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Are we truly sacrificing the value of print?

Traditionally, offset printing was focused on craftsmanship. The quality of the printed piece was very dependant on the ability of the operator to control the process, somewhat like traditional photography.  However, advanced controls have been implemented in the modern output device such as an offset or digital press to manage the process better.  Of course, to be able to produce a beautifully printed piece or a photograph, there still takes certain expertise.

Offset Press Makeready on the Heidelberg Printmaster PM74-4

Often press operators would eventually take the entrepreneurial approach to become print shop owners.  However, there are significant barriers to entry in starting an offset printing company, such as the skill level required and the cost of capital-intensive equipment.  Those who had access to the financial resources and skills, were very often rewarded for their efforts.  Today though, printers are challenged by the declining demand for print in the communication mix and the intense competition.  With the introduction to the intranet and online marketing, it is both faster and more cost-effective to utilize this electronic media, but it is definitely not always the right and most effective choice. With new technologies, the craftmanship of printing has turned into industrial manufacturing.  This has resulted in commodity pricing characteristics as a result of loss of differentiation.  Printers have now been pressured into expanding their offerings with auxiliary services, to restore their profitability to acceptable levels.

Many of these companies need to focus on emphasizing the true tangible values of print that we have benefitted from for centuries.  Very few printers invest in marketing to identify and promote their unique offerings to the market.  Yes, printing is perhaps a commodity as I previously alluded to, but each and every company has their unique strengths and offerings.  There are a few companies that stand out amongst the crowd that have been very innovative such as Pazzaz Printing, Montreal with their Printing’s Alive video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VpAuDrs5ocg and Hemlock Printing, Vancouver with their Hemlock hPad Commercial http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sn65U_f5CO0

Perhaps printers should ask themselves…do we have a professional on our team to implement a strong marketing strategy on how to promote our unique offerings to benefit potential clients?