Interview with Frazer Chesterman and Marcus Timson about their new business, FM Future...

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Frazer Chesterman and Marcus Timson left FESPA in 2011 after a strong period of growth and global expansion at the organisation to form FM Brooks, a business in partnership with Mack Brooks Exhibitions. During this time they launched EcoPrint in Berlin, InPrint in Hanover, Munich, Milan, Orlando, Louisville and Pure Digital in Amsterdam. Now, they have formed a new consultancy business called FM Future. Pete Hammond asks a few questions about the new business.

Why did you leave the InPrint Show business?

As you may know, Mack Brooks Exhibitions has now been sold to RELX and we decided to sell our shares in the business at this point.

We know that the next challenge for industrial inkjet is accessing new markets from a commercial perspective. FM Future, is already positioned to help some of the leading companies develop their business by taking their communications and messaging onto another level.

We believe that we have left InPrint in great hands, and we look forward to seeing how it will grow and develop.

So, FM Future, what is it, and why?

FM Future, is a strategic business development and communications consultancy with a mission to help digital printing technology grow and access new markets. We think we can help companies who value our experience of launching new shows and developing communities that perform a crucial role in market development.

We want to help a small number of ambitious and clever inkjet businesses gain the trust and connections they need to grow into these new markets.

What will you do exactly for your clients?

We will develop a strategic business development path for each customer in line with their product and their business goals and aspirations. This will include: Thought leadership, storytelling, sales training, creative thinking, market and customer research, talent acquisition and communications.

Our mission is to continue to help inkjet technology to access new markets and grow. It is an exciting time to be involved in inkjet and digital printing as much of the technical risk with the technology has been removed.

We must be clear though. We will not be running a trade show in the print sector!

How do you see the market developing for industrial inkjet?

It is difficult to answer this question as inkjet is applicable to so many different industries and each has their unique drivers, cost bases, and cultures. As a result, Inkjet is at varying levels of adoption. Clearly, the industries that are closer to consumer purchasing have the attention of the developing sector and the interest of the brands. So, we expect to continue to see packaging, decor and other application segments close to the consumer to be of growing importance.

What is the biggest challenge for industrial inkjet in the future?

The biggest single problem is the conservative nature of companies in traditional manufacturing sectors. In order to change that, we will help companies build their stories and cut through into new markets to gain their trust, giving these traditional sectors the confidence to embrace the opportunity of digital inkjet technology.  We want to convince new inkjet customers that rather than seeing inkjet as a disruptive technology, and therefore a problem, they need to embrace the opportunity of inkjet. We do not think inkjet is a replacement technology, but a technology that adds value to analogue.

What do you mean by ‘storytelling’? 

There is no question that industrial inkjet is an amazing technology and therefore should have a compelling narrative. But the inkjet community really needs more people who can tell a story, inspire trust and generate interest. The best marketing tells a story and this is important as we (humans) are hard wired for stories, it is biology, and it helps us make sense of the world. Stories grab our attention, and help us relate to the business, or more importantly the business person, and this engenders trust which is really important to develop new business!

Frequently, we see the marketing and communications being technical and credential based. This might gain some approval from technical peers, but it doesn’t inspire all customers as they will often find it difficult to relate to (or understand) and will therefore push back. Inkjet represents change and this is not comfortable for most people. And this is where we can help demystify and inspire.

Are you already working with clients?

In the first instance, we continue to consult for InPrint. Plus, we have a couple of large projects already and these are with innovative businesses in print technology that really see the value of working with us - however, at this stage we can’t share who they are!! All will become clearer as time progresses.

Will your business only be focused on industrial inkjet?

We have a select list of key brands and innovators we know in the market that we are keen to work with. So, we won’t be talking to everyone! The reason we are being selective right from the beginning as it doesn’t make sense to work with companies that do not see the value of a committed and consistent communications strategy. We want to make a difference in helping inkjet and therefore this requires a strategic investment, not a notional, tactical one.

Outside of inkjet, we are keen to be developing ideas for other new technologies and will be aiming to help gain access to new markets. We are excited about this as the patterns and the demands are very similar. Professionals with communication skills are always in demand in new markets and this is a key challenge, and we have the skills here to help.

Finally, what des the FM Future identity mean, the logo?

The graph in the hexagon represents the journey of innovation. All ideas start with energy and enthusiasm – mostly they are met with opposition of tradition and all the reasons not to try something new.

Inevitably, there is then a period of time where the challenge becomes a fight to convince a reluctant market to try something new – this is the tough bit. But with persistence, adaptation, and commitment means that the technology is eventually accepted. Particularly a technology as robust and valuable as inkjet. It is this journey we are seeing with industrial inkjet and is applicable to every new technology.

FM Future is here to help companies through that journey by adding commercial and communications power for their success in the future.

If you are interested in talking to us about how we can help you, then contact