Dive Into Digital
iT HAS TAKEN MORE THAN a decade, but digital printing is now mainstream. “Of all United States commercial and quick printers, more than 60 percent currently have some level of digital color capability,” noted Frank Romano, professor emeritus of the Rochester Institute of Technology’s School of Print Media located in Rochester, New York. “It is no longer a case of printers asking ‘Should I’, but rather, ‘Which one should I buy?’”
He also reported that print buyers are increasingly specifying digital output for many applications where offset once dominated. “Even though offset printing is evolving to provide more economical and more competitive approaches, some of its volume will continue to erode,” said Romano.
Still, Francis McMahon, North American marketing manager for Palo Alto, Calif.-based Hewlett-Packard’s (HP) Indigo division, acknowledged that there are some die-hard industry professionals who believe that offset is the only way to go. “They have not been able to make the leap and adopt a new way of creating business as a service provider,” he said.
Both gentleman stressed that the transition for manufacturers and distributors requires a fair amount of education, planning and networking, as well as a different mindset when going to market. To begin with, digital quality was initially uncertain, making the shift from offset very difficult for sales professionals accustomed to selling on quality.
“Another huge factor is the cost differential. With standard traditional printing, print buyers are basing decisions on cost per page. With digital, the issue is the cost of acquiring a new customer or increasing returns on an ad campaign,” observed McMahon. “So, instead of talking about printing 40,000 direct mail pieces at pennies per page, distributors are discussing the value of variable content in targeted, personalized mailers for greater responses that can be mapped back to specific campaigns, and this is a different conversation all together. Then, there is the cultural shift of gearing advertising and promotions to the needs and requirements of a unique individual rather than reaching 20,000 consumers with the exact same piece.”
Related story: Digital Printing Trends