While many people look at printing and see an image, the most successful and profitable large-format printers and sign businesses see a medium that reaches beyond the image. Effective design is the starting point. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to take a print ready file and send it to print . It is the printer that can engage with the customer, learn about their business and the customer’s customers to help them design the right image or campaign to get the right message to the target audience that creates value.
Some printers have chosen the path of commodity: take the file and print it. This model is built on reducing product cost and driving volume. For some wide-format printers this can be an attractive model. However, you can only reduce cost to a point as so much of our cost is out of our control. Of course every business is looking to increase profitability. Improving production efficiencies lowers the total cost of production and must be incorporated into any print business.
We suggest a more viable and sustainable model is to take our expertise as printers and help customers extend their message with expanded materials and design. For example, at the core of every FASTSIGNS center is the graphic designer. A key value that FASTSIGNS adds is helping customers design an effective design. Promoting in house design services is not only part of the value proposition, it is a profitable part of any printer’s business when valued appropriately. It includes ideas such as incorporating social media with QR codes and mobile-optimized websites to extend the value of the print beyond the image as well as colors and fonts that promote the message. This business model is also consultative; media options including fabrics and textiles can provide the right “feel”, provide a “greener” footprint, and reduce cost of shipping. This value is part of the comprehensive solution that the most successful signage and graphic businesses implement daily.
Another key to maximize sales and profits is the smart, consultative outside sales person or inside sales person who makes the time to ask the series of open-ended questions to learn about the customer’s business challenges and objectives. With this information, they then apply their knowledge and understanding of marketing and effective communication to give the graphic designer the right direction of what to create.
Part of the value FASTSIGNS International provides to its franchise partners is consultative sales training for outside and inside sales people as well as training on new products and services. We also share great campaigns and projects created and produced at one location wit the network, which helps expand the network’s understanding of what smart thinking looks like.
As many moan about the commoditization of printing, we choose to look at this is an opportunity for many to show value with effective design, new medias, and greener technologies. The printer that is able to leverage expertise and become a resource to a customer has a long term sustainable business model that promotes profitable sales.
Overall it is a balance of efficient production, consultative sales, smart thinking, and great design that will make a printer successful.