It's not because of the economy. It's because the evangelist stage of the digital print business is over.
When Sandy Alexander Installs two HP Indigo 7000's and RR Donnelley Launches 1,000 Digital Presses it's safe to say digital print is mainstream for commercial print.
Meanwhile, The World Association of Newspapers is holding their first global conference on the Power of Print ( Barcelona in May) . The first bullet point for the session called Million Dollar Strategies is "Exploiting new digital printing methods."
And, The Photizo Group is hosting the first conference for Independent MPS . What was once the " selling boxes" organizations are now organizing themselves to fully address the opportunity of MPS. The irony is that Independent Enterprise MPS is exactly the model of the printernet. If you follow the posts at The Death of the Copier, you'll see what I mean.
Consider that The Ace Group, who started in the 1970's as typographers is now producing mine magazine magazine for Lexus and Time Inc. And Ricoh/IBM Infoprint are doing at scale experiments to accumulate real data. You can read about them at TransPromo Live.
Based in Switzerland, GMC Software says "they serve thousands of users worldwide in direct mail, PSP and enterprise organizations . . many of whom are producing in excess of 100 million personalized documents per month - including direct mail, bills, statements, correspondence, catalogs, invoices and combined transactional/marketing (transpromo) materials."
Free advice to trade show companies
Print is organized into four segments. Manufacturers are focused on incremental improvements that bring real results. VAR's are interested in new ways to combine proven manufacturing capability to meet the needs of their present customers. Retailers are interested in sales/ per square foot. Enterprises are interested in saving time and lower risk.
Trying to stage a one size fits all show to have a little something for everyone is a strategy that works either during the gee whiz stage or if you have a monopoly (consider newspapers). Once you get past that, it means different shows for different folks. It's that same old, "the right information in the right format for the right person at the right time."
HP had a great "show", actually a conference for their VARs and Manufacturers. PSDA will probably have a good show for their VAR's. I'm betting the Photizo will have a good first show for their VARs.
I wouldn't be surprised if what is going to happen is MPS + PSD + PSP based VARs to be able to sell everything to mSB and SMB. It's just the natural evolution of the printernet.
Since the Print Manufacturers show is Print 09 - do a VAR show for people on the ground who are focused on the customer relationship.
Making money in Print is just common sense
Know your cost of production. Know your cost of customer acquisition and customer retention. Know the lifetime value of different kinds of customers. Focus on your present customers. Try to figure out how you can make their lives easier using what you do. Have a maniacally focus on bringing down the all in cost of production, without comprising the quality of the product.
Stop worrying about new customers or marketing. Marketing is much less important than great product with a pleasant customer experience. Customers will get to you the way they always have - referrals and word of mouth.
If you can figure out practical ways to increase word of mouth, then do that.