Home' Australian Printer Magazine : September 2014 Contents 20 September 2014 - Australian Printer
BUSINESS: SELLING PRINT
need to think
HE future of print
and of the printing
industry are obviously
related, but I think it is
important to separate
the two in order to
consider your f uture as
a printing salesperson. The future of
print is partly technical and partly
On the technical side, we have
seem amazing changes in the scope
of what printing machines can do.
On the sociological side, we have
seen a lot of what we used to print
migrate to different mediums, or
substrates. I think the future of the
printing industry, and your future as
a printing salesperson, have a lot to
do w ith mastering those substrates.
What is printing?
WHAT is printing any way? Here
is a fairly representative definition
from one of the many online
dictionaries: Printing is the skill,
process, or business of producing
books, newspapers, brochures and
the like by impression from movable
types, plates and so on. I would
like to suggest an even more basic
definition: Printing is a process for
putting colour on paper or other
Let’s expand on that definition.
The colour can be monotone,
halftone or continuous tone. In other
words, it can be black or any PMS
colour, the white effect of paper
showing through ink, CMYK, or
even six-colour or eight-colour high
fidelity colour. It can be ink or toner.
It can also be words, images, or both.
As for paper and other substrates,
printers have always described what
they do as putting ink on paper,
and obviously that has expanded to
toner, but it has also expanded to
clear film and vinyl and plastic and
fabric. I have a client who cut a big
square out of the bottom of their
flatbed printer, and they routinely
jack large blocks of non-porous stone
up under the printing heads. Large
format printing in particular has
always been about other substrates.
But here is the main point I am
hoping to make today. A webpage is
a substrate. A n email is a substrate.
A text message is a substrate. A
Facebook post is a substrate. A ny
place words and/or images appear
provides an oppor tunity for a print
business and its salespeople.
Why is printing?
NO, it is not good grammar, but
the question, why is printing?
is still an important part of this
discussion. From my perspective,
there are two types of printing in
the world, promotional printing and
Promotional printing is used
to promote companies and their
products and ser vices via brochures,
catalogues, mailers and anything
else that is printed and then used in
sales, marketing or merchandising.
Operational printing is more
internal and includes forms, labels,
manuals and documents.
In the old days we used to print
all of this on paper. These days, a
lot of it is ‘printed’ and viewed on
electronic substrates. But there is
still a need for assistance with the
printing, and there has always been
a need for assistance with the overall
business strategy that the printing
is part of. And that takes us to the
transition from print provider to
marketing ser vices provider, which
is a real avenue to a healthy future
for the printing industry.
Can you sell it?
I know lots of printing salespeople
who are not convinced that they can
sell marketing ser vices. One recently
tolde me, “I know printing and paper
and ink, I don’t know anything about
marketing. I said, “That is not true.
I am pretty sure you k now more than
you think. And I am equally sure you
can learn more if you set your mind
That is really the key. Some
salespeople will look at this as a
sales challenge, to continue to get a
share of a diminishing market for
ink or toner on paper. Others will
see it as a learning challenge, to
equip themselves to share in an even
larger market. Some will accept that
it is just another learning challenge,
because after all, no one was born
knowing enough about print to sell
it effectively. You had to learn print,
now you have to learn marketing. Or
I think that depends on how
much of a f uture you want in the
printing industry. I am 63 years old.
If I were a print-only salesperson,
I could probably run out the string
to retirement without investing
much in learning about marketing
(assuming that I am doing all right
with what I have). If you are younger,
you really have to face the fact that
your ability to earn a living selling
print-only will diminish ever y year.
There is going to be less print in the
future than there has been in the
past. That writing is already on the
So my advice is to start learning
how to be a marketing consultant,
not just a print consultant. I will
write more about how to do that
over the next several months. But
here is one thing you can star t doing
right away. Start talking with your
customers about their goals for
2015. Why? Because those goals are
the starting point for nex t year’s
marketing plan, and you want to be
part of it.
Dave Fellman is the president of
David Fellman & Associates, a graphic
arts industry consulting firm based in
Car y, NC, US. He is a popular speaker
who has delivered keynotes and
seminars at industry events across
Australia, the US, Canada, England,
and Ireland. He is the author of “Sell
More Printing” (2009) and “Listen To
The Dinosaur” (2010). Visit his website
The future of print(ing sales)
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