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Helping Decide Which Frogs to Kiss

(January 2006) posted on Wed Jan 04, 2006

Understanding your business and providing value-add services is key.

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By Stephen Beals

The market sectors covered in the 24 reports will be segmented
into three separate groups:

  • Set 1: Advertising Agencies, Health Care (HMOs, hospitals),
    Cruise Industry (hospitality and tourism), Department
    Stores (retail trade), Gambling and Wagering (casinos), Automotive
    Industry (manufacturers and dealers), Insurance, and
    Real Estate (brokerages).

  • Set 2: Gas and Electric (utilities), Hotel (hospitality and
    tourism), Office Supplies/Home Improvement (retail trade),
    Banks (financial services), Investment Companies (financial
    services), Travel Agencies (hospitality and tourism), Telecom
    (utilities), and Professional Services (legal, accounting, etc).

  • Set 3: Food Services-Wholesale, Food Services-Retail,
    Associations, Education (public and private higher education
    only), Publishing (magazine and journal), Pharmaceutical
    (drug manufacturers), Religious Organizations, and Other.
  • Each report will contain a Market Overview including major
    trends, marketing budgets, and dollars spent for printed products
    "?plus a look at the sector's customer base and special
    terminology used. There will also be a section on print applications
    used by the segment and opportunities for digital and
    variable-data printing. Top companies in the sector will be
    named and key contact information provided; a company overview
    and organizational structure for these companies are also

    Perhaps most important is a section on "How to Market to
    This Category," which gives the common print-buying practices
    and hot tips on how to get a foot in the door. Supplemental data
    will include government-supplied data, associations, and publications
    serving the sector and other information.

    I was able to get a sneak peek at a preliminary version of
    the first of these reports on the Health Care segment. It might
    surprise the average print-shop owner that this is a $4.6 billion
    print market with $800 million being spent annually on directories
    alone. That's about 100 billion sheets of paper, primarily in
    black and white, according to the report. This market segment
    also spends $100 million a year on packaging labels. Both of
    these sectors are ripe for digital production.

    The report also delves into market-specific terminology
    like HMOs, PMOs, and PPOs, and explains the differences in
    layman's language. And it covers major trends, which today
    include strong incentives for controlling costs and close federal
    and state regulation.

    Some of the opportunities for digital print in the Health
    sector cited in the report include open enrollment advertisements,
    customer billing, prescription packaging, and even
    basic patient instructions.

    Different issues, attitudes, and dollars

    It's good to see PIA/GATF take on an initiative like this. Print
    shops tend to get lost in the day-to-day production challenges
    and have neither the time nor the opportunity to take any kind
    of marketing surveys of their customer base. Plus, all too often
    we attempt to sell the same thing to every customer.

    These reports, however, will help printers understand that
    customers in different sectors face very different issues"?and
    have a very different attitude as to how they spend their printing

    Being able to access a wealth of important information
    about 24 different sectors that has been gathered with the
    specific intent of serving the interests of the digital print community
    makes this collection of reports a "must have" set. It's
    true that not every shop currently deals with customers in all
    of these sectors, but it might not be a bad idea to read all of the
    reports"?just to see what you may be missing out on.

    The first set of eight reports ("Set 1," listed earlier) will be
    released at the November 6-9 Variable Data and Personal-
    ization Conference in Phoenix, where Romano will present
    the findings to event attendees. Set 2 will roll out in January
    2006, and Set 3 will do so in April 2006, the council reports.
    The studies will be available for purchase through the PIA/GATF
    bookstore ( in packages of eight reports. Price:
    $500 per set of eight ($199 per set for PIA/GATF members),
    or $1200 for the entire series of 24 ($499 for PIA/GATF members).
    Members of the Digital Printing Council receive the
    reports as part of their membership.

    Stephen Beals (, in prepress production
    for more than 30 years, is the digital prepress manager
    with Finger Lakes Press in Auburn, NY.