Lessons Learned: Small Printing Company Makes Big Technology Investment With Textured Spot UV
When my company invested in textured spot UV technology one year ago, we knew it was going to be a tremendous undertaking. And, wow, were we right about that.
But also wrong in some ways.
Yes, we’re still big believers in the technology and in the overall market potential for texture in print materials. We’ve also devoted a lot of time and attention to the topic, like this extensive, research-based blog post on sensory marketing.
And, yes, we’re still working intensely to promote textured spot UV and have had some exciting customer outcomes using it. Our investment is paying for itself monthly, and we expect to gradually keep growing our output.
On the other hand, I can’t characterize our overall success with textured spot UV as a slam dunk — yet.
What we didn’t anticipate
For a small printing company like ours, textured spot UV technology has been a huge investment. We knew it was a technology in its infancy, and we really tried to embark on this venture with eyes wide open, which I actually describe here.
But we just couldn’t anticipate everything.
The education effort
While my staff and I have worked hard to become experts on textured spot UV, we didn’t realize just how big the learning curve would be, not only for direct customers but also agencies and fellow printing companies with whom we partner.
For example, many of my peers just don’t understand the distinction between textured spot UV technology, with its 3D feature, and UV printing. (Traditional “UV printing” does not produce a 3D texture.)
Nor do they grasp the cost structure required for it.
Suffice it to say that the intense energy we’ve spent—and continue to spend—on the educational component has been way more than we originally expected.
The inaccurate suggested retail prices
We were up and running with project work a month into getting the equipment on the floor. One thing we learned quickly was just how unrealistic the manufacturer's suggested retail per-unit prices were in relation to what the market will bear.
And because of that, figuring out our price structure has been a lot more challenging.
We also didn’t fully understand that the equipment is really developed for shorter run work. We thought we'd be able to do higher volume projects with it. That’s just not feasible with the supply cost.
The expense to run the technology
Maybe there’s a parallel here with buying a home: people focus on that big purchase cost and the resulting mortgage payments. It can be scary, but also exciting.
Unfortunately, in that excitement it can be easy to forget about the costs of maintaining that home—keeping up with all the utility bills and shelling out funds when the roof leaks, the furnace breaks, or the plumbing fails.
Similarly, we didn’t anticipate the day-to-day expenses of operating the textured spot UV equipment. I’m talking about things like the need for professional maintenance, the amount of toner it uses, and just the overall time and attention it takes to keep it running optimally.
New tech has bugs, lots of ‘em
Welcome to the world of new technology! I wouldn’t say we expected perfection, but I’m not sure we were ready for all the glitches.
If you’re in the printing industry, you know it’s an ongoing goal to do more, to do it faster, and to keep upping the quality.
My company is no different.
As we move forward with our textured spot UV efforts, we’re uncovering bugs. And some of them have the manufacturer’s team scratching their heads.
I suppose you could say we’re pushing our equipment. But I think it comes down to this: We’re working hard to fully utilize the technology. And can you blame us?
What’s gone well
But don’t get me wrong, our foray into textured spot UV technology hasn’t just been a long series of forehead smacking. We’ve learned a ton, have experienced some pleasant surprises, and are actually doing some things well, if I do say so myself.
Mastering the quoting side
“How much is it going to cost?” Nine times out of ten, that’s the first question people have about textured spot UV. The good news is that when it comes to pricing these projects, I think we’ve really hit our rhythm.
A big help has been a brochure we produced that presents images, sizes, and a variety of actual textured concepts—with associated costs.
That’s just one example of how we’ve empowered our salespeople and sales partners to:
- Show exactly what the features are
- Be able to talk intelligently about the technology
- Provide helpful numbers
Opening up new opportunities
We're developing a niche and an expertise in textured spot UV. And that’s created advantages we didn’t expect.
By riding on this new technology, we’re exposing ourselves to a wider customer base. And sometimes this exposure has customers using a service other than textured spot UV.
We’ve gotten better all-around
By taking on this cutting-edge printing technology, our entire operation has gotten stronger. It's motivated our designers, pre-press team, and others to master the technology and also to look at print projects in general differently.
We’re smarter than we were, and we’re so much more prepared for where I believe the market is going in terms of texture and other embellishment options.
What can you learn from our experience?
So given all the above, what advice would I give to small printers looking to make a hefty investment in new technology?
Here goes, for what it’s worth:
You have to believe in the technology. It's hard to sell anything if you don’t believe in it. Learn everything you can and understand the powerful benefits of the technology before you take the plunge.
Remember that hope is not a plan. You’ve got to know how you’re going to sell it. This is no time for an if we buy it, they will come attitude. Of course it’s a gamble, but you’re going to improve your chances by formulating a detailed sales plan you can competently implement.
Prepare for a day in the life. As much as possible, do all you can to really understand the potential daily operational costs of your new technology.
Be ready for the bugs. You and your manufacturer may get to know each other really well, and not always for the most pleasant reasons. But, hey, it’s the nature of the new tech beast, so go in ready to work through the glitches. It’s a necessary part of the process.
Work hard on your price points. You understand better than anyone what you’ll need to charge. Use the manufacturer recommendations as a rough guide, but then start crunching the real numbers for your business, your customers, and your world.
See the bigger ROI picture. Once it’s up and running, be aware that there can be unexpected avenues of ROI to your new technology. Keep on the lookout for how it could positively affect your overall product line and expose you to a larger market.
When it comes to investing in new technology, we can only know so much. But that’s not to say thorough preparation doesn’t pay off. We’ve experienced a lot more ups than downs at my company by investing in textured spot UV.
On top of that, the dividends we’re gaining from our investment are showing up in a variety of ways. In fact, that’s what has really made this whole adventure worth it. And we’re just getting started.
About the Author
Chris Yuhasz founded POV Solution as a basement desktop publishing business 27 years ago in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. Today, POV solutions provides printing services from Cleveland, Ohio, servicing clients coast-to-coast with commercial printing, graphic design, and spot UV printing for finishing services.
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.