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Fri, Apr

Chris Boyd-Leslie, head of creative development at Oasis Graphics, devotes his time to exploring new inkjet print possibilities. His work is starting to pay off. Here’s how.

SMP is working with a number of manufacturers to find water-based UV-curable inks for the billboard sector. It’s just one of a number of innovative moves being made by the company as Mark Turner, director of digital print, and sales director Nick Stagg explain.

As more PSPs move into the textile print, Northern Flags is looking to grow business by going the other way – by moving into the more ‘traditional’ large-format print spaces.

This month we kick off a series of ‘Innovators’ features with a look at how Mal McGowan is putting his company’s motto into practice.

There are almost as many theories about how to run a company as there are companies. These theories go in and out of fashion so often because management is actually incredibly situation specific. A stroke of genius in one context can be a strategic blunder in another. That’s why many business leaders don’t read tomes on management theory, they devour biographies (often of Napoleon), newspapers (Warren Buffett still reads the Wall Street Journal from cover to cover everyday) and ask questions.

Seven out of ten Brits, according to one of those endless surveys someone somewhere is always churning out, spend more than a minute on hold when calling a business. While they are being held against their will, they are often subjected to a blast of hideously inappropriate music: Tina Turner’s Simply The Best is an enduring favourite. Some firms – notably Virgin Media – let you choose the kind of music you have to listen to. That sounds helpful but it does raise the question: how long does this company expect to hang on?

Greenhouse Graphics ( http://www.greenhousegraphics.co.uk/ ) has gone on better, replacing the strains of over-familiar music with targeted, relevant messages that let listeners know about current promotions, product offerings and why the company – one of a few communications agencies to gain EMAS accreditation – is so darn green. The company is working with PH Media which provides what it calls audio-branding services to 11,000 clients.

 

Meditate in my direction. That was the intriguing invitation Olivia Newton John’s Sandy made to John Travolta’s Danny in the movie Grease back in 1978. Despite the Aussie popstrel’s allure, meditation has never really been sexy – especially in the workplace. Yet Matthew May, founder of the LA ideas agency Edit Innovation, has suggested that one of the keys to innovation is: “A quiet mind, severed for a time from the problem at hand.”

Before you dismiss this as yet another example of faddish, New Age, nonsense, consider that the leaders of such lacklustre businesses as 3M, Bloomberg, Ford, General Electric, Monsanto, Oracle and Shell all meditate. Medtronic, the $15bn business that is now the world’s largest medical technology group, even sets aside a company conference room for staff to take mental breaks. Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs were keen meditators too.

Any printing company that encourages staff to meditate during office hours will, in the current economic climate and with the managerial conservatism that typifies the industry, face a certain amount of ridicule. Yet 2,000 Shell employees have learned to meditate under a program launched by an entrepreneur called Mandar Apte. One of his maxims is: “Silence is the mother of all creativity.”

Let’s be honest: the average British print firm is about as good at marketing as the British banks were at risk assessment in 2007. If any managing director needed a simple reminder of what they’re probably doing wrong ­– and could so easily do right ­– they could do worse than read Jacky Hobson’s blog on FESPA ( http://www.fespa.com/news/blogs/jacky-hobson-biography-blog-profile-up-marketing-print-industry-publications/taking-notice-personal-sales-marketing-demonstrate-engage-future-business-opportunities.html ). The central flaw, Hobson suggests, is that printers are still far too likely to spend most of their time talking about themselves – and the technical specifications of their equipment – rather than the client and how they can help them. And, given what they do for a living, there really is no excuse for companies that market themselves with printed products that are anything less than beautiful.