By Rosemarie Monaco November 1, 2005 -- Today’s competitive environment demands that printing-company executives remove their tradesman hats and don the ones called marketing. When they have limited funds for developing marketing materials, they cannot afford to make too many mistakes. Experts say the main reason so many marketers fail is because they don’t understand the audience they are trying to reach. Experts say the main reason so many marketers fail is because they don’t understand the audience they are trying to reach. When trying to impress print buyers, the first thing most printers do is provide an equipment list. Yet, relatively few print buyers these days know (or care about) the difference between a Printmaster PM and a Roland 700, or why either one would make its owner a more desirable partner. Know Your Audience The truth is that while today’s print buyers are far more technologically savvy than their predecessors, it is not their job to know the specifications or benefits of a particular piece of equipment. Their responsibility is to procure the best value--a project printed on time and at the highest achievable quality within a defined budget. The model of your press is irrelevant as long as you can deliver what they need when they need it. That is not to say that print buyers are not interested in technology. But they need to know, in terms they understand, how your technology benefits them. Different buyers have different needs. If one will never need more than four-colour process printing, your seven-colour Heidelberg could make you sound over-qualified and over-priced. And saying your workflow is automated may even scare the quality-driven buyer away. To someone not familiar with the terminology of the print industry, "automated" may translate to being made fast and with less care. To someone not familiar with the terminology of the print industry, "automated" may translate to being made fast and with less care. Understand their needs Put yourself in your customers’ shoes. They are under pressure to get their products to market faster. They want their literature, point of sale materials, packaging and displays to stand out from their competition and they want to know that the material that’s printed in Stockholm will match what’s printed in Hong Kong and Miami Beach. Like you, they need to make their money go farther. According to a recent poll, brand managers and print buyers listed meeting deadlines, print resolution, color accuracy, the ability to make last-minute changes and the quality and reliability of proofs as the five issues they care most about. Cost came in sixth place. Speak Their Language Instead of expecting the buyer to appreciate your shiny new seven-colour press, explain that the extra cylinders allow you to add a bump colour to the black and a varnish to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Let them know that built-in efficiencies allow you to offer these benefits very cost-effectively. Don’t simply tell them that you have an automated workflow, explain that your advanced workflow system speeds the process for faster turnaround, while allowing you to monitor all quality aspects. Let them know that this technology allows you to streamline processes and lower your cost of operation so that you can provide better service without higher costs. Explain that your advanced workflow system speeds the process for faster turnaround, while allowing you to monitor all quality aspects. Advertise that your state-of-the-art operation gives you the flexibility you need to get complex projects done is less time. If you use an alternative screening technology, you can tell buyers that you can produce higher resolution printing at no extra cost. And don’t just tell them, show them samples of what you can do. Buyers are more impressed with results than screening algorithms. Proofing with integrated color management isn’t just about seeing the same color throughout your organization, but it is the reason you can assure your customers that their logo colors and brand images will print identically at multiple print sites. When it comes to delivering your message, nothing is more important that doing it from the audience’s point of view. Be sure to mention that your PDF workflow gives them the ability to make last minute changes. And explain why CTP (computer-to-plate) not only lets you stretch deadlines, but that it increases print quality as well. Even if you don’t have a JDF-enabled system in your operation yet, let prospects know that this is the next step you will take to improve customer service even more. Explain how this technology will allow you to integrate production with MIS for better, more accurate estimating and billing. And how it will allow you to collaborate with them via the Internet, shortening the approval process even further. And how that will allow you to get their materials exactly where they need them, at precisely the right time. Talking about your future direction will show them you have vision and that you are looking ahead with their needs in mind. When it comes to delivering your message, nothing is more important that doing it from the audience’s point of view.