spent time in advertising and marketing positions during economic
downturns, it's no surprise to me that many companies are following
conventional wisdom and dialing back their efforts and expenditures on
such activities these days and pushing back product launches. But is it
really the right thing to do? That's the topic on the table this month
as we all feel the pinch, take deals for less money and see thinner
Not every company is pulling back. Océ, HP and C.P
Bourg have just announced new products, RSA and Solimar both have some
new offerings, and others will be making announcements at AIIM/On
Demand in Philadelphia as well. I also find it encouraging is that many
print providers are still promoting their businesses and looking for
ways to add value. Are you hunkered down waiting for things to get
better or are you marketing and promoting harder than ever? It makes a
difference you know!
Noel Noel Ward Managing Director Brimstone Hill Associates 603-672-3635 email@example.com
Against Gravity Defying Conventional Wisdom
I spotted an article in The Independent, a UK-based newspaper I picked up in Germany last week, that screeched how the freefall in advertising revenues signaled the economy grinding to a halt. Advertising may not quite be a driver of any economy, but the rise and fall of ad revenues is certainly a bellwether of an economy's strength or weakness. And as most print providers will attest, print revenues are often closely related to the advertising and marketing expenditures of all types of companies. Magazines, newspapers and plenty of websites live off their ad revenues and the page count and content of many such publications is getting thinner as ad revenues shrink.
Companies not buying ad space are working off the conventional wisdom that reducing advertising and marketing is a smart move when the economy is weak and sales are down. After all, nobody is buying so why waste money promoting your goods or services? And better not make any new product announcements, either. Put them off until the economy improves.
What are you doing to keep revenue coming in? Are you looking for new customers? Are you working to get a larger share of wallet from existing clients? Have you thought about how you can offer new products or services that expand what you do and better differentiate your business? And are you doing at least a basic level of outbound marketing to maintain your brand so you don't fall of the radar of those who need --or will need-- what you offer?
Try a postcard campaign, maybe with a personalized URL. Keep letting customers know not only what you're doing and what you can do. Promote your brand. You simply have to do this, and even if you see only modest results, you still beef up your brand for when the economy finally gets into a higher gear.
The Photo Rhone Glacier: Climate Change, Firsthand
You've heard all the stuff about how glaciers are receding faster than a lot of hairlines, but you don't appreciate it until you see it firsthand. After drupa last year I drove to Switzerland where there are supposedly some spectacular mountains and amazing views. Switzerland, though, was encapsulated in fog and rain so it was like being inside a ping pong ball: I never saw any peaks. But being an all-weather kind of guy, I went out to play anyway.
Part way up the road to the Furka Pass you can get out onto to the Rhone Glacier and into the Eisgrotte or Ice Grotto, a narrow tunnel that has been carved about 150 feet or so into the glacier for about 120 years, beginning when the glacier ended 3/4 of a mile further down the valley. About 100 yards or before the snout of the glacier and some 30 feet higher, you reach a sign marking the point where the entrance was in 1946. Some 50 yards further and about 15 feet lower you come to a sign showing where the glacier ended in 1996. Some 30 yards later you come to the entrance of the grotto today.
The glacier continues about 4.5 miles further up the mountain. It is about 200 yards wide at the face, widening to maybe half a mile at the point where I couldn't go any further without fun toys like a rope, crampons, ice axe and belaying partner. The photo at the beginning of this piece is about a quarter mile up from the face of the glacier. The guys coming down are some Italian climbers who'd been further up on der gletscher.
New Engines that Target Traditional Systems
I usually don't put product info in this newsletter, but a couple of recent announcements are worth noting.
Both HP and Océ announced important new products in the past two weeks. These products are game changers, and while some of them won't be available until later in the year, that's OK. High-dollar digital presses aren't exactly impulse buys, so planting the seeds now is a good strategy even though the sales won't show up on the balance sheet right away. Here's a quick look.
HP's WS6000 Digital
printing offers a number of advantages for labels and packaging and the
technology is offering real alternatives to flexo printing. HP's new
WS6000 is a label printing press that HP calls a game-changer in the
label and flexo printing market. It's not simply a matter of short
runs, but one of security and variable content addressing some market
needs. For instance, the ability to vary every label enables one-step
bar code serialization, where each label or package carries a unique
identifier that aids distribution tracking and helps thwart product
diversion and counterfeiting. Printing the label digitally makes sense.
WS6000 prints at 98 feet per minute in four-color mode on a range of
media spanning thinner flexible packaging substrates to folding carton
material. HP says it is more cost-effective than traditional
flexographic printing processes used for jobs up to 13,000 linear feet,
a figure that represents approximately 80 percent of label jobs.
Océ JetStream Family Goes Wider... and Slower Océ
invited some customers and a few freeloading analysts and journalists
to its Poing, Germany factory last week to roll out the latest members
of its JetStream family of ink jet printers. These included the 30"
wide JetStream 2800 and the JetStream 500/1000. There were other
announcemetns on the toner and software side, but I'll stick to the ink
The JetStream 2800 squares off against the HP's ink
jet Web Press announced last May at drupa. It relies on the same
technology Océ uses on its other JetStream printers and is intended as
a monochrome press with the ability to upgrade to four or five colors
using dye-based or pigment inks
One of the key target markets
for this device is book production, but not in the sense of the
ultra-short runs of titles produced on toner-based presses. Instead,
the 30" JetStream aims at offset replacement, offering publishers a
less expensive means of printing up to about 3,500 copies of a title
--well below the typical first-run length for an offset book press.
This range, explains Manfred Maier, CTO at Océ Printing Systems, can
help keep publishers from building inventories of books that only sell
in low quantities yet are normally produced in runs of about 5,000
copies to meet economical production levels with offset technology.
Both HP and Océ see this type of press as the next phase of the shift
in book manufacturing from purely offset to partially digital, and
eventually for certain types of direct mail and other commercial apps
such as newspapers and packaging.
As intriguing as the 30-inch
system is, I found Océ's new JetStream 500/1000 more interesting
because it addresses the needs of many printers and their customers.
First, Océ has dialed back the speed to fit operations with moderate
monthly print volumes. Next, unlike most continuous-feed print systems
which require two print engines to print both sides of a page, this
smallest JetStream can print both sides of a page in one pass through a
single engine. Field upgradeable from simplex to duplex, the new system
can also print up to six colors, one of which can be MICR ink. A number
of transactional and direct mail print shops I know have been thinking
this kind of flexibility and moderate speed in an ink jet device would
be a good fit for their businesses. It's going to be interesting to see
the markets' reaction to this as it becomes available.
What's Up at Brimstone Hill On the road again!
We're at the AIIM/On Demand show where we'll be shooting some video interviews and doing some custom work for some clients. You'll see some of the results on Brimstone Hill.com and probably in a couple other places later in the month. We'll be able to point you at some of that once it's completed.
An April video shoot we've scheduled will be a combination of sales training, hearing customer comments on a variety of issues, and more. The more we think about this one the more interesting it gets.
Also on the table are plans for a video series. Stay tuned for more details as we get further down that road.
Available dates are tightening up for our "Free Man in Paris" video program. There are just three days still available, so if you want to have us visit one of your customers in the Paris area (or within a reasonable radius) please give us a call at 603-672-3635 to get the details and nail down a day. It's a close to turn-key opportunity so be sure to take a look.
In a similar vein, we'll be in the LA area for a day or so at the end of April or the beginning of May and would love to visit a couple of printers. If you're a vendor, do you have a customer with a great story to tell whom you'd like us to go see and capture some video? Or maybe you're a printer and would like some promotional video done. Either way, please give us a call at 603-672-3635 and we'll work out a deal.