Technology is a funny thing. On one hand, it can frustrate many of us; on the other hand, we can't live without it anymore. Regardless of how much or how little technology know-how you possess, advances in printing technology have made it possible for small businesses and individuals to market themselves professionally and affordably.
Since the emergence of the digital press in the late 1990's, quality marketing collateral has become accessible to everyone, especially clients looking for small-sized orders, or those looking to personalize their marketing.
Businesses have found that they can promote themselves as "specialists" in their area of expertise using digital printing. For example, I produce postcards for a local chiropractic firm. They order short runs; usually 50-100 postcards that often target a unique group, such as area high school athletic clubs. This particular postcard offers agility clinics focusing on young athletes looking to avoid sports injuries. Another card from the same chiropractor is sent to area Post Offices, advertising assistance to postal employees who have aches and pains from lifting and sorting all day. In this way, the chiropractic firm effectively advertises their specialty directly to a distinct business. This is just one example of how a marketing piece can be customized to specific potential clients, thanks to advances in digital printing.
Enhancements to computer programs used to generate print files have also made things easier for business owners and individuals looking to market their services. Digital files created with software such as Microsoft Publisher, Microsoft Word, and Adobe products can turn out professional looking marketing pieces. Once the digital files are saved, you can easily make text/image changes, and order additional copies quickly. Full-service printers accept files through their website or, if the printer is local, the files can be transferred from your flash drive.
Much of the progress in the printing industry has made printed pieces more affordable. Digital presses require less initial set-up costs, produce less chemical and hazardous waste by-products, as well as less paper waste, since the first print is as accurate as the last. The presses use improved toners, therefore finished pieces do not require the drying time of offset printing. They can be cut, folded and delivered almost immediately.
Personalization is another growing marketing trend involving digital technology. Using Variable Data Printing (VDP), businesses can send personalized mailings to prospective clients using mailing lists or other databases. VDP allows a printer to change the text or graphics on each printed piece without slowing or stopping the press, resulting in fast turnaround times and personalized marketing materials. A digital press must have the software capability to perform this feature, which may result in higher printing costs for VDP options.
Growth in every field is constant, and digital technology is no different. Advancements in digital printing have allowed smaller businesses and individuals to customize their marketing pieces to specific clients while benefitting from reduced operational costs. Digital customers can also take advantage of creating their own files with easily accessible software, allowing them to maintain creative control over their business and turn out quality printed pieces as professional as any Fortune 500 company. Hmm, maybe technology isn't such a funny thing after all.