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Successfully Selling Wide-Format

(July 2008) posted on Tue Jul 01, 2008

How products, customers, competitors, and technologies play into successful sales.

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By Tim Greene

The beverage industry is another example of segment identification. InfoTrends believes that the beverage industry is one of the leading segments in terms of wide-format print buying. But it's also true that many of the bigger distributors within the beverage supply chain produce graphics for these beverage industry customers with their in-plant graphics operations. These in-plant graphics operations are highly invested in being able to produce as much of the wide-format output as the beverage companies can order, so the direction of that segment is not trending toward independent wide-format print providers.

Customer demand, first-to-market
Another key ability that print service providers must have to effectively sell wide-format printing services is to know existing as well as potential customers-and what these customers are seeking from a print provider.

In InfoTrends' recent 'Wide Survey,' print providers were asked about the most important thing that customers demanded from them. Survey participants most commonly cited product quality (49 percent), while product cost (24 percent) and speed of turnaround (12 percent) followed. It's interesting, however, that nearly 15 percent of respondents indicated that issues not necessarily related to pure print were the most important issues to their clients. For instance, more than 8 percent of respondents indicated that the most important thing customers expect from them is new ideas, and more than 6 percent reported that overall project management is the most important thing customers expect from them.

Every business has to spend ample time examining its competition in order to determine what areas are highly competitive, and where there are opportunities to differentiate itself. How many other wide-format print providers are in the area? What type of services are they providing? Will your shop have-or can it acquire-a price advantage, or will you have to charge more? Are there services not being offered yet that you can offer?

The need for services, or first-to-market advantage, can prove to be a key success factor. For instance, in Santa Clara, California, XL Prints ( is a $3M company that specializes in grand-format printing. According to president and founder Andy Lotia, and Steve Beard, the "green print" maven at XL Prints, the company has come a long way since its start-which began with Lotia cutting vinyl in his garage 17 years ago.