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Printing Today – Much More Than Ink on Paper

By Toti Cadavid

Printing Today – Much More Than Ink on Paper
(There are a multitude of printers in the Metro Denver area and time permitting we would have interviewed them all to show the diverse capabilities in the industry. However we selected a cross section of small, large and specialty printers to give an example of what services are available. This included Tewell Warren, Pressroom and Foils and Dies. There are many other capable printers in each of these categories that can handle your printing and marketing needs.)

With the digital age replacing much of the printed material the doomsday message for the industry has made printers reinvent themselves and become full service marketers.
Television was going to kill radio and the movie industry and the Internet was going to kill television. Yet, they all survive. The Internet has damaged the circulation of printed newspapers and magazines, but these media will not go away as they are reinventing themselves online.
The digital age has altered how printing is used but has only added to the capabilities of using print successfully. The days of making one print run in quantity and not being able to update or make changes are gone. Now there is print on demand, just the quantity needed, tailored to specific needs and in small or large quantities. The printing presses have moved into the digital age and can be programed to fill specific needs.
It is no secret that most sales are initiated on the Internet. But, how did the customer find that Internet connection? Usually through a direct mail piece or other form of traditional media. The value of print is that it drives business to stores, the web and increases response rates.

For years there were limited options of printing presses available. Letterpress was the oldest of the presses, slow and somewhat cumbersome. Sheet fed became the workhorse and handled most of the small to medium jobs. The web was for large runs such as newspapers and high circulation magazines. Each came in various sizes, filled specific needs and put ink on paper.

Now comes the digital revolution. The presses no longer just put ink on paper, they also can personalize each sheet, print in more than four colors, and bring a finished direct mail piece off the press in carrier pre-sorted order ready for the post office.

To do this a well-prepared media plan and database are needed and this is where the printer has become a marketer. The print customer is offered multi-media options to complete the marketing effort. Website, social marketing, email, direct mail and fulfillment are all available from the printer along with a printed message.

Making full use of a printer
There has been a lot of consolidation in the printing industry as national companies that are assembling a chain of capabilities to fill every printing need by purchase local printers. The parent company can also now offer programs and tools that will provide customers a myriad of options for organizing, protecting and facilitating efficient use of the company’s digital assets.

An example is Denver’s Tewell Warren that is now part of Consolidated Graphics. A national company can store their photos, layouts, logos, presentations and other materials with the printer. Then, local stores or franchisees can go online and pull the marketing materials they need and adapt them to the local market, have them printed at the nearest Consolidated plant and save shipping costs. The corporate office can monitor and approve the material being used with onscreen proofing, help the local store with database integration or list procurement all from the printers storage facility.

Another example is the ability to publish. A client can design their own book or magazine or use Consolidated’s pre-designed templates and integrated Adobe InDesign plug-in. This allows the customer to print anywhere from one to thousands of books.

Another service is the ability to offer personalized direct mail, websites, e-mail, text messaging, QR Codes and social media to give the customer a complete marketing program.

Providing these services is how printers have reinvented themselves to become marketing companies. John Bruxvoort, President of Tewell Warren in Denver said, “Print is not the only medium to use, but neither is any other single medium. Develop your plan, know how to reach your customers, then build a campaign using direct mail, e-blast or other cross media efforts.” He continued, “Printing is still the highest return on investment as people still like something tangible to hold in their hand. There will always be change and we need to respond with solutions to help meet the needs of the change.”

What goes around comes around - and that is letterpress
The introduction of all the digital, high speed printing innovations has not changed the need for an occasional high quality printed piece. Letterpress is a 550 year-old technology that still offers quality and craftsmanship.

Rob Barnes is owner of Foils & Dies in Denver, a company he founded over 15 years ago. At the time people told him he was crazy, as the digital age would put the old technology out of business. According to Barnes, “The most interesting thing about foil stamping, die cutting and letterpress printing is the revival of interest in letterpress the last 15 years. Every day someone new walks through the door that has never seen this medium.” Barns continued, “Digital printing is one dimensional but with foil stamping, embossing and die cutting, a letterpress will make it multi-dimensional.”

Foils and Dies is a museum of printing with 150 year-old presses, linotype machine, and presses that allow them to hand set wood type for poster headlines. Customers include individuals for custom wedding invitations and business cards, design agencies and ad agencies that want special marketing collateral. Digital printers will send work to add additional pop to a job.

What about the smaller printer
Ted Walker owner of The Pressroom noted over the last 12 months that digital printing has been become the largest part of their business. In December, The Pressroom added a new state of the art Xerox 700i printer that will make booklets inline, has a nice silky look to the printing and screen areas that are very consistent.

The Pressroom niche is customers who need 200-2000 printed pieces. The digital press lets them produce 100 wedding invitations, 250 business cards or 2000 booklets very economically. Their customers include several healthcare industry accounts, start-up businesses and medical suppliers. They are set-up to do short run (200-2000) variable data printing with match mailing combining envelope and letter on a short turn-around basis. Walker feels their niche is the ability to be flexible and give good customer service. Their clients want to work with someone they know that will make suggestions to improve their project and help them avoid pitfalls. And the pricing is very competitive.

The Pressroom is also capable of producing larger format signs and banners. This portion of the business is growing as materials are produced for home owner associations, real estate agents and labels for bottles and bags.

As to the future of printing, Walker says, “Print is not dead, just changing. What we don’t know is what will change. People like the flexibility of looking at something, holding it in their hand and thinking about it without having to make a snap decision that maybe email or TV requires. Print will survive based on the human component that we have to take a while to think things through.”

Print is a part of any marketing plan, whether it is direct mail, brochures, catalogs or fliers. It should never be the only piece of the plan but is effective in driving a potential customer to a website or a storefront. Today’s print services are all inclusive providing complete marketing options including web development, email, and social marketing. Many printers provide programs or templates to help customers build a printed piece. Other services include fulfillment where the customer can order printed material as needed, mailing services, mail lists and shipping to multiple locations.

As with any marketing, nothing works until the plan has an objective, a direction, and knowledge of whom the customer is and what message is to be delivered. Then is the time to get others involved, be it printers, ad agencies or graphic designers. With this help a timetable can be set, media selected, creative developed and select a supplier that is the best fit for the job.

There are over two pages of printers listed in the phone book, some local, some national, but all with specialties to fit your needs. In some cases you may want to use a print consultant that knows who can best fill your needs within the budget. The important thing is to take advantage of the many services offered. The printers are great advisors as they are the professionals that know the business and how best to economically complete your project.

The Printing Industry Association-Mountain States (PIA-MS) is the trade organization for printers in Colorado and surrounding states. The organization assists members with key benchmarking tools to help them manage their bottom line, offer them services which help them with managing the daily aspects of running their businesses; we encourage them to utilize PIA-MS discount programs to further drop dollars to their bottom line. This support providing the resources necessary to every business owner all without more than a phone call.

Colorado printing statistics from 2010/2011
• Number of Establishments in CO. 535, Up from 515 in 2009
• Number of Employees in CO: 5,686, Down from 11,810 in 2009
* Value of Shipments in CO: $839 Million, Down from $1.8 Billion in 2009
• Denver Ranking in Print Markets: #26
• Denver Ranking in Population: #26 largest city in the country
The big take away from these numbers is that technology has allowed printers to reduce staff but also has created a competitive environment which has driven pricing down to the basement.  Notice the number of total establishments is up.

Offset printing – technique where the inked image is transferred (or "offset") from a plate to a rubber blanket, then to the printing surface.
Letterpress (flatbed) - a mechanical device for applying pressure to an inked surface resting upon a medium (such as paper or cloth), thereby transferring an image.
Sheet fed - prints on individual sheets of paper, as opposed to continuous rolls of paper
Web press - prints on continuous rolls of paper or other substrates
Variable data - a form of digital printing, including HYPERLINK "" on-demand printing, in which elements such as HYPERLINK "" text, HYPERLINK "" graphics and HYPERLINK "" images may be changed from one printed piece to the next, without stopping or slowing down the printing process and using information from a HYPERLINK "" database or external file[1
Fulfillment – The printer stores the printed material and sends as requested or maintains the print files and prints the quantity requested (print on demand)
Print on demand - technology and business process in which new copies of a book (or other document) are not printed until an order has been received,
Photocopy - Xerographic office photocopying was introduced by HYPERLINK "" Xerox in the 1960s, and over the following 20 years it gradually replaced copies made by Verifax, HYPERLINK "" Photostat, HYPERLINK "" carbon paper, HYPERLINK "" mimeograph machines, and other HYPERLINK "" duplicating machines.
Embossing - typically accomplished by applying HYPERLINK "" heat and HYPERLINK "" pressure with male and female dies, usually made of copper or brass, that fit together and squeeze the fibers of the substrate

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