JDF: Where are we now? p.9 July 2010
Serving Senior Executives in Commercial Printing Since 1883
What every printer should know p.12
A PENTON MEDIA PUBLICATION
APTV is online! See americanprinter.com/tv/viewing
12 Tableof Contents
On the cover July 2010 | www.americanprinter.com
QR Codes are easy to use—provided
you follow a few basic steps:
TECH UPDATE | Quick response
Get a smartphone. 12 The road ahead for QR codes
By John Parsons
16 AMERICAN QUICK PRINTER | Customer connection
Install a QR Code reader app from the Building business through social media
site of your choice (examples include By Denise Kapel
www.qreateandtrack.com). 20 POSTPRESS | PUR success
By Nsenga Thompson
4 EDITOR’S DESK | Are you ready for some viral marketing?
Use the phone to capture the code By Katherine O’Brien
image. (You can’t just take a picture
of the code, you need the app.) 9 SURVEY SAYS | Automated customer feedback uncovers new business
By Michael Casey
10 MANAGEMENT | Industry? What industry?
Allow app to direct you.* By Dick Gorelick
QR Codes can incorporate URLs, text,
phone numbers and even videos. 11 JOHNSON’S WORLD | Make your printing clickable
*Internet connection is required. By Steve Johnson
Generate your own QR Code 15 TECH THOUGHT | Press testing: It’s all good
The open-source code is readily By Raymond J. Prince
available. When evaluating your options,
consider your goals. How will you 40 EDUCATION IN ACTION | Training vs. education
measure response? For more tips, see By Dan Wilson
AMERICAN PRINTER’s QR Code landing
page: www.americanprinter.com/ DEPARTMENTS
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Editor in Chief: Katherine O’Brien, KOB@americanprinter.com
Managing Editor: Denise Kapel, email@example.com
Associate Editor/Marketing Manager:
Nsenga Thompson, firstname.lastname@example.org
Senior Art Director: Michael P. Koch, email@example.com
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Social media stats Sales Assistant: Connie Fonseca, (312) 840-8414, email@example.com
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Erik Qualman, author of Deirdre D’Aniello, (312) 840-8421, deirdre.d’firstname.lastname@example.org
Socialnomics, has compiled a video Eastern Sales Manager: David Fay, (978) 356-6220, email@example.com
Western Sales: John Clemens, (480) 538-5021, firstname.lastname@example.org
that includes these intriguing statistics: Europe/United Kingdom: Julian Maddocks-Born, +44 1442-230033
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N Facebook tops Google for weekly Tim Janes, (303) 674-0577, email@example.com
traffic in the United States. Happy Birthday Online Sales Development Director:
Christian Webb, (216) 931-9501, firstname.lastname@example.org
N Social media has overtaken porn as from the bindery Marie Briganti, (877) 796-6947 email@example.com
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the No. 1 activity on the Internet. Werner Rebsamen, RIT professor Ad Production Coordinator: Heather Jennings, email@example.com
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PREPRESS | G7 case study PRINTED IN THE USA
PRESS | Wide-format digital in offset operations
POSTPRESS | Fancy folds
PAPER | Coated paper trends
2 | W W W .A M ER I CANPR I NTER .C OM | J ULY 2010
Editor’sDesk By Katherine O’Brien
Are you ready for some viral marketing?
I realize the baseball season has barely
started. It might seem a bit premature to
start discussing football. As a Chicagoan,
Resco originally intended to produce a
video holiday card. But the November 1,
2009, Packer-Viking game was too good to
I’m not getting my hopes up. In fairness, pass up. “Since our business is located on
the Sox did win the World Series in 2005. the border of Wisconsin and Minnesota,
On the north side, the Cubs won their last as you might imagine the allegiance is split
pennant during the Roosevelt (Theodore) about 50/50 for the Packers and the Vi-
administration. kings, which can make it fun … tense and
On to football. As Dennis Green re- annoying at times when the winners gloat
minded us in 2006, “The Bears are who we and the losers cry,” explains Knutson. “But
thought they were.” That was pretty much generally it’s fun.”
true of the Bears teams of my childhood, too. Preparations began on October 20. One day
“The Bears were pretty bad in the late later, the script was finalized and a shooting
1960s and early 1970s and after Gale Sayers schedule was drafted. Using a Canon Vixia 30,
retired and before Walter Payton arrived,” Jeff Rybacki, web director, and Todd Giefer,
concurs sportswriter Mark Potash. “All we art director, filmed the video on October 22. A
had to root for in 1972 was Dick Butkus rough draft was ready to go by Friday, October
demolishing some poor running back and 23. After a few more tweaks, the video was up-
Bobby Douglass trying to become the first loaded on Monday, October 26. That first day,
quarterback in NFL history to rush for the Resco rivalry video drew 1,861 views. By
1,000 yards.” mid-January, the video tallied 30,463 hits.
They know their football in Hudson, WI N a 274% increase in traffic to
As a kid I turned to “Instant Replay: The the company website.
Green Bay Diary of Jerry Kramer.” Jerry N 23,870 visitors to its YouTube page.
Kramer played left guard, generally an N Hundreds of e-mails from
anonymous position. Quarterbacks, run- clients and friends.
ning backs, defensive backs safeties and Local CBS, NBC and Fox affiliates picked
even the referees enjoy more name recogni- up the story. MSNBC put the video on its site
tion than the average offensive lineman. as its “Sports Video of the Day.” While the na-
Kramer (with some help from co-author tionwide publicity was exciting, Knutson says
Dick Schaap) provided an account of the it didn’t compare to what was going on in the
Packers 1966-67 season. As time ran down, plant. The video was a real morale booster. “The
Kramer threw the block that carried the employees thought it was fun to produce the
Packers to victory over the Cowboys in the video,” says Knutson. “They had even more fun
Ice Bowl of 1967. Instant replay had just dealing with the media and [resultant notoriety].
been invented—Kramer’s block was shown We received many e-mails and YouTube com-
over and over again. I didn’t know as much ments [to the effect]: ‘The video was awesome,
about the Vikings, but I did see a lot of you guys know how to have fun, I wish I worked
Fran Tarkenton’s highlights. for a company like that.’”
I was therefore intrigued to learn of a viral
marketing case study involving both teams and Wanted: John Facenda type
their respective fans at a Wisconsin printer. You to do video voiceover
can find the “Resco Packer-Viking Rivalry in Stay tuned, sports fans, because a sequel is in
the Workplace Video” at www.youtube.com/ the works. “We had great fun putting this first
user/rescocompany. viral marketing effort together and are working
“We were overwhelmed with the re- on [another] because of the number of requests
sponse we received on our first effort,” we’ve had from viewers of the first piece,” says
reports John Knutson, president of the Knutson, “This includes the television stations,
You can follow us Hudson, WI, printer. “It’s a compelling which are anticipating and requesting a second
on Twitter at http:// story—maybe this type of marketing could effort from us. The YouTube hits are now over
twitter.com/AMPRINTMAG help others who are not only looking to 31,000 and continue to climb.”
as well as on my new grow their business but also to have some
KOB on Commer- fun with their employees. Our efforts have
cial Printing at http://blog added to our bottom line with several cli-
.americanprinter.com/kob. ents who called us specifically after seeing
the video.” KOB@americanprinter.com
4 | W W W .A M ER I CANPR I NTER .C OM | J ULY 2010
IndustryNews Hot Topics, Management Tips and Newsmakers
Installations Canon digital presses open new
> Mattoon, IL printer United Graphics has added
a Nordson Corp. (www.nordson.com) spine and
markets for Ambit Press
side glue system to enhance the production effi- As the owner of Ambit Press / Minuteman Press (MMP)
ciency of its Muller Martini Acoro Perfect Binder. of Cambridge, MA, Peter Reed started a quick print shop
> Victor Lundeen in Fergus Falls, MN, recently nearly 20 years ago that has grown into a multi-location,
installed a Champion 990 score/perf/slitting sys- full-service design and print provider. In 2009, the com-
tem from Rollem (www.rollemusa.com); Artistic pany moved production to a 16,000-sq.-ft. facility in
Printing in Salt Lake City, UT, recently installed Rol- Brighton, MA, and upgraded its digital pressroom with
lem’s Double Head TR Rollaway bidirectional slit/ Canon’s imagePRESS C6000 and C6000VP .
score/perfing system; M-13 Graphics in Schaum- Reed says, “The new [Canon] imagePRESS prod-
burg, IL, installed a Rollem BCS machine for slitting ucts deliver a lower cost point with direct costs down
and trimming business cards. significantly by 10 to 15%. The imagePRESS units
> IL mailing and printing company Johnson & are more efficient with the C6000VP unit running
Quin has installed EFI (www.efi.com) Monarch at the same speed regardless of the media type being
to streamline its operations and centralize data. processed. And they do not require fuser oil, which
> Leatherback Printing in Kirkland, WA, has in- can sometimes lead to streaking and result in downtime for technical servicing of the
stalled its first digtital press, an HP Indigo 7000; units. Our floor manager is a big fan of these features because he only has to calculate
San Diego-based Quantum Digital Imaging has one run speed, which makes planning much quicker and easier.”
installed a 60-inch HP Designjet L25500 printer; The 1,200 x 1,200-dpi output has opened doors for Reed, and he uses the digital
Utah’s Alexander’s Print Advantage has re- presses to deliver better price points and quality on hybrid offset/digital jobs. Look-
placed its 5-color offset press with an HP Indigo ing to the future, Reed anticipates using the imagePRESS C6000 and C6000VP for
7000 digital press. See www.hp.com/go/gsb. more of the company’s high-end presentation work. Coupled with more web-to-print
> NY-based folding carton converter The Stan- applications, Reed says the imagePRESS units will help him build business.
dard Group outfitted its Louisville, KY, plant’s new Read more about Ambit in our April 2010 feature, “Big impact: Green strategies for
8-color Mitsubishi Diamond V3000LX sheetfed smaller printers,” at www.americanprinter.com/environment.
press with the Hi-Cure ultraviolet (UV) system
from Grafix USA (www.grafix-online.de/english).
> King Printing (Lowell, MA) will install a new
Kodak (www.kodak.com) Prosper 1000 press People
in August 2010 and plans to upgrade to a Kodak N Philadelphia printer Bartash
Prosper 5000XL in early 2011. Inc. (www.bartash.com) has
> Nashville printer Fidelity Offset has been suc- hired 25-year industry veteran
cessful with its installation of CUSTOMER+, an Bob Senske as sales executive.
online marketing resource center from Respon- N The Ipex (www.ipex.org) organizers
sive Solutions (www.responsivesolutions.com). have appointed Canon Europe
exec David Preskett to serve
as president of Ipex 2014. Bob Senske David Preskett
N Pre-owned printing equipment
Global Graphics sues supplier PressAccess (www.pressaccess.net) has hired former Heidelberg executives
competitor for brand misuse Walter Langley as bindery manager and Brausse specialist, Mike Morgan as
Harlequin RIP developer Global Southwest sales representative and Tom Wilson as Southeast sales representative.
Graphics (Acton, MA) has, through N Triangle Printers Inc. (www.triangleprinters.com) has hired Steve McAuliff
its lawyers, called upon HighWater to head its new large-format digital printing department.
CTP Ltd. to immediately cease using
the Torrent brand as Global Graphics
believes this creates a false association
between HighWater CTP’s Studio RIP
100 Words or Less:
and the Harlequin RIP. The Torrent Connect with chief marketers
RIP has been associated with the “Printers might hold the Holy Grail for marketing
Harlequin RIP since 1996, when it executives, but fall flat when ask to articulate their value.
was introduced by HighWater Designs To avoid the commodity trap, the first step to success is
Ltd., then a Global Graphics’ customer. to speak the marketer’s language. A perfect example is the
Recently, HighWater Designs went term ‘digital.’ Printers use digital to talk about high-speed
into administration and its assets were color inkjet. Marketers refer to digital as anything on the
purchased by a third party. Internet. This can be a costly miscommunication. My
Global Graphics operations director advice is simple: Get educated. Sites such as the CMOCouncil.org provide
Neil Wylie says, “Global Graphics wishes great platforms to learn. To reap the benefits of providing the Holy Grail today,
to point out that, quite simply, there is start speaking your customer’s language!”—Lee Gallagher, director of precision
no connection between Studio RIP and marketing solutions, InfoPrint Solutions Co. (www.infoprint.com)
Harlequin.” See www.globalgraphics.com.
6 | W W W .A M ER I CANPR I NTER .C OM | J ULY 2010
Ink prices are going up
Sun Chemical (www.sunchemical
.com) has implemented a 6% price in-
crease for heatset and directory inks in
North America effective July 1, 2010.
Prices will increase for all Sun
Chemical Rycoline blanket and
roller washes, specialty solvents, iso-
propyl alcohol, alcohol replacement
and aqueous coatings. The price of
solvent-based washes will increase
by $0.50 per gallon and aqueous
coatings by $0.05 per pound.
The increasing costs of distillates,
solvents, resins, and pigment raw
materials are key factors contribut-
ing to the price increase.
Flint Group (www.flintgrp.com)
also has raised heatset and directory
CGX roadmap to future emerges
“The situation with the major By Denise Kapel
raw materials for solvent-based
inks is worrying as solvents have Consolidated Graphics Inc. (CGX) (Houston, TX) recently hosted its annual “emerge” conference in
also recently started to come under San Antonio, TX. The more than 750 attendees included CGX printing companies, their customers,
significant price pressure,” notes and CGX partners and suppliers. The event featured keynotes on personalization and marketing
Jens Zimmermann, director, global communications, the changing media mix and the value of developing a strong brand. Thirty
marketing, Flint Group Packaging suppliers presented their latest wares in an expo adjoining the conference, including an interactive
& Narrow Web. “It is very clear that web-to-print demonstration. Conference sessions on 45 educational topics were geared toward
most pigment intermediates will also printers and their customers, covering the business of print as well as applications.
see increased pricing, particularly CGX boasts an output of more than 30,000,000 digital 4-color pages per day and its executives
blue and red while, materials like predict that by 2020, 40% of industry sales will be digital (vs. 10% in 2010). CGX is fueling growth
TiO2 and many specialty chemicals through faster time to market, flexible infrastructure, global expansion and information lifecycle
will also follow the same trend.” management, among other efficiency and infrastructure measures.
The company has 70 printing businesses strategically located across 27 states, Toronto and
Prague, offering sheetfed and web printing complemented by “the world’s largest integrated digital
footprint.” Late last year, CGX announced plans to install the Kodak Prosper 5000XL inkjet press at
Automated Graphic Systems (AGS) in White Plains, MD.
The CGX experience
The companies that make up Consolidated Graphics retain their branding and management teams.
Sneak peek of Graph Expo 2010 Comments at emerge ranged from the benefits of paper purchasing power through CGX to the
The Graphic Arts Show Co. (GASC) will host advantage of a large human resources pool among member companies.
a special online preview of Graph Expo, CGX customer and conference session presenter Micki Maynard, a project manager with Legrand
sponsored by AMERICAN PRINTER, August (West Hartford, CT), shared her experience: “There are seven companies that make up Legrand, and
19, 2010. we have a CGX site for each of them.” When Legrand’s corporate brand color, a PMS shade of red,
“Graph Expo 2010: A Virtual Preview,” wasn’t matching up to the materials from the parent company in France, CGX came up with a solution.
accessible through any computer’s web “They created a shade and called it ‘Legrand red’ just for us, and standardized profiles across all of
browser, will feature: our CGX printing companies to ensure it always matched.”
N An interactive tour of new CGX customers learned about the integrated companies’
equipment and products. capabilities, while CGX member printers shared ideas about
N A list of exhibitors. everything from sales to website strategy to technical mat-
N Live chat and networking. ters including the latest suite of products from Adobe.
N Educational webinars. See www.cgx.com.
N A preview of “Must See ‘Ems” candidates
and the Executive Outlook conference. Denise Kapel is managing editor for AMERICAN PRINTER.
N A preview of companies and Contact her at email@example.com.
organizations being considered for
“Positively Print” recognition. Noha Edell, Adobe’s business development
N A webcast on how to maximize your manager for cross-media publishing solutions,
time at the show in October. demonstrates Creative Suite 5, “The complete
All content will be available until the start of digital content and marketing campaign solution.”
Graph Expo 2010. See www.graphexpo.com. Read all about Adobe CS5 in our next issue.
8 | W W W .A M ER I CANPR I NTER .C OM | JULY 2010
JDF. Similarly a JDF-enabled management customers are actively pushing their suppliers
Steady on information system (MIS) might create
the prepress job. At the very highest level,
to integrate existing systems, and if this is
not possible, replace them with JDF-capable
By Mark Gallucci and available today if both the MIS and alternatives. As the economy recovers and the
prepress fully implement JDF 1.3 and JMF nature of our business extends beyond printing
It has been almost a decade since the Job (Job Messaging Format, the “command to multimedia content delivery, so will JDF
Definition Format was first drafted in an and control” aspect of JDF): automated job continue to change and evolve. CIP4 continues
effort to create a job ticket format that would creation, including process parameters; to develop the specification, the vendors
encompass the entire lifecycle of a print job. and content delivery to prepress, automated continue to implement it, and the end users
The CIP4 (www.cip4.org) Interoperability Matrix layout, proofing, platemaking tell us what works and
currently lists well over 500 tested “pairings” and—most significantly—“live” what needs to be added
of applications that can be connected via JDF. feedback from prepress to the or changed. Ongoing
These span a wide range of functionality, from MIS regarding device and job development of tools
order management to binding and delivery. status, proof approvals and for Extensible Markup
Nearly every prepress workflow system from consumable usage. Language (XML), the
the major suppliers is JDF capable. Additionally, some prepress underlying language of
systems are able to act as JDF controllers. A JDF, provide challenges and opportunity as well.
Current capabilities sophisticated example is the delivery of PDF Ultimately, it is all about profitability, and
At the simplest level, JDF from a desktop content, printing and finishing instructions the process automation and information flow
application can deliver product intent (number to a digital press through a JDF-enabled facilitated by JDF is helping users to realize
of pages, size, inks, customer information, job controller, and JMF feedback from that press profit through process automation, reduced
parts) and PDF content to prepress. Desktop back to the prepress system. It is in these touchpoints, better cost accounting and more.
imposition software can create JDF for scenarios where we begin to realize the While evolutionary, rather than revolutionary, the
automated layout. vision of the automated “smart factory.” prospects for JDF appear brighter than ever.
At a higher level, an Internet-based
storefront might deliver product intent and Industry evolution Mark Gallucci is manager of technology
customized PDF content to prepress via JDF adoption is incremental: Increasingly, marketing for Agfa Graphics (www.agfa.com).
>> Automated customer feedback uncovers new business
he Print Shop (Wisconsin Rapids, WI) competes with keep communication lines open in a proactive way while not
12 other area printers. The region was hit hard in 2008 adding another responsibility to Miller’s team.
when the two local paper companies were sold, resulting in The solution: The Print Shop automates customer feedback
the closure of one mill and downsizing and lead generation by leveraging Printers Software, its busi-
of the other, and the loss of more than ness management software. All order information, including
1,000 jobs. One of those companies the buyer’s e-mail address, is in the software’s database. An
was The Print Shop’s largest customer. automated shipment reporting process takes less than 3 min./
In 2008, owner Warren Miller tried month to run. The survey process includes alerting Miller if a
competing with online printers, but he customer’s loyalty is slipping and delivering leads by uncover-
concluded, “Going head-to-head with ing printing services bought from competitors. In addition, to
online printers was impossible with our address survey burn-out, the process is set up so that no cus-
business model. The prices were rock tomer is surveyed more often than every 90 days.
bottom.” He learned from the experi- The results: The feedback reveals strong loyalty and opportuni-
ence and the firm is adapting. “Digital ties to close new business. Two referrals turned into new accounts.
is here to stay and we are embracing digital printing to service Leverage your estimating and production system to imple-
the local area and provide value-added services,” he says. The ment an effective feedback process. You probably already
Print Shop also expanded into graphic design as a growth have the tools in-house to automate the process, and a well
area that complemented print. designed survey process yields selling opportunities with ex-
While it was inevitable that volumes would go down dur- isting customers and complements selling efforts.
ing the recession, Miller wanted to leverage technology to
benchmark performance, stay close to his customers, and Michael Casey is president and founder of Survey Advantage
make sure he optimizes opportunities with existing custom- (www.printers.surveyadvantage.com). He is a strategic partner with
ers. With hundreds of customers, it is hard to stay connected. NAPL supporting its consulting and research practices, he integrates
In April 2009, Miller brought in Howie Fenton, NAPL’s project surveying with MIS systems and he is an approved supplier for
senior print consultant, to help him adapt the business for the several franchise networks.
future. Fenton recommended setting up a continuous customer
feedback process to ensure a strong foundation for retaining
customers and preserving revenues as competition scrambled to
address the weak economy. An ongoing survey solution would
J ULY 2010 | WWW. A M ERIC A NP RINTER . C O M | 9
Gorelick’sManagement By Dick Gorelick
Industry? What industry?
W hen someone asks about the state of our
industry, I ask for his or her definition of it.
In recent years, our industry has resorted to myriad
becoming increasingly difficult to attain. The
challenge is to meaningfully, credibly distinguish
an organization from competitors—in every
terms and euphemisms. Companies are increas- vertical market—not to simply duplicate or
ingly uncomfortable referring to themselves as emulate norms, standards and ratios.
“printers.” There is no easy or universal synonym. The most successful graphic arts companies
Even industry trade associations have fled from a can provide for their prospects a proposal tailored
reference to “printing” or “printers” in recent years. to the needs, perceptions, challenges and objec-
The notion of a coherent, easily definable tives of the particular buying organization. And
industry can be described as something between it’s rare that the response is expressed in terms of
“disappearing” or “recently disappeared.” We have the manufactured product. Successful companies
resorted to such terms as “graphic arts,” “Printing also avoid platitudes about customer service and
and imaging,” “imaged information,” and “print delivering on promises.
service providers.” Some companies simply change Melodramatic as it may sound, I believe that
their corporate names to letters. in 2019 or so, we’re likely to look back on the
I don’t make a value judgment on this scenario. previous year as the beginning of the end of
On the one hand, it can be difficult to carry on a traditional industry terminology, definitions,
conversation about the industry with an outsider. organizations and structures. Suppliers of print
On the other hand, and perhaps most important, manufacturing, distribution, education, and
the relative lack of coherence and universality other related services will engage in “joined at
among commercial printers demonstrates that an the hip” relationships with customers that would
increasing number of firms have internalized the have been rare in the 20th century. The per-
critical importance of competitive differentiation. ceived risk to a buying organization of placing
all or most of its proverbial eggs in a single sup-
“Successful companies avoid platitudes about plier’s basket will be largely overcome by the reli-
ability, speed and predictability of technology.
customer service and delivering on promises.” No all-purpose answers
This industry has embarked on a journey. In the
I suspect that both print-buying organizations months and years ahead, companies will increas-
and print companies themselves are responsible for ingly define and differentiate themselves in terms
the relatively recent understanding, adoption and of customized products, services, processes and re-
promotion of a differentiated strategy. Organiza- lationships created in response to the demands and
tions that have failed to address or even understand requests of their accounts—rather than simply the
this fundamental issue are, in many cases, the com- products, services and processes “we do best.”
panies that no longer exist. Here again, our nomen- Within any vertical market, strategic hetero-
clature is imprecise and frequently misleading. geneity will increase. Generalizations, trends, and
economists’ reports of trends will become less rel-
The customer is king evant. In this environment, owners and managers
Some consultants and economists choose to of graphic arts companies looking for all-purpose
debate whether our industry is, indeed, com- answers are doomed to difficulty. It is virtually
moditized. That’s a moot point as long as cus- impossible to carefully draft a clever mission state-
tomers believe they have many choices among ment or strategy, then attempt to create reality by
competent print manufacturers. You and I enforcing it on an organization. An organization
aren’t in a position to define our business. That has a culture, history and relationships that can-
is accomplished by the marketplace. not easily be changed. Perhaps the most difficult
Let’s expand the discussion to the business and daunting challenge of senior management
world at large. Our industry is not unique. There is the management of orderly, positive change
are consequences for account development. The in organizational culture and mindset without
day is fast approaching when prospecting by SIC jeopardizing the most productive aspects of staff
code, NAICS code or any other vertical market talents and account relationships.
categorization is rapidly losing its effectiveness. As we look forward, it’s easy to conclude that
Every well-run company in every vertical all generalizations are false—including this one.
market is faced with the competitive differ-
entiation challenge. Customers have choices. Dick Gorelick is president of Gorelick & Associates and
Technology has leveled the playing field in most the Graphic Arts Sales Foundation. He can be reached
businesses, and product-based differentiation is at firstname.lastname@example.org.
10 | W W W .A MER I CANPR I NTER .C OM | J ULY 2010
By Steve Johnson Johnson’sWorld
Make your printing clickable
H ave you seen Playboy’s June issue, featur-
ing “Miss Playmate of the Year” in 3D?
Put on your special glasses and voila. Who says
Just recently, PURLs were going to save
print. They haven’t. I wrote a long treatise two
years ago on this subject called “PURLs of
printing is old school technology? wisdom” and “More PURLs before swine” in
“It’s kind of like it says on the rearview mir- January and February 2008 (see http://
ror,” jokes Hope Dworaczyk, the subject of the americanprinter.com/johnsonsworld). Those
photo spread. “Things may appear larger.” old “Johnson’s Worlds” are still right on target.
Not everyone is excited about 3D in print. You would do well to reread them, to help put
“This particular picture is one example of how this month’s topic in context.
books and magazines are different (than com- Recently, 2D barcodes are hailed by pundits
puter images),” the Associated Press quoted desperate for something to write about as the
editor Hugh Hefner as saying. “You can hold it newest salvation of print. There is one dif-
in your hands, save them, and as Dad used to, ference this time: Those pundits, in spite of
put them under the mattress.” themselves and without knowing why, might
Lets hear it for the value of print! actually be right.
“I’m not a huge enthusiast of 3D,” contin-
ued Hefner. “I leave real life to go to the movies A win-win combination
and 2D is fine with me.” I’ve said many times that the digital revolution
I’m glad you brought that up, Hugh, be- (which includes both the Internet and digital
cause I wholeheartedly agree. Not just about printing) is really an evolution. Digital printing
the unique value of print, but also that print’s enabled the use of variable data, which in turn
future may very well lie more with 2D than allowed the creation of the personalized URL,
with 3D. or PURL.
A PURL allows sophisticated tracking and
The next ‘big thing’ response, just as is possible with today’s sophis-
2D barcodes are the generic name for an in- ticated e-mail and web communications. The
teresting glyph more commonly known as QR only thing the Internet has over print is click-
Codes, which is a trademarked name. The way ability. One mouse click on a link is something
they work is simple, simple enough to catch on people have accepted. People are much more
easily with the general population. reluctant to type a 40 character URL that must
The first step is downloading and installing be typed and entered perfectly to work.
reader software on a smartphone. The software 2D barcodes bring one-click functionality
is free and available from several sources on the to print. One click, that is, of the “shutter”
Internet, dependent upon the brand of phone. on your prospect’s smartphone. Fact is, that
Once the software is installed, you may printed QR Code leapfrogs over Internet hy-
use the camera on your smartphone to take a perlinks, because it works anywhere, anytime.
picture of any 2D barcode you run across. The All you need is to have your smartphone with
software recognizes the glyph as a 2D barcode, you, which today’s target audience does.
interprets it, and takes whatever action the bar- A 2D code works from a direct mail letter,
code has been created for. to be sure, but it also works on a sign, within a
Right now the most common use of 2D bar- catalog or emblazoned on an article of clothing.
codes is to take the user to a website. This means Old fashioned? Don’t carry a blackberry? You
that after you photograph the barcode, your can read a QR Code with the camera built into
smartphone will open its web browser to display your desktop or laptop PC, the same camera you
the URL specified by the barcode creator. use for conference calls and video recordings.
Much has been written about QR, or 2D 2D barcodes are a natural to combine with
barcodes. Almost too much. I’m already bored PURLs, but they also can direct people to a static
with reading about them. Bored yes, but only website or be used to populate an online shopping
because most of what has been written so far cart. They can even dial a phone number.
has featured style over substance. Start by reading all the “introductory” articles
“2D barcodes will be the salvation of print, to learn the basics of 2D. Next, stop and think.
blah, blah, blah.” We’ve been hearing this theo- How can you use these barcodes to make
retical junk for decades. your customers’ print clickable?
First, digital printing was going to save Read more about QR Codes
print. It hasn’t yet. Steve Johnson is president of Copresco (Carol Stream, in this month’s cover
Next, variable data was going to save print. IL), a pioneer in digital printing technology and print on story, page 12.
It hasn’t yet. demand. Contact him via www.copresco.com.
J ULY 2010 | WWW. A M ERIC A NP RINTER . C O M | 11
TechUpdate By John Parsons
rules of thumb
Whether printers use their
own integrated media system
to generate QR Codes or
partner with a service that
does so, here are some basic
rules of thumb:
N Always start with the
simplest possible original
data, including shortened
URLs (or PURLs). The more
data, the larger the image.
N Do not make the QR Code
image too small. About 3/4
inch is the smallest size most
phone cameras can capture
today, although future phones
will be able to capture data
from smaller images.
N Beware of using QR Codes
where you know the
print viewing conditions The road ahead for QR codes
will be problematic. Low
light environments, non-
angles and reflective
surfaces (e.g., signs behind
glass windows) might
require larger QR Codes
or might not work at all.
N Provide a straightforward
means, such as short
message service (SMS),
for users to download
the right QR Code reader
to their mobile phone.
Someday, the majority
of phones will come with
readers. Until then, always
R emember the CueCat phenomenon of the
late 1990s? The feline-shaped scanner was
introduced by Digital Convergence as a means
and JagTag, which have not achieved the same
popularity as QR Code, according to inter-
linkONE (www.interlinkone.com) product
print simple instructions. of facilitating website access via printed bar- manager Jason Pinto. Each format requires its
N Always include a codes. For reasons too numerous to mention, own reader application, which means, in all
compelling, exclusive consumers, advertisers and print publishers probability, only one format will emerge as the
offer as an incentive to rejected the tethered device and its slanted, de facto standard. QR Code seems to be the
scan the QR Code. proprietary barcodes. The core idea still sur- likeliest contender.
N Always make the results of a vives, however, as mobile scanning devices and Like all data workflows, QR Codes are easy
QR Code scan a meaningful various flavors of data barcodes proliferate. to understand in theory but hard to implement
mobile experience. For printers, one particular two-dimen- in practice. The code itself was developed by
Just sending users to a sional code—the Quick Response or QR Code Japanese auto parts manufacturer Denso-Wave,
regular Web page is not format—has gained a lot of attention. What which retains the patent but allows anyone to
enough—especially if is less clear is the timeline for QR Code usage use the code license-free. It is now a published
the page is not optimized to reach the tipping point for North American ISO standard that any company may use to en-
for mobile browsers. consumers, and what print service providers code text data, including URLs, into a scannable
N Be aware that public need to know before embracing this technol- image. Before the advent of smartphones, this
acceptance of QR Codes— ogy. There are plenty of obstacles to consider usually required a dedicated handheld scanner
and the state of mobile but, in the long term, QR Codes also provide and single-purpose software. The latest genera-
software and hardware— potential benefits to a print campaign. tion of mobile devices has changed all that.
are moving targets. A Digital cameras have been standard equipment
print/mobile campaign The basics on most mobile phones for years—as has some
that is risky today might The QR Code is only one of many 2D code form of Internet access. However, as smartphones
be essential tomorrow. formats. Others include Microsoft Tag, EZCode have become increasingly sophisticated, marketers
12 | W W W .A MER I CANPR I NTER.C OM | J ULY 2010
are considering their value as personal QR Code data for each campaign. The company pro-
readers and as sophisticated tools for extending vides guidance on phones, reader software and
their company’s reach. implementation.
In Japan, mobile phone scanning of printed GossRSVP director Roger Belanger described
QR Codes is much more common than else- the chicken-and-egg dilemma facing those
where, but like many mobile trends it is expected working with QR Codes. On the hardware side,
to gain traction worldwide. There are still signifi- people can be reluctant to use their phones’
cant barriers to widespread adoption, such as the limited CCD cameras to scan QR Codes, while
lack of auto-focus and other QR Code friendly phone manufacturers are slow to make their
hardware features on most camera phones. Also, cameras better “light-assisted scanners” because
until recently, third-party QR Code reading QR Code use is not yet widespread.
software had to be downloaded for each The software picture is improving, with
handset—illustrating an indifference a QR Code reader being included in
to the technology by many mobile an upcoming iPhone OS release—
hardware manufacturers, including possibly followed by a similar move < Print designers are
Apple. But the latest versions of by RIM for Blackberry devices. combating the perception that
Google’s Android and Nokia’s Notwithstanding, Belanger QR Codes have to be utilitarian
Symbian mobile operating maintains that the core and unattractive, as shown by
systems now include QR problem is the hardware Warbasse Design’s recent—
Code reading ability, which situation, which might take and fully functional—QR Code
might be a sign of things to come. 3 or 4 years to change. Carriers for posters advertising the
like AT&T might push the handset HBO series “True Blood.”
Early adopters manufacturers to do so sooner, espe-
Some marketing companies and their cially if some of the increased ad revenue
printing partners are not waiting for the comes their way. (Carriers also should be
technologies to become fully mature. Goss motivated by QR Code usage’s potential to
Intl. subsidiary GossRSVP (www.gossrsvp. increase the use of monthly data plans.)
com) has recently switched from its propri- Despite these barriers, Belanger believes that
etary 2D code to the open platform QR Code, printers should be actively pursuing print/mobile
as part of its media-to-mobile service for print integration now, using text messaging and URLs
advertisers. Clients use the hosted GossRSVP or PURLs to mobile-optimized sites. With such
platform to create campaigns with SMS or systems in place, printers and their marketing part-
HTTP printable, auto-generated QR Codes; ners will be able to easily transition from text-based
manage their interactive promotions via mo- codes to 2D barcodes. Even with the technology in
bile text messaging, media links and text alert the early adopter stage, he maintains that the busi-
subscription management; and collect response ness opportunity for mobile-enabled print is clear.
A typical QR Code workflow
begins with a marketing or
content management system,
which handles customer and/
or promotional information. The Generates QR Codes
QR Codes themselves are simple (PNG or GIF files)
bitmap graphic images, usually
with complex metadata that Content or DAM
a digital asset management marketing system
(DAM) system would use to management QR
facilitate static or variable-data system
printing. When captured by the
smartphone’s camera—and workflow
its own software—the printed Digital (VD)
code’s underlying data print system
connects the user with the web interaction
originating company’s online
services. Applications could
include direct mail responses Printe
and tracking, promotional piece d
discount offers, loyalty program
points, direct e-commerce
sales or just about anything
a mobile app can facilitate.
J ULY 2010 | WWW. A M ERIC A NP RINTER . C O M | 13
QR Codes will be standard print offerings at
(Data) Size matters places like FedEx Kinko’s within two years’ time.
QR Codes can represent up to 4,296 QR Code proponent interlinkONE has
alphanumeric characters. However, developed an integrated marketing system, in-
large amounts of data—plus higher cluding web-to-print storefronts, multichannel
levels of error correction capacity— communications, personalized URLs (PURLs)
will result in larger image files. and more. Its customers include printers and
other service providers as well as marketing
agencies and larger enterprises. The company’s
“QReate & Track” website (http://qreatean-
dtrack.com) offers several levels of QR Code
creation and tracking—including a free trial—
as well as useful tutorials on QR Code issues.
Getting the right QR Code reader to the user’s
phone has been an interesting challenge, according
Author’s E-mail Author’s Business card to Pinto. “Seeing the QR Code might cause some-
one to pause and give it attention,” he says. “But
it also might be worth your while to add a couple
Pushing the envelope of lines of text to the printed piece that explain
Developer and art director Philip Warbasse of how people can read the code. You might want to
Warbasse Design (www.warbassedesign.com) direct them to a special landing page where they
and Plush Mobile Servers (www.plushms.mobi) can download popular QR Code readers for their
believes the adoption timeline is much shorter. specific phone. As people become more familiar
Although it is a novelty now—with significant with QR Codes, those types of instructions might
publicity value—QR Codes in print will be become unnecessary. But right now, they help in-
normal within a year’s time, he maintains. Print- crease the success of your QR Code campaigns.”
ers need to embrace integrated media now—on Another barrier to QR Code use is the prob-
their own or in tandem with strategic partners— lem of data density. The more data and error
and be capable of incorporating tools like QR correction used, the larger the resulting QR Code
Codes as soon as possible. will be. By starting with a simple data set—like
Warbasse’s QR campaigns for print always a shortened URL or PURL—the resulting code
include a means to download the appropriate will be smaller, less competitive with the rest of
reader, as well as an exclusive offer or incentive. the piece, and more likely to be read correctly.
Above all, the user experience when scanning the One interlinkONE customer, A&M Label,
QR Code must be a distinctive and compelling has had encouraging initial results with QR Code
mobile-optimized Web experience, which War- use on consumer product labels. Technical ser-
basse Design develops for its clients. Ordinary vices specialist David Platz describes one example,
websites—especially those with features not sup- a honey product manufacturer with a new and
ported by mobile browsers—are inappropriate relatively obscure product: agave nectar. Because
targets for QR Code campaigns, he says. most shoppers have no idea what that is or how it
One barrier to QR Code adoption is the may be used, A&M Label added a QR Code to
perception that they are ugly and intrusive visual the label, with the words “Smartphone users, scan
elements—especially when they need to be large this code to find out more about agave nectar.”
enough for today’s camera phones. Warbasse has Those who did were directed to a custom, mobile
responded with some innovative designs, such as optimized URL containing information and reci-
stylized codes for the movie “Iron Man 2” and pes. interlinkONE reported over 50 hits on the
the HBO series “True Blood.” The company first day. Platz said the customer was very pleased
does extensive testing on all such designs—as and plans to expand QR Code usage on its honey
well as providing much of the mobile-optimized labels—including a cross-promotional campaign
experience for users who scan the codes. for an upcoming animated feature film.
Warbasse is testing its integrated media pro- A&M Label is no stranger to barcode work-
gram for printers now and will make it available flows, having managed UPC codes for in-store
to printers across North America in June. The scanner use. QR Codes for consumers with
entertainment industry is the most proactive smartphones is a very logical step. Platz outlined
adopter, he says, while typical blue chip brands some of the company’s plans, which include wine
have shown reluctance to try the new approach. and beer labels—whose QR Codes will take the
Fashion and clothing manufacturers are starting user to a unique “story” (video and/or website)
to show real interest, however, along with TV about the winery or brewery and its products and
and network clients and magazine publishers. recipes. A&M Label uses Microsoft Tag as well
Printers with existing direct mail systems are as QR Code, and is planning to do print/mobile
actively exploring QR Codes as a differentiator. campaigns for DVD movie labels—allowing
As public awareness grows, Warbasse maintains, shoppers to see movie previews on their phones.
14 | W W W .A MER I CANPR I NTER .C OM | J ULY 2010