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On-demand Printing--Delivering Digital Dollars

May 1999
Customers are finally beginning to recognize the added value in embracing targeted, digitally printed communications that incorporate variable data, personalization and on-demand turnarounds.


BY ERIK CAGLE


A better understanding. That is the repetitive phrase on-demand printers are using to describe print customers' attitudes toward the digital market. Customers are becoming more particular about their needs, about the audience they're targeting and how they're targeting that audience.

With that better understanding is a better appreciation for digital printing, and a sampling of the nation's leading on-demand printers couldn't be happier. Well, that's not entirely true—they could be happier. There's still much to be accomplished in terms of spreading the market's gospel.

The perception remains that digital printing is too expensive in comparison to traditional offset output, according to Karen Kelty, marketing director for King of Prussia, PA-based XYAN, the nation's leading on-demand printer. Some companies do not consider total costs to create, manage, inventory, ship and discard documents and, instead, choose to look at the cost per page.

"Successful suppliers must view themselves as solutions consultants, not print providers," Kelty notes. "Today, customers do not simply buy printing. They buy increased sales, additional memberships, improved customer satisfaction, regulatory compliance or the attainment of specific business objectives. This represents a paradigm shift in the industry. The sales cycle is longer for this type of consultive selling."

Kelty says specialized marketing—targeted and one-to-one, is having a tremendous impact on the growth of variable data printing. "Printing individual documents digitally, on-demand, with variable text, photos and graphics, is not something that can be done using offset print technology," she notes. "As companies experience the increase in response rates using documents that are customized or personalized, variable data printing will grow exponentially."

Even with some misconceptions, the on-demand market is still thriving. According to Skip Dyer, executive vice president of Graphics Express, in Boston, the market is not only growing, it is presently taking shape.

"We're seeing tremendous growth on the variables side and on non-variable," he says. "We're seeing more and more companies adopt this technology—it's seeing a wider range of acceptance. The quality has, and continues to, improve and technology continues to improve from both the production and market sides.

"Market awareness has caught on at the user end and people are starting to see where variable data can change the way they're doing business. We've seen a number of different industries, from financial to consulting to real estate, embrace it," Dyer adds.
 

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