Have you seen Digital Man lately? Take a look at the marketing campaign for FESPA Digital 2012 (Barcelona, February 21-24, 2012). You’ll see him at the wheel of a bright orange convertible, his route is rich with opportunities to develop his business, but he also faces some stimulating choices about which directions to follow on his journey.
Time to Change Direction?
According to FESPA research, the majority of digital printers are ready to embark on this adventure. Tested by the challenges that the world has thrown at them during the last three years, but cautiously optimistic about the future, most printers know that the road well travelled is no guarantee of future success, and they’re ready to change direction to grow.
Today’s PSPs can go down many different paths, delving into software, printing and finishing systems, substrates, and inks. This market’s technological development has reached a level of maturity that invites the printer to look at technology with fresh eyes, and from a more commercial and creative angle. In a global economic landscape that’s still far from an easy ride, each technology acquisition has to be considered in terms of how it will complement and optimize all other investments, and how it is compatible with today’s—and tomorrow’s—business model.
Rev Your Engine...
Exploring new opportunities does not necessarily mean investing in expensive high-level devices, some of which could potentially become a financial burden for SMEs. Technological innovations are essential, and R&D is still the beating heart of this industry, but the high end of the market is—by definition —out of reach for some, and this is, by no means, a limiting factor.
Often the key to improving competitiveness lies not in the most advanced output device but in the pursuit of more efficient processes. Creating a seamless workflow from prepress to finishing, deploying intuitive software tools, implementing Web-to-print infrastructures to simplify and automate the route from job receipt to production, or investing in finishing solutions that can create high added value. These are some of the strategies that could accelerate your business.
The enterprising digital printer should dare to explore new niches, too. Today’s printer shouldn’t limit his scope to wide-format alone, but should consider how he might expand his service offering by adding small-format capabilities. With the right approach, this could transform him from ‘wide-format printer’ to ‘full service provider’.
...Pimp Your ‘Ride’
Enterprising PSPs of all sizes have already proved that they can achieve excellent levels of quality and creativity by combining hardware, software, inks, and materials intelligently, without having to commit to huge capital investment. But, this is still an experimental minority and the range of applications that large-format printers can play with offer massive untapped potential.
In addition to the most popular vehicle decoration, signage, and poster applications, visual solutions for POS are more diverse than ever, as retailers demand more creative solutions to attract the buyer’s attention and motivate a purchase. The result is a blaze of POS and promotional materials and displays, including sophisticated solutions like ‘pop-up shops’ and exhibitions in both indoor and outdoor settings.
...Switch on to Cross Media
Familiar forms of visual communication are being presented in new and innovative ways, too. Billboards, street furniture (bus stops, benches, etc.), and building wraps now often feature 3D effects, lenticular printing, and integration with digital signage. True, at first, wide-format printers were wary of these innovations. Now though, switched-on PSPs realize that working with these new tools can emphasise both the printed and the electronic medium, creating more effective marketing solutions and more revenue opportunities for the enlightened.