ACUP '98--A Louisville Slugger
This year's meeting was a Major League event. One of the most well-attended ACUP conferences to date, it even drew three attendees from England.
It was a conference where laughter was a scheduled event, foreign accents spiced up the air and cutthroat betting on autographed basketballs soared into the millions of dollars—all in a city known mostly for baseball bats and horse racing.
With a louder than usual roar, the annual Association of College and University Printers (ACUP) conference landed in Louisville, Ky., recently, its record 150 attendees waking up the quiet Ohio River town. Dozens of new schools were represented this year, including three English universities, whose in-plant managers fit right in with their U.S. counterparts.
Ray Chambers, assistant vice president for information technology at the University of Louisville, organized this year's event, which included a large vendor exhibit area, a "virtual" night at the horse track using videotaped races and fake money (later spent at an auction), and a gathering of top-notch industry speakers.
Get To Know Your Customer
Keith Nickoloff, president of PathForward, a management consultancy, offered managers some marketing advice gleaned from his 16 years at Eastman Kodak Office Imaging. He stressed the importance of getting to know your customers well, saying that whoever knows the customer best will win. Customers, he said, go where they're treated special, so learn their special needs, satisfy them and create customers that are so pampered no competitor would want them.
Don't stop there, though, Nickoloff said; it's just as important to go beyond the customer and get to know the receiver, the most important person in the communication process. Hold focus groups to learn what the document receiver wants in a document.
"We've got to know them better than our customers know them," he said.
To help in-plants understand their competitors' viewpoints, Nickoloff told attendees what he often tells quick printers: