Thu, Aug

Get it together

Martyn Eustace, director of Two Sides and Print Power, bangs the drum for greater collaboration between printers and creatives ahead of the organisations’ Autumn Seminar in London on 3 November, with speakers including Jonathan Harman from Royal Mail, Nicolas Sennegon from The Economist Group and futurologist Richard Watson. 

It’s the worst kept secret in the printing industry - wide-format print is booming. Driven largely by the rise of a new generation of low cost, highly automated, digital printers, wide-format is recognised as one of the few print sectors where volumes are actually increasing, as retailers (amongst others) ramp up their spend on signage and banners. 

And growth in the sector isn’t expected to slow down any time soon, with figures from digital imaging market research group InfoTrends, showing that printers expect wide-format digital printing to continue to grow as a percentage of their revenue from 42% in 2013 to 54% in 2015. While these figures may look impressive that’s not to say that this isn’t a sector without its challenges - and opportunities. InfoTrends’ research also identified that one of the main barriers to the success of wide-format printers is that they struggle to market and sell their services, despite the fact that there’s a waiting list of potential customers out there who want to take advantage of their skills.

It’s an issue that’s blighted the printing industry for years. Printers have always known how to produce a professional job at a competitive price, they’re more than capable of meeting tight turnaround times and they offer top-notch customer service on top. But more often than not they merely respond to a project brief from a client rather than actively going out into the market telling creatives what they’re capable of doing and really selling the power of wide-format print.

Yet the truth is that many creatives don’t have the knowledge or experience to fully appreciate and understand when and where something works best. This results in them occasionally ordering formats that are not suitable for the job in question, which in turn leads to dissatisfaction and a missed opportunity on the part of the printer, who possibly knew that what was being ordered wasn’t fit for purpose in the first place – if only the printer had made themselves heard from the outset this wouldn’t have happened.

So there exists a major opportunity for printers to bring their expertise to the table when it comes to wide-format print and establish an open relationship with their customers from the outset to guide them down the right path and towards the right format for the job in hand. And this isn’t just about upselling more product to customers to eek every last penny out of them. It needs to be a truly collaborative process where the creative explains what they want to achieve and the printer then explores the options with them.

This collaboration process could take a number of different forms. For instance, printers might use market data and analytics to explain to creatives why one form of messaging works better than another in a particular environment. So rather than waste money on a wide-format point of purchase (POP) display to be located above the heads of shoppers in a grocery store, the printer could advise the creative that the impact ratio for above head height POP is really low because shoppers rarely look up when they’re in store, whereas research shows that floor graphics work particularly well around food or snack purchases in grocery stores because shoppers tend to look down [source: POPAI].

Similarly, rather than order a self-adhesive vinyl wall graphic, or wall covering, for their stores, which they will have to pay a specially trained installer to put in place, they could opt for a substrate with a magnetic backing that can be erected in seconds onto fixed metal frames in-store by a member of staff. This not only saves customers time, but also means signage can be changed quickly to advertise an in-store sale or promotion.

And if environmental considerations come into play rather than printing a vinyl banner, why not take advantage of wide-format dye sublimation to print on polyester, which offers easy and low impact shipping, thus reducing the prospect of graphics being damaged in transit, ease of installation and high levels of durability, meaning the banner can be used time and time again and then recycled at the end of its life. In addition to being more environmentally friendly, polyester is capable of morphing into myriad different finishes so backlit graphics, canvas effects or a satin face can all be achieved using a similar printing process.

It’s this strong creative proposition and spirit of collaboration that will enable printers to help their customers’ select more appropriate wide-format signage and therefore enjoy a better return on their investment. In return for their input and expertise the printer should be rewarded with repeat business, thus ensuring both parties win.

For more details on the Autumn Seminar go to: www.twosides.info/autumn-seminar-2014

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