How Can a Small Printer Differentiate?
How can we differentiate ourselves in a sea of printers? For my company, that’s been an ongoing adventure for years, especially as competition gets increasingly intense and sales margins continue to narrow.
About a year-and-a-half ago, we took a bold step toward differentiation when we incorporated a cutting-edge technique into our capabilities: textured spot UV printing.
For a fraction of the cost of, say, foil stamping, embossing or specialty papers, spot UV can help create an exceptional piece of print collateral. In short, the technology allows a printed product to be evocative of how something feels. It’s not hard to understand how that can extend the attention of someone holding a postcard or a brochure or really any printed piece you can imagine.
How a Small Printing Company Took on a Big Innovation
As cool as spot UV is, I think it’s more worthwhile to talk about how we got here. How did our small printing company get to where we felt comfortable and confident enough to make a large investment in spot UV technology?
First, I can tell you we definitely didn’t rush into things. We began by sitting down with our vendors and having a thorough discussion: What did they have to offer that was truly unique and would add value to the experience of our customers?
When spot UV rose to the top of the list, we then took on the task of market research, exploring answers to questions like these:
- Who else was using the technique in our region?
- What could we realistically expect in terms of customer interest?
- What were the price points that would hit the sweet spot for company profitability and customer affordability?
- What else was out there on the Web in terms of information and education on spot UV?
The results we uncovered encouraged us to commit to spot UV and add it to our capabilities. But, not surprisingly, the work on the back end continued.
We initiated internal efforts to essentially transform ourselves into spot UV experts — both our technical and sales staff. That push went hand-in-hand with getting information out externally that helped establish us as spot UV authorities.
Meanwhile, adding the spot UV machine meant modifying our marketing approach and, more specifically, creating compelling samples that demonstrated the extraordinary capabilities of spot UV.
And that, in a nutshell, brings us up to the present. Today, we have customers super-excited about spot UV. It’s allowing them an edge in making a more memorable and powerful statement with their print collateral.
The Lesson in our Experience
Yes, differentiating yourself is a never-ending saga in today’s printing market. And, no, spot UV certainly isn’t a fit for every printer (or printing project). But our experience points to a larger lesson.
Even if you’re a small printer, you don’t have to play second fiddle in terms of your technical capabilities. You can differentiate through innovation. But don’t innovate just to innovate. Do your research and make it a careful process. Then if you do decide to innovate, be ready. That’s when the really hard work begins.
NOTE: POV Solution partners with other printers who don’t have spot UV capabilities. Contact me if you’re interested in learning more!
Chris Yuhasz founded POV Solution as a basement desktop publishing business 27 years ago in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. POV Solution provides printing services from Cleveland, Ohio, servicing clients coast-to-coast with commercial printing, graphic design and spot UV printing for finishing services.