Sales Strategies for Digital Packaging
For package printers looking to improve turnaround times or eager to add updated personalization services, investing in digital can offer a more efficient workflow and more services to provide to customers. As brand and consumer behaviors evolve, leading to a need for increased efficiency and individualized marketing, digital printing can help companies meet the changing needs of their customers.
But adding digital requires a two-prong approach for success: printers first must sell to their sales team, and then to their clients.
Selling to Your Sales Team
Before printers sell the benefits of digital to their customers — even before investing in digital printing equipment — the first step should be to ensure the sales team has a complete grasp of what digital brings to the table. As Bill Farquharson — president of Aspire For, a firm specializing in sales consulting for the graphic arts — explains, in addition to adjusting to changing technology, printers must evolve their sales approach.
Because digital printing has emerged so quickly, customers may still be in the process of understanding the benefits that it can bring to brand owners. Farquharson explains that salespeople may be in that boat as well, struggling to understand the mechanics and language behind this new method of printing as the demand for it continues to rise.
One way to bridge that gap, he says, is by relating digital printing’s capabilities to accessible, vertical markets that they may already understand.
“I would start with one application: Here’s a bank’s problem, and here’s how our digital press can solve that problem,” Farquharson says. “Or a hospital. Or a church. Or a college.”
Beyond its potential for problem solving, another important aspect of digital is its ability to bring new creative capabilities to brands. Once a sales team has established its technical understanding of digital, it can then target the creative individuals who would be interested in and can take advantage of this new production method.
“So now we have this great capability — we print to the individual,” Farquharson says. “Our job as salespeople is to go out and find those people who are creative, who can do something with it. We might be able to go out and say, ‘Hey, I’ve got an idea for you.’”
In some instances, however, problem solving can be even more important than a creative design, Farquharson says. Because digital has capabilities that analog does not, understanding how these benefits can relieve pain points can also help in the sales process.
“The thing about selling digital, in general, what was once optional — solving problems, being consulted, learning the business need, getting engaged at a higher level — is now mandatory,” Farquharson says. “Now you have to understand the business needs of your clients. You can no longer just say ‘print.’”
Selling to Your Clients
Once the sales staff has a firm grasp of digital printing’s benefits, the next step is spreading that message to prospective and existing clients. According to Mike Ferrari, president of Ferrari Innovation Solutions, a digital package printing consulting firm, these benefits include faster speed to market, efficient and agile workflow, quick turnaround times, and flexible customization.
For example, he says if a holiday is coming up, a brand can leverage digital to quickly react and turn around a product for an end user or shopper.
Another key advantage of digital printing is its cost savings, due to its removal of production steps and materials. Ferrari explains that an important part of the sales process is making sure clients are aware of the financial benefits the technology can provide.
“There is no penalty for short runs, or for offering short-run capabilities in a digital world where analog needs certain minimum quantities,” Ferrari says.
Beyond just digital printing, Ferrari explains that establishing an entirely digital workflow tied to an online ordering platform can simplify the buying process and make for a significant reduction in sales lead-time.
“When you have digital assets in the streamlined digital workflow, you can also have an online business solution,” Ferrari says. “People can order from you with whatever you’re selling, whether it be labels, folding cartons, or flexible packaging.”
With the immediacy of ecommerce, there is increased speed to market pressure. With digital printing, Ferrari says, companies can be in the best position to evolve with changing consumer needs.
“Change is happening more frequently from the consumer side,” Ferrari says. “The best [approach] is to look at technology and master plan an agile workflow.”
Do You Need Digital?
According to Ed Zumbiel, president of Zumbiel Digital, a digital package printing company in Hebron, Ky., the reasons a packaging company should invest in digital printing include speed to market and customer engagement.
“When speed to market is an absolute must, then digital is the only way to go,” Zumbiel explains. “We’ll bring in a high-res PDF, slap it on the press, output a press proof, FedEx it back to our customer, all within 20 hours. They sign off and they say that they’re good to go, and print.”
Another benefit of digital printing that Zumbiel Digital has explored is interactive elements including QR codes, customizable variable data, and other smart packaging initiatives. These tools, he says, can help brands engage consumers online, or entice them to share their information.
“When you’re trying to get some kind of interaction on social media, there’s a lot of ways you can use digital that you can’t do with analog, especially when you’re using variable data or graphics,” Zumbiel says.
Along with these factors, the size of the brand is also important to consider when adding digital. According to Carl Joachim, co-founder and CMO of ePac — an all-digital flexible packaging printer with locations across North America and one in Europe — small and medium sized companies in particular, can benefit from digital.
“In my view, digital printing is made for small and medium size brands because of all of the advantages of digital printing, which include low minimums and very quick turnaround time,” he says. “They can go to market quicker, and they can make changes quicker.”
One of the most important ways digital printing is critical for small and medium sized companies is in how it can help them target a certain community, Joachim says. These companies are often just starting out, he says, and a printer that can grow with them can build long-lasting partnerships.
“We have customers that were once quite small. Perhaps event startups,” Joachim says. “They work with us, and as they grow, as they evolve, they need a partner that can grow with them. It really develops into a partnership. For small and medium sized business owners, they need a partner who will grow with them.”