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Selling Digital Printing -- Pointing in a Digital Direction

March 2004

"Being an integral part of a commercial printing operation before, during and long after the sale of any variable data digital press is simply the right thing to do," Testa states. "If a printing business utilizes a digital press and fails, the technology takes the blame, when really it is an issue of business development, marketing and sales understanding, strategizing and formulating business plans that transition commercial printing businesses into a true digital business."

In its efforts to better empower digital customers, notably of late the Xerox iGen3, Xerox makes itself assessable ongoing to provide education, seminar programs, developing sales and marketing programs and support services, as well as overall business development consulting to its commercial printing customers. Xerox deploys analysts, which are digital printing workflow specialists, post-sale to monitor and evaluate a company's progress.

Testa emphasizes that it's critical for commercial printers moving into the variable data digital printing market to understand they are entering a new revenue opportunity that requires tools, support and advisement to be successful.

Do commercial printers welcome efforts like those of Heidelberg, Xerox and other vendors? Perhaps the smart ones are most receptive to opening their doors to consultation and advisement—to encourage their company, as a whole, to think differently, change sales strategies, and become more education-centric with their own sales personnel, as well as their customers.

Duncan Newton, manager of segment marketing at Océ North America, stresses the critical nature of vendor support before any sale is made. Support for printers integrating digital printing into their traditional print environments should be a full-tilt resource before the fact—not an emergency quick fix for issues that arise once the technology is in place.

"Everybody is talking about solutions—so much so that solutions are sometimes the problem," Newton asserts. "For years everyone was happy focusing on the machines themselves. Today, that is simply no longer good business."

He says that Océ initiates heavy conversations and educational exercises with printers before, during and after the sale, as well as facilities management via Archer Management, a professional services company owned by Océ North America. "Today's digital printing customers are looking for answers outside of the machines; they want business support."

About the Author

Marie Alonso is president and editorial director of PrintWriter.com, a leading independent online news source for the commercial printing industry. PrintWriter is a free information site for today's printing professionals, featuring daily print industry news updates and special columns targeting the commercial printing industry. She can be reached by calling (856) 216-9956 or by e-mailing marie@printwriter.com.

Truth from the Trenches

The following two companies have turned to their digital press technology providers for marketing and business support. The results were positive—echoing the need for such support services, as well as the acceptance on the part of the printer to utilize the services available.

* Direct Mail Express purchased three Xerox DocuColor iGen3 digital production presses, with another on order, to keep the digital color printing segment of its business on the cutting edge of personalized communications. With the four iGen3s, DME is able to provide its customers with more four-color variable data print offerings and at more affordable prices. The installation is reportedly one of the largest to date at a single commercial printing site. "The challenge for Xerox was not just to deliver a new four-color digital press, but also to help us create a whole new market. They exceeded our expectations," reports Mike Panaggio, CEO. "We don't see a press. We see a high-speed fulfillment product that offers incredible quality, speed and flexibility with limitless potential."

* While digital@batesjackson llc had been successfully selling and producing jobs with its Digimaster 9110, partner E.J. Flammer was concerned about effectively educating customers on the capabilities of the company's NexPress after its installation in February 2002. "I wanted to make sure we'd find the best work for the machine: jobs that took advantage of the one-to-one, variable data capabilities," reports Flammer. So he called Heidelberg Business Development Services, a service available to all Heidelberg digital customers, to provide training for his staff members. Flammer credits much of the company's success to the training and mentoring his firm receives on an ongoing basis from Heidelberg.
 

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