Printing News 2/1/2007


Where’s the Money?


Companies in the printing industry, regardless of the size, continue to prosper through the printing of sales and marketing collateral. While many customers may opt to print at home or utilize the services of the corner copy shop, these aren’t the ones that rely on the printed piece to build revenue, or in some cases, make rather than break their business. The customer who chooses print over other means of communication, such as the Internet or other advertising, is concerned with reaching its target audience in the most effective and long lasting way. Print is the answer.


For those who shop on price alone, the Internet may well be the way to go. However, for those who have a lot riding on their catalogs, flyers and brochures, utilizing the services of a knowledgeable, and more importantly, present company is the only sane choice. That is the only place that the client will receive individualized items along with customer service and a guarantee that their product will be unique, done right, and on time. The nameless, faceless companies probably will not offer the same. And if there’s a problem, what do you do?


The Market


Most printers who specialize in printing sales and marketing collateral are more concerned about producing quality work rather than those who sell on price alone. Collectively, they take pride in the high quality work they put out every day and know that their customers realize the benefits of their relationships.


“We try not to compete on price,” said Scott Weissner, CEO of Sorrells Printing. “We focus on service. We’re very proactive that way. Those who compete solely on price often gang run their jobs and the quality is not there. They’re putting out low quality. We don’t do that.”


Sorrells, based in Ocala, Florida is located in a small area known for its thoroughbreds and real estate ventures. While work may seem scarce to the uninformed, Sorrells makes its mark by servicing the area’s niche markets. 10-12% of Sorrells’ business focuses on sales and marketing materials, ranging from postcards to DVD covers to catalogs and brochures. “I think our own competitors would be shocked at the volume,” said Weissner. “We’re not looking for the run of the mill stuff. We do custom work with uniqueness of design.”


Cliff Krauter of The Marsis-M&M Group believes that service will outweigh cost every day of the week. “Printing is such a personal thing,” said Krauter. “But it’s not just about price, it’s about the service. Service is key.” Krauter’s belief that printing is a service based business pervades every aspect of the work. Churning out work based on price simply is not an option. Regarding those who shop on price as opposed to quality, Krauter believes that those who push a button and walk away aren’t as responsible when it comes to producing quality. “As they get more and more and the price goes down, chances are that something can go wrong.”


In targeting a specific market for this specialized printing, Krauter feels that developing a niche is a primary goal.  “Target is really a difficult word to use when you’re dealing with printing. Identifying markets is a big thing,” said Krauter. “What we’ve been doing is niche marketing, to places such as churches and not-for-profits. You tailor your work to their needs and it makes them feel special because the work is customized tailored to them.”


“I think we can offer good, competitive pricing,” said Aimee Lawler, GM of Burke Printing in Lake Bluff, IL. Burke, a small to medium size offset printer, also operates a satellite copy shop that services clients who need basic work in a hurry. “The difference is that when we print our work, it’s not down and dirty. Those people who go to Kinko’s for the price come back to me because you can’t compare the quality.” Lawler, who estimates that 50% of their business can be attributed to printing marketing collateral, says that the other half focuses on correlating items used by the same companies, such as letterhead, envelopes, and invoices.


Bob Doherty of Lithoprint, located in Austin, TX cites experience along with competitive pricing as a model for success. With 75% of Lithoprint’s business coming from sales and marketing printing to a wide variety of clients - design studios, ad agencies, marketing firms and large corporations, its sales people are an integral part.


“We’ve been in business since 1939,” said Doherty. “We feel that our expertise makes it a safer bet for out clients. Most of our employees have been here a long time. Our sales team is seasoned, and our customer service is as well. We convey our confidence and it come across.”


For Long Island City’s On Demand Printing, both value and service play a major role. Serving ad agencies as well as big names in the entertainment industry, ODP is very client oriented, as is their concern for maintaining costs. With 80-90% of the business focused on high end sales, ODP seems to have the right formula.


“At the end of the day, the client won’t mind paying a couple more dollars to get the customer service,” said Chris Gravagna, CEO. “ I work for my clients. If I don’t do a good job, my client will fire me. We have to find a way to do a good job and to save them money.”


One way Gravagna saves his clients money is by using a new 6c 40” Komori that cuts the prep and run time down by 40-50% per job. And as they say, time is money.



The Competition


Many think that with the increased usage of the Internet as a marketing tool, printing will take a distant second place; or at some point will become obsolete. Not so. Although many rely on cyberspace to spread their message, there are far more who realize the value of the printed piece to promote their products and services. Items such as high end sales flyers, brochures and other marketing collateral are still at the top of the ladder when it comes to sales and promotion.


Why is this still true considering the leaps and bounds made by computer and cyberspace technologies and capabilities? The answer is that there really is no answer. However, one chief complaint is that advertising and marketing online does not target the client’s total intended audience. The number of people – business professionals and individuals – who do not access the Internet is astoundingly high – a fact overlooked by many marketing firms. Also, the printed piece can say many things that a website cannot. A printed piece can appeal to the most basic levels of a person’s senses, thereby giving it a power not realized by sight alone. Printed items, first and foremost, have the visual effect - that is true. However, as part of a survey, majority of print shop patrons clients have stated that there is nothing better the feel of an item in hand. The ability to hold an object, along with the feel of the paper and finishing aspects is what people remember most about a printed piece and the company it represents. Texture, true color, and its accoutrements target the senses and leave a lasting impression. This isn’t just paper – it’s sensory delight. Clients also that the smell of the printer’s ink is another reason why they choose to buy. Sharing these things among friends and colleagues, along with conversation, is something that cannot be accomplished with a website alone. A printed piece is something you can hang on to, refer to, and pass along without the aid of a browser.


Some companies have chosen to combine their efforts and offer their services utilizing both printed materials as well as a customized Internet portal. The Marsis-M&M Group is one such company.




All of the below contacts are commercial printers who offer high-end brochures, sell sheets, flyers, etc. I’m interested in knowing:

q   How much of their business is dedicated to this arm of printing?

q   what technology do they use to accomplish it?

q   How do they compete with the quick copy shops offering the color runs of these flyers, brochures at such low costs?


q   What makes their printing of these sell sheets so impressive versus the competition?





Austin, TX


Burke Printing

Lake Bluff, Illinois


Sorrells Printing and Graphics

Ocala, FL


On Demand Printing Services

Long Island City, NY


The Marsis-M&M Group

Carle Place, NY