How Is “Growth” in Variable Data Defined?

By | October 5, 2012

For years, 1:1 printing (variable-data printing) has been positioned as a way for printers to increase their print volumes and earn more money. There are undoubtedly printers who have done just that. Then there are the others who have worked diligently to build their VDP business and it just hasn’t paid off.

If something is a growth market, shouldn’t it be easier than this?

I’ve been standing back and watching this marketplace since its inception. Here’s something we don’t hear talked about very much.

  1. The growth of 1:1 printing / VDP is due to factors largely independent of the service provider itself.
  2. The transition from analog to static digital to VDP is happening because it makes sense for certain applications whether individual MSPs can sell these applications or not.

Thus all contradictory trends in the marketplace actually make perfect sense. VDP is growing because certain customers need it, but not every MSP is going to be able to take advantage of that. Even if they can’t, or don’t find VDP profitable, that’s a competitive issue. It’s not a VDP market issue.

Those needing VDP will either find print suppliers who can do 1:1 printing or print suppliers who can make VDP profitable will find, woo, and win the business of those who need it. Either way, it’s not a matter of growing the pie. The portion of the pie available for VDP is staying about the same size. The question is how that pie gets divided up. The better you are at selling VDP, the more of the pie you get.

But again, this is a competitive issue, not a market size issue.

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2 thoughts on “How Is “Growth” in Variable Data Defined?

  1. Lisa Query

    We have made VDP part of our offerings for several years now, selling it to our established customers as well as to new ones. Our observation is that there just isn’t as much demand for it as we had anticipated. It’s still a great thing to be able to offer when it’s called for.

  2. Heidi Tolliver-Walker Post author

    This is the observation I’ve had for years — and my observation in one of the challenges of being an MSP. You have to be competent to offer 1:1 print, but it may or may not be profitable all the time (or for some companies, not profitable at all). But lack of profitability doesn’t mean it’s not worth offering. In fact, as you say, it’s a good thing to be able to offer. But how many companies can afford to develop competency for the occasional sale? Therein lies the challenges that — at least from where I’m sitting — the industry faces.

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