By Terry Nagi A printer’s brochure reaching a print buyer is viewed less than 19 seconds. August 30, 2004 -- The reality is that traditional ways of promoting a printing company are not cutting through the morass and volumes of printed matter crossing a buyer’s desk. They’ve seen it all. In fact, it is estimated that a printer’s brochure reaching a print buyer is viewed less than 19 seconds. Such brochures may establish credibility, but they certainly aren’t reviewed for information on a printer’s capabilities. There simply have to be new ways of reaching buyers in our ever-changing world of digital printing and multimedia outputs. The Training Session Brochures may establish credibility, but they certainly aren’t reviewed for information on a printer’s capabilities. One of the most successful methods of promoting a printer’s concern for a print buyer’s changing needs in converting information into digital printing and communications, and helping assure timely of delivery of print products is the educational client seminar. These educational opportunities come in various sizes and shapes. There’s the city-wide event concentrating on data development and management using popular software programs to assure timely and accurate output of electronic files and data for successful digital print projects. In many communities local companies can team up to present these programs. A printer’s own digital technician could also provide the instruction, either through their own course programming, as well as the availability of standard programs from Xerox, Nexpress and other digital equipment and software provides as well as GATF, PODi and trade associations. Be sure to talk with your hardware and software vendors: funding for training/educational sessions can often be shared with leading suppliers of digital print equipment or manufactures of digital papers. A series of educational events could be targeted for specific clients. Individual sessions with clients can be scheduled either at their location or the printer's headquarters. The main objective is to concentrate on the specific needs and operations of the client and work towards the best approaches and tools for preparing documentation for output/printing. A third series of educational opportunities would be to track client problems by individual client and offer to “loan your digital specialist instructor” to help overcome these problems. This is a one-on-one educational opportunity. Educational Newsletters The need for information on the latest technology, what it does, what it doesn’t, how to use it, where it applies, how to use it effectively, etc., was formerly confined to desktop publishing. A regular (monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly) newsletter on digital printing issues and how to prepare graphics, text, design, data and distribution for timely, cost efficient output are still important. The world of print and media is changing and further opportunities exist for a printer to create a regular newsletter on the latest applications in digital input, printing and output, cast studies, where it works best, where not, things to be considered, and how print users might best evaluate and use new processes and media. Resources for these educational newsletters are unlimited. There are services that write them for you such as Pointe Communications. Local writers can be found in most cities. One’s own digital technician could well create this newsletter, if not necessarily the content. Downloads of information from the Web sites of Adobe, Xerox, Scitex, Quark, and leading trade association publications (plus visit www.ondemandjournal.com) also provide more than enough information to create a monthly newsletter. Always remember to obtain permission to use an article and give proper credit to the source. For example, a basic 2-page newsletter, with limited or no graphics could include columns on: What’s new out there that will help us all do our job better (software and hardware). Q & A (Questions we have recently answered which have helped our clients prepare their design and data better or use our latest services.) Tips for preparing files better. (Potentially using resources like Gracol.) Recent applications by your clients which might be of interest. Introducing something new you’re doing which may be of value. Success stories on the success of short run, personalized, web to print and other uses of digital print benefits. To begin, try creating your first two newsletters at the same time. Mail them one month apart. Call customers and get feedback on their value. Adapt as needed, then decide frequency. Featured on the printers’ URL Just as you would have a designer work on your brochure, have them work on your web site and its concentration on digital printing. Most printers have a Web site, which is an ideal location to promote digital capabilities, their benefit to the customer, information on developing design and data, case studies and testimonials, success stories, and the process of working with the printer in evaluating on how digital benefits can be of value. Web sites are not difficult to build anymore. There are as many Web site developers in your area as there are designers. Just as you would have a designer work on your brochure, have them work on your web site and its concentration on digital printing. Use it as a place to post the digital newsletter. announce educational seminars and provide links to informational resources useful to a majority of buyer types. Download it into color copies sales representatives can take with them to show clients who do not take the time to visit the site. Have sales representatives carry it as a download on their laptops. An ever increasing amount of sales representatives are carrying laptops, which is a wonderful way to show the computer savvy of your sales force and your multimedia orientation, especially with your web site loaded onto the sales reps' computers. Laptop Presentation Even if only one of your sales representatives is computer savvy, have the digital technician or a designer create a CD presentation with personalization options for including reference to the client to whom the presentation is being made. Information such as downloads from the client’s own web site can be imported into this presentation. The presentation could include a virtual plant tour, testimonials from prime clients, demonstrations of enhanced workflow to handle client materials faster, digital equipment lists, samples of a digitally produced products, etc. The search function of a CD provides an opportunity for a sales representative to tailor a presentation to individual clients. This target approach is what one-to-one marketing is all about. Platform This could have been included in the educational seminar section, but I like placing it separately. It’s less an education than information. It involves preparing a 30 to 40 presentation on latest trends in the digital print, short run and personalization, web to print and regionalization. and projections for the future. These can be obtained normally year-end in any one of the major print trade magazines such as www.whattheythink.com, www.ondemndjournal.com, Graphic Arts Monthly, Printing Impressions, High Volume Printer, and/or American Printer; along with trade organization such as SGIA.org, PODi.org, DPIA.org. The objective is to offer this presentation to clubs, organizations, non-profits, etc. where high level executes (product managers, marketing managers, distributors’ sales and marketing executives, manager of regional sale efforts, human resource executive – the buyer with the “pain”) may be in the audience. Almost all of these executives seek informative presentations on the more effective use of their print budgets, and the future of the digital printing and data development is an issue important to many. Outline the presentation from the reports and the trade magazines. Bullet it. Prepare 20 to 30 PowerPoint frames, which can guide the presentation. Train a key executive, a sales representative, one a digital technician to make the presentation. Offer it free of charge to those organizations where buyers with a “pain” will be in the audience. Other than the time commitment, this promotion is practically free once the presentation is developed. Any or all of these new age promotions should be useful with current clients. More importantly, they will identify the digital printer as something different to prospects. When the time comes to getting past a new prospects voice mail, these initial, difficult and key calls will more likely be either answered or returned via the any of the above.