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ADDING VALUE TO PRINT SERVICES

(01/12/2015)

Speak to any display producer and the reason behind his investment in a wide format digital printing device is to increase business and drive up profitability.

However, digital output is not the rarity it was less than two decades ago and, because companies of all sizes can now produce applications of a quality that is fit for purpose, competition is rife and the market has become ever more challenging both for existing and new users.

As a result, service providers of all digital denominations are looking increasingly for ways in which to extend the options they offer to their customer bases.

Multi-channel solutions

 

With the growth of cloud-based solutions to bring online ordering, sophisticated web-to- print and cross media marketing into the mix, options for handling campaigns that go beyond the parameters of producing printed output are now able to add value and generate new levels within the client and supplier relationship.

Surprisingly, were one to ask the man on the Clapham omnibus how his poster had been produced, the chances are he would have no idea. How applications are produced is generally not of importance to the customer and, while this might be acceptable for members of the general public who want a one-off sign or graphic, the frightening aspect is the overall lack of knowledge that lies within the area of creatives, agencies and brand owners.

Joining the dots between designers and display producers has sometimes been a bone of contention for printer manufacturers who know what their machines can produce and how print houses can get the best of out of them. But passing this knowledge and the engine’s capabilities onto agencies and beyond is not as straightforward as it might appear to be at first consideration.

As a result, having print as one element in a mix of services involves greater involvement by agencies and brand owners and, thus, more understanding about the processes used can germinate new ideas hitherto unconsidered.

Design

Independent designers are governed ultimately by the parameters of the final output device but, outside the boundaries of merging text and graphics, many are not aware of the opportunities that abound in terms of creativity. Although some will acknowledge there is a hole in the comprehension of exactly what digital print can achieve, others remain blissfully complacent.

As a result, it is the print companies that employ their own creative teams that tend to come up with the most innovative ideas, and the reason behind this is quite simple: these people are usually close to the engine being used and can see at first hand the potential for versatility and originality.

Extend this knowledge into the marketing mix, and the potential can mushroom so that a base set of print competencies can be used as the foundation for value added services that can be incorporated into existing and new orders.

Communication

Communication is the catalyst to selling one’s services and, although it’s true that most people will only buy a product or service from a third party they like and trust, there are far too many end customers that have yet to understand the process that’s being used for their applications.

Web-to- print has helped to bridge the gap but, in the same way that it’s impossible for a print service provider to list every example of its talents on the Internet, so it is that there are perceived limitations relating to what actually can be produced.

Therefore the main component to adding value is to explain to clients how greater awareness can be achieved. From this point, it is easier to add more creative elements such as multichannel marketing to the mix because, beyond the printed output, are design-led opportunities that can contain interactive content via the Internet, and personalised options which are targeted directly at different audiences.

Savvy display producers and signmakers have the right sales teams in place to promote exactly what can be produced and, if these people have a good knowledge of the printing process and its potential for generating the unusual, so much the better when extending services into the multichannel arena.

In a highly competitive world where margins are increasingly being squeezed, the quality of the print element should be a given; integrating opportunities outside the traditional print envelope will require a good understanding of how web- based complements can improve visibility.

Personalisation

Engaging agencies and brand owners these days has to be achieved through strong communicative links and very often it isn’t the printing of the job that provides the catalyst to a successful marketing campaign. In fact, for some display producers, the physical output of an application is represented by a relatively low percentage of an overall contract and not the major element.

This is because project management and cross media activities play a major role in the overall job, extending far beyond the remit of putting ink onto a substrate.

For smaller businesses, there is no reason why principles beyond print can’t be passed onto clients no matter their job volume and size. The key is that agencies and end customers need to be made aware of these value added services.

Simply taking on a “me too” attitude, concentrating only on print, and selling at a slightly lower price than the rival shop down the road won’t be sufficient to maintain future relationships and orders. New elements need to be added into the mix.

In summary, it is communication that provides the key element to demonstrate the importance of bringing ancillary options to a client.

Becoming involved in marketing strategies enables print companies to demonstrate their versatility if they can add viable options that meet today’s expectations and, typically, there is now increased emphasis on the provision of services that extend into mobile and social media.

This extension of project management isn’t costly to implement yet can enable display producers to offer crossmedia campaigns to their clients.

And, with the importance of variable data and personalisation now being accepted by most businesses across the board as a valuable weapon in their armoury for effective customer relations, integrating their strengths can take display producers beyond the remit for just providing printed output and into new profitable business areas.