On-demand Printing--Delivering Digital Dollars
These opportunities represent highly profitable jobs for the commercial printing company. Customers are willing to pay more for more relevant marketing pieces and those that are targeted. Customers expect more from direct mail today. They look for evidence that the originator has done his homework, and consumers are more willing to respond to direct mail that is more relevant to their situation. Also, the commercial printer is building some very necessary skills for the future.
Printing is not going away. In fact, many industry pundits have stated that there is an increase in printing due to the information explosion, and that the Internet will further push this trend. (Think about the fulfillment for Internet inquiries to a company's Website.) It is a different type of printing. One that requires the use of data to drive the content and characteristics of the printed piece. It is intentional printing targeted to an individual.
Commercial printers are uniquely positioned to take advantage of this phenomenon. Good design enhances good communication and makes these marketing pieces more effective. Those are skills found in the graphic arts industry, not in traditional data processing environments or service bureaus.
Successful Digital Printing Strategies
(Editor's Note: The following was provided by Dr. Mark W. Fleming, president of Strategies on Demand L.L.C., located in Naperville, IL He has managed product development and marketing, as well as several digital printing businesses. He can be reached at (630) 983-7746.
For those who have perceived digital printing as a technology-intensive business without much profit potential, the time has come to reconsider. The cost and productivity of the technology have improved dramatically over the last two years. Moreover, by 1998, digital printing had captured 9 percent of the mainstream publication and commercial printing market.
But what about the profit? The reality is that digital printing can be quite lucrative, but the profit does not necessarily follow from traditional approaches in managing the business. We benchmark digital print providers through comprehensive on-site audits, including the client's organization, marketing plans and execution, operational workflow and productivity, technology and detailed financial performance. The average operating income across this base of businesses is 13 percent of value-added revenue, with profit leaders achieving more than 20 percent. This profit level is significantly higher than the average conventional printing business, which yields about 7 percent operating income.