Other speakers emphasized the importance of selling digital printing to specific vertical markets. Tackle specific industries and then develop custom solutions for them. As for which ones to target, presenter Don McKenzie, of the Winterberry Group, indicated that the automotive, insurance, b-to-b, lodging and pharmaceutical industries seem to be very VDP-friendly.
But don't expect quick, profitable sales when selling variable data digital, pointed out sales trainer Bill Farquharson. The selling cycle can run twice as long as selling traditional printing. And, when showing samples of jobs during sales presentations, it's much easier for customers to visualize the benefits if the examples relate directly to their respective industries.
Once a prospect is sold, pricing should be based on value, not a simple markup of the cost, it was noted. The thinking is, "If you can increase sales so much for your customers through personalized printing and Web-to-print services, they won't care as much about the prices you charge." Another key component is that digital printers must be able to continually measure the results and convey that information to customers.
Willie Brennan, of Custom Print Now Solutions, discussed the intricacies of building a Web-to-print model. He has learned that the user interface must be very simple and should include an 800 number for users having problems.
Brennan also advised solution providers to negotiate who pays the upfront development costs and to try to build price reviews/increases into long-term (3-5 year) customer contracts. With more and better off-the-shelf software solutions now available, he believes it has become easier and less risky to get into the Web-to-print game.
In another session, PIA/GATF COO George Ryan revealed the results from a study to determine if digitally printed materials are less durable going through the postal stream. For the study, nearly 3,500 digitally printed postcards were processed through four different postal centers across the country and mailed to PIA/GATF's headquarters near Pittsburgh.