Is It Time to Teach Customers About Offset?

By | November 30, 2016

I read a blog post the other day that made me feel really old.  It was from an MSP seeking to educate its customers and prospects about . . . offset.

As a former editor-in-chief of Printing News “back in the day” (the early 1990s), this was kind of shocking to the senses.

The first issue of Printing News I produced had a cover shot of two Indigo presses being hoisted to an upper story of a building in Manhattan. (This was back when the reliability of these presses was such that you had to buy them in pairs in case one of them went down.)

Since then, we covered the improvement in reliability. (Great news! You can buy digital presses one at a time now!) We covered the quality. (Dang! Customers can still tell the difference even without a loupe!) We covered the production cost — $.25 per printed sheet would surely never let these presses go mainstream, would it? We covered the resistance of designers to the process despite its benefits. (Personalized print? What’s that?)

There was tons of data to be had. Percent of designers who had used digital printing. Percent of printers offering digital printing. Percent of printers doing personalization beyond name and address. Any data point was headline news.  What percentage of the offset market digital printing would ultimately cannibalize was a perennial question that nobody got tired of asking.

I wrote a lot of articles about how to educate your customers the ins and outs of digital production. Why the higher cost was justified with better ROI. When and where the difference in quality from offset mattered and when it didn’t. Where designers had to be careful (vignettes, dark solid colors) or things would get messy. Everyone needed lots and lots of education.

To read a blog post written from the perspective that digital, not offset, is now the default printing process and that customers needed to learn more about offset was like watching the last episode of a long-running series.  The mystery is solved. Now that we know the answer, we almost forget the original question.

For some people, that “old” feeling was the first time a child asked what a vinyl record was. For me, it was this blog post. I guess I’ve been around for longer than I thought.

Time to teach the new dogs old tricks.

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