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Printing Industry Exchange ( is pleased to have Steven Waxman writing and managing the Printing Industry Blog. As a printing consultant, Steven teaches corporations how to save money buying printing, brokers printing services, and teaches prepress techniques. Steven has been in the printing industry for thirty-three years working as a writer, editor, print buyer, photographer, graphic designer, art director, and production manager.

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The Printing Industry Exchange (PIE) staff are experienced individuals within the printing industry that are dedicated to helping and maintaining a high standard of ethics in this business. We are a privately owned company with principals in the business having a combined total of 103 years experience in the printing industry.

PIE's staff is here to help the print buyer find competitive pricing and the right printer to do their job, and also to help the printing companies increase their revenues by providing numerous leads they can quote on and potentially get new business.

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Custom Printing: The Power of Integrated Media

I had lunch today with the CEO of a local commercial printing shop. We discussed cross-media marketing. He really “gets it” in a lot of ways and has positioned his business accordingly. Specifically,

    1. He believes that printers cannot survive by merely putting ink on paper. Rather, they must become marketing advisors, teaching clients how to use offset, digital, and variable data printing in tandem, along with social media and other electronic vehicles to broadcast their message and spark customer interest. He gets “multi-channel marketing.” Furthermore, he understands the role of the printer as a “consultant,” not just copying and distributing a print job but actually helping clients identify, target, and interact with their markets.


    1. This filters down into this printer’s choice of press equipment. In addition to the traditional sheetfed offset presses, he has large-format and grand-format inkjet presses, as well as roll-to-roll and roll-to-sheet digital laser presses (both color and black/white).


    1. He and his staff integrate the output from these presses with access to digital storefronts, web-to-print, and social media, to integrate the marketing benefits of both custom printing and digital communication. He knows that print is not dead.


    1. In addition, using the variable data capabilities of his digital custom printing equipment, this printer tailors the printed products to the end-users. He can provide both personalized content (specific descriptive text, offers, and pricing that are focused on individual buyers, based on demographics) and personalized address information for match mailings. Therefore, the content chosen for those who actually get the printed products in the mail can be sent directly to them.


    1. This printer also understands the value of market research. He and his staff don’t just base their suggestions for a client’s print marketing and Internet marketing campaign on their own intuition. They base their strategies on demographic data and web analytics, making their market research a science as well as an art.


    1. The printer has brought an additional medium into the fold: video. YouTube is the second largest search engine after Google. This is profound. And I think it’s particularly effective, since people can see what they’re buying being used rather than frozen in a static image. If the video portrays a spokesperson describing a product or service, it can more easily elicit the viewer’s trust, as well as an affiliation with the product or service and its brand values.


    1. Finally, this printer understands that even in the excitement of embracing a new technology—video—it is better to know when to use a particular medium than to become fixated on it. Video is great for many reasons. Knowing when to use it and when to use social media or custom printing to communicate with clients is even better. That’s why this printer is a consultant. He provides knowledge and wisdom in combining these media into a coordinated marketing message.


  1. Then he knows to always test and test again. Only by analyzing the results of a campaign can this custom printing vendor really provide a service to his clients, and this is what distinguishes him from his peers.

What This Means to You

    1. You may produce content for one or many of these technologies: print, large-format inkjet, variable data digital, social media, or video. Or you may be engaged in digital database management or marketing. The more you understand their interactions and their individual strengths (and this means becoming a student of art, business, psychology, and marketing), the more effective you will be, whether you’re designing a campaign or searching for vendors to help you.


    1. The custom print vendor I have described is not alone. There are many others out there you can approach who “get it.” Granted, there are many who don’t, and the last several years has seen many of these absorbed by other companies or forced out of business altogether. Keep your eyes open for such a resource, and make him a partner and advisor.


  1. If you approach commercial printing as one component (a vital, extremely effective one) within a matrix of communication venues, and if you understand how these media can be combined to increase buyer interest–or to touch, educate, or persuade individuals–you will become increasingly valuable in your particular business. You will become the “go-to” resource for your peers.

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