Digital print brings many advantages to the table. For traditional commercial printers, the addition of digital capabilities enables competitiveness for smaller run lengths. Corporations also benefit from the ability to bring production print capabilities in-house for a relatively low cost of entry. This also allows print related businesses, such as binderies, data houses, and mail houses to incorporate digital print to transform their business model. Short run, zero makeready production is one aspect of the print industry’s acceptance of digital, but it’s also the power to think outside of the box, offering one-to-one marketing pieces that stand out and foster results.
To help businesses think beyond the print engine, many leading digital press manufacturers prove their investment to the graphic arts and commitment to customers by providing a variety of educational tools, training, and research on the benefits of developing a digital service strategy, which often includes variable data production (VDP).
Canon U.S.A., Inc. offers its robust Essential Business Builder (EBB) program to its production customers. They recently launched the RevGen program, an extension of mentoring services for EBB, specifically targeting customer revenue generation with high-value products and services, such as VDP.
Unique to the industry, the RevGen program is a 12-week engagement where industry mentors coach imagePRESS customers through processes such as sales for development, VDP and Web-to-print (W2P) software implementation, prospecting, and self-promotion campaign management, depending on the level of engagement they require. Although some customers realize they need to purchase technology such as VDP or W2P, they may not be using these technologies to their full potential and miss opportunities to drive revenue for their digital business. To maximize accessibility, Canon has developed relationships with leading VDP companies such as Bitstream and Printable Technologies.
As a vendor, Eastman Kodak Company strives to stay abreast of market trends, keeping an eye on changing end-customer expectations and integrating evolving market standards to pass the information on to all of its customers. Kodak offers advice and programs on many levels, with some variation across the globe. The company’s customer councils, workshops, open house events, and user group meetings form a backbone on which they build according to the needs of each customer. Sometimes Kodak brings in subject matter experts to help with workflow analysis, business analysis, and sales team training.
Many Kodak customers have decades of experience in designing and executing customer communication for offset, digital, and hybrid production. The company takes what they learn from them and merges that with opportunities developed based on what they know about their products to develop their advice and programs.
Hewlett Packard (HP) offers customers a wide range of advice and support programs through individual consulting, seminars, self-paced eLearning offerings, success stories, and other opportunities within its Graphic Arts Capture Business Success program. Additionally, HP customers aid each other through the Digital Solutions Cooperative (Dscoop) HP users’ group and annual conferences. Dscoop gives customers a chance to network and hear directly from other printers who have successfully faced and embraced the challenges and prospects that come along with VDP.
InfoPrint Solutions, a Ricoh Company, works closely with customers and technology partners to help develop and implement solutions that are flexible, scalable, and reliable to support customer demands. Additionally, the company offers an experienced team of Professional Services specialists that work with customers to determine the most strategic and beneficial route to address pain points and offer a solution. Each engagement is treated as a stand-alone opportunity to help that customer grow their business and provide value to their particular markets. Doing this requires unique ways of offering, implementing, and supporting custom solutions.
Konica Minolta’s Business Development Services program, www.powerupprofit.com, includes ideas, case studies, and resources for printers looking to build their business. The site includes an analysis of the benefits of personalized (VDP) campaigns compared to static campaigns with its Static vs. VDP ROI Calculator.
Océ North America encourages customers to look to them for support when tackling VDP. One of the company’s most recent initiatives is the Océ Press Go! business development program, which was announced at Graph Expo. The program helps print professionals grow print volumes and capture new opportunities by focusing on real-world business and operational issues facing customers in graphic arts, direct mail/direct marketing, transactional and TransPromo, and corporate in-plant operations. This multi-faceted approach to business development combines proven tools including printed materials, Webinars, videos with live sessions, and collaborative activities.
Océ’s consultative sales teams are trained to help customers see the potential in VDP, whether for the goal of expanding into new services or branching into new markets. The Océ Press Go! Program is also designed to help customers in both areas. Program topics focus on enhancing both business and technical skills ranging from strategic positioning and marketing strategy development to pricing for value, sales force compensation, workflow optimization, and customer communications. The Océ Press Go! program experience includes a dedicated Web site hosting Webinars, videos, and self-help training materials. Members can participate and collaborate in forums to exchange best-in-class processes, provide peer support, and share ideas—all with the goal of improving business success.
RISO, Inc. has experience working with customers on both large and small VDP applications, enabling them to offer advice on innovative options. The company provides a team of inkjet integration managers that work closely with customers to set up and test the ComColor system. This support team is accredited in a variety of industry standard certifications that provide customers and prospects with the confidence that RISO offers the highest level support possible. The team uses on site visits as well as remote methods via video conferencing to provide customers with what they need.
Xeikon welcomes the opportunity to share its collective experience as an enabler of more than a few successful VDP campaigns over the last two decades. The company helps customers understand that there is more to building and running a successful VDP-focused business than software. Workflow is a key factor that stitches together all of the various processes and components. Xeikon offers subject matter experts in a wide range of disciplines such as VDP, JDF/JMF, SQL, and color management. Secondly, the company’s presales process focuses on the prospect’s intended application. The goal is to understand early on what is required in terms of the end-to-end workflow.
From this discovery process, the company makes recommendations in terms of software and/or hardware to suit the application. While Xeikon has working relationships with many vendors, they do not directly sell any solutions or profit from them. In this way, the company feels it can be unbiased and recommend only those solutions that precisely fit the needs of the intended application.
Xerox Corporation employs a team of experts in the field with a goal of working with customers to develop their digital print business. The company provides help in a number of ways, including online courses, consultants, and the 1:1 Lab. The purpose of its 1:1 Lab is to provide an A/B split proof of concept for VDP. Xerox helps customers by taking an existing campaign and changing it only by adding personalization to prove results to end customers. To participate in the 1:1 Lab, candidates must meet certain criteria.
The push towards VDP and building on digital capabilities is a clear industry priority across the board. Maximize a hardware investment by taking advantage of educational programs, tools, and training. Taking the first or next step is easier with a support system behind you.
The final article in this series looks at the latest trends in VDP, such as multi-channel marketing. Also, find a feature article on VDP in the March/April issue