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Sun, Dec

What do key manufacturers have in store for us in terms of technical trends and developments in 2013? Melony Rocque-Hewitt investigates.

2012 was a huge year for Hollywood Monster, formed in 2009 through the coming together of Hollywood Signs and Monster Digital. During the past year it has invested £2m in print kit, announced the formation new digital sales team and the appointment of a business development manager to generate new leads, and forecast a £1m growth in turnover to take it to £6.5m. And behind all that was a canny marketing plan that put Hollywood firmly in the limelight. So have Hollywood’s efforts paid off so far, and what are its mission targets for 2013 and beyond?

Believe it or not, there are still funding programmes in the UK, but it can be a nightmare to identify those right for your business. Phil Thompson, head of BPIF Business, explains how to find project funding.

Searching the Internet for funding is a long-winded process, but bookmarking useful sites and signing up for RSS and Twitter feeds is a useful way to keep abreast of developments as programme criteria are often altered and deadlines launched with very little notice. Similarly, the regional press is a really good reference source. You may read about a funding programme when the funder announces the successful applications under that particular round. While it does not help you this time around, it is always a good idea to make a note of the fund details so that you have a folder of potential funders you can refer to at a later stage. And there’s the BPIF funding search service (called Funding Finder), which allows you to home in on funding opportunities according to various criteria.

 

Towards the end of January Fespa will bring its annual Global Summit to the UK. And this year, Fespa is throwing open the doors to what has previously been an ‘invite only’ event for the industry’s top brass. It’s where the great and the good meet to take the temperature of the wide-format market and discuss the way forward. So is it worth putting your hand in your pocket to get an insider’s perspective at the 2013 summit? I ask Fespa’s Duncan MacOwan, what’s in it for printers?

In 2006, Disney paid £4.1bn to buy Pixar, the animation studio that had created such gems as ‘Toy Story’, ‘Finding Nemo’ and ‘The Incredibles’. As it turned out, that price was probably a bargain but Disney could have saved billions if its management hadn’t made the wrong call in the 1980s.

The irony is that a studio founded by master animator Walt Disney, that had been responsible for such marvels as ‘Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs’, had to pay so much to get back into a market it had once dominated. That’s because in the early 1980s – with the studio’s founding genius long dead – the company’s traditional values led it astray. Because traditional 2D animation required so much skill and resource, Disney had come to focus on blockbusters. So in 1982, when it delved into computer graphics to produce ‘Tron’, it looked at what it considered so-so grosses for the sci-fi feature and made the logical, but stupid, decision not to venture any further into computer graphics. Four years later, Pixar was founded when Steve Jobs bought the computer graphics of Lucasfilm. Within eight years, the new company was cooperating with Disney. The dissolution of that partnership in 2004 convinced Walt’s old firm it had to act – and it made a £4.1bn offer Pixar’s owners could not refuse.

If Disney had taken a longer, broader view of ‘Tron’, seeing the movie not just as a one-off item on a profit and loss account but as an investment in the cutting edge technology of computer graphics, Pixar might never have happened. Although this blunder gave the world ‘Toy Story’, it is a salutary reminder that merely by applying the conventional wisdom – or judging every project according to its traditional values – every company can get it spectacularly, expensively wrong.

 

 

 

Technology must always be useful, the British scientist Sir Patrick Linstead once observed, whereas science need not be. In the wide-format industry, too many technologies have proved not be as useful as the printing companies who bought them had hoped. So it is easy to understand why, despite all the hype, many companies have been reluctant to embrace Web2Print.

Yet those helpful folks at OnPrint Shop (www.onprintshop.com/eight-steps-for-sme-printers-to-choose-right-web2print-solution.html) have chipped in with a handy eight-step guide to making the most of this new technology which sums up the challenges in plain English, raising such basic questions as why do you need to go online before ending with a cautious analysis of the investment options – from renting to sharing and licensing. The best single piece of advice? “Companies usually give only ‘how to do’ support, which is not that helpful if you’re not IT savvy. Look for a company that helps you set up your online store and makes you functional in a short time.”

 

 

UV curable flatbed printers are all about printing direct to rigid media. But the market is polarised between high quality and high productivity machines with price still playing an important role. Nessan Cleary reports.

Tony Hodgson, Director of PODi in Europe, provides guidelines on what to include in customer case studies to make them more worthwhile marketing materials.

Case studies are a key part of the B2B marketers content marketing toolbox, but are you getting the most from those you produce? A recent global survey by the Content Marketing Institute, shows case studies are perceived by 70% of marketers as a highly effective tactic - second only to in-person events such as exhibitions, conferences and seminars.

Phil Thompson, head of BPIF Business, explains how you can best ensure you have new health and safety requirements covered.

There is a direct correlation between the best companies and those that have the most effective health and safety management schemes. Developing a culture that understands and implements the necessary requirements is not only beneficial for the staff, but will improve the performance of the business. Central to this will be communication and using it as a 'live' document. It should not be shelved and dusted down when an inspection is carried out or for auditing purposes. Its arrangements should be communicated to all staff and a copy made available at all times. The following tips are the main areas of a business that will need to be challenged. Get these right and the rest will follow.

Pixartprinting is one of the biggest Web-to-print companies in Europe for professional customers. Figures for 2011 show a turnover of 32m Euro and a customer–base of over 80,000. The company, founded in 1994 by Matteo Rigamonti, has seen a year-on-year growth and last year it managed a staggering 40% jump. The expected rise in 2012 is not quite of that magnitude but turnover is still expected to reach 40m Euro as the company continues to expand at a phenomenal rate. But in the UK it’s not making the mark it wants to. So here I ask Matteo about the company’s expansion plans, including its wide-format ambitions, and its intentions for the UK market.

Are you on Flickr, Twitter or YouTube? Octink, the London wide-format printer which has twice been listed as one of the Sunday Times’s Best Green companies, certainly is. There’s a nice environmentally sound poster on Flickr, a tweet about a new director and eight videos on YouTube (none of which, it has to be said, have become a viral sensation).

In a small way, Octink is participating in a revolution which David Armano, a senior vice-president at communications agency Edelmann, calls the cult of influence (http://blogs.hbr.org/cs/2011/01/the_six_pillars_of_the_new_inf.html). Armano urges companies to use digital tools to increase their reach, get closer to customers, seem more relevant, build credibility in a community of influence and become more trusted. These are not small goals but collectively they can help you engage with the people you want to influence – be they customers or opinion-formers – to help your business.

It’s easy to lose sight of the over-arching goal when you’re struggling to know what to tweet – or think you’re too busy to bother – but it could help you reposition your company. One of the problems printers have marketing themselves is that they don’t have the budget to sustain a big brand-enhancing campaign. But if they reach out to the right niches, they might be rewarded with new business.

 

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