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What's Happening in the Color Market?

4 Apr, 2011 By: Greg Buschman, Konica Minolta imageSource

What's Happening in the Color Market?

Over the past three decades, the color laser copier and desktop printer
markets have gone through many changes. From the advent of the CLC100 to today’s
trendy solid-ink “green” desktop color printers, the color-printing technologies
have changed and so must color equipment sales strategies.

I recently took an informal poll of several leaders and dealerships in the
imaging industry regarding the state of their color business and what were some
of the driving factors for their success. Many of the traditional color
opportunities are still hot today, however, several changes in technologies,
applications, and customer trends are note worthy.

What’s Hot?

Accordingly, last year’s ITEX 2010’s sales and marketing session “The Profits
in the Color Market” has proven to be an accurate assessment of this year’s
color-equipment sales hot spots. The overwhelming answer to what’s hot in color
sales is the SMB market, in particular, SMB’s that create in-house marketing
material, have green initiatives to save waste, whose workgroups produce
high-value color documents from desktop  applications, require advanced
finishing options, and A4 (11x17) features.

In the process of taking an informal look at color equipment sales in North
America, I talked with several sales leaders and dealer principles. According to
Dean Boring, owner of Boring Business Systems, “Most prospects are buying color
(printers / MFPs) because they're not that much more expensive to leasing.  We
are finding color revenue at churches & in the SMB market in general. The major
obstacles we face are a customer’s fears about unauthorized color printing,
increasing consumable costs, and color print control. We have adopted a new
solutions strategy to help us sell more color by offering network printing
control and print monitoring software.”

This was echoed in a recent interview with Tim Lightholder, Vice President
at AMCOM, a Xerox Company in the Pittsburgh metropolitan area:

  • Buschman:  Tim, where are you finding color revenue today?
  • Lightholder: We are finding color
    revenue EVERYWHERE. The portfolio of Xerox color units allows us to place
    color units where previously all they had was B/W. One area we are really
    making headway in is the Church market. Solid ink is making a big impact
    there. Also, any companies working in the AEC (Architectural, Engineering,
    and Construction) fields will find the ColorQube to be a good consideration.
    Any company with a green initiative or LEED certified building will be
    interested in that product as well.
  • Buschman:  Yes, I’ve run into several new applications for solid
    ink printers. Carey Kummelman, the president of One Step Papers, was telling
    me about the specialty papers they manufacture for MFP’s and solid ink
    printers. Some of the innovations are amazing. What are the top three
    applications driving color sales in your market?
  • Lightholder: General business color,
    marketing materials, and as I mentioned, we are experiencing a very strong
    response from the church market with solid ink.
  • Buschman: How is B/W affecting color sales? For instance, do
    customers prefer B/W due to costs of printing, toner, or printing abuses?
  • Lightholder:  We don’t find any more
    pressure to “stay” with B/W when we can provide controls to keep color from
    being abused in the office, and to have it readily available at a fixed cost
    is a true benefit.
  • Buschman: That’s one of the things that I’ve seen trending in
    color sales, the ability to control who prints what, where, and how much.
    How are new technologies changing your game plan?
  • Lightholder:  Solid ink is changing
    the landscape. Being able to provide color systems that provide a 60% cost
    reduction due to tiered pricing is a plus. Being able to reduce waste by
    over 90% is huge in our market. We must make sure that solid ink technology
    fits the physical need and color requirements. When it does, it’s a really
    strong solution that sets us apart. The balance of our portfolio covers
    desktop to “parking lot sized” systems that can do basically anything the
    customer requires, short of spot color and a varnish, well maybe even that
    too, soon.
  • Buschman:  Tim, what are the top three objections your reps are
    getting while selling business color?
  • Lightholder:  We really haven’t
    heard anything new in the color area as far as objections. The key is to
    find the applications where color could be used and develop a solution to
    provide it as needed at fixed pricing.

Color Sales Strategies for 2011

One thing is for sure, that printer based MFP manufacturers have not
perfected a level of service that is required to fulfill customer’s service
needs and sustain a local service-based revenue stream. Traditional copier
dealers can capitalize on this industry weakness by adding printer-based color
MFP’s to their product mix. A competitive advantage is gained by including
service plans for these devices.

Another strategy is to leverage the traditional cost per page (CPP) or total
cost of ownership (TCO) talk tracks. Printer based MFP manufacturer’s base their
CPP on 5% of an 8 x 10 printing area. Have you ever taken a piece of paper and
folded it multiple times until you reached 5%? The printing area is about the
size of a silver dollar. Now unfold the paper and see what 100% coverage looks
like and calculate the possible costs. This is a quick, high-impact
demonstration that usually stuns prospects into listening to a presentation on
the TCO of copier-based color MFPs versus the TCO of printer-based MFPs. Yes,
other factors may lower the ink coverage costs, but the point is to get
prospects to listen to your sales message.

Other areas of growth are applications driven by mixed-media advertising and
marketing campaigns, specialty paper applications, and wide format printing.
Mixed-media campaigns are designed to include a web presence, e-mail, direct
mail, and phone follow up. To be frank, every dealership should be involved in
reaching customers using mixed –media campaigns. For those that are not familiar
with this marketing strategy, software from companies such as EasyPurl and
MindFire can be combined with traditional printing software such as Printshop
Mail, Direct Smile, XMPie and others to produce an organized advertising effort
that includes color printing. Collaborating with or reselling these applications
will open doors to marketing firms and executives in the SMB market.

Specialty Solutions

Specialty papers and wide-format printing are widening the types of color
solutions dealers can offer. Here are three growing niche areas opening
additional doors for color sales:

  • Heidelberg is strengthening its Overall Equipment Effectiveness (OEE)
    program and rolling it out to more commercial and in-plant operations. Using
    color A4 MFPs for short run and color proofing applications is part of the
    OEE strategy.
  • Design on demand apparel stores, Internet retailers, and customized logo
    product resellers. Specialty papers from One Stop Papers and other
    manufacturers allow A3 and A4 printers, especially solid ink, to be used in
    the production of these products.
  • Graphic design shops, photography studios, and vehicle/marine wrapping
    companies. These shops typically use A3 and A4 color devices for proofing
    and many are beginning to sell printed products. Photographic paper
    advancements allow photographers to produce products in-house.

SMB Marketing Tools

When your clients talk about creating in house marketing campaigns, wanting
colorful marketing collaterals from a good MFP – be it for brochures, catalogs,
print flyers or even pocket folders – it’s necessary to impress what you and the
equipment can do.

The most appropriate devices and latest MFPs will not only
give them the results they need, but the impressive outcome delivered will
convince your clients of the benefits of your business services, forming trust
for value-adds later on. Quality and affordability is what your target clients
will see first before moving forward but it positions you positively. Hence,
ensuring a good quality brochure printing can go a long way in providing your
clients the confirmation that they've chosen a good  “dealer partner” of which
will result in client retention. Notably, it all starts with walking before

Coupled with the state-of-the-art equipment used, your
customers want to know that their print task can be done in the fastest
turnaround possible. You have to understand that the printing task takes more
than just printing their campaign of words onto paper. It’s ultimately building
you up as that company’s ally for future business.

There are many dealers and print providers that can offer
your customers enhanced printing solutions for their every need. It is
necessary, therefore, that you consider the factors per customer that separate
you from the competition, becoming a client's first choice based on what you
provide in product, service, reliability and training besides the cost factors

Indeed, printing marketing collaterals is thought to be
costly, at least that is what your clients might assume, and that is why
business owners and marketers often find it challenging to think of creating
effective marketing collaterals to fit their often meager budget.  If you are
the company that can give them quality marketing collaterals, affordability &
service, you will create a significant business in the color market.

Greg Buschman, Regional Production Print Solutions Manager at Konica
Minolta Business Solutions, has over 10 years experience in leading edge digital
document solutions. Buschman, a CompTIA Subject Matter Expert & adjunct
instructor at St. Petersburg College, is the co-author of IKON’s coveted Master
Color Specialist certification & has developed national sales, solutions &
professional services programs for IKON, Danka, and Konica Minolta. At

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