Wednesday, April 1, 2009

What I think I learned at the On Demand show

Franchise and affiliate models are at the heart of the printernet
Looks like it might be Donnelly at the top, franchises and affiliates at the middle and bottom. There are 2,931 franchise locations. Five systems opened new locations in 2008. Minuteman (40), Allegra (32) AlphaGraphics (16) CPrint (14)and Franchise Services (5).

In 2008, the total system wide sale for "quick printing" was $2,008,538,426. As far as I can tell that does not include the Big Box stores, UPS or Fedex. 47.7% of sales came from prepress and offset printing. 37.8% came from digital printing, with the balance from finishing, mailing services and brokered orders.

The figures are taken from Quick Printing - "The only information Resource dedicated to quick and small commercial printers." Luckily they had a print copies available. I stuffed one in my back pocket and read it on the train back to New York.

Now . . . if they would only start a Printernet section focusing on distribute and print, I bet their ad revenues could go up, up. Plus they could printernet publish and give everyone both marketing material and the most up to date information.

I'm waiting for the franchises or the big box stores to get together with some struggling newspapers to sell newspaper ads - both in print and for the newspaper website. That's multi channel marketing for SMB at retail. It naturally moves into the enterprise.

Adobe did not exhibit.
The evangelist phase of digital printing is over. Adobe has moved on.

There was no one at the HP booth to talk about MarketSplash. It's media hype or the focus is not commercial printers or the folks selling boxes are not talking to the folks selling MarketSplash.

The company who is doing the "mine" project really, really gets it. He said, "If you don't want to invest in IT capability don't get into variable data printing." It's hard, complicated and has many new things to deal with.

Infoprint has the right DNA for the Cloud. They come from a tradition of database publishing in large organizations. VDP, at scale, is database publishing. It was always database publishing. It always will be database publishing. Web pages are database publishing. Database publishing is the area of explosive growth. Ground > Cloud > Print.

They didn't grow up in the advertising bubble. Their roots are in Print as Infrastructure. Print as infrastructure is exactly the most interesting opportunity. Print-as-advertising is only going to be fun at the middle or the bottom of the pyramid.

A sustainable model for MPS has been working in Brazil. As I understand it, no charge for boxes. Pay for page printed.

Oce gets it. The person I spoke to has the clear vision for the US market. Now it's only a matter of focus. If they get it right, their biggest problem is going to be supplying equipment when the landscape tips. The remaining problem is a legacy top of the pyrmid focus. Makes sense to nurture legacy business, but once the focus shifts to the bottom of the pyramid it should work.

Xerox has around 800 Premier Partners around the world. A significant number have Igens. If they can figure out how to get them to all play nicely together and get real value from the network in the form of a baseline of predictable work, that network could be energized a lot faster than anyone thinks.

Great salespeople can sell stuff. I spoke to an Igen salesman who is doing fine. My bet is that if he were running the sales program AND could figure out how to turn what he does into a system, they would all do fine.

Selling teams work. The problem is that the boss has to be willing to share the profits to incent the teams. The one printer I heard about has teams of a "hunter, an inside person and a business development person."

The way to handle tech support is to run the new equipment in the PSP location for a couple of days. That should manage the "This box can't do my work" blablaba. Plus it would mean a lot more efficient tech support going forward. The most reasonable model would be to form independent tech support regional teams with excessed or soon to be excessed employees.

Free advice to commercial printers
The first thing to put on that blank sheet of paper is your customer list. Don't think about "new business" or becoming a market solution provider. Maniacal focus on your present customer list, making your order intake - manufacturing - delivery - billing process as efficient as possible. It's about incremental improvement, done in real time, not corporate time.

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