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Tue, Jun

First up, a big sorry to those of you that have already tried to get online and take part in the sixth annual Widthwise survey. A technical ‘blip’ meant it went live a bit later than expected, but it’s now good to go. So please take part in what’s the biggest poll of UK/Ireland wide-format printers. The link is: www.imagereportsmag.co.uk/widthwise 2013.

How do you keep abreast of legal developments impacting your business. At Image Reports we flag up what we can, but do you have a fail-safe mechanism to ensure you remain up to speed? If you do, I’d love to know.

It’s not about you...it’s about your customer. It’s about print companies harnessing new technologies and services to put a value-for-money route in front of clients to that marketing nirvana — customer data. It’s about print providers becoming more proactive participants in the whole marketing campaign mix and pushing print’s interactive capabilities under the noses of those that might consider it a very limited static medium in a fast-paced digital era.

At one time I was hearing grassroots calls for one centralised media profiles database, but it’s something I’ve not heard mentioned for a while now. Is that because it’s become recognised as an impossible task, or are you happy with the way things are?

Then make sure you’re nominated for the Fespa Hall of Fame which closes to entries this coming Friday. Those that make it will receive not only plenty of cap-doffing from their peers but a haul of pressies that will help keep them at the top of their game. So get nominating at http://www.fespa.com/halloffame/

What’s your feeling on the number of new start-ups entering the wide-format space? My gut feeling is that there’s been a slow down in recent months, but perhaps there are regions where new entrants are still coming in quite quickly. If you’ve noticed much increased competition in your area please let me know – perhaps it’s something worth monitoring in this year’s Widthwise Survey which will be going live very shortly – I’ll keep you posted!

Is there an identifiable trend in terms of those most responsible for late payment? At one time it was local councils that were so noted but in many parts of the country that seems to have improved. Is it now the case that the bigger the brand the slower you can expect to get your money or are Unilever’s and Sainsbury’s payment terms of 90 and 75 days respectively, as highlighted in the FPB story, just par for the course?

That is still very much a question within wide-format, so what is your take on the value-added potential of offering print ‘versioning’. Do you do it? Is it worth the cost and effort?

Taking workflow to encompass everything from order to delivery, and including the likes of Web-to-print, versioning tools etc, where do you still see the greatest stumbling blocks the wide-format space? We’ll be talking to software developers on the subject of workflow, so let me know which areas continue to give you the biggest headaches.

How many of us would like one or two of those? Hollanders has managed it, and with the potential that company has for developing wide-format print solutions that’s not all that surprising. But what about the potential for print companies to grab a bit more private investment? After all, there’s plenty of scope for those canny enough - and rich enough – to take a well calculated risk. Any would-be investors been knocking on your door?

 

What are your thoughts on the OEM/third party ink situation? As Fuji pointed out at a recent press tour of its new ink manufacturing/R&D site in Broadstairs, it makes printers kit so it can sell ink – where the real money is as we all know. So where do you choose to spend yours?

Trade shows only work if organisers can make them pay, so are they charging too much for too little return in a world where PSPs can target suppliers much more easily than they once could and where those PSPs expect the potential recipients of their hard earned investment pot to deal with them on a more personal basis than on a show stand? In Holland for example, the trend is towards smaller, low-cost exhibitor meets where visitors not only get in free but are fed and watered too! What do you think?

I regularly ask Image Reports’ readers to let me have images and details of unusual wide-format print jobs so I can help highlight the flexibility and creativity within this sector. Having made the point in my last enewsletter that we need to perhaps be even more experimental and consider a wider integration of new technologies (such as QR codes and augmented reality) within the print projects we produce I would be particularly interested in hearing about your own involvement in such jobs. You know how to reach me…

Wow, the Fespa Global Summit certainly had some punch. Talk about giving it to us straight – the message from the speakers was clear – move on or go down! Wide-format print has fab future prospects they all agreed, but for those prospects to be anywhere near fulfilled print producers need to step it up in terms of experimentation and getting novel options in front of potential buyers. We’ve been saying that for ages, I know – and day-to-day pressures and economies of running a print business are the oft quoted reasons why it doesn’t happen as much we all recognise it should. But the perception of print’s capabilities is falling way behind its technical and creative capabilities. So how do we right that as an industry? Could the various industry bodies and associations do more to help?

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