I have written a few posts to date regarding my experience at Dscoop and saved this one for the finale since it will recap something incredibly unbelievable, awesomely inspirational and yes, even controversial that has become my big A-HA Moment take-away from the conference.
Let’s start here.
Dscoop9 was filled with advocacy, education and tools that aid in helping us – the users and end users – discover all that is possible with print, and apply it. The conference was appropriately themed “Break The Mold” and lived up to inspiring attendees to do just that. Two sessions specifically stood out for me since they directly relate to “re-thinking” print, and I am all about that in 2014.
The first was Printing, Making and the Emerging Culture of Craft, presented by Chris Harold, VP Business Development and Creative Director at Mohawk. In this session Chris re-introduced the concept of printing as a craft, not a commodity, and described in detail his experience with the millennials/hipsters/digitals known as “makers” who see the print industry as craftspeople, not Printers or worse, Marketing Service Providers.
Considering Mohawk is working directly with Martha Stewart tapping into the emerging culture of craft, make note that this is not a passing fad, but a ground floor opportunity to re-think print and how you market and present your company and services to these customers. To quote Chris, “It’s not B2B, or B2C, it’s human to human, be interesting.” You need to be following @MohawkPaper and reviewing their Culture of Craft information!
By itself, Chris’ session left me with plenty to think about and share with you, but the true A-HA moment came the next day at a session titled How to Transform the 100 Billion Photos Captured Every Day on Mobile into Print. It was a panel of app developers who have come up with some unique ways to help mobile camera users (aka most of Earth) bring their images from pixels to paper. They made some very compelling arguments as to why the print industry has an opportunity in this space.
I’ve worked with Fastbind USA as a partner in the Printerverse at GRAPH EXPO and beyond for a few years now, so affordable photobook making opportunities for printers to generate new income isn’t a new subject for me. However, this was the first time I was hearing from the app side regarding their DESIRE to work with printers. It then hit me; THEY WERE THE MAKERS Chris was speaking about, and they were looking for partners to help them make cool stuff!
Here is where our nice story takes a turn to WTF! But don’t take my word for it, hear it directly from Philip Anema and Sean Pfitzenmaier the co-founders of timeshel.co. Their app is in the pre-launch stage and won’t be public until June, but the site and the product is cool as hell so check it out!
What obstacles did you face from the printing industry when you were looking for a print partner?
The biggest obstacle was unwillingness from PSP’s to listen to us because we had no volume. We were a company that was just starting, still in the product development phase and were trying to find a partner to work with. However given that the name of the game in the print industry is volume, we found very few people who were willing to take the time to listen to us. The few that did sent us ridiculous quotes that not just broke our cost structure but shattered it. Fortunately we found a partner, ColorCentric up in Rochester, New York that was willing to take a chance on us, and we’re extremely grateful for their belief in us. They’ve been awesome to work with.
You specifically referred to printers as PSP’s/manufacturers – just curious to why that is…
Honestly, this is probably lingo we picked up while at Dscoop. Given that PSP stands for “print service providers” it’s the perfect term for us to describe the type of firm we needed to partner with as our expertise is on the consumer side, not the printing side. We know what output we need, and desire, but we don’t have the capabilities to produce it which is why partnering with a PSP is critical.
From your side of things, how can the print people do more to help the app people bring digital to tangible?
One is to take hold of what Jason Jennings said in his keynote and that’s to take small bets. Print people need to take chances on the app people. Sure not all apps are going to work, but some are, and the ones that do will bring in a consistent revenue stream with unlimited upsides for growth. The second is to provide easy integration. In other words, the easier PSP’s make it for the app people to integrate into their workflow the more attractive it will be for the app people to work with them.
We have been looking at the mobile takeover thing from the wrong side of the big picture. We are so focused on bridging print with digital using gimmicks and gadgets that we have blinded ourselves from the real opportunity of bringing digital to print! When the world goes mobile, apps will rule, and that is the future of print!
And its not just photo apps!
As I wrote in this post, Newsweek’s digital readers have brought a monthly limited edition back to print, and others are following as mentioned here: Why so many digital publishers are flocking back to print.
I encourage all of you to re-think everything you see online on how it can be brought into the real world – especially pictures! These were my actual tweets from the session, and I hope they inspire you to BREAK THE MOLD as much as Dscoop9 did for me!