Part 1 of 2
By adding design to service offerings, digital print service providers (PSPs) become value-added partners. Business owners are tasked with wearing many hats, and design capabilities can be overwhelming. However, offering these services as an add-on to print and finishing expands customers’ options and ensures they don’t go elsewhere.
The newest design solutions on the market offer flexibility as well as address the requirements of more seasoned designers, by offering robust platforms handling complex functions behind the scenes. Also, these solutions are keeping pace with recent demands such as personalization and simplification in design, in addition to offering features such as collaboration between multiple, disparate parties—as more people work from home instead of in the office.
Importance of Design
Digital PSPs need to consider adding design services to their offerings if they haven’t done so already. Being able to offer customers the whole package—design and print—is something many customers look for when deciding when to use a specific PSP.
Despite the disruption of COVID-19 to all businesses the past year and a half, “clients still have a big need for compelling, eye-catching, and impactful visual communications. As the pandemic forces us to depend on the web, online events, and social media platforms to connect with customers, by diversifying and adding design services to their portfolio, print providers can find new ways to serve these clients and open new revenue streams,” explains John Falsetto, senior director of products, graphics and productivity, Corel Corporation.
“I’m a big proponent of print providers providing design services—it’s a revenue generator, a cost savings, and a promotional benefit. Good product design services will win repeat business from casual customers who lack the tools and skill, and strengthen the partnership with business clients who choose to outsource such services. Adding web design is a natural tie in, and transitions the print provider to a true marketing partner,” says Mark Gallucci, manager, technology marketing, GS/professional services, Agfa.
Dmitry Sevostyanov, CEO, Customer’s Canvas by Aurigma, agrees that adding design services gives customers a reason to choose a PSP over its competitor. Offering customers design services is ideal for those print buyers without the skills to create designs on their own. “They simply don’t have the time or resources. Therefore, the option to buy quality designs for their products is just as important to them as quality printing and overall service. Additionally, clients will return to suppliers where they have already accumulated a bank of designs so they can easily reuse them.”
Trending in Design
Current design trends in commercial print include adding embellishments and variable data printing (VDP). There are a number of tools that address these trends and more.
Quality standards continue to rise based on market demand. “Companies must invest in quality design work if they want to stand out from the competition, but not everyone can afford professional designers. This creates an opportunity for printing companies to offer design services for marketing materials in addition to printing services,” says Sevostyanov.
All around simplicity is something Falsetto has noticed. “Simplified designs, both as a design trend but also to be more environmentally conscious by using less ink and fewer colors. We’ve also seen the continued trend towards on demand printing, as well as personalization. Another movement that has taken on great momentum is socially conscious design.”
Tools that help achieve simplicity, according to Falsetto, are any that provide the ability to finish quicker, with fewer iterations, misprints, drafts, or updates.
Cross-media communication or multi-channel marketing continues to be important for commercial print, according to Gallucci. This includes direct mail, web advertisements and sites, print communication, and signage. “Web designers have a preference for the tools that they use. And when offering web design, email marketing services add significant value. Design of such emails significantly impacts their click rate, so choosing the appropriate tools is important.”
“Marketers don’t want to be limited to any one channel and instead seek to maximize the return on their efforts by using several at once. Ideally, ordering tools should offer customers the possibility to use prepared designs in digital format as well as print,” adds Sevostyanov.
Variable data or personalization is another rising trend. “Generic, impersonal messages perform much worse than targeted communications, including those in print advertising. Therefore, marketers are seeking ways to create personalized VDP materials,” shares Sevostyanov.
This is achieved, according to Sevostyanov, with tools like web to print (W2P) solutions, which can be integrated into online ordering systems used by a PSP’s business-to-business customers. This technology allows printers to offer a variety of designs while maintaining high quality and speed when processing unique orders.
Challenges to Overcome
Adding design to a PSP’s service offering can present challenges. However, these are easily overcome when the correct design software is chosen for the job and the print provider.
One thing to consider, is that design services can be provided in many different ways. One option is the client submits a task to dedicated designers. Another method is to create libraries of ready-made templates for users to choose, edit, and approve.
“The first method is expensive with high time and labor costs. The second method optimizes costs and increases the speed of service for each client. Designers at the printing company don’t need to engage in order-by-order work when they can work with a database of templates,” explains Sevostyanov.
Falsetto suggests the biggest challenge may be finding the right designer to bring a client’s vision to life. “Graphic design is a highly skilled profession, and you may not currently have the right talent within your print company’s current staffing. There can be a significant difference in skills between a graphic designer and a graphics production expert.”
“Finding the right people—not just design but also sales and marketing—can be a challenge, but looking within the organization is a good first step. Identifying talent within and getting people excited about new opportunities motivates them to learn and grow,” notes Gallucci.
The positives outweigh the negatives when it comes to adding design services to the mix. Commercial printers need to say ahead of the competition, adding design as a service allows them to do so. Customers enjoy a one-stop shop.
The next article in this two-part series is a roundup on available design solutions—standalone as well as those in a W2P solution.
May2021, DPS Magazine