By Andy Gordon
Partner Inkjet Insight
One of my favorite activities at trade shows is to walk the show floor and collect print samples. Everyone shows their absolute best quality and it is exciting to see all the possibilities. I often scratch my head when I get back to the hotel room, mumbling about how I’m going to get the pounds and pounds of samples, posters, world maps, brochures, tchotchkes and books back home with me. Inevitably, only a few survive … my treasures from the show.
I’ve watched the production inkjet market develop over the last decade and recall many product introductions from leaders in the market. In the beginning, print samples were kept under lock and key, protected from spying competitors and coveted by analysts and members of the press. News of equipment failures or print quality flaws were transmitted like a pandemic. Everyone understood that production inkjet wasn’t on par with offset, but the fear was that print providers would judge the technology on the print samples and lose interest if they didn’t like what they saw. The goal was to get the conversation started and run print samples in a controlled environment to minimize the flaws and show the technology in the best possible light. This approach made a lot of sense because the value of production inkjet solutions goes well beyond the image quality, but OEMs needed to get to the table with buyers.
Thankfully, these days most manufacturers have plenty of print samples on offer to demonstrate their capabilities, suitable applications, and print quality. What do you do if you aren’t a trade show? Print samples are usually fulfilled as part of the sale process. But what do you do if you are just trying to get your own executives to the table? Here are a couple of options:
International Paper created a wonderful Digital Inkjet Swatch Book that is part of their Color Is Forever branding. The piece highlights their Accent Opaque Digital and Williamsburg product lines, printed on 7 inkjet presses from 6 manufacturers. I ordered one of these swatch books and was thrilled that I could look at the output capabilities of the various equipment and paper options.
Last week we received an email advertisement from Komori, a sponsor of Inkjet Insight, that has a lead generation program where they promote their Impremia IS29 with links to a print sample request. Kudos to both IP and Komori for their campaigns! Making samples available ahead of the formal sales cycle is a great way to keep the market thriving.