Thursday, March 5, 2009

Print Delivery is Like Food Delivery

A great thread is spinning along at Print CEO blog. The starting point is a post by Andy Tribute called, Does the Print Industry Exist?

This morning I said



When you say “.. it’s such a commodity that it’s been incorporated into other companies internally, just like IT,…”

Here’s how I think about it. Print is a commodity business. The better the tech, the more automated, the more commoditzied. All the talk about fighting being a commodity never made any sense to me. It was a loser from day one.

But, commodity, if you have lean manufacturing and a maniacal focus on your market is a great business.

Computers and chips are commodities. Electricity is a commodity. Water and sewer are commodities.
Walmart and Staples sell commodities. When run correctly a Printer as commodity has a nice rules based, standard process business that hums quietly along whether the economy goes up or down.

Re the food business, I agree that trying to fit the complexity of real life into a simple category is a fool’s errand. Perfect job for Wall Street.

But here’s how I think it’s like the food business,

there is MacDonalds and Dunkin Donuts - multi location commodity companies - (Alphagraphics? Staples? Sir Speedy?) -

there are niche higher priced restaurants (Mohawk Paper? + Sandy Alexander?),

There are mom and pop run successful, but very hard working local restaurants (Highlighter Press? and the surviving independent printers?).

Then there are the caterers for enterprises (in house plants) and the school lunch providers (Managed Print Services?

And of course, my favorite food type :-), “take out” VistaPrint and MFP’s in home and work group situations.

It seems that the big boys - the vendors - are starting to see that they are the enabling infrastructure for a diverse, expanding “food-type” business. HP + MarketSplash + Staples and Tesco + Indigos at Conslidated.

VistaPrint with 17,000,000 customers for take out.

Alphagraphics in NJ installing ink jet newspaper press for deliver and Print of UK newspapers. And Alphagraphics on the west coast with a sophisticated commercial print piece.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Newspaper Ad Sales + Commercial Print Sales = MultiChannel Marketing Programs for Small Business

I did a longish post this morning over at Tough Love for Xerox where I follow the Print Output Industry. Here's the part that concerns newspapers.
What might happen if local newspaper ad sales people are brought into the mix with the proper incentives. Then there is the real possibility of offering true multi channel marketing campaigns to Jane and the millions like her.

One trusted contact point for a Newspaper Ad, a web ad on the newspapers site, print collateral and signage. The amount of time, hassle and risk management would be a simple solution to one of her hardest problems.

Simple solutions to hard problems create lots of new value.
To provide some context, Jane's story is below.. For the newspaper world, change Jim, the copier salesman, with Jim - the just hired out-of-college-smart-kid-who-wants-to-get-into- journalism - print/web newspaper ad salesperson.
A possible scenario and new value creation:
Jane, who started a catering firm, when she got laid off a couple of years ago, decides that she needs a brochure and a website. She could go online to do that at VistaPrint, but it's too much hassle. Meanwhile, Jim, a copier sales person who has been calling every once in a while said that he could show her some easy ways to get that done.

In the ensuing conversations, she decides to buy a box to do them herself. She calls her friend Alice, who used to work at the Lehman's communication department, to design it for her.

Two months later, Jane will be catering a large event. JIM, who has been staying in touch to make sure everything is working well with the box sale, suggests that she produce tent cards to put at each setting. It's a great idea, but she doesn't have the time and Alice's business is really starting to take off, so she doesn't want to impose on her again.

The sales person says either A or B
A. "Let me take care of that for you."
B. "Let me connect you with someone I trust that can take care of that for you."

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Newspaper solution is emerging from the mist

Sooner or later, education will be defined as a hyperlocal community. Replacing textbooks with a new product, which I've been calling textbooklets, should help fix education. Fixing newspapers or the Print industry is some people's problem.

Fixing education is everyone's problem.

Most likely that "hyperlocal" will continue it's rise to number 1 in the blahblah-o-sphere. What is new is that real players are now starting the real work of defining that on the ground.

The good news for Print, is that the closer it moves to the ground, the more the unique value of news-on-paper is defined. The good news for newspapers is that it's now about execution, not about "what to do?" The good news for education is that once those are two industries get out of their "deer in the headlights" moment, we can all get on to fixing education.

Thanks to Mathew Ingram and Martin Langeveld, over at the NiemanJournalismLab, for their most recent posts.

From Martin's post,
Hearst’s 100 days of change: On the right track, or misguided?
Steven R. Swartz, appointed president of Hearst’s newspaper division in December, sent around a memo last week reporting to his troops on the “100 days of change” he launched not long after taking the job, the midpoint of which had come around.

Predictably, the memo got leaked and was published by the Wall Street Journal (scroll down). And predictably as well, Jeff Jarvis deconstructs it, line by line, as “too little, too late”:

Give a guy a break, already. It’s not hard for us journobloggers to pounce all over the industry’s hapless execs. I’ve done it myself, back in November when the clueless gathered at API to deal with “an industry in crisis” and decided that meeting again in six months would be a really good idea. (To their credit, they met again after just two months.) . . . read the rest over there..

From Matthew's post,
Google Exec and NYT go Hyperlocal
There’s an interesting battle shaping up in the “hyper-local” online journalism market, at least in the New York and New Jersey area. The New York Times confirmed on Monday that it is launching a new project called The Local, in co-operation with journalism students at the City University of New York.
. . . That isn’t the only battle over this particular hyper-local effort: As Jarvis noted in his post, another local journalism network called Patch is targeting the exact same locations in New Jersey — and it happens to be backed by Google executive Tim Armstrong.
. . . I wrote about another experiment in hyper-local journalism — or what project founder Leonard Witt calls “representative journalism” — in a recent Nieman Lab post. Much like the NYT plan, Witt’s project involves a trained journalist or intern writing news about a region as the core of a site that is also built up of contributions from community members of all kinds.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Personalized Newspapers?

Kindles, epaper from Hearst Corp and Paper, now that's a multichannel market platform. The next item on the agenda is to figure out how to sell it.

The answer is something about combining newspaper ad salespeople with commercial print salespeople with local TV and radio sales people.

The pitch is multi channel marketing campaigns for local enterprise. Every body needs it. Not one of the separate sales forces can sell it.

1+1+1 +1 = 10
@Personalized Newspaper Symposium
"As industries and communication channels like cable, the Internet, satellite radio, magazine, newspaper and even book publishing migrate toward a highly targeted, on-demand model, the future of news media depends on leveraging new trends and harnessing new technologies. For instance, advanced digital printing technology makes the vision of creating totally variable newspapers, magazines and books a practical reality.

During the summer of 2008, a group of 50 industry visionaries gathered at MediaNews Group's Denver headquarters to participate in the second global Individuated News Conference. At the event, presentations explored everything from industry trends to content creation, composition, output and distribution. With the goal of further defining the opportunities for the industry, a follow-on event was considered to explore print-centric business models and enabling technologies for individuated newspapers and ancillary products.

The third, global Individuated Newspaper Conference will gather innovators, thought leaders, publishers, technology experts and print providers or outsourcers together to exchange ideas and develop a direction for the future of the news personalization."