Saturday, 25 June, 2011

Upselling print

Frankly to me, the word upselling sounded like a marketing hype. I heard this expression when IppStar did its digital printing and transpromo conference in December 2009. Cross-selling and upselling was the way that digital print companies talked about leveraging customer information to sell more to the customer or to sell new products that they could anticipate by looking at and analysing a customers' profile and behaviour.

Then came the expression of value added printing. To some extent, this sounded like marketing hype from press manufacturers such as manroland in order to sell coaters and foilers, and new techniques with their multicolour presses. However, if I look back at the leading printers, such as Pragati, what have they been doing? They have been adding value with special prepress in order to use UV coating techniques for special effects and textures that enable print to have a ‘wow’ factor.

Pragati has certainly created a differentiation within the market – it is competitive on ordinary jobs but it can upsell – the company can transform a piece of paper into an object of desire.

The interesting thing is that this does not apply to all customers and all products, but the number of both customers and products which demand the differentiation is increasing. And is far more than the number of commercial printers who are willing to invest in these technologies. By the way, the same thing will happen to digital printing when a digital press can produce textures or ‘dimensional’ print.

Look at newspapers going from black and while to colour and look at textbooks going from black and white to colour. This is also a form of upselling with the realisation that the market wants colour. The ad revenue for newspapers or the price of a textbook only doubles with 4-colour printing versus black and white. Although you need four times as much heavy metal, plates and ink but only the same amount of paper. In these two situations, survival depends on upselling colour.

If print is going to compete with television, internet, cell-phone and the iPad, colour is basic. In fact, print will also have to compete in terms of interactivity. And this is where cross selling may also happen. For instance, when we sell a banner ad on our website or in one of our two weekly newsletters, the readers can immediately click on that ad and reach the advertiser. The same click could also bring up a second pop-up selling a related product.

Print, too, can be interactive. As an example and as an experiment too, we have had a tie-up with a fascinating company called Adorai for past eight months which allows a reader of our print magazine to simply sms the article to any email address. We could use this to evaluate which article is interesting to readers for sharing with their friends.

In the future our advertisers could use a similar code in the print ads so that our readers can get an instant response from the nearest salesman for the product advertised. This infrastructure is already built by us, and it can make print more interactive. We only need to learn how to upsell. The next step will be to cross sell.
Naresh Khanna (March 2011)

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