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Fabric Graphics, March April 2010, Digital Edition

Fabric Graphics, March April 2010, Digital Edition

Wide-format digital

Wide-format digital printers are optimistic and have a wide range of new substrates, inks and equipment to choose from. New technologies are being developed that make it easier to put a sharp, dynamic image on natural and manmade fibers. Marketing and markets Looking at new ways to market your services as we come out of the economic doldrums means uncovering new market segments and finding new opportunities to work with your customers and prospects. In September 2009, an SGIA Market Strategies survey identified the five top markets that “graphic imagers” are targeting: retail stores, corporate branding, ad agencies, nonprofit organizations and food service. More than half the respondents expect government and government contractors and health care to have a growing demand for specialty imaging. From a different perspective, Vince Mallardi, executive director of the Printing Brokerage/Buyers Association, has been analyzing the print buying market for more than 30 years. In his annual “Hot Markets” report, he looks at the top 25 print buying market segments. For 2009, there were several market segments that Mallardi anticipated would be buying signage, POP, outdoor advertising and other wide format printed products: small community banks, commercial real estate, telecommunications, automotive, lawn and garden, leisure activity, retail and health care. Mallardi cautioned that print purchasers in the retail, non-profit and food service segments would be flat, and home improvement could drop precipitously. He pointed to medical products and gaming as markets that would likely see an increase in print buying. 24 Fabric Graphics Mar|Apr 2010

Working with advertising agencies has its own special challenges. “We tend to work best with internal design staff rather than an agency,” says Scott Campbell, president of Rainier Industries. “All our biggest customers have in-house designers. It’s harder to build a strong bond with a customer through an agency.” IAC’s Wenzel notes that advertising agencies can be difficult to get into. “If you don’t speak to the right person at the right moment, you don’t connect.” At the same time, Wenzel appreciates that because agencies understand file setup and images, it simplifies the delivery of quality graphics. Find a partner The wide range of products coming off wide-format digital printers reaches from display graphics, such as POP signage, trade show graphics, banners and billboards, to an assortment of niche applications primarily involving printing direct to substrate. “Because the wide-format printers are so flexible and you can run so many things through them, the print service provider has a diverse range of options,” notes Jaime Giannantonio of Ultraflex Systems. Now is the time to help your customers promote their products and services better as the economy begins to turn around. As Wenzel says, “Understand the opportunity and don’t let it go. Get to the right person and build relationships.” And consider new working relationships with your customers. “In the past, we had a single-minded approach to what we could do,” says Jonathan Colley, president of PacBlue Printing. “Today it’s changed to, ‘What do you want to do?’ Anything’s possible. You tell us what you want and we’ll find a way to make it happen. We’re no longer a supplier, but we’ve become a partner.” Heading into a new year—and a new decade—wide-format digital printers are optimistic and have a wide range of new substrates, inks and equipment to choose from. New technologies are being developed that make it easier to put a sharp, dynamic image on natural and manmade fibers. “Textiles” suddenly includes fabric, film, carpet and even imitation leather. Partner with your customers, your equipment manufacturer and your ink and substrate providers. You’ll find more choices and more opportunities to grow your company. Taking advantage of the opportunities could soon make the best of times for your business. Companies mentioned in this article (in alphabetical order): 3M Banner Creations Big Ink Display Graphics Fastsigns HP Imaged Advertising Creations IT Strategies Mimaki Mutoh PacBlue Printing Rainier Industries Sawgrass Technologies Inc. SkinIt Stella Color Ultraflex Systems >> For more, search advertising at Gail Nickel-Kailing, Business Strategies Etc., provides outsourced business planning and marketing services and manages the execution of marketing communications tactics.

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