
business and your markets. What can you do?