Folding, too, can be a rich source of revenue, and that’s especially true for those investing in folders that can be quickly changed over, Hunt says. “The simplicity of the automation has really altered the scope of who can operate a folder, and how easy it is to set up a more complicated or exotic piece,” he says.
“These pieces can give a customer something that stands out from the crowd, and can provide the printer with added revenue. When you add in gluing heads or trimmers in-line with the folders, you are able to now produce a booklet or other specialty piece in-line, adding value to the existing sale.”
Gandara agrees with the need to add value. “Everyone’s doing saddle stitching, everyone’s doing booklet making,” he says. “The question is, what can you offer in the way of added value that differentiates you from everyone else? You might be able to add UV coating to the cover of a book you printed, either charging for that or offering it as a value-add service. Same thing with an exotic fold. Any unique capability you offer to that customer adds profits. We post a lot of existing and new products for finishing on our own YouTube channel at www.youtube.com\duplousa.”
Just Say Wow!
Trish Witkowski, whose title at Baltimore’s FoldFactory.com is chief folding fanatic, says targeted marketing lists and smaller runs now allow marketers to invest in giving their marketing pieces a “wow factor.” Printers capable of providing more exotic finishes should contact Witkowski to get on her national list of “Extreme Printers” who do this kind of challenging work, and want to make their capabilities known to customers and other printers.
They should also reach out to existing customers. “[Those patrons] may not realize you have more than enough know-how to do the work in-house that the customer might otherwise ship to California,” she says.
FoldFactory.com has more than 260 videos on YouTube, and printers can use those videos as a springboard to start conversations with their customers about what can be accomplished in the way of exotic folds. “Getting the printer involved early in the conversation about distinctive formats can make all the difference in obtaining a successful piece,” Witkowski says.
“Letting your customers know you’re capable and interested is key. If you don’t have any work in-house and you would like to do this work, create some distinctive folded pieces as self-promotional marketing tools, and build a portfolio with them. Sometimes you can’t get the work until you’ve done the work. When you create a new piece, it’s a good idea to go in to customers with that work.”
As for equipment capable of producing specialty folds, Heidelberg has a machine that folds the “Iron Cross,” Witkowski says. But she doesn’t urge those not turning out large volumes to invest in substantial equipment.
“It takes an extreme amount of skill to automate some of this stuff,” she says. “And some of it can’t be automated. So much of this comes down to service. People want to know if they‘re spending money, the die line will be perfect, the job will be babysat, and they‘ll wind up with that beautiful product when it‘s done. A lot of specialty work involves hand finishing.”