Tuesday, March 22, 2011

High-speed ink jet and why it matters

This post was done for the Blurberati Blog....

I’ve spent the past few days reviewing the newly updated digital press portfolio from Hewlett-Packard (HP). Blurb has a long-standing relationship with the technology giant and all of our digital color book pages have been printed exclusively on HP Indigo presses since 2008. But we – and HP – are never ready to rest on our laurels and together we’re always pushing the envelope to help our customers get the best quality books. So we were interested when HP announced that they are expanding their high-speed ink jet line with faster and wider presses.
So why is this important to Blurb? Because I’ve seen the future and it is ink jet. We’re always looking for new, more efficient ways to print our customer’s work and bringing the efficiencies of offset printing to the flexibility of small-run digital printing is where we live.

But these technologies are also changing the printing business from the inside out. During my two days at O’Neil Data Systems in Los Angeles, a hybrid shop that merges traditional offset with the newest digital printing technologies, the biggest thing you notice are the folks who are running the ink jet web presses at ODS. They look like they would be more comfortable in a server room rather than a press room. With these new technologies, information technology (IT) is king and this represents a sea change in the commercial printing business.
Blurb believes that when you, our customer, choose to print, you’ve raised the value put on your content. So, we consider it our primary role to make sure you receive the highest level of craft and quality in the product level you choose. And when I meet with equipment manufacturers my role is to act as your surrogate to make sure you’re always getting the best product for your money. I’ll continue to do that and to update you with the latest in all things print and technology. As always, your feedback and suggestions are great so feel free to chime in with your comments.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Beware the first dropper

At the recent Dscoop6 conference there was a ton of buzz over social media. You've got to be on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube...you know the drill.  I've been there and almost certainly you have too.  But I'm gradually pulling away from a lot of the social interaction I've done in the past.  This is due to security and privacy issues surely, but it's also that I'm one of those dreaded "first droppers".

There was a great article on details.com last fall on this phenomena that you might want to consider reading.  But the bottom line to me is that once I feel that my identity has been compromised in any way, or if I just reach that tipping point that participation just isn't fun anymore and feels more like work, I bail.  And I don't think I'm alone.

To me the biggest culprit in the social media sphere is Facebook.  I really don't have a spot for these guys in my day or personal brand any longer.  Sure, I have a FB page but it's really a bit of a placeholder and I use it to repost stuff that my company is putting out there.  I have a very small circle of friends that I allow full access to my account and the rest just see the generic front page.

I like Twitter and use it daily, but it's really just about business.  And if I don't keep up with it on a very regular basis the tweets from the folks I follow get so backed up that I miss a lot.  So if you really want to share something with me that you'll know I'll see it's dangerous to just post it--you've got to DM me.

I've really rediscovered LinkedIn as my primary social media conduit.  It was the first place I started to network on line and I've discovered that for me it is the best.  If you connect your Twitter feed to your LinkedIn page and we are connected then I'll very likely see your tweets there. Plus I get a feeling of security there and it's a good place to try and contact me if we don't know each other.

Also, I'm no spring chicken and this may not sit well with a lot of my contemporaries, but I don't really take advice on social media from anyone over 35.  I'm sure the amount of first droppers increases quickly as age increases so if you are putting a lot of effort into updates and links then you need to concentrate on younger folks and be sure you understand what it is that motivates them to buy your product.  And it changes all of the time.  By the time you realize it you are likely already too late and your audience has abandoned you.

Big disclaimer here...I'm no social media expert.  I'm not even a marketing person.  But I am often an early adopter of technology and as a first dropper I know what works for me.  And being in a company whose average age is around 30, I think I have some pretty good insights on what's going on in that world too.  Bottom line is that you do need to consider what social media can do for your business but it's got to be vital, it's got to be valuable, it's got to be cool.  If not it can be a very consuming waste of time.