Leveraging Production Inkjet for Cross-Segment Growth

By Pat McGrew / Published:

Production inkjet technology is a linchpin for growth and diversification for printers who adopt the technology with a strategic mindset. The industry has grown past the point where print quality is the main component of every discussion. The talk has become more technical, covering the ability to control and manipulate color, print on traditional commercial substrates, and automate workflows to expand into new markets. Every major player offers more features, speed, and service offerings to support their hardware, so this is an excellent time to explore new business avenues that lead to sustained growth and increased market share.

Production inkjet technology is known for its high-speed output and exceptional print quality, making it ideal for a wide range of applications. The versatility of these presses allows production of everything from direct mail and transactional documents to books, magazines, posters, and even specialized packaging.

Looking for Opportunities

Many early adopters of production inkjet presses were transaction printers focused on bills, statements, and other regulated materials. The press was often acquired to enable white paper factory workflows that eliminated the preprinted shells carrying logos and design outlines. In those early years, the color quality was sufficient and the cost model for inkjet made it a reasonable investment for transactional PSPs.

Today, with the offset quality available on many inkjet presses, transaction printers can expand into adjacent markets where print production is consolidating. In-plants in banks and credit unions, educational institutions, and business campuses are under pressure to cut costs or close, which makes them candidates for conversations. Transaction specialists already have the workflows to batch similar jobs, easing the challenge of the growing number of short-run jobs. The best guidance is to consider what industry verticals have similar profiles to those you serve and begin marketing to them.

But don’t stop there. In addition to the traditional segments, look towards organizations like professional consultancies, engineering and construction practices, and manufacturing companies. Many have billing and statement operations that may clog small printers in the office during billing. They may also need pitch books, marketing collateral, and a host of other print products.

Direct mail specialists have the same opportunities to look beyond the industry segments currently served and expand into those same verticals. In some cases, there may also be an opportunity to capture transaction work if the required security protocols are in place. Because there are commonalities to the workflows that drive transactional and data-driven direct marketing mail, there are opportunities on both sides of the equation. While overall mailing volumes continue to be flat or in decline, many PSPs report that their overall volumes are increasing even if the print runs are shorter.

Breaking into the Book Market

Every production inkjet press owner has the option to produce books, even if a trade partner does the finishing. Inkjet makes short-run and on-demand printing cost-effective, addressing the trend toward self-publishing and limited edition prints. However, don’t forget the business training industry, which often creates books for classroom and conference-based education events. Ethnic associations often produce cookbooks and histories perfect for short runs on inkjet devices. You may be able to build new revenue streams from a combination of efforts focused on these markets.

Exploring the Potential in Commercial Printing

Commercial printing, encompassing marketing materials, brochures, catalogs, and posters, is another area to consider. The need for short-run static print is constant, and fewer offset producers are interested in short-run work. This is a way to create a broader client base, ranging from small businesses to large corporations, all seeking to make their marketing materials stand out.

Whether transitioning into book printing, enhancing direct mail with vibrant colors, or entering the bespoke packaging market, the growth potential is limited only by imagination and initiative. Embracing these opportunities enables business expansion and secures a competitive position in a rapidly changing industry landscape.

About the Author

Pat McGrew


Pat is a well-known evangelist for inkjet productivity. At McGrew Group, she uses her decades technical and marketing experience to lead the industry toward optimized business processes and production workflows. She has helped companies to define their five-year plans, audited workflow processes, and developed sales team interventions and education programs. Pat is the Co-Author of 8 industry books, editor of A Guide to the Electronic Document Body of Knowledge, and a regular contributor to Inkjet Insight and WhatTheyThink.com.

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