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Jan 1, 2006 12:00 AM
Last year, HP’s Indigo unit abdicated its involvement with its longtime Indigo Customer Exchange (ICE) to launch a new group (see August 2005, p. 72). Don’t ask me why, because I really don’t know.
ICE or DICE?
ICE was created in 1974 as a forum for Indigo customers. Over the years, it has grown to more than 200 members. Generally, they have been the most successful, most profitable and most vocal of the Indigo users. Since HP withdrew its support to ICE, I’ve been speculating that ICE would consider changing its name to DICE (The Digital Imaging Customer Exchange). In November, I traveled to Las Vegas for ICE’s annual conference. Sure enough, the group voted and will now be known as DICE.
As I’ve written before, I have strong connections to the group. I launched it and named it in 1994. I nursed the nascent owners of Indigos through the early days when the digital presses didn’t run reliably.
When HP acquired Indigo, the organization changed its name to HP ICE. But when HP withdrew its support earlier this year to create another group, the ICE leadership, desperate for business development ideas and marketing help, approached both Xerox and Kodak to enlist their support. Both companies agreed to get involved.
Rolling with DICE
Today, DICE executive director Mike Vinocur (my son) and Val DiGiacinto, DICE president and vice president of the Ace Group in New York City, manage the group. Under their direction, the group has been growing by leaps and bounds—the meeting in Las Vegas attracted nearly 250 digital executives, including 27 peripheral vendors. The meeting was the largest ever held, and the dynamics of the gathering and its attendees reminded me of NAPL’s Top Management Conference, as well as VUE/POINT in its early years. There was a passion and involvement that is always evident at a well-run meeting, with attendees anxious to soak up information.
HP’s absence really surprised me. Remember, about 15 percent of HP’s installed customer base was on hand—its most loyal and passionate customers—yet the company was represented by one marketing person—no salespeople attended. Two or three technical people were on hand, but they reportedly have been told they cannot post technical information on ICEMAIL, the organization’s list server. Kodak and Xerox stepped up to the plate bigtime, sending a number of top executives who seemed to be licking their chops over the opportunity to tap into a competitor’s customer pool.
When you checked in, you knew this was going to be a very interesting meeting. To showcase members’ variable data capabilities, each attendee received a conference binder and a deck of cards, both personalized with the individual’s name and affiliation. Each card in the deck read, “ICE or DICE?”
The opening session featured the ubiquitous RIT professor emeritus Frank Romano, who discussed, “The good, the bad and the ugly critical trends in digital printing.” Then Barb Pellow, chief marketing officer and vice president of Kodak’s Graphic Communications Group, presented, “A perspective on how to grow your business.” It was a great presentation, chock full of promotional and advertising ideas. The afternoon session featured Bob Waks, a consultant who helps digital printers strengthen their sales.
There were a number of technical sessions, which were extremely well attended. The second day featured a Web-to-print users panel, followed by a presentation by Gina Testa, vice president of customer business development at Xerox Corp. She outlined the programs developed to aid customers in building their digital printing business. Last, but certainly not least, was an outstanding presentation by one of my heroes, Mike Panaggio, CEO of DME (Daytona Beach, FL). His talk, titled, “Building a $100 million business with one-to-one marketing,” awed the audience.
Panaggio’s firm was launched in 1982, and currently has about 650 employees and revenues in the neighborhood of $100 million. As part of his presentation, he talked about creating personal URLs (PURLS) for individual promotions. When accessing the personal Web site, the user finds a welcome to the ICE meeting with a video. (By the way, if you’d like to see the message you can access www.myicetv.com/dick.vinocur.) As people log on, he captures your e-mail address, and a couple days later, you receive this message: “Thanks for taking the time to review your Personal URL. I appreciate the effort.” A postscript notes, “Using a PURL just makes sense. It can make the difference between getting that big account or not getting it. Let us help you ‘Get It.’”
It was a great meeting. Long live DICE!
P.S. In November, I wrote about the PRINT show and a guy I met who lives off of press conferences and meetings in Chicago. I received a ton of e-mail regarding that gentleman. One industry executive wrote to say that he would follow the freeloader’s lifestyle when he retires.
M. Richard Vinocur is president of Footprint Communications. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.