By Harvey Hirsch So here you are, a Sales Samurai, brandishing a sharpened, digital, on-demand sword, trying to convince these print buyers, already in the flinch mode, that digital quality is just as good as offset. September 20, 2004 -- In 1867, just before the Tokugawa's brought an end to the feudal wars in Japan, a revolutionary new fighting technology was introduced into the constant clan warfare. Some believe that this sect of Samurai was so powerful that the Emperor was forced to hire them just so he could live out the rest of his years in peace. The Ninja were a select group of specially trained, skilled assassins, whose instruments and tactics were unorthodox and non-traditional. In most instances they were paid by one feudal lord to kill another--a process that was getting out of hand and expensive. A Ninja trained all his life in Aikido (close up fighting), Kung Fu, archery, and the art of killing silently. Stealth was a crucial part of their training, fostering a belief Ninjas could become invisible. If you want to improve your sales, you must use stealth and think outside the box, like a Ninja. How to use stealth in your next digital sales presentation Most of the time, a print buyer will call you in because they need to communicate, in print, a business-to-business or business-to-consumer pitch. Whether it's a mail piece, a brochure in an envelope, a flyer, a poster, you know the drill. Companies, buy printing to communicate (sell) something to someone. In most cases, these companies have been buying a static pitch, a "one size fits all" sales presentation put on paper. In most cases, the response is so disappointing; they have put this new project together out of frustration. You, on the other hand, have the opportunity of allowing the client to test, test, test. So here you are, a Sales Samurai, brandishing a sharpened, digital, on-demand sword, trying to convince these print buyers, already in the flinch mode, that digital quality is just as good as offset. Well, tomodachi, whip out your throwing stars. Stop comparing dot quality and demonstrate the superior technology of on-demand variable data printing (VDP) and data merging that allows the client to test various pitches in short, targeted runs. This weapon alone cannot be matched in any offset encounter. Your competitor is dead and doesn't know it, because he is probably trying to compete on a per piece price. When the offset sales person parries with their per unit "watakushi" (lance), their power is based on mass units in thousands, not lots of ten or thirty. This means that out of a ten thousand piece run, 9,950 pieces are not going to bring in an inquiry. And offset can't do anything about it! You, on the other hand, have the opportunity of allowing the client to test, test, test. They can test the database, they can test 100 pieces with one offer and another 100 pieces with another offer. They can test price points, they can test anything they want in short targeted runs. Then, after they have discovered what works, they can test the sales force's follow up ability set appointments to close. Offset can't compete. Here's another bonus Stop selling printing and start selling the marketing aspects of digital. Pull out your short sword and tell the client that they can be in the mail in a few hours, not in a few days, and watch their face. I bet it's glowing. Tell them that there will be no charge for color separations or plates and that the project can go in the mail fast--maybe even tomorrow--so they will have immediate results, not the 10 working days most offset jobs require. I prefer to use lumpy mail tactics in offering clients short-run, 3-dimensional marketing products because they offer me more opportunity for success. As a direct marketing professional, I am aware that in most cases, lumpy mail generates more attention and stands out of the average pile of mail. It has also been proven that personalized 1:1 mail generates higher interest as well. By combining the two I have been able to offer my clients marketing options never before available that will help them generate new sales for a fraction of what it normally would cost them using offset. What I'm saying is that you should stop selling printing and start selling the marketing aspects of digital. This separates you from your competition. Like a Ninja, you are using stealth to offer something very different than they can, and you are going outside the box in providing your customers new ways of reaching their customers and prospects. Hon tu desu ka!