Digital Printing: Dynamic, Innovative, Flexible
Digital Printing: Dynamic, Innovative, Flexible and the Wave of the Future
Every day someone is talking about digital, and for each person it can mean something different. In general, digital means communication and distribution of knowledge through a variety of channels including on the computer, a mobile device, television, video, and audio. In other words, anything that’s electronic. The word also connotes communications that are efficient, immediate and impactful.
In the marketing world, digital means connecting with targeted audiences without borders. In the printing world, it’s a means of printing where the images can be the same or variable from piece to piece.
Although digital printing presses have been around since the early 1990s, they are constantly evolving. In the past 10 years as the quality, speed and price points have improved, the marketplace has been more and more accepting of this format. And it’s no secret that all printing today starts in someone’s computer.
How does digital printing work? Basically, on the press, a digital image goes into a computer and is then transferred onto a variety of surfaces and/or paper stocks, allowing files to be quickly and economically printed, usually in short run quantities of 5,000 or less—although this is changing. This approach compares to color offset printing, commonly used for high-volume commercial work, which involves preparing and printing the artwork through a time consuming pre-press plate process that allows for very little flexibility.
So what does this mean to a marketer in today’s fast-paced environment? It means that digital printing not only has arrived, it’s definitely the wave of the future. To ride the wave, here are a few things to keep in mind:
Digital technology is a vital means of communication. The use of digital technology is an absolute must in this age of targeting the customer and providing that customer with the information he or she will respond to.
Digital printing has become more competitive. Compared with traditional printing, digital printing becomes more competitive as the number of versions increase, and costs go down. Until recently, the quantities were typically limited, but as new technology has come on the market, variable imaged programs are run as trigger campaigns and produced as the customer defines the criteria.
Be aware of the paper stock used for the campaign. Whenever technology changes rapidly, it’s always a scramble to keep up with the ramifications. In the case of inkjet technology, the paper companies are in some cases still trying to figure out how to provide the right stock to the printer. Marketers should make sure they are in the loop on this topic.
Think through the whole campaign from beginning to end. Digital printing provides the opportunity to use various marketing channels and make electronic changes on the fly. As a result, it’s even more important to carefully think through a whole campaign. The best advice is to work closely with your printing provider to take advantage of that provider’s technology, scalability and flexibility.