Friday, September 23, 2011

Graph Expo, 2011

Being a first time attendee to Graph-Expo, I cannot compare the quantity and display size of the 2011 show to those in years past. What I can muse on is the focus of the vendors and the apparent direction of the industry.

As technology becomes an ever more important component of the print/publishing industry, the complexity and variability of the print process becomes more challenging and important. The ability to customize print runs with not only variable text and images but with variable die cuts, page sizes becomes more critical.

The increasing connectivity between each piece of equipment in the production workflow is a major source of investment, complexity and a future source of cost reduction. Being able to have unskilled laborers run equipment that a few years ago required highly skilled trades people is the future of the industry.

Just as computers in the 60s, 70’s and even 80’s were manned by individuals or teams, with expensive educations and high level knowledge, gave way to computers that were in nearly every home and office, the print production workflow looks to be heading in the direction of a smaller, commodity workforce that runs a growing array of equipment without needing high level skills.

The quantity of long, static print runs on large multi-million dollar presses is dwindling down. The future of printing, just like that of all other media, is moving to smaller quantities of highly customized pieces that target an individual or group with a laser like focus on a message that the recipient will respond to.

All of the customization is driven by raw data, the names and preferences of thousands and millions of individuals that marketers and business covet. The future of print will rely more and more on the efficient collection, storage and manipulation of that data, for it is that data that makes a printed piece worth printing.

Print, unlike other media such as TV, Radio, Email, Social Media, etc, has the ability to reach someone without the need for an intervening device such as a TV set, radio, or computer. When someone has a printed piece in their hands they are directly holding the message, they have a tactile connection with the sender and what message the sender is trying to convey.

As I walked through Graph-Expo 2011, one thing stuck out in my mind, the future of print rests on the ability of developers, manufacturers and production houses to create a personal, tangible connection to the person that will consume the final printed piece.

Written by Tom Horn, Production Manager and Jeff Williams, Director of IT

"The importance of new technology is not classified by how advanced the knowledge is, it is dependent upon its accessibility to you and your needs at this very moment."

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some Mental Food for Thought

Yes, we prefer to post internally written blogs, however, we will be writing about Graph Expo next Thursday and did not want to leave you waiting for a blog this week.  The bi-weekly posts by Old Trail Printing staff will resume next week, but until then please enjoy these two thought-provoking items that we enjoyed:

How's The View From Your Parking Spot?
by Mark Henson, chief imagination officer, sparkspace

Most people drive to work every day, park their car, grab their briefcase, start walking to their office, all while simultaneously firing up their smartphone to check email, voicemail, or facebook. If they're really on the ball, they'll take a quick glance to see if they parked on level 4, or near a lightpole, or in the orange section, so they can hopefully find their vehicle when the workday is done.

Humans will fight to the death for the closest parking spot to the building or exit or elevator. I've seen people wait six minutes for someone to pull out of a spot because it's more convenient to their destination, while others zoom around them, park their car, get to the office, and gulp down their first cup of coffee in the same amount of time. Convenience is relative, I guess.

Think about where you parked today. What's the view from your parking spot? Do you remember? Did you notice? Is it anything like this:


I can almost guarantee your parking spot didn't have a view like this. Know how I know this? Because my car was the only car on the roof this morning.

I park in the parking garage across from our building, and every day I park on the roof. I've done this for years. Whenever I have to park in a parking garage, I'll go straight to the top. Yes, I even do it when the garage is not full. It's not out of habit, either. I do it intentionally every single time. Here's why:

1. You can't beat the view. Where else in any city can you be several floors off the ground without a roof over your head? There is something inspiring and energizing about being that close to the sky...especially when the sun is out and the sky is bright blue. And you don't just get the view once. You get it twice! Once when you're arriving, and once when you're leaving.

Two of the best views of Columbus, Ohio, are from the roofs of two different hospital parking garages here in town: 1. The OSU Hospital parking garage has a view of the skyline that seems to rise magically from a city full of trees. 2. The Nationwide Children's Hospital parking garage features a view that makes you realize how exciting and vibrant Columbus really is.

2. I get more for my money. Most parking garages charge you, right? What are you buying? A tiny space in a dark, damp, dirty garage OR a space with an amazing view and a free dose of Vitamin D (a.k.a. sunshine)? 

3. There is always room at the top. This is true of life in general. Very few people travel the few extra minutes, make the little bit of extra effort that takes them to the top. Yes, I spend probably 5 minutes more each day to get up and down from the roof. But I NEVER have to hunt for a spot. And did I mention the view?

4. I never forget where I parked...ever. Enough said.

5. I get extra (much needed) exercise. I don't always take the stairs, but I often do. Going up eight stories of stairs is probably all the workout you ever need. Even going down eight stories of stairs is good exercise. And it's cheaper than a gym. If you take the stairs on your way into work, your brain gets extra oxygen to start the day. How cool is that?

6. It reminds me to take in the great moments of life more often. There's something really exciting to me when I pull out of the dark garage and onto the bright, open rooftop. It transforms my attitude. I use it as a daily reminder that there are so many amazing moments in life and at work and I need to pay more attention to them. When I'm totally preoccupied with productivity, efficiency, profit, busyness, paperwork, email, and the gazillion other things that take my attention every moment of every day, I generally feel like crap at the end of the day. 

But if I take a few extra moments here and there to appreciate the great work of a teammate, to realize how lucky I am to have the job I have, to actually enjoy my work, or to notice something super cool like the view from the top of the parking garage, I find myself much more happy and content at the end of the day.

I've actually toyed with the idea of throwing a folding table, a chair and a patio umbrella in my car and setting up a temporary office on the roof of the garage on really nice days. Don't laugh. I'm serious.

Right about now, you're coming up with excuses why you don't park on the roof.

- "It's a waste of time to drive the extra floors."
- "I'll have to wait in a long line to get out."
- "I don't trust the elevators in parking garages."
- "My car will get hot in the sun."
- "It's too far to walk and my foot hurts."

Wah, wah, wah. The truth is, it takes a tiny bit of extra effort that most people just won't take, even though the payoff is sooooo worth it. But then again, that's why there's always room at the top.

So, where are you going to park tomorrow?

Thanks for reading! See you next week.

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From Canvas Magazine's Canvas Notes- September 6, 2011: "No Doubt"

Last week, our company had the opportunity to support a local football team, Stephenson High School, and help raise money for their program.  Specifically, we created a game day program for the lower income school that was playing Parkview, a perennial powerhouse from a much more affluent area.  As we walked into the game, which was played in a small college stadium, it was explicitly clear which side was which.  

We watched the game, with every intention of leaving at halftime so I could get my daughter to bed at a decent hour.  However, I noticed that the Stephenson group was not selling the programs to the best of their ability.  I even heard three cheerleaders, who were charged with selling, say something like “OMG, nobody’s going to buy a program”.
I took my salesperson over to the booster lead.  I said, “Has anyone tried to sell programs on the Parkview side?  Their roster is inside and I am sure they might give us a couple of bucks for that.”  She looked at me quizzically and started to chuckle.  She called her friends over and said something like “This fella here thinks he can sell our programs on the Parkview side?”  They seemed to have difficulty catching their breath from laughing so hard.  One woman said to me “Nobody will buy a program from you over there.”  She was still laughing when she added, “And I’m not letting you in here when you come back with your tail between your legs!”

Game on!  I took my daughter by the hand, grabbed a stack of programs and we made our way to the other side.  When I got there, I received more resistance and sarcasm.  However, they let me in for 10 minutes to try and sell Stephenson programs to the Parkview faithfuls.  Ten minutes later, I was out of programs and my daughter was holding a wad of cash.

I had carved my way through the stands, holding the programs high in the air and enthusiastically letting everyone know that this was what they needed at this time.  Their roster was in the program and they could now identify the kids by jersey number.  Interestingly enough, when one fan bought a program, another one jumped on the bandwagon.  The dominos fell and suddenly I was the one laughing.

When I returned to the Stephenson side, I couldn’t help but strut my way back to the booster table.  With their jaws on the ground, I threw down the wad of cash and repeatedly said “Never doubt me”.  They gave me and my daughter big hugs and wanted to know how I did it.  I simply stated that “Enthusiasm and confidence come from a belief in your product and yourself.

Anyone who doesn’t want to hold up their product high in the air and claim that it is the best--- will fail.  The greatest salespeople and the greatest brands in the world, take the time to tell everyone about how much they believe in their offering.  They are constantly selling or advertising their wares because they know you cannot be bashful about something you believe in.  If you don’t scream it at the mountaintops, then you simply don’t believe in what you have to offer.  That is the truth and never doubt me!

Warmest Regards,
Mark Potter