By Susan Twombly, Oct. 2008
It’s a tight economy out there, and graphic arts companies across the board – from commercial printers, sign shops and other print service providers to professional photographers and graphic designers – are concerned about their businesses. Read the interview to find out what companies can do today to help keep their businesses growing.
Here, Francis McMahon, marketing director for HP’s graphic arts organization in North America, tells us what companies can do today to help keep their businesses growing.
HP.com: Francis, as you know, many graphic arts companies are concerned about spending money now. They want to just sit tight until the economy rebounds. What are your thoughts on that?
Francis: Well, I definitely don’t think it’s a time to ‘wait and see’ what the economy might do. It’s a time to take action by exploring different approaches to getting and growing business – ways you may not have thought about before that can create new revenue streams. So, it’s a time of great opportunity.
|HP.com: Where do you think the greatest opportunities are?
Direct mail brochure design (side 1 of 2)
Francis: First, look at your existing customer base. They offer the best potential to expand revenue. Instead of pulling back on the print services you provide to them, it’s a time to be offering them more, because they’re in the same situation you are. You’re both looking for new ways to grow the business and improve productivity.
So, identify your most loyal and profitable customers and become their advisor in how they can do things differently to get more out of their printing investments. Then, look beyond the customers you have to the customers you want. If your competitors panic and cut back on the services they provide, it’s a perfect time for you to lure their most profitable customers away with your new, expanded services.
And this is where digital printing technology comes in, because it’s a great way for you to help customers spend their marketing budgets more wisely and get higher returns on their investments.
Francis: Unlike traditional offset printing, digital technology helps you create more targeted and profitable marketing programs for your customers.
It not only eliminates the cost and waste associated with long print runs. It allows you to personalize marketing materials to help your customers establish direct, one-to-one connections with their prospects that can really pay off. These customized, short-run print jobs just weren’t feasible to take on before and they open up new ways to increase revenue.
For example, you can print and send a bar-coded direct mail piece with a very tailored message and offer to a specific audience. You can track responses by code and quickly turn qualified leads over to sales teams. You can also measure the effectiveness of each campaign, so you can help your customers better manage their marketing dollars. That’s a great value-add service you can offer and really puts you in a more consultative role that builds customer loyalty and profits. So it’s a win/win situation all around.
|HP.com: I’m also seeing a lot of large signs lately displayed in some unusual ways – like wrapped around an entire building.
Outdoor building wrap
Francis: Yes, large-format digital printing is one of the biggest growth opportunities in the market today. It can help your customers establish leadership and visibility for their businesses in ways they have not done before, such as outdoor building and vehicle wraps, to build their brand presence.
With the breadth of HP Graphic Art solutions, you can build integrated marketing campaigns for clients – including everything from postage stamps to building wraps on a range of media. HP can help you enter this market at a price point that can make expanding your services with large-format printing more affordable.
HP.com: So, what’s a first step for readers who want to take advantage of digital printing technology and how can they make the transition easier?
Francis: First of all, we’re not talking about a major disruption to the way you do business. It’s really about combining the strengths of both digital and offset printing to expand your range of services.
HP has programs, tools and training specifically designed to help you easily tap into this opportunity – like our HP Capture Program – along with business consultants to help you build a business plan and sell the value of digital printing services to your customers.
There’s also the Digital Solutions Cooperative, an established and industry-leading user community that offers peer-to-peer support and resources for bringing digital technology into your business. And, there’s no time like the present to do so, because it can really help you turn this challenging economic time into a great time of opportunity and growth.