Panel Pricing and Book Learning

This week, we have had much discussion in the team about the newsletters. When we merged Display Monitor with Large Display Report and Mobile Display Report, I said in my editorial that we wanted to combine the completeness of the Display Monitor coverage, with the depth of the Large and Mobile titles. I think we have done this and we’ve put out some great issues. However, this has lead to another challenge. We’re covering, I suspect, too much content and the issues are sometimes hard to digest because of the sheer volume of stories – especially when we have event reports as we did last week.

I’m quite brutal about trying to stick to display-related stories, although for “Display Daily”, our analysts are allowed to roam widely in topic. For example, Arthur this week covered a development in batteries and we got more hits than any other article this year, apart from one by our guest contributor, Jon Peddie, so, clearly, non-display technologies are interesting to display people.

In the longer term, I have some technology ideas that might help us to “square the circle” for our newsletter subscribers, but the technology is taking longer to develop than I hoped. Then again, I am always over-optimistic about technology projects. At one time, I developed a theory that the first 50% of any software project always takes 90% of the time. The other 50% takes the other 90%!

In the meantime, I will try to use my editorial column to highlight the stories that I think are most important in each issue.

This week, the drop in panel prices looks as though it may be one of the most significant stories and panel prices are always a hot topic. Here, in Europe, there’s a real need for some good news on costs. The weakness of the Euro has been causing havoc in terms of margins. Different companies have different approaches to this.

Some have had to put up prices quickly as they operate almost a “live” currency policy, while others have hedge-based policies that fix an internal exchange rate for a long period. That means confusion in the market as some companies try to put up prices, while others have no need. Of course, if the Euro suddenly gets stronger, those that can react quickest may have the advantage.

A second factor that has been mentioned to me in recent weeks is that brands and channels have forgotten how to deal with a price increase, it is so long since there has been one. This is where professional sales people can make a real difference. In my early days as a sales manager, I remember reading a book on negotiating and selling that had a chapter on price objections. I can still remember the feeling as I read it and realised that every single one of the problems on price had been raised by one of my colleagues at a recent meeting. I tried to persuade him to read the book, but he “didn’t like to learn from books”. Personally, I have always been happy to learn from the experience of others and a book is a distillation of another’s learning.

Around the same time, I was having dinner with a newsletter client who was explaining a problem he was having with strategy for the company. I was amazed as it was almost exactly the same problem that Intel had at one time and Andy Grove of Intel had described in his book “Only the Paranoid Survive”. I suggested to the client that it would be a really useful read for him, but he also “didn’t like business books”. I offered to re-read it for him and present him the conclusions on a consultancy basis. He didn’t want to spend the money and his company later closed as he never worked out the solution!