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“It is hard to create demand. Go through your client base. Having the capability is not going to create demand. Make sure [customers] need the services before you invest.”

Nov 16, 2007 12:00 AM


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Participants in the NAPL 2007 “Survey of Digital Services” are located across the United States. Three of the 261 participants are from Canada. Most are general commercial printers (64.5 percent) with annual sales of $10 million or less (68.9 percent). Sheetfed lithography is the primary printing process for 83.6 percent. Most (86.9 percent) offer static digital printing; 34.7 percent offer one-to-one marketing.

Key topics covered in the 50-page report include staffing, training clients in file prep, benefits of digital printing, Web-to-print and one-to-one marketing. The survey also considers how digital services affect revenue, client retention, workflow, job turn times, pricing and profitability.

A special section called “In their own words,” presents participant’s verbatim comments. As the following excerpt shows, most urged would-be digital adopters to proceed with caution.

What advice do you have for companies considering adding digital services?

“It is hard to create demand. Go through your client base. Having the capability is not going to create demand. Make sure [customers] need the services before you invest.”

“Don’t think you can buy equipment and use it for a long period. Technology is changing dramatically.”

“Be prepared to work hard and have three times the money in the bank you think you might need.”

“Make sure you are comfortable with vendors. There are going to be bugs, and the older a machine gets, the finickier it becomes.”

“Don’t limit your research to the manufacturers of equipment. Independently verify information. Printers get the impression that if they don’t jump in they’ll be left behind. We got in it because demand came from our clients.”

“Digital print is not a ‘field of dreams.’ Customers will not beat a path to your door because you have the equipment. Understand it as best you can, identify clients it can benefit, and possibly partner with someone doing it to get your feet wet. Once you reach critical mass you can pull the trigger.”

“Do your homework. Talk to clients; make sure there’s a need. Send out the work until you get the business.”

“The whole dynamic has changed. It is not an easy process and can be very expensive. Identify a market, make some inroads into that market, and even consider outsourcing IT. Build a revenue stream before considering purchases.“

“Don’t buy the hype. Because you bought a fast car, doesn’t mean you’re a good driver. Because you bought a digital press, doesn’t mean you can do all the great things they say are so easy to do.”

Used by permission of NAPL. For more information, contact survey authors Andrew Paparozzi or Joseph Vincenzino.