One of the basic historical tools for business promotion has long been the colour print glossy brochure. The design and production of these was a staple of all businesses who had to promote a product or service. Using a designer and then contracting for production was a regular and often expensive task. Of course the fancier your business the fancier the need for brochures and flyers to promote it.
With the advent of desktop publishing computer programs and online services which design standard brochure layouts it became possible for business owners and managers to start to setup and design their own material. Often not quite as fancy as the professionally designed pieces, these self created tools were faster, more specific and much less costly since large print runs were not necessary to make them useful. Doing a small 50 or 100 piece run for a trade show with a show specific offer was possible. In the early days production was done on small inkjet printers which offered the ability to produce the short run brochure in colour and on a variety of paper stocks. Were they as nice and perfect as the professional glossy brochure? Of course not, but in many instances they were alright and for an SMB business the flexibility and cost savings were well worth the effort.
The web as a primary tool
With the advent of the Internet and the company web presence being a top level tool for businesses a new approach to marketing materials is evolving.
Using their Internet pages as a primary source of marketing brochures and information pieces is now a staple of most businesses. Customers and potential customers look for the information which used to be part of the glossy brochure online these days. They also expect much more indepth coverage of products, support offerings and helpful guides to use. The primary source of information about most products is often the web.
What this has done is permit businesses to change their practices as it relates to colour print production.
Insourcing colour can work and bring flexibility (case study)
One of our clients, a Credit Union, made such a change when they refreshed their MFP print fleet a year or so ago. At the initial stages of the upgrade discussion the only products being considered were mono MFPs for all offices with the possibility of a colour device for the marketing department. To assist the purchasers to understand what they were buying a demo of the colour MFP was provided to the key players including the marketing manager.
"What would the difference (price) be if we went with all colour capable devices for all the branches?" was the first question from the marketing manager when the demo was finished.
As I discussed it further with my clients I was aware that the proposed budget did not include the price level, either from a hardware or operating cost basis of upgrading all devices to colour, but the marketing manager went on to explain that one of the key problems they had to manage was for their branches to have quality, readily available printed colour materials for employees to present to members in the branches. The time delay and waste of materials associated with trying to produce material centrally for the branches was just too cumbersome.
"We are trying to make sure that all of the materials the branches need are available on our intranet but they can only produce hard copies of these materials in black and white currently and that means they have to try to stockpile colour. It stops us from doing timely updates and making the intranet material consistent with what our members can see online." As the marketing manager related the issue it became evident that somehow we and our primary contact had to figure out a way to meet the need.
It is now over a year later and the upgrade has been done with each branch receiving a colour capable MFP and now having the means to produce material printed in colour as needed. The result of the change was a small capital increase and an operating plan which provided good colour pricing. Being able to use one of the new multiple price point colour plans based on coverage for most devices helped. The marketing department now designs the materials placed on the intranet and on their website in a manner which takes into account the need for them to be printed on a colour laser device. Principal considerations related to the spacing of material to permit the white border around a document which is part of the laser print process.
The result has been a positive one for all parties. The consistency of the devices provides good quality with ease of production for the branches. Marketing can design quality materials they know will look good to compliment their services to members and prospective members. We are comfortable with the price model and are able to provide excellent support to the users.
All in all a win for all parties and a creative use of the tools available in the market today. I'm certainly glad the marketing manager asked the right question.
How many colour brochures have you thrown out recently? Are you wasting resources with outsourcing colour printing?