2020 Inkjet Summit Closes with Key Business Takeaways for Printing Industry Success
After four days of online educational sessions, inkjet user panels, solution showcases, and networking, the 2020 Virtual Inkjet Summit concluded Aug. 25 with key business takeaways and insights from Marco Boer, VP of IT Strategies, and Quad/Graphics Chairman, President, and CEO Joel Quadracci.
Reemphasizing what was not only stated throughout the Summit, but has been especially evident amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Boer, the Inkjet Summit chair, started his presentation noting how essential print is.
“We still have to send bills, we still want to market to our customers using direct mail, and everybody’s still reading,” said Boer. “At the end of it all, print is something that’s really important to our overall lives.”
His next point to attendees was that customers will continue to buy print when it provides value, reiterating a scenario presented in CohereOne’s Tim Curtis’ second-day session that spoke to the power of combining electronic communications and marketing with print. The sooner businesses expand into the innovation stage, Boer noted, the more secure they will be. And production inkjet printing is part of that innovation.
“I firmly believe once we get past this [COVID-19] phase, we’re going to come out of this stronger than ever before, because production inkjet is that much more efficient. We’re no longer discussing whether the quality is good enough or whether the cost is enough,” Boer said. “It fits. That net … it’s essential to our business going forward.”
Another of Boer’s key takeaways was not to waste this current crisis in terms of turning problems into opportunities and examining both internal and external factors, from reducing labor and accelerating automation, to the disruptive business models resulting from changing customer buying habits.
“At the end of it all, you’ve got to change how you operate, and production inkjet is a great tool to be able to make those changes,” he said. “Now is the time to reposition your business. It’s never easy. But if you can leverage this pandemic crisis to make these difficult changes, you’re going to be that much further ahead of the crowd.”
The Inkjet Summit closing session also featured Mark Michelson, Printing Impressions editor-in-chief, interviewing Quadracci, who expanded upon many of Boer’s takeaways of providing value in print and taking note of changing customer expectations and business models.
When it comes to print providers increasing the value of print, Quadracci said it’s all about emphasizing response rates, an approach he’s been using since his early days selling inkjet personalization. “It was just very clear that if you could really show the effectiveness of using data, you could really score big, because the responsiveness was so much greater,” he said. “It’s the same [now] as it was then, but only there’s more toys to play with.”
And though print lost its seat at the table for a while when it was all-things digital electronic communications, Quadracci said the pendulum is swinging back as people are trying to make print and digital work together, which comes with a lot of different changes and opportunities.
Showing efficiency, effectiveness, and one’s value will continue to be a pivotal factor amid the pandemic, or as Quadracci said, “the new abnormal,” as everyone navigates their marketing plans and where to spend money. And, as Boer similarly noted, it’s a time to evaluate internally where a business is really offering its value.
Many C-suites and companies, Quadracci pointed out, are asking not just “When do we come back?” but “What do we bring back?”
“The point being is deselect what you’re not good at,” he said. “Most printers I know have become really much better and stronger at things outside of just content creation to support the print itself. We’re good at supporting content creation in a lot of places and I think there’s going to be a lot of rethinking from our customer base about what they shouldn’t be doing anymore. If you’re not thinking about that in your business, you need to be.”
While Quad/Graphics — one of the top three commercial printers in the world — has been using inkjet printing for a long time, Quadracci said he thinks this technology is entering its golden age. While delving into the technology’s evolution, he said its rapid rollout in all sectors — from in-store signage to direct mail, catalogs, books, and more — is only going to continue with nontraditional print users venturing into inkjet, seeing that it works, and wanting to know more of its variable capabilities. And while different opportunities and substrate capabilities have been around for a long time, for businesses, it’s been about making sure they’ve had the cost-effective technology do it at scale.
When asked what printers can expect to see in the next decade, Quadracci echoed Boer’s sentiments on game-changing business models that are the next Tesla and Amazon. “It’s amazing how fast business models, in general, are changing, and I think it’s going to be that one that hits marketing in a way that could be an opportunity that you might not see coming,” he said.
While even more was discussed in this closing session, it’s these strategies and tips from Boer and Quadracci, and those shared throughout the Inkjet Summit, that exemplify another of Boer’s takeaways — that the printing industry is a community. From contract manufacturing and outsourcing, to gaining fresh perspectives from new employees who worked at other printing operations, Boer said the printing industry has a great deal of cross-pollination, where ideas can come from peers and competitors.
“We are a small world. In the end, we do compete against each other, but we also help each other out,” he concluded.