By John Giles February 10, 2006 -- Printers realize digital opportunities are growing. Many quick and small commercial printers are debating whether to move up into process color printing with a press or with a new digital color printer. Variable data printing can be done on most of the equipment owned by smaller shops. Customers continue to understand the advantages of digital technology making it easier for them to understand a printer's new digital services. Trade magazines and news reports are full of articles about how the printing industry is in the middle of a digital revolution that lets printers sell digital products for higher margins. So why aren't most printers enjoying the opportunities and profits that digital brings? Equipment and software goes unused because the customer doesn't know it is available. Communication is the problem. Printers are unable to deliver the message to customers about what they can do for them. Equipment and software goes unused because the customer doesn't know it is available. Quick and small commercial printers will have to change how they market and sell their services if they expect to reap benefits of the new digital technology. No longer can they wait for customers to walk in the door. Unless they can get their message out now, they will have to wait until someone else educates the customer and the industry turns the digital printing solutions into a commodity. Small printers aren't going to fine a digital "guru" to be able to sell their services. The best person to become the sales person for the shop is the owner. He or she can craft the company's message and present it with passion to prospective customers. Successful shops grow because the owner is getting out and selling. The owner knows what products and services the company does best and he knows the benefits of a customer buying from his company. Small printers aren't going to fine a digital "guru" to be able to sell their services. Successful shops grow because the owner is getting out and selling. Too many small shop owners become bogged down in production issues. They can't leave the shop because they are working on getting jobs out. If the small shop owner attempts to rely on someone else to sell for him, he will be sadly disappointed. The selling owner doesn't have to be a technological expert, but he does need to know the benefits of the technology he has. The selling owner needs to be using the expertise of the production staff to deal with the technological issues. The selling owner closes the sell and then turns the customer over to a customer service representative who coordinates the technical aspects of the job between the customer and production. No one has more of a commitment for bringing in new sales as the owner. Successful printing owners are selling their digital technology. They plan and then they go sell. First they determine the types of business they want to sell to and the call on those businesses. They learn how the decision makers are. They try to learn as much about the company as they can before they make the sale call. They then develop clear messages that focus on the benefits of buying from printing from their company. They focus their message on benefits, not price. They identify the pain points of buying printing and develop scripts that spotlight those problems and their solutions. Their message focuses on the products the printer wants to sell and the customer needs to know about. They memorize the scripts and focus their message. They have determined what they want to sell and they know their products. Printing is a custom manufacturing business, but there are common products. Successful printers focus on the unique products and services they can provide to their targeted customer base. The reason most quick and small commercial printers aren't successful selling digital services and products is because they have never told the customer about the services they have. They tell the customer they have a color digital printer, but they don't tell them they can handle variable data, or offer high quality, short-run color, or can take a customer-created file. If they do make a sales presentation to a customer, the focus is usually on the features and not the benefits. Too much emphasis is place on the price. Too often printers get stuck bidding on commodity items rather than discussing those images pieces that sell something to someone and have much higher value. Quick and small commercial printers that aren't successful selling digital services and products have never really told the customer about all they can do. Just the act of getting out in front of the customer and talking about the benefits of using the company puts most printers in far above their competition. Most printing owners don't want to sell and try to hire someone to do it for them. Unless the printing owner knows what he wants to sell and who he wants to sell it to, the chances of a "substitute" sales person are going to slim. Many print owners are already digital experts. They just have to get out of in front of the computer and get in front of the customer. When print owners become the digital messenger is when you'll see digital technology really start to take off.