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Printing Impressions-October 2002 Column
Strut Your Solutions
YOU"VE ALREADY negotiated the best price, but before you ink the deal on that brand new Indigo digital press get them to throw in one of HP's new, compact, digital projectors. In fact, "what the heck," get them to throw in two-one for the road, use the other in-house.

I'm sure that after my good friend Emile Tabassi, sales manager for HP Indigo, reads this he is probably going to be dialing my number. I'm not sure if he is going to salute this as a great promotional idea or ask me why I'm trying to get him fired. After all, although he has been with Indigo for years, the HP situation is new. I'm also sure that you're trying to figure out if this is just a nice, premium incentive or if it really has something to do with printing.

Well, I have another life; I also write and consult about new technologies in presentations. Next, I'm going to tie the two together and explain why the explosion of new presentation technology is so important for you, the printer.

You have just installed a brand new system, expanding your capabilities and broadening your market potential. Now you need to tell the story. Guess what! "If you've got it, flaunt it" has never been easier and more exciting. You can become Steven Spielberg because the hardware and software are readily available and, hopefully, so is your imagination.

Digital video cameras and digital still cameras are very affordable and are a snap to use. In fact, probably you or someone in your organization already has this stuff. You do need your laptop-I'm sure you have one-and that data projector. There is a plethora of easy-to-use software out there and a variety of options as to how to put your show together.

Once you have shot your movie, you need to edit it, add transitions, titles, perhaps music and narration. Until recently video editing programs that did this sort of thing were pricey and hard to learn. My wife teaches presentation skills to major corporations and has always incorporated movies into her presentations. For years, I have edited her movies in Adobe Premiere because it is a complex program and, unlike me, she is not a techie.

There's an overwhelming number of video editing programs available now, ranging in price from free (came with the camera) to up-scale programs like Adobe Premiere (about $600) and beyond. Most exciting, there are a whole bunch of editing programs for $100 that are very capable and a snap to learn. These programs are so intuitive and easy to use that my wife no longer needs me-for editing movies that is.

My favorite is Pinnacle Studio Version 8 from Pinnacle Systems, which is so intuitive that, in no time, you can produce an exciting, visual tour of your shop, complete with professional looking transitions and titles. You can easily add music and voice-over narration, as well.

Once you make your movie, you can take it on the road, or send it out as a CD (if it's short enough) or DVD. You can also place it in another program like PowerPoint, Acrobat (yes a PDF will play movies very nicely) or a very powerful new program called Liquid Media. This enables you to create an organized presentation, with all your copy and advantage points, complete with movies that can visually show-off the power of your presses. Actually, nix that-because if you're only showing the power of your presses, you will not make it in tomorrow's very different world. This is a world where a specific press is not nearly as important as promoting total customer solutions.

OK, where am I going with this? I'm trying to tune you in to the fact that new technology has made it very easy to create exciting and powerful demonstrations showing your capabilities. You can get your message out in a creative and very informative new way. Just think of how your salespeople can get customer face time with real, visual impact. But, most important, what are you going to tell your clients? If it's that your new press prints a sharper dot than the competitor down the street, you'll have your customer thinking of different avenues and you may be on the highway to extinction.

To win in tomorrow's electronic media-oriented world, printing alone isn't the answer. You have to provide your customers with more. I was a small part of a printing and publishing industry seminar that Xerox put together with partners such as Adobe, PIA, TrendWatch and others. It toured a number of cities and addressed this very topic.

Hopefully, it was in your town and you were one of the fortunate to attend. The seminars explored the coming trends and the impact of electronic media. Most important, speakers talked about solutions for future growth. There's no question that Xerox wants to sell you one of their fine digital presses but, to do so, they have packaged total solutions with their partners to help you capitalize on the future. They are not alone; I'm sure that HP and Indigo are trying to do the same, as are other well-known industry manufacturers.

Go to seminars of this type, attend trade shows like Graph Expo and Converting Expo and, instead of looking at specific equipment, explore ideas that will help you implement solutions. Most industry suppliers have been hard at work on this very topic, so that's what you want to talk to them about. Of course, in the end, it's up to you to put together a plan that will take you down the right road.

Once you implement your business plan, use all the great, new presentation tools that are now available to let your customers know by creating a road show of your own

Harry Waldman

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