- Even the most intelligent inkjet purchases can come with some unexpected growing pains.
- The desire to promote your new capabilities is natural, but it’s more important to examine your current offerings and map the value of your new capabilities to your customers' specific needs.
- Educating your clients about how your new capabilities can provide better communication and experiences with their customers is the first step in filling the capacity gap.
By Karen Kimerer
Making the decision to acquire a new production inkjet press can mean great things for your business, it’s not an investment that should be taken lightly. The right investment will most certainly increase your productivity and improve your ability to meet deadlines, but a bad decision can be costly. This article outlines some common pitfalls that print service providers (PSPs) might encounter when acquiring an inkjet device, and also offers some tips on how to avoid these mistakes.
Step 1: Making the Decision
So let’s say you’ve determined that a production inkjet press will help your company solve many of the challenges associated with production and on-time delivery. You do your homework, select a technology partner, make the investment, and implement a new high-speed inkjet press. Everyone is excited about the new opportunities and manufacturing improvements that inkjet promises, particularly if this is your company’s very first inkjet device. Even if the investment is a sound one, issues can—and often do—arise with little or no warning. Simply put, even the most intelligent purchases can come with some unexpected growing pains.
Step 2: The Growing Pains
Many of the most common growing pains will generally show up after just a few months of running your new press. You might realize that the transfer of work from offset to digital toner has merely moved tasks from one device to another rather than making a real difference in productivity. In other cases, you might find that the implementation helps you save labor costs, gives you the capacity to grow, prints the applications that you transfer quicker and more efficiently, and increases your profit margins. Despite all this, perhaps your revenues have not improved—and now you have a lot more capacity than you thought you would. It’s also possible that your existing customers will fail to see the value of your investment and will continue to request discounts or lower prices.
In cases like these, you might quickly discover that although inkjet has solved some of your problems, you’re suddenly faced with new challenges. Now, you must find new business—and of course, it has to be the right kind of business—to fill the extra capacity while simultaneously helping your customers recognize how they can benefit so you can minimize the need for price cuts.
Step 3: Progress!
After some inevitable challenges, it’s finally time for the good part—most of your problems have been solved, you have educated your customers about the value of your investment, and they’ve come to understand that it can ultimately deliver better business results for them. Your sales team has a renewed interest in your capabilities as well as the confidence and insight they need to uncover new opportunities.
Putting it All Together
Production inkjet presses continue to grow in popularity. In fact, Keypoint Intelligence’s latest forecast data indicates that US production inkjet placements are expected to rise from 901 units in 2019 to 2,211 units in 2024, demonstrating a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 19.7%.
Eventually, nearly every key player in the industry will be leveraging the expansive technological changes and advantages that a production inkjet press can deliver. At the same time, however, placing value on the device and the technology behind it is old-school thinking. It’s only natural that you’ll want to promote your new capabilities, but this type of a discussion without reference will only confuse most of your customers and prospects. Instead, you must examine your current product offerings and map the value of your new capabilities to your customers' specific needs.
When Keypoint Intelligence asked PSPs about the biggest surprises they encountered after installing a new inkjet press, nearly all respondents cited capacity. Although respondents expected to have more capacity, many were truly shocked at the amount of capacity that an inkjet press can deliver. Many other PSPs also mentioned that age-old problem—customers simply don’t know what they don’t know, so the capabilities of the new technology are often underutilized and underappreciated.
While it's important to focus your sales efforts on finding more business to fill the new capacity of an inkjet presses, even the most well-prepared firms will likely encounter some challenges. For one thing, today’s market is very competitive. Most of the customers that require printing services will already have a provider, so attracting their attention, holding it, and eventually bringing them on board can prove difficult. Furthermore, your salespeople will need proof that the new press will be able to deliver what they’re promising to customers and prospects. New technology should generate energy and enthusiasm, but all of this excitement can easily be thwarted if the rep doesn’t have enough confidence in the change.
This puts the focus back on the relationships you have with your current customers to fill that capacity more quickly. It is likely that they already enjoy the relationship and service you offer, so this is a perfect opportunity to demonstrate the value that comes with an inkjet press. Even so, merely sharing the news of your latest investment will bring no value to them. In fact, articulating the value that you can deliver in terms of “better, faster, cheaper” might very well encourage your customers to explore other offerings…because you certainly won’t be the only provider that’s making this claim!
The thing that truly matters in today's business environment is the ability to help your customers achieve better business results. Educating your clients about how your new capabilities can provide better communication and experiences with their customers is the first step in filling the capacity gap. Once print buyers understand the benefits that they can achieve with personalization, full color, and faster time-to-market, they will often uncover additional print opportunities that need to be transformed.
Customer education remains a much-needed area of focus in our industry. This is even more the case when it comes to investing in Inkjet technology. Instead of pointing out that your new press is faster and less costly to operate, inform your customer that you finally have the capabilities to deliver highly personalized printed content in full color that can drive more sales when used correctly. This approach can help you avoid pitfalls like underutilized capabilities and overlooking the immediate abundance of capacity.
The Bottom Line
Businesses that invest in production inkjet technology must refrain from using words that might undermine the value that they can deliver. Start by omitting terms like “better, faster, and cheaper” from your vernacular. Make a list that precisely describes how you can improve the effectiveness of the work that you are already providing to your customers. Teach, provide examples, create case studies, suggest best practices, and find solutions to help your customers get more from their print spend.
This piece of advice has been given out before, but it bears repeating—no matter how excited you are about the features and functions of your new inkjet press, resist the temptation to launch into a technological conversation. Walking into a discussion with nothing but technical jargon will not effectively communicate the value of your new capabilities. Instead, focus on the single most important thing that your customer wants to hear about—the improved business outcome that your solutions can help them achieve!
Karen Kimerer of Keypoint Intelligence has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry. She is well-versed in 1:1 marketing, web-to-print, direct mail, book publishing, supply chain management, data segmentation, channel integration, and photo products.