By Tim Greene
W. Edwards Deming, for whom the Deming Award for Quality is named, said that “learning is not compulsory…neither is survival.” To stop learning is to stop growing, and to stop growing is to start failing.
Finding new markets and new applications is the key to success in the wide format digital printing market. In a survey InfoTrends did last spring with Image Reports magazine in the UK, 67-percent of printers reported that finding new markets and entering new areas is either a very high or high priority.
Those of you in the wide format digital graphics business have an amazing variety of learning opportunities available to you. One of the biggest trends I see on the manufacturer and dealer side is the growth of programs that teach end users how to use digital printing products, how to sell their products and how to find customers. Vinyl companies have set the bar here by offering classes on how to apply their materials. The result has been the formation of organized bodies of professional decal and vehicle graphics installers.
As I follow industry news, I see a steady stream of similar learning opportunities promoted (and sponsored) by equipment vendors and distributors. One example is the schedule of training seminars offered by Sawgrass Systems, which includes more than 20 sessions throughout the year on everything from production techniques to sales and marketing tips to new market awareness training.
The company is trying hard to help its customers make money using its inks. The wide format digital printing equipment vendors do a lot of this too. Roland has established “Roland Academy,” which offers frequent application and equipment training to help customers get the most out of their equipment. A lot of the training offered by these companies is about adjacent market opportunities, such as the production of photo gifts of customized apparel.
There is another saying: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” This is just no longer true. If you always do what you’ve always done, the exact same way, people will want to pay less and less for that same thing every year. As a printer, especially if you are a small printing company, you have to keep trying new things and finding new niches to add profitable new lines of business.
Take advantage of the low-cost, low-risk opportunities that your vendors offer. They want you to—because your success is their success.