Tuesday, October 03, 2006

 

More Myths Debunked, New Media in Real Use, Cable Business Knows How to Fight Back, and Other Stuff

This is a really light story about how the printing industry is changing, perpetuating all kinds of myths like "we're no longer a manufacturing industry" and "Printing companies need skills never required before in the industry, such as marketing, financial analysis, long-range planning and human resources and organizational development."
http://www.kansascity.com/mld/kansascity/business/15663379.htm
Yeah, right. The industry always had activities and always needed to do them better. Marketing? 1972 was the publication of "Why Marketing?" the seminal article by Victor Strauss demanding that printers wise up; most never had to and they still made money because markets were growing. Sorry: good sales management is part of marketing. PIA Financial Ratios have been about all that printers have needed for decades, that, and a good cost accountant. When they didn't have that, NAPL and others were there with cost books, as were manufacturers who provided these as a service, as were a variety of published estimating resources. Bookkeeping was always bad for small business, but even though it's bad today, it's a lot better because accountants and bookkeepers have far better tools (software) than they ever did before. Long-range planning? That's why God made 10 year leases on equipment; the print entrepreneur made a bet, putting all that capital in plant and equipment, and that was their long-range plan, a bigger bet than any MBA with an Excel spreadsheet would ever dare to do with their own money. Only recently has writing about business planning started to recognize the value of the entrepreneur's unspoken, unwritten culture they create in their business as more important than any written strategic plan. Human resources? For years, this was the role of the unions, who by their own hands and deeds made themselves irrelevant, but left a legacy of industry structure. If they weren't in a company, non-union printers still mirrored the structures and workflows unions created. Organizational development? Print businesses are still primarily family businesses; nepotism begins at home, as they say. Small businesses are functions of the owners personality, and wise owners found like-minded individuals to aid them in their business. And when succession was not possible, sale, merger, or acquisition was the organizational development plan. Large print businesses have most of these functions, and have had them for a very long time. Think Donnelley or Quad or Quebecor don't have these things? They have for decades. Having these things are no guarantee of success. All kinds of unsuccessful companies have had all of these functions; business graveyards are full of companies with bad ideas but who had great procedure manuals and binders full of plans. None of these functions make print demand change in the industry's favor. Much as I love marketing, the marketing practiced in the printing industry is not uniquely deficient; it is the same marketing practiced by most manufacturing companies, it is mainly sales-based and administrative. As far as printing not being manfacturing, that is hogwash. While the nature of manufacturing and service seems blurred throughout the economy, the printing industry does not create intellectual property, it reproduces on behalf of others, and that process requires capital equipment, and inputs of other manufactured goods that must be transformed into something else that is physical in nature. As far as service goes, do not confuse the change in the ways of delivering or selling with the core nature of a business. All businesses are service businesses, one could contend. The definition (according to dictionary.com) is "the making of goods or wares by manual labor or by machinery"... we don't do that? Service has many definitions, but they all relate to the provision of activities, or the movement of things from one place to another, for the public. In that sense, no manufacturing business is "pure" as just being manufacturing, but one cannot doubt where the bulk of its resources are invested. Creative businesses position themselves to look like service businesses but that is actually a marketing strategy, and not the essential economics of that firm. Print businesses are manufacturing companies, and unless they understand that first, they can't craft the right range of activities that need to be built around them to make manufacturing appear secondary. That's where good management comes in: holding these two seemingly conflicting ideas in their head at one time, and still making them work. Most important: understanding why people use print, and that wasn't cited in the article at all. None of these tools do anything to make a print owner understand media.

Good story with some case studies about the use of new media
http://www.adweek.com/aw/national/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003188652

The cable industry is not taking any of this new media stuff lying down. This study may be biased in favor of TV (I don't have the methodology or the questionnaire). Their site has sales materials for cable folks to use to sell against other media.
Story http://www.onetvworld.org/main/cab/press/releases/cab-releases-findings-of-.shtml
Press release http://www.onetvworld.org/main/cab/press/releases/cab-releases-findings-of-.shtml

And new media can be its own worst enemy. While metrics can be reported immediately, such as web page hits and site visits, no one really knows if these data are correct, or what they really mean. Ultimately, how do people judge advertising? Sales. Yet no article ever really mentions that.
http://www.mediaweek.com/mw/news/recent_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1003156019

Flexible packing market study. Predicts slow growth. Packaging does that... it's related to population growth and then the demographic and other trends that are around at the time, and often disappoints in sales to the downside. It's still a wild and crazy business, with great potential overseas as economics change in developing countries.
press release http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/060927/nyw090.html?.v=72
report description http://www.sbireports.com/product/display.asp?productid=1209593

Wonder why Sony is donating to breast cancer awareness? Campbells doubled sales to Kroger with special pink cans with the same pitch. "Cause marketing" works... but it has diminishing returns, which is why it is only done at particular times.
http://adage.com/article?article_id=112198

Comments:
I couldn't read your Mediaweak link because it's a subscription only site.

Your claim that properly collected metric data is unobtainable, and that accurate analysis is unobtainable is absurd and a myth in itself.

There are methods and services that can track user metrics from the point of entry to the point of purchase and assign it a proper monetary value.

A free one that anyone can use is Google Analytics. They use graphs and stuff so I bet someone with at least a PhD could figure it out.
 
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