By Larry Zusman, worldwide marketing manager at XMPie, A Xerox Company
Last week I had the pleasure of attending and participating in the Xerox Focus Forward event in Orlando. This is one of many that are being conducted around the country, and the audience is split between print and marketing service providers and those interested in enterprise managed print services. About 140 customers attended this event. The good news is that I came away feeling like I was NOT at a typical industry event. This is a different type of venue than I have seen in the past – and to be honest – it is a very refreshing change.
The day started out with a keynote from Bill Taylor, co-founder of Fast Company. Bill stood in front of the audience – all 140 people – and did not use ONE PowerPoint slide, ONE video, ONE picture. Nothing! It was just Bill, talking to folks about why originality, creativity and innovative thinking are what make the difference between great companies and not-so-great ones.
As is the case with every speech from the movers and shakers in the industry, there were a couple of phrases that carried the day, and stories that will resonate with me and others for a long time. One of those was that R & D, according to Bill, stands for “Rip-Off and Duplicate.” The point he made – namely that R & D must create new ideas, new ways of doing things, and that original thinking needs to be a fabric of the company, its employees, marketing, sales and, of course, branding – is an important lesson for an audience of print service providers looking for a way to differentiate themselves and gain competitive advantages.
To make the point, he told the story of DaVita, a company that started as a stodgy kidney dialysis company, like others, and reinvented itself into top condition (while significantly increasing its bottom line) – a vibrant, unique, customer-focused, employee-loving firm that truly embodied its new name that means in Italian “to give life.” When he finished, everyone got the point that the way to bring a shaky, less-than-well company to sustainable, good health, is with original, out-of-the-box thinking.
Once Bill was done, the audience was divided into the production and managed services tracks. I attended production, and it was in this session where I was introduced to a new way to liven up a day-long event. Since you are going to have various guests with different topics, and are planning on sprinkling in company commercials and videos from your guests, why not borrow The Tonight Show’s format? After all, there are guests, and each one comes with a video trailer for their movie or TV show. So that is exactly what Xerox did. And they did it with no PowerPoint slides of any kind. At first, it felt like some strange alien planet where the word Microsoft is unknown and the inhabitants actually engage in interactive dialogue. But after about five seconds, I got very used to it – and enjoyed every minute afterwards.
Industry experts provided their industry expertise (it’s what they do). Xerox partner companies talked about the importance of workflow (it’s a critical part of printing]. And well-thought-out customer panels with the folks that are realizing success were interspersed throughout the program, offering insights to print providers on how to effectively move from PSP to MSP, value price their offerings, and grow their business with new services like variable data print and one-to-one cross-media marketing. I was fortunate enough to be part of one of the liveliest panels of the day focusing on the newest applications. It included a demonstration of the power of printing digital photos with Xerox presses in personalized calendars and wide panoramic image books; how Web-to-print solutions specially designed for print providers can link Facebook pictures and other data with print; specialty media applications, such as personalized FunFlips™ and AccordianPix™, and how the new XMPie video personalization solution can literally be the “icing on the cake” in a multichannel campaign.
Also introduced on this panel was a short video, for those who could not get to drupa, of the new XMPie Circle™ Software as a Service solution. This interactive, digital storyboard for planning, building and reviewing a campaign is designed to help everyone sell, create and implement cross-media campaigns. For a moment (a very brief one), I felt like George Clooney introducing the trailer to his newest picture to Jay Leno.
The content sounds like a typical event, but with the talk show format where the very talented Brian Walsh plays a fun, engaging and appropriately self-deprecating host, it makes for an entertaining afternoon – which by the way is pretty darn educational, too. The only thing missing is Johnny Carson’s “Carnac,” who, if you’re old enough to remember, you will know really was the best host ever. The rest of the hosts are really into “R & D.”
However you want to define it, Focus Forward in Orlando was a day to move forward and focus on what matters most, namely business creativity, knowledge of the market, and making the right solution choices. And that means that you need to get to one of these as soon as you can, instead of holding up envelopes to your forehead for the right answers.
By Christine Winter, PR/Marketing Programs Manager, XMPie, A Xerox Company
Wow! That’s the first word that comes to my mind as I sit here reflecting on my first drupa experience, because ‘wow’ is a word that encompasses my many emotions from those 13 days – joy, happiness, pride, surprise, excitement, appreciation, hope, exhaustion, relief, gratification…
My feelings of joy, happiness and pride come from all that I saw the Xerox and XMPie team accomplish at this show. Before coming to drupa, I could only imagine how much effort and teamwork it would take to put together and run an exhibition of this size. Now I know.
For starters, the sales and marketing personnel had been working for months and months to coordinate all the logistics, promotions and customer experiences. The XMPie product, research and development team worked tirelessly to prepare new software versions and applications to showcase at the trade fair…and what a reaction they got!
uStore 6.0 was a big hit with its new features, including the ability for store customers to upload static Microsoft® Word, PowerPoint and PDF files, combine them with other uploaded documents and/or documents that are available in the store catalog, choose a binding method, and see a 3D preview.
Another new development that was introduced at the show and gained a lot of interest was our exciting new uStore Facebook Connector application, which allows brand/company pages to link to their XMPie uStore storefront via a Facebook app so that their fans can order company-branded, printed materials. The sample product we showcased was a perpetual calendar that included the birthdays and pictures of each individual’s Facebook friends. It was exciting to watch it go viral, gain XMPie over 100 new fans, and drive traffic to the Xerox 770 Digital Color Press on-site!
But perhaps the newest innovation that drew the largest crowd was XMPie Circle: The Digital Storyboard for 1:1 Multichannel Campaigns. During the first week, we ran live shows in the XMPie 1:1 Cinema Theatre every 30 minutes, and nearly every show was a full house! Circle is a SaaS solution for collaborating on, sketching, planning, building, reviewing and monitoring multichannel, individualized communications campaigns. And with its highly-visual campaign flow diagramming tools, intuitive user interface, and ability to seamlessly connect with the XMPie uProduce™ production engine, the feedback we got was that it would undoubtedly improve the way our customers work with their customers – making it easier for everyone to understand and sell the power of personalized cross-media campaigns.
On another note, my surprise, excitement and appreciation comes from the quality time we got to spend with our customers and prospects from all around the world, the several XMPie applications that were running on almost every Xerox press, and of course, the 36 Cirque du Soleil shows I got to watch over the course of the show in the Xerox booth.
But now, still with hope for new and revitalized customer relationships over the next few weeks as a result of our presence at drupa, the exhaustion has set in. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t relieved that I’m finally home (after making a quick stop in Paris), but overall, drupa was a great experience. I’m very pleased to have had the opportunity participate in the show and spend time in Düsseldorf with my colleagues….many of whom I had met for the first time.
Now I suppose it’s time to start planning for Graph Expo!