1/1: Interview with Marcus Timson, Sales and Marketing Director, FESPA
PrintMediaCentr is proud to be a media sponsor for FESPA Americas and I was able to track Marcus down during his travels to provide some information on the org and the event to share with all of you. I will be attending and I hope to see many of you in a few weeks! Registration is FREE and the weather will certainly be a welcome change from what is going on in most of the country now. And now, a few words from our host…
DC: What is FESPA?
MT: The simple answer to that question is that FESPA is a federation of global screen and digital printing trade associations, incorporating an exhibition division, which runs the world’s leading wide format printing events. More than that, it is an organisation which aims to provide unique educational programmes to an extensive, growing global community of professionals from the entire wide-format print value chain.
FESPA is a not-for-profit organisation which means that it is committed to reinvesting resources back into the industry. It approaches this in a number of ways, but one is by providing funding to help its National Association Members, increase their local membership and promote the industry at grass-roots level.
MT: We’re really excited about the first FESPA Americas show. It’s a unique opportunity for exhibitors and visitors to attend three different print sector events in one central location;
FESPA Americas, Graphics of the Americas and The Solutions Event, powered by ISS. With each show specialising in a different market sector, visitors to the events will have the opportunity to explore the latest graphic arts (Graphics of Americas), wide format (FESPA) and apparel technologies (ISS) under one roof.
FESPA will showcase the best in wide format print with lots of on-floor events designed to appeal to the entire spectrum of the wide format industry. Among other features we have the Screen Masters Workshops for all aspiring screen printers and the Digital Textile Conference for wide format textile printers, or those looking to add this capability. In addition, the Global Business Forum is full of inspiring content for American print service providers, and our live-action Wide Format Print Shop Live! will allow visitors to see the latest technologies , software and consumables in real end-to-end working production.
FESPA Americas is the event for printers in the US and Central and South America looking for inspiration in the areas of screen, digital and textile print. Whether they are wide format printers exploring the latest industry innovations, or commercial printers looking to enter the wide format market, FESPA Americas is an event not to miss, and the only event of its kind on the East coast for 18 months. For more information, visit FESPA Americas
DC: How does The Wide Network tie into your endeavors at FESPA?
MT: FESPA originally launched The Wide Network in 2008 and has been really pleased with the growth of membership, which is now more than 2,200. In the fast paced world of wide format digital printing there is clearly a need for professionals around the world to connect online, as well as at FESPA events and exhibitions.
We think of FESPA as a focal point for the global wide format community. Our professional networking tools, including The Wide Network, provide that community with a central location to meet at any time of day, without flying to an exhibition or conference venue. Through the online pages our members can share information, blog and discuss print related subjects. It is also a useful platform for networking and building a comprehensive list of industry contacts.
Part of FESPA’s mission is to share knowledge amongst our members, to help add value to their businesses and improve their performance. The Wide Network is one of many ways in which we do this.
DC: You are responsible for FESPA’s online strategy and in that capacity how are you using Social Media to market your events and your organization?
FESPA is passionate about social media and it has formed an integral part of our previous FESPA campaigns. However, it is the USA where social media has really taken off, and so it is more important than ever for the FESPA Americas show.
One way we make use of social media is through The Wide Network. As I have mentioned previously, The Wide Network, which has very recently been updated, provides printers with the perfect venue to meet and discuss our events, including FESPA Americas. The Wide Network’s ‘new look’ makes it easier for members to navigate, upload content and read articles. In essence, we think it will make it easier for our members to find out about and participate in our events.
FESPA also hosts an active Facebook page. Like The Wide Network it allows the wide format community to post comments in an open forum along with images, blogs and video, and view at a glance all FESPA’s upcoming events on a single page. Our LinkedIN page too, provides numerous opportunities to provide input on print related discussions, and our FESPA group, along with the event sub-groups stimulate animated debates on an expansive range of topics.
Aside from that, FESPA has a buzzing Twitter stream where we post any information of relevance to the wide format community including updates on future events and exhibitions. As we speak, our page has 2000 followers- which is a substantial number for a B2B organisation- and is growing every day as more and more printers sign up. The great thing about Twitter is it lets us interact with event exhibitors or potential visitors in real-time, answering their questions and sending them the latest information available.
Importantly, each of these social media networks is interwoven and connected back to our FESPA homepage. This allows visitors to see, at a glance, the latest activity on each platform and decide which is the most relevant for them to visit and contribute to at any given time.
MT: No, I think they’d be scared that I’d arrange lots of dance-floor features designed to fill them with useful information and educate them on the process of growing old/getting married. Where parties are concerned, I’d rather be the guest than the organiser.
DC: Can you share a few tips on what makes a successful event and what to do when things don’t go according to plan?
MT: The success of an event very much depends on what you, as an exhibitor, organiser or visitor aim to achieve during the exhibition. If, as an exhibitor you are looking for sales leads, then the number of enquires made, or the length of the contact list built will play a significant role. Conversely, as a visitor, it might be discovering the innovative piece of technology, or software that has the potential to revolutionise your business.
At FESPA Americas, we have placed considerable emphasis on creating added value for delegates at the event, achieved through the number of innovative features on the show-floor. For a visitor to FESPA Americas, the success of the event may equally rely on the volume of useful information and number of innovative ideas they take away.
Like all things in business, have an objective, a strategy for achieving it, a tactical plan for getting there and a mechanism for measuring your success against that objective. And plan for every eventuality.
DC: Lastly, if you were to give the commencement speech at the University of Portsmouth, what would your message be regarding the future of Screen and Digital Printing?
MT: I would have to tell them that the world of business is inspiring but some industries are better than others. I would say that you couldn’t hope to find a more exciting industry that is rich with innovation – and not only that this industry has a fantastic feeling of community and mutual support.
The future, from where I’m standing, looks bright for the wide format digital print industry. In fact, as I write I am at the SGS Summit and all delegates and presenters are pointing to a return to growth.
And as we have moved out of the fog of recession, businesses have become more results-driven, singling out solutions that will quickly make them more competitive, help them access new business opportunities or simply improve their bottom line. As a result the industry is more innovative; companies are increasingly open to exploring niche market opportunities and progressively, more traditional commercial printers are considering expansion into wide format digital printing.
Our community is a brilliant example of how, even in challenging economic times, entrepreneurial spirit, energy and continuous innovation will enable any business to thrive and grow.
If you liked this interview check out:
and the full 1/1 series here
- Global Business Forum at FESPA Americas Tackles Business Growth Agenda (printmediacentr.com)