Flex Co-owner on How Inkjet Printing Is Part of the 'Omni' in 'Omnichannel'
Question: Where does a production inkjet press fit into the communications strategy of an omnichannel advertising agency? The answer, according to the co-owner of one highly successful omnichannel shop: right smack in the middle.
Alan Thompson of Flex (Birmingham, Ala.) talked about the fit in a Printing Impressions webinar titled, “Production Inkjet’s Role in Omnichannel Personalized Communications.” He said that the company, a former mailing house that now operates as a full-spectrum provider of digital marcomm services, sees variable print as essential to driving response in the campaigns it designs and executes for its clients.
The platform is a Memjet-powered Super Web WEBJet 200D direct mail, transaction and commercial printing inkjet web press that Flex installed about three and a half months ago. In that short space of time, said Thompson, the “scalding fast” press has cut hours from the production of direct mail and transactional printing jobs. It also minimizes waste, saves money and affords “an incredible sense of relief” because of its color consistency from job to job.
Thompson described Flex as an idea-incubating, data-driven environment where “we have doodlers and nerds who work together” on behalf of clients in the financial, nonprofit, higher education and health care sectors. Some of the multimedia campaigns Flex produces for these clients are built around print; others are not. The company’s omnichannel service portfolio also includes radio and television, social media, video production, SEO, and data mining and analytics.
Thompson said that although the company has come a long way from its origins as a lettershop 36 years ago, “we never left mail. We never left print production.” Over time, however, the company realized that there was a gap in its print capability: the lack of a cost-effective option for producing direct mail, transactional work, corporate identity materials and marketing collateral in full-color and, most important, with unlimited variability.
This is the gap that the Super Web WEBJet 200D was purchased to fill. Now, instead of having to rely on preprinted shells to carry overprinted variable content, Flex Digital can produce personalized, response-getting mail pieces out of a white paper workflow. Best of all, said Thompson, thanks to the economy of production inkjet, his print-buying clients no longer face the pick-any-two compromise among price, quality, and service— now they can have all three.
Flex’s experience with production inkjet aligned with what analyst and fellow webinar speaker Jim Hamilton had to say about the “zone of disruption” that exists between the upper limit of printing with cutsheet toner devices and the much greater productivity of high-volume, rollfed inkjet presses.
Hamilton, group director of the InfoTrends segment of Keypoint Intelligence, said that high-speed inkjet equipment coming into the zone with price tags of $1 million or less could represent a “game change” for production inkjet as companies like Flex embrace them as “just-in-time document manufacturing systems.” That momentum is one reason why InfoTrends thinks that by 2020, a relatively small installed base of highly productive rollfed color inkjet devices will drive more volume than the entire installed base of toner devices.
Sponsored by Super Web, “Production Inkjet’s Role in Omnichannel Personalized Communications” will be available online for 90 days following its original broadcast date of May 23, 2017. Click here to access the Webinar.