How can I produce print signage that makes me stand out from the competition? How do I incorporate online signage that complements my more traditional offline offerings? What can I do to make sure my end products are eco-friendly and made with sustainable materials? These are likely just a few of the key questions signage companies and printers are asking themselves as they attend the ISA International Sign Expo show this week.
Given the broad scope of the signage industry, it’s competitive. That means if you offer signage capabilities, you’ll want to find ways to innovate and separate yourself from the pack. The good news is that according to International Sign Association (ISA) 2013 report (which is a survey of members and attendees during their annual International Sign Expo), 93% of companies expect their business to grow in the coming year and almost three-fourths of those surveyed expect double digit growth, while a third expect growth rates of over 20%.
So what are the areas your customers might look to you for help with? Interestingly enough they are not all that dissimilar to other areas of print. Some examples include:
• Multi-channel strategies – Companies need to know how to cost effectively provide a multi-channel signage approach (incorporating print, online, social media and more).
• Digital signage – It’s becoming more prevalent, but companies are looking for ideas around when and how to use digital signage – and want to know when the added expense is worth the business result.
• Relationship management and growth – A consistent customer becomes a partner. That partner drives more revenue than a onetime customer. What does this mean? Frequency equals profit. You must develop customer relationships that last in order to truly thrive.
• The green movement – As the world looks to make industries more environmentally friendly, incorporating eco-friendly practices and sustainable products into signage offerings without vastly increasing costs is important.
How can you stay current, remain competitive and address all of these trends to meet current customer needs and also grow your business? Look to campaign management. Given the increased role marketing trends are playing across all of print (including signage), it’s crucial for you to offer more than just an outdoor portfolio. It’s important to have a comprehensive set of solutions in place that allows you to offer customers a complete personalized marketing package that incorporates signage as one element of a print and digital campaign.
For the first time Ricoh will be attending the International Signage Expo (ISA) show and demonstrating how we help printers in industries ranging from healthcare to banking bridge the digital divide across areas like mail, critical communications and operational workflow. We want to help you grow new customers. At the show, we’ll showcase comprehensive print and marketing campaign solutions that we hope will do just that.
Are you attending the ISA International Sign Expo Expo this year? If so, stop by the Ricoh booth #479 and see how we can help you address the latest trends and issues affecting signage. To learn more about Ricoh’s signage solutions, visit Ricoh’s Production Print site at rpp.ricoh-usa.com.
How do you achieve document integrity and compliance while cutting costs? What channels are most important for you to address your customers’ critical communications needs? What is the future of customer communication management? These are just some of the questions we heard at Xploration14, a mainstay event of the electronic document industry which took place from March 25-27.
With more than 60 educational sessions on various topics ranging from data to industry applications to technology best practices, the conference was a gathering of leading print service providers, direct marketers and everyone in-between, all looking to address the latest trends and pain points in the ever shifting world of information communications.
It was evident that these marketers, service providers and technologists were seeking ways to work more intelligently and move our industry forward with innovation. The value of Xplor truly lies in being able to spend three solid days listening to experts in print address the industry’s most important issues and most pressing challenges, many of which often touch on very specific company needs. At Ricoh, we have been helping to revolutionize the workplace for more than 75 years, so we’re right at home sharing knowledge that can solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges for the new world of work, where the only constant is change.
This year, I presented the session, “The Appropriate Document Factory 2.0: Budget vs. Compliance?” I shared the best practices that regulated industries (like healthcare and utilities) use to address ongoing challenges with proper tracking and reporting of sensitive data for compliance and accreditation. The Xplor audience responded well to tips and real world case studies on how to meet regulatory and document integrity requirements; maximize current resources to boost efficiency, cut waste and keep costs low; and avoid document tracking uncertainties. They also appreciated hearing some examples of how budget concerns are being trumped by compliance and business continuity.
Meanwhile, in a different session, marketing attendees heard from Kurt Konow, Director, Vertical Marketing, and fellow panelists on the current state of channel marketing – how to develop programs that work and can increase customer retention and satisfaction – including finding the most lucrative value-add services, leveraging Web-based portals for creating and delivering multi-channel campaigns and how to help customers extend their marketing content beyond print to email, Web pages, social media and more.
Howard Turetzky kept attendees up to date about the AFP Consortium and AFP Archive (AFP/A) Function Sets. This information is critical as companies attempt to retire older systems and printers and gain page independence through metadata tagging. This is a sample of the deep veteran knowledge that customers with newer staff need to make smart moves when designing their new infrastructures.
The icing on the cake for us was sharing an Application of the Year honorable mention award win with one of our customers. Making information work isn’t always easy – but together, CCS Printing and Ricoh were able demonstrate by integrating new solutions with legacy ones, that printers like CCS can meet both traditional printing and forms management customer requirements, while expanding to also handle client communications document integrity from the print process to mail insertion. This honor, and our own Harry Lewis’ acknowledgement as the recipient of the Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement award made for a humbling experience – and one of many rewarding experiences over the three days that we spent speaking with people in the industry face-to-face.
Did you attend Xplor? Have any questions or comments about the show or hot trends you’d like to address? Please share your comments!
- Paul Abdool
Director, Production Workflow Automation Practice
It’s time once again for the annual National Postal Forum (NPF) – approaching this March 16-19 – and everyone from in-plant and commercial printers to in-house corporate mail departments will be gathering to see what new solutions might be out there to help solve the ever-changing pain points of mail . With the mail industry changing rapidly every year, we know you are looking to discuss the most important mail issues of today, and learn about solutions to make your information work for you tomorrow.
Whether you’re interested in reducing postage costs, meeting regulatory compliance, implementing end-to-end tracking, or managing data, we can help. All you have to do is visit us in booth #1711.
Curious about how to streamline your current processes in order to reduce cost and become more efficient? Well, this year we will debut our unique interactive digital workflow wall at the show. This wall will enable our mail experts to draw up a custom workflow to illustrate how Ricoh can apply new workflow functions to meet your mail challenges. Or if best practices are what you’re looking for, you can spend some time with our customer case study video wall, hearing how real life customers have addressed their mail operation problems, making them more efficient and effective. Often, when we hear company employees say “there has to be a better way,” there is – and at Ricoh, we specialize in making information work for companies like yours.
Ricoh experts will also showcase top ideas for solving all your mail in mail out and everything in-between pain points at the following panels:
With more than 130 educational sessions and workshops scheduled for the event, you’ll feel like a kid in a mail solution candy store. So why not come see what is on the horizon for the industry and how you can start turning your communications pipeline into business solutions that mean increased productivity, reduced cost savings and peace of mind for knowing you can address what is coming tomorrow?
Will you be at the NPF this year? Stop by Ricoh’s Booth #1711. We hope to see you there!
Manager, WW Software Alliances, Ricoh
As a reader of our blog, you might already be familiar with the questions used to determine if your organization is in need of Critical Communications solutions:
Every day, you deal with the pain points related to these questions – the stumbling blocks that keep your business from running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The latest version of the Critical Communications solutions suite, answers those questions and addresses your pain points with three key new features. Here’s how:
The common thread of all these new features? Using the information contained in files, barcodes, databases, and other places to efficiently control your workflow and ensure your communications are accurate, relevant and on-time. Whether, you’re a book printer, an in-plant printer dealing with employee marketing, or a university alumni relations office, the latest updates to the Critical Communications can help you. Companies like CCS Printing have used Critical Communications to achieve new levels of efficiency. You can read more about the Critical Communications solutions suite here: http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/discover/critical-communications.
Ricoh will also be discussing the most pressing topics for mailers and showcasing our Critical Communications solutions suite at the National Postal Forum (March 16-19), so stop by our booth to see it action and talk to our experts. Stay tuned to our blog here, @RicohProPrint on Twitter and our Facebook page for the latest.
- Christopher Reid, Director, Software Product Marketing
A new year means that your organization is likely planning to make new purchases for software, hardware and services solutions. And if you’re like most, you know that making the right decisions can mean the difference between success or being plagued with the headaches and mishaps that result from a bad choice. In the latest issue of Mailing Systems Technology, I share insights and strategies on how you can avoid the common obstacles that stand in the way of making the best purchase for your organization. Here are the main takeaways of the article (and many of these don’t just apply to mailers):
For a more in-depth look at strategies for making the best purchases, read the full article in the January/February 2014 issue of Mailing Systems Technology (Page 26-27) here: http://issuu.com/rbpublishing/docs/mst_janfeb/27?e=2333928/6456471.
And if you’re attending MAILCOM (February 10-13) or the National Postal Forum (March 16-19), be sure to check out my Ricoh colleagues at the show, where we’ll be speaking about optimizing your mail, using workflow to reduce costs, measuring mail workflow and more.
Vice President Solutions & Services, Ricoh
The phrase data rich applications is something one might hear in passing during discussions of a publishing print portfolio or a publisher’s book printing goal for the next five years. But many may not even know what we really mean when we talk about data rich applications, nor understand why they are so significant in a publishing organizations growth planning.
So let’s break it down. Data rich applications (or variable data printing – as the industry usually refers to this topic) open up the potential for companies to go beyond books only and significantly expand revenue potential. These applications can include versioned content for books, course packs and custom manuals, as well as personalized marketing collateral, direct mail and regulated corporate communications that require tracking and accountability.
What this means to organizations focused on the publishing industry is that by having variable data printing capabilities, they can broaden their portfolio of offerings, going beyond simply book printing and providing custom printing options at affordable cost breakdowns. For example, a printer could offer an academic institution or commercial association that publishes book length journals, a two-color version journal with geographic-specific advertising. This would offer these organizations a method of printing that provides new, ongoing revenue.
At Ricoh, we understand that having solutions that allow for variable data printing is crucial to the future of the publishing industry and as such have designed hardware and software technologies that allow companies to accept, transform, organize, manipulate and repurpose data that comes from multiple sources in multiple formats – all crucial steps in the variable data process. A good example of how this all fits together can be seen in our work with Frederic Printing in Denver.
Frederic works within several different sectors of the community, including education, government and marketing segments, all expecting to produce high volumes of content on a quick turnaround. Back in 2010, after looking at many solutions to meet their demanding customer needs, Frederic determined to go with Ricoh’s InfoPrint 5000 due to its versatility and support of sustainable and cost-effective print practices through a system that offers a compact size, operational efficiency, low power consumption (one of the lowest in the industry) and use of water-based inks. Over the next few years, Frederic installed additional InfoPrint 5000 machines, seeing an opportunity to not just meet their current customer needs, but use the flexibility of Ricoh’s solutions to grow their business into new markets and revenue opportunities. By strengthening their ability to provide clients with high volumes and quick turnarounds, Frederic has been able to meet and exceed the growing and ever-changing needs of the markets they serve.
Our work with Frederic Printing is just one example of Ricoh’s commitment to providing what companies need to address the growing rich data requirements of their customers. For more information on variable data printing and data rich application trends go to http://bit.ly/1dwU2y4
- Rob Malkin
Business Development Executive — Inkjet Technologies, Ricoh
Earlier this year, we introduced the Critical Communications solutions suite –a comprehensive, end-to-end solution that offers the piece-level tracking and workflow capabilities of our RICOH ProcessDirector, RICOH ProcessDirector Express and TotalFlow DocEnhancer platforms in configurations that fit the needs of a variety of businesses. The use cases of critical communications are often associated with highly-regulated industries and print jobs containing sensitive information, but with this week’s launch of new features for the suite, we’re bringing the advantages of workflow tracking and integrity to a new audience of users. Exactly how are the latest features designed to improve your workflow, eliminate the headaches and uncertainty of manual processes, and open up new possibilities for making information work better for you and your customers?
But it’s not just about ordering work. Being able to apply media based on values in the content of the database you’re using for a print job opens up new opportunities for targeted marketing. DocEnhancer Ticketer dynamically assigns media based on the attributes of the document. So if, for an example, a university fundraising department wants to specially target alums who’ve already donated with a higher quality paper stock than non-donors, they can use DocEnhancer Ticketer to easily and precisely apply media based on their targeting priorities.
Want to learn more about the newest features of the Critical Communications solutions suite? View the full announcement here and visit our website to read about success stories from a cross-section of customers like CCS Printing. And be sure to stay tuned to our blog for more discussions of how critical communications can be used in ways that might not be as obvious as mailing and transactional documents.
- Theresa Lang
Vice President Solutions & Services, Ricoh
Most consumers do not see themselves giving up printed books; three out of five eBooks downloaded are never read; and just 50 production inkjet systems owned by 25 book manufacturers produced more than ten percent of all printed book pages in the U.S. in 2012.
These are just a few of the compelling insights from the Ricoh-commissioned IT Strategies study conducted in conjunction with the University of Colorado-Boulder, “The Evolution of the Book Industry: Implications for U.S. Book Manufacturers and Printers”. The results, announced publically this week, were first presented by the study’s author Marco Boer, vice president of IT Strategies at The Next Chapter. At this event, Ricoh brought together the people and companies that are shaping – and being shaped by – the evolution of the publishing industry. The key takeaway from the event and the study: a confluence of changes in the publishing industry and advances in digital printing are creating a uniquely opportune, but short moment – a flashpoint – for printers to take advantage of the disruption of online book buying and eBooks.
This silver lining drove the conversation at The Next Chapter conference held in Boulder in October. The event was anchored by a keynote by Nicholas Carr, author of “The Shallows”, examining what the role of the printed word might be in a world where the internet is fundamentally changing the way we think. Participants and panelists from Pearson Publishing and Penguin Books engaged the audience with a lively debate on how they’re pushing for innovation in order to not only survive, but thrive; Judith Briles, Author, Publishing Expert, & Founder of The Book Shepherd shared how book manufacturers can benefit from independent authors and publishers; and J. Kirby Best, Chairman of ColdLogic candidly dissected what he would do differently as a book manufacturer based on his current knowledge of the market.
One insight that aroused much discussion: while the total numbers of book pages being printed have steadily declines, digitally printed pages are increasing by 20 percent. This seeming conundrum can be traced back to several factors that the study uncovered:
Some equally interesting results from the consumer perspective, which ultimately drives industry dynamics include:
The study has also sparked several insightful articles based on interviews with the study’s author Marco Boer:
You can find the full whitepaper with more findings here. To learn more about how inkjet is being used to fuel the evolution of the publishing industry, take a look at our recent recap of blogs on the topic.
Michele Bollig, Ricoh
The publishing industry has always been a hot topic here at Print & Beyond—and for good reason! Publishers are constantly evolving in order to tackle the latest trends in the industry, which means it has become vital for book manufacturers to take a critical look at their operations and explore ways to extend beyond traditional offerings and capabilities. To address the challenges these manufacturers face, our resident publishing experts have shared their strategies for success in the past year and we’ve pulled together some of their must-read blogs for your reading pleasure. Whether you caught them the first time or are catching up on your reading now, these blogs could change the way you view your business. Happy reading!
For publishers today, navigating the road between the traditional print world and new digital content can be tricky. Can harmony be achieved between both by embracing print and workflow technology solutions? Read on to learn more.
Short runs are here to stay but how can you increase profitability while maintaining the quality expected by your customers? We offer six tips that reveal how short-run publishing can make sense for your business and customers.
Don’t let the labor costs associated with manual book manufacturing shrink your bottom line. Read on to learn how to effectively tackle the challenges presented by on demand book printing and ultra short-runs without allowing labor costs to dig into your profits.
Are you getting your fair share of the $24 billion dollar book market? Get the inside scoop on how digital print can help you grow your share of the book market and expand your offerings beyond books.
As the previous owner of a book press with short-run capabilities, Ricoh’s own Rob Malkin shares his tips on how manufacturers can determine which inkjet solution is the best fit for company operations.
While the book market remains a key revenue generator for publishers, the industry is ever evolving and, in the process, creating exciting new opportunities for publishers to think outside-the-box and explore unconventional print offerings. The question here remains: how do you expand your core offerings to adapt to the way people are choosing to consume media? By embracing customization to traditional offerings, publishers can identify new ways to grow their business.
Today, marketing trends often calls for interaction beyond the printed page. Publishers can address this trend by expanding their offerings to include visual search capabilities, making the most out of print by connecting it to digital content in an intuitive and compelling manner. By embracing this digital push, publishers can work with manufacturers and customers directly to support their multichannel efforts, opening up a completely new revenue stream.
As the printed book versus e-book debate continues on, sales of printed books continue to hold strong. While e-textbooks are becoming increasingly popular, the unique way in which readers can connect with printed text is still very appealing- especially with students. Publishers have the opportunity to take advantage of this trend by marketing their traditional print media offerings, which students already prefer, with customizable options for geographic regions and various universities. For example, digital inkjet production capabilities greatly appeal to academic institutions who want to provide customizable options like versioning and variable data publishing.
To support these customized offerings the market is demanding now, short-run jobs have become a necessary part of the equation. For book manufacturers, the increase in demand for short-run publishing should be motivation to take a critical look at internal operations efficiency. Labor is costly, and so is human error so automation is the key here – automate processes as much as possible to eliminate any manual errors that would negatively impact the bottom line. Look for modular workflow solutions with add-on possibilities and leverage them to support the existing processes. Embracing cost-effective digital print solutions lets publishers diversify in new and growing markets but also streamlines the production of everyday work.
As the relationship between consumers and media continues to evolve, publishers, both big and small, are tasked with adapting their operations and offerings to these changes. Identifying trends, supplementing traditional offerings, and expanding print on demand operations strategy allows publishers to stay ahead of the game and go – as we love to say here – beyond print.
- Duncan Newton, Ricoh