SELLING DIGITAL VS. OFFSET -- Making the Right Impression
Treating digital as a separate market also runs counter to the trend of print buyers wanting to deal with fewer printers, the consultant notes. He suggests printers not think in terms of offset versus digital printing, but rather as a continuum of services they can sell. "Coming in selling short-, medium- and long-run work creates more opportunities for the sales person," he says.
It's All in the Name
Nagi believes the approach most likely to succeed may be to set up a separate consultancy organization that offers data management services and advises on personalization. "Use a new name that isn't linked to the original printing company. Once you have a business relationship in place, then you can bring up the affiliation with the conventional printing company," he recommends.
As final thoughts, the consultant points out what he believes are some common misconceptions about the digital printing business. "There is too much hype in this marketplace about personalization. Most of the sales are in versioning today," Nagi asserts. "Another misconception is that you have to start big. A printer can start with a smaller digital operation and lower cost machinery. It can offer the capability as a loss leader for a number of years to make a transition."
The Great Lakes Companies is comprised of four divisions: Great Lakes Lithograph, a full-service printer; PrepLink, offering prepress capabilities; GLDirect, a database management and fulfillment center; and AKSESS, which provides brand-building asset management solutions with instant, Internet-based access.
In 2003, the company established a print-on-demand (POD) center, featuring a Heidelberg Nexpress 2100 digital color press. The center falls under the Great Lakes umbrella as part of its commercial print unit, but it is located in a separate area of the plant and is operated under its own P&L, reports James Schultz, president and CEO. All of the print services currently are being sold by the existing sales force, he adds.