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ISM Article

Colors Impact on Marketing

12 Sep, 2011 By: Rob Gilbert imageSource

Color is ubiquitous and is a source of information. People make up their minds within 90 seconds of their initial interactions with either people or products. About 62-90 percent of the assessment is based on colors alone. So, prudent use of colors can contribute not only to differentiating products from competitors, but also to influencing moods and feelings – positively or negatively – and therefore, to attitude towards certain products. Given that our moods and feelings are unstable and that colors play roles in forming attitude, it is important that those that provide and/or rely on the use of color for business purposes, understand the overall importance of colors in marketing.

By For many years in the office automation industry, color copying and printing strategies and methodologies have driven the market in all sorts of directions.  It is interesting to note that as market tendencies have changed, sales focus and training initiatives have changed, but in some cases, at a different rate than the market itself.

There are things that we know about color; marketing efforts thrive on its uses let alone the multitude of uses available. But in a nutshell:

• Color increases visibility
• Color increases retention
• Color enhances reader impact
• Color sells
• Color collaterals are easier to read
• Color grabs attention over black & white

This information has worked its way into sales talk tracks for both marketing forms and sales consultants in the office products industry for many years. What has been at odds with these bits of knowledge is the ability for a company to produce color affordably.

Finding Color
As color technology has changed, so too has the relative talk tracks associated with positioning the technology effectively in the market. There has always been a need for the placement of color-enabled devices in the market, yet in some cases, the prohibitive cost of acquiring color enabled devices or the internal cost of producing it was prohibitive.

Companies made budgetary decisions related to what documents were produced in-house versus what was sent out to a professional organization to have materials produced.  During this time frame, color enabled copiers entered the fray. They were costly, and the cost of producing color copies, although cheaper than color printing then, was still in excess of .20 per page. Sales talk tracks migrated to fiery enabled job spooling, color “gamuts,” pantone matching color schemes, and the like. Conversations about outsourced printing costs versus internal production took place, and cost justification was based on what amount of professionally created color that could be re-routed internally to decrease cost and pay for solutions was had.

This type of conversation with customers created several things:
They created awareness with companies that there was a finite point at which they should not produce color internally. In this manner, we trained, or re-trained our own customer base either into or out of the color producing business.

They also created in earnest what has become an era of real consultative selling strategies for those companies that have progressed with technology.  Understanding applications, costs, departmental budgets, output strategies, etc., are all basics of true consultation today.

Upward & Onward
All things naturally progress yet when technology lingered briefly, CPC reducing relative to color cost escalated.  Companies then began to cut and slash color CPC in order to win business. Alongside this, connectivity initiatives and printer technology grew, and the market began to see a fractured thought process on networked printing. Now things really got interesting. Sitting on any given network were still those not-so-affordable color spooling printing and copying devices, reasonably affordable black and white copying / printing devices, and black and white and color inkjet and laser printers scattered all over the landscape. At the same time, sales talk tracks moved from CPC to CPP (cost per print) and then to TCO (total cost of ownership).

About the same time, data collection tools entered the market which allowed salespeople and customers alike to know and understand how information was moving across networks, and what the costs were relative to it. That technology then forced changes and enhancements to the color market as a whole. During that time, large focus fell again on color printing and copying, and awareness grew that color printing was cost prohibitive.  As part of a total cost of ownership conversation, companies became aware of the negative impact of unsupervised color printing in their organizations.

Lots of consulting was done, and lots of companies were forced back into taking a hard look at how and when color was produced. Fortunately, the technology was there and had changed the landscape again. Vast improvements in toner quality, color control, access control, and an overall reduced cost to produce color has created many new selling opportunities in the market.

Companies that were once fearful of color enabled devices now have the ability to control who prints color and how much they print, and as a result are printing more documents in color than they otherwise would.  Professional color printing is still being done by companies that have sensitive material or logo specific coloring that needs to be done, but to a large degree companies are now allowing more general color documents to be produced. This is due in large part to increased technology that has enhanced color quality.

It must also be said that it is now as affordable to print black on a color printer as it is to print on a black and white device.  This is significant, because in the past black printing on color devices was much more costly.  Now that the cost is the same, companies are more comfortable in standardizing a fleet with color enabled devices, and allowing some access to color printing.  This keeps them from having several different device types in the same place.  In turn, this has, and will continue to form sales talk tracks into solutions based, value increasing, cost measuring, environment controlling relationships with new customers.

Still Evolving
The wave of color technology is ever evolving, and will continue to progress forward.

Changes the industry has moved from include:
• high cost-high profit medium service margins to
• high cost-medium profit low service margins to
• medium cost medium profit medium service margins to
• low cost-high profit high service margins

This via technological advances that solve business problems and create solutions-based talk tracks for consultative selling professionals. The only real way to achieve and hold high margins in the color arena is by properly utilizing the available technology in the correct environment, usually achieved in a Managed Print Services offering that solves business process problems.

Color is more affordable than ever before, and the technology that drives it is better than ever. More color is being printed, distributed, managed, and utilized in the everyday office environment than ever before. It will be interesting to see what the next steps are in the ever changing landscape and what exciting new solutions are created in the future.

Rob Gilbert has decades of hands-on experience consulting in the office technology and imaging industry. Contact him at RGilbertSr@gmail.com

About the Author: Rob Gilbert

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