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Saying Goodbye to the Benefits of Big Iron

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In the printing industries it used to be that a company would buy a huge printing press, which we affectionately call big iron. Their market would only be marginally established. Over a period of time, their huge investment in big iron would pay off because of the opportunity it presented not only to the company, but also to the marketplace. Simply having the capability was enough to attract new business. Business often would develop organically, independent of the actual marketing effort. Pricing was based on quality, service, and price. You could have any two of the three.

In the printing industries it used to be that a company would buy a huge printing press, which we affectionately call big iron. Their market would only be marginally established. Over a period of time, their huge investment in big iron would pay off because of the opportunity it presented not only to the company, but also to the marketplace. Simply having the capability was enough to attract new business. Business often would develop organically, independent of the actual marketing effort. Pricing was based on quality, service, and price. You could have any two of the three. Now, we need all three and we’ve added smaller runs and faster turnaround times to the equation.

Today, the security of big iron is gone. Digital technologies are in continuous change. Products are obsolete as soon as they hit the market. Worse, the next generation of digital printing is twice as fast at half the cost. It’s therefore an economic disadvantage to be the first one in. The only exception to this is if you have a fully developed marketing plan, with customers and a backlog of orders in place. In this case, you have a chance of success, but it is only fleeting at best.

Note: This post is an excerpt from Mark Coudray’s Prepress Wire column that will appear in the October/November 2010 edition of Screen Printing. Don’t miss it!

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