Printing in-house – still too hard

23/01/2007

Laser colour printers are as affordable as never before. The prices have fallen through the floor and keep falling even further. Printer manufacturers hope that businesses will do more printing in-house as the prices fall, but this may be misguided. This post analyses why printing in-house is still not a very good idea.

Dodgy marketing and pushy sales

Not all printer manufactures are up-front with their customers regarding the real costs of printing. Very few of them provide any information on the “Cost Per Page” or CPP and even less of them disclose the cost of ownership over a certain period. Their excuse that “it all depends” is lame in the eyes of the consumer. Consumers want some indication and will not make a purchasing decision until they are sure they won’t open their wallet for a day-time robbery on consumables, as they do for ink-jets.

Unfortunately, most manufacturers stick to pushy sales tactics that do not genuinely highlight strengths and weaknesses of a particular device. Getting reliable information beyond what is said in a glossy brochure is not always easy either.

Test prints and technical advice

Providing an opportunity to do full colour test prints can be the best point-of-sale marketing. It’s hard to resist when you see a stunning quality picture appearing before your eyes.
Many sales people are simply not qualified enough to sell a colour laser printer. The technology is quite complex and people do ask questions they wouldn’t ask buying a B/W printer.

Full colour printing – what for?

It’s a good question. Obviously, businesses would like to do full colour printing in house, if it was easy enough to do and cost them less overall than outsourcing it to a printing company. The likely candidates for in-house printing are marketing and presentation products, as well as stationery, like business cards, letterheads, compli-slips and so on. Individuals would like to print photos, images, postcards, small posters and other things for fun or leisure.

Can business do printing in-house even if they had a colour printer?
Only to a very limited extent!

Manufacturers are missing the reality

The actual process of printing out a page is only a small step in a larger process that consists of:

the inception – the idea exists in someone’s head or as a rough sketch on a whiteboard
layout – usually outsourced to a professional designer
content – prepared in-house and passed onto the designers
printing – yes, can do this now
finishing and assembling – includes cutting, folding, stapling, binding, laminating

Production of effective marketing materials requires much more than plain colour printing.
Somehow printer manufacturers ignore the rest of the process and tend to think in the terms of B/W printing of documents on plain A4.

A more detailed analysis of the missing bits will follow in the coming posts.

What others say

Jim Lyons (a very reputable voice in printer manufacturing) posted his observations on adoption of full colour printing in his “Observations: All Color All The Time?” article.

Vince Ferraro, a Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for the HP LaserJet Business Unit, had an interesting post on in-house marketing that only proves the point that HP still thinks in terms of B/W printing process upgraded to full colour.

Compare what Frank J. Romano, professor emeritus from School of Print Media in Rochester Institute of Technology was saying about printing trends back in 2004.

Xerox has a special page for printers recommended for in-house printing. The page includes a handful of document templates and layouts.

Speaking of Xerox …
Remember that good old joke of making a copy of something … very private? Here are 2 variations in case you haven’t seen them :-)

European version:
[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6QobgQuSFDQ”]

Japaneese version:
[youtube=”http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a12nBoBQ2qk”]

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