In-plants Popular at Graph Expo
Graph Expo catered to in-plants this year, with sessions and networking opportunities galore.November 2012 By Bob Neubauer
Phil Larson, former director of AFPress and grafaccent at American Fidelity, and now president of Shepherd Consulting OK, stressed the importance of marketing to the "C Suite" and to the influencers in the organization. He agreed that customer service is crucial for an in-plant, adding that he once turned down an opportunity to mandate that company printing business go to the in-plant, because he felt that if the shop couldn't win the work through customer service, it didn't deserve it.
One interesting question fielded by the panel was "What have you tried that did not work?" Three of the four cited their initial foray into an MIS system. In each case it turned into a nightmare of extra staffing, wasted money and long waits for the system to work, which it never did. They each eventually admitted defeat, learned from their mistakes and moved ahead with a different system.
Web-to-print and QR codes
Directly following this, the In-Plant Printing & Mailing Association (IPMA) held a very popular lunch- and-learn session, moderated by InfoTrends' Barb Pellow, covering Web-to-print, QR codes and more. About 125 people, most of them in-plant managers, packed the room. Most of the session's sponsors let their in-plant customers take the stage to explain how technology has improved their operations:
- Rochester Software Associates let customer Andrea Eshoo, assistant director at Diversified, tell how her operations used RSA's WebCRD Web-to-print solution to create a catalog of customizable marketing campaigns and educational materials.
- Xerox invited John Meyer, manager of Rochester Institute of Technology's print and mail center, and NAPL Senior Consultant Howie Fenton, to chime in on the value of QR codes in marketing materials.
- Kodak allowed Shana Farrell, of Fox Valley Technical College, to explain how her in-plant used Kodak's Dimensional Print to create an unforgettable holiday card for the college's president on the shop's NexPress. ("What in-plant doesn't want to be 'in' with their own president?" she remarked.) Then Debbie Pavletich, manager of Briggs & Stratton's in-plant, elaborated on how impressed customers are with the promotional pieces printed with her shop's NexPress.
Though these were the most well attended in-plant sessions, several others offered equally useful information.
In a session focused on in-plant rebranding, Steven Schnoll, managing director of Schnoll Media Consulting, stressed that as media technologies advance, in-plants need to become the source for all the organization's media needs. This means changing their name and reengineering their services to provide a varied portfolio of multi-media services.
Growth strategies for in-plants was the theme of another session given by NAPL's Howie Fenton. He encouraged in-plants to monitor their break even points at least quarterly, and monthly in bad times. Create procedures to track costs and revenue, he said. Find the 20 percent of your customers who provide 80 percent of your work and focus on them. Also, he said, look for new opportunities; don't be complacent with the type of work you've always done. And look constantly for ways to cut costs, like replacing retiring staff with temps and negotiating leases with options to downsize.