I recently sat in on a webinar produced by Mike Messemer with XMPie. The gist of the presentation dealt with the complexity of variable data projects and that many sales reps (and their companies) are poorly prepared to deal with them. He stressed the need for good planning and the need to communicate effectively with the client regarding expected results from these types of projects. Boy, did he hit the nail on the head.
Over the past several years, I have spoken to dozens of owners, as well as speaking to a multitude (more than 15?) of digital print manufacturing executives. What I have observed, to quote Dick Gorelick, is a solution looking for a problem.
Everyone in this market is challenged with the fact that selling a VDP (variable data printing) solution is much more than selling printing. It’s a much more complex project than just being a print provider. You’re dealing with multi-media marketing – mail, web interfaces (PURLs), email, data tracking, and data manipulation, as well as trying to sell the idea of 1:1 marketing. Management needs to understand that its sales force must be totally retrained, replaced, or supplemented. You can not just “build it, and they will come.”
Messemer did a very good job of detailing the technical complexities of what it takes to sell and produce a variable data printing project. Although it was not the prevue of his webinar, I would love to hear good solid information aimed at owners and sales/marketing managers of the need to rethink their whole sales approach once they step into the digital print arena. Sales comp has to change. Strategies need to change. The type of rep who will be successful will be trained differently. AND the entire business will have to change. We no longer are just printers – but something else. The term du jour is marketing service provider, but I see us entering the world of visual communications providers a.k.a. printer.