Greetings Citizens of The Printerverse! It’s been quite busy over here at HQ. I’ve been on 5 diplomatic missions over the last 2 months, traveling and participating at events to gather information and make valuable connections for us. Your support gets me in those doors, so if you didn’t have time to follow along while I was out in the field, here is a brief 5-minute or less synopsis of what you missed at each… and some honest thoughts about the events from the community perspective.
SGIA Expo 2016 • Sept 13-16, Las Vegas
SGIA continues to WOW me. The wide format and specialty graphics arm of the industry doesn’t disappoint when it comes to bringing the cool, or the equipment. The show was packed with attendees, and the show floor was wall-to-wall with supplier booths – even with the mammoth garment decoration area. Despite having all the distractions of Las Vegas outside the Convention Center doors, SGIAers came to learn and to buy, according to exhibitors I spoke with.
PRO: Wide Format has a low entry fee relative to other industry segments. Wide format ISN’T just relegated to signage and banners anymore. Wide Format is thriving, expanding, and full of applications to sell from home décor to packaging – and many of the machines can do it all. Look into it. You’ll thank me later when I see you at SGIA 2017. A personal highlight was presenting a two-session workshop on social media for SGIA attendees. This is one area the wide format people need serious help. Good news is they are starting to understand the value of having a social media marketing presence, and more important a strategy to accompany it. SGIA has a pretty strong social media team, and you can often catch @SGIASondra at #PrintChat – so they are leading by example. Well done!
CON: The Wide Format 101 workshop that takes place the day before the show opens is a great idea, but unfortunately falls flat. Using exhibitor vendors as “educators” isn’t always the best idea, and even though they didn’t sell, attendees didn’t get the 101 experience, in my opinion. The workshop was many hours, and I don’t believe anyone left with an understanding of what was out there on the show floor, or which wide format opportunity was a good fit for their business. A neutral customer panel is sorely needed here. Call me SGIA – I can help!
GRAPH EXPO • Sept 25-28, Orlando
Despite the curmudgeony nay-sayers who predicted the Graph Expo move from Chicago to Orlando as an extinction level event, I am thrilled to report the comet hurled past and we are still here. And not only are we here, exhibitors who braved the Florida sun and change of venue experienced fresh faces, fresh attitudes and fresh sales – along with their fresh orange juice. Attendees were eager to learn, make connections with suppliers, and yes even buy. Oddly enough, checkbooks work no matter where Graph Expo is located.
PRO: Shaking things up is good. Bacon is good – oops sorry, Pulp Fiction flashback. I don’t see a “smaller” show as anything but positive… less walking, more relevance for attendees; less competition, more time with attendees for exhibitors. Oh, and there was this thing called the Printerverse at Graph Expo. We were the 4th most visited booth at the show according to Convention Data Services. Watch our programming to see why. I didn’t get to wander around, but Jennifer Grace did, and she shared throughout the show from the Graph Expo accounts. Her recap is here.
CON: Exhibitors are starting to forcefully grumble about the amount of industry trade shows, and this year with 4 or 5 converging at the same time, attendees lost out on seeing some great products, and meeting familiar exhibitors who sat out of Graph Expo. I understand the reasons behind those decisions, I just don’t agree with them. Having a presence said “you matter to us” – both the show and the community. In a world fighting for face-time, every opportunity counts. PRINT 17 is back in Chicago; See you ALL there, no excuses!
thINK Conference 2016 • Oct 10-12, Boca Raton
Knock knock… it’s the world’s largest inkjet user group. Sometime between the launch of this initiative last year and the conference this year, someone sprinkled some miracle grow on this Canon inkjet community; but the results are far from miraculous. The explosive growth of the thINK community and annual conference is a direct result of hard work, smart marketing, community leadership, relevant education, and a partnership with Canon that goes way beyond equipment manufacturer. Attendees were eager to learn, asking questions, actively seeking solutions for their business, and taking every possible moment to network and make relevant connections. That is a community invested in success – for inkjet, the user group, and the annual conference.
PRO: If Canon is involved, expect some perks. In this case thINK was held at the Boca Raton Resort and Spa. The surroundings were a perfect backdrop for driving home all the financial opportunity that is possible with inkjet technology. I also had the opportunity to present a session at the conference to help printers and suppliers create better relationships with customers, and it was quite an honor to be amongst the list of 2016 presenters. thINK is well worth looking into, and if they make any of the recorded conference sessions available to non-members, make sure you pounce on that.
CON: INFORMATION OVERLOAD. Multiple tracks, and multiple sessions within those tracks to choose from every hour, made this conference difficult to navigate and receive all the amazing information that was being shared. Lose a few keynotes – four is just more – and add in another half-day of education. Session titles must be accurate to what the sessions are actually about, speakers should be listed along with the sessions in your on-site materials, and PLEASE include social media information. I spent way too much time looking for presenter twitter accounts. I am voting myself onto the thINK Conference 2017 committee to represent the attendees as their Ambassador, and help make event sharing great again.
Novitex Summit • Oct 13, Austin
I literally left thINK in Florida and hoped over to Texas to speak on a panel and attend what was essentially the grand opening of a facility, but OH MY, it was so much more. The Novitex MegaCenter in Austin is vast even by everything is bigger in Texas standards, but for me mega started with the management team who put the “this is the way things are done around here” people out to pasture, and set the tone for transformation. That transformation comes in the form of Novitex President Irina Novoselsky. Under her leadership, the company has successfully made the personnel changes and equipment purchases needed to provide a myriad of managed print and electronic document services to some VERY BIG customers. I can’t say whom or I will disappear. They take security very seriously and took away our phones while touring the facility.
PRO: Irina and Executive Chairman and CEO John Visentin are the embodiment of what our industry has been preaching for years, except they are leading the transformation and not following it. For the first time, pretty much ever, I get the advantage of outsourcing … in certain situations. The Novitex service teams are led by industry experts, the equipment is state-of-the-art, the workflow processes are built with security first, efficiency and quality customers can trust, and wait for it I – met @Novitex_Inc at #PrintChat …THEY GET IT. I have a crush on this company.
CON: Oddly enough I kind of enjoyed not having my phone, even though I was there to cover the event, which usually means live Tweeting for me. They had a neuro-scientist as a keynote speaker during dinner, but I wished he had tied into something more relevant to the Summit – i.e. how do people make decisions to purchase, or choose brand loyalty (attendees were from major, major brands and companies) vs. just sharing cool info about how we can train our brains. Even with that said, one point resonated and instead of checking email when I wake up I focus on a goal for 21 minutes as instructed. If I get invited back to Novitex, it will have worked.
SuperCorrExpo • Oct 17-20, Orlando
Super, what? Exactly what I said when HP called, but when HP calls I listen, intently. SuperCorrExpo is a corrugated packaging event that becomes “super” every four years, and is “regular” in between. HP represented with it’s newly formed digital corrugated packaging group that is comprised of press offerings from Scitex and PageWide Press, powered by HP services and workflow solutions. The digital corrugated packaging opportunity is VAST (watch this video to learn more), but in its early stages as far as industry adaption. This will change very soon, so if you are already in the litho packaging space grab one of these presses to offer more services to customers, take in shorter runs, and have the power of personalization and versioning under your roof. If you have a Scitex, are looking into one or at HP’s PageWide Inkjet technology, figure out what needs to happen to open up what is essentially a ground-floor opportunity. You will need boxes to bring your new revenue to the bank, trust me… this is BIG.
PRO: It was my first experience with the corrugated packaging people and the show was manageable to see everything. Ok, that was a polite way of saying it was small, however good things come in small packages at a corrugated packaging show. The attendees had to pay a significant amount to attend, so most of the tire-kickers stayed home and the check-writers came pen in hand. I learned a lot about the corrugated packaging market from HP, and they were happy to give me time to roam around the show floor to learn more and make new friends. The highlight for me was the event HP created for invited attendees to discuss the digital corrugated packaging opportunity. Hosted by HP customer Dusobox, Thursday afternoon was filled with meaningful education from Isaac Meged, Worldwide Marketing Manager for Scitex and Eviatar Halevi, HP’s Packaging Business Development Director for Large Format and Industrial, an engaging panel discussion with Team Dusobox moderated to perfection by Dan Brunton (@PackagingPortal), and a live demo of the Scitex 15500 and its digital corrugated packaging capabilities.
CON: This show and the corrugated packaging community needs more community building. They are on the cusp of having all eyes upon them, and they aren’t prepared. Tappi and AICC are the SuperCorrExpo producers, and need to start thinking way beyond their membership boxes to attract more eyes towards this subject matter, and their industry events. Oh and HP… coffee is officially mandatory at afternoon events! I’m pretty sure you can get it in boxes, too.
That is my 5 events in 5 minutes (each) recap.
Stay tuned for more adventures from The Printerverse, and please SUPPORT the companies that invest in industry events and support our knowledge seeking.
EVENT LONG AND PROSPER!
Deborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, a Print Buyerologist™, Integrated Marketer, Industry Speaker and Blogger, Cultivator of the Print Production Professionals Group, the #1 Print Group on LinkedIn, and host of #PrintChat, a weekly industry gathering on Twitter every Wednesday at 4PM ET. She has more than 25 years experience working in advertising and marketing, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them to achieve success with their social media marketing endeavors, and meaningful relationships with customers.