A beautiful package that had so much more potential

Yesterday I received a dimensional piece in the mail which certainly got my attention since it stood out from the rest of my usual bills, coupons, and credit card offers. I always wonder if I pay more attention to the items I get in the mail because I am a passionate member of the print industry; but when my sister (a Certified Public Accountant) stopped by and immediately went over to the package and picked it up to examine it—I knew it wasn’t just my print-geekiness attracting me to it!
What I found interesting is that she commented on the carton’s appearance; and I agreed: It was a beautifully printed piece that had so much more potential.
My reasons are as follows:
The package had a traditional (sticker) mailing label on it. If my name and address had been printed directly on the package, the integrity of the design could have been maintained instead of compromised. Being a Xeroid, I immediately knew the package wasn’t printed digitally. Not only could my contact information have been included and incorporated elsewhere on the package (I’m a sucker for personalization), the effort from the post office to put a large label over the design on it would have been avoided… saving steps and turnaround time, and the cost of the label for the company who sent this to me.
All of the pieces looked really good on each of the respective technologies they were printed on, but as I proceeded to open the package up, the color printed on the outside of the package didn’t match the brochure in the inside, the brochure didn’t match the magnet for my fridge, or the object they were offering me for free. I may be more susceptible to color inconsistencies than the average consumer, but my sister was able to count four noticeably different colors of red.
Digital printing opens the door for all components of a marketing campaign to be printed on the same device. The carton, the sales collateral inside the carton, a loyalty card for my wallet or the magnet to put on my fridge, can all be consistent with image quality and color. Specifically with Xerox digital presses, Xerox has color management capabilities and consultants that can come to your shop and help prescribe how to use the most modern technology, techniques, process controls and standards to reliably print jobs that are consistent from proof to press and from press to press. When you utilize several different print technologies, there is a much greater risk for the marketing components to look unrelated than like an integrated campaign—and unfortunately that’s what happened with this package.
The opportunity for digitally printed packaging is equally prevalent across all regions of the world. Digital printing allows for incorporation of customer information directly on the package (increasing open and response rates), color consistency from the package to its internal contents, and reduced steps to completion thus increasing turnaround time and saving costs. The opportunity to take folding cartons and other forms of packaging to the next level is waiting for you…And with our solutions, partners and experts at Xerox, we can help you take that next step.
My question to you is: What concerns you most about incorporating digital packaging as an offering to your customers? Do you think it is a trend to take advantage of or a potential pain?

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  1. Chris September 14, 2010 -

    I think it’s still a matter of consulting and talking with the client about possibilities and the value of a “complete campaign”, “complete mailing” instead of putting pieces together like in older days with offset printed brochure, a preprinted envelope with label and maybe a personalized letter.

    It needs time in the discussion with the client to explain the value and advantages. This can only happen when the process of transforming form a printer to a service provider move forward… on and on…

    not just sell print is the magic question 😉


  2. Lindsay Lamb September 14, 2010 -

    Hi Chris,
    You bring up a great point… its not about just selling print. With digital packaging, you can target just the people you need to reach, with the quantity you need with no waste. Large quantities don’t need to be printed and put in inventory, so you take away the expense of printing something that is just going to sit on a shelf or going to be sent to someone who never looks at it.

    It’s about looking at the total cost, not just the cost of the print itself.

  3. Buzz Tatom September 14, 2010 -

    While I realize you work for Xerox so you are going to push digital there are a couple of things you neglected to at least throw out there. We do both digital and offset and while much of what you said is true it was a little misleading. Colors matching can possibly be an issue but if you go to a printer that does both offset and digital that can be managed. You also neglect to mention that if that mailing had a fairly large quantity digital is probably going to be more expensive. Also on the packaging I think you would need to mention that the digital ink is not as durable. That can be managed but should be mentioned. Both offset and digital have their place in fulfilling print needs.

  4. Lindsay Lamb September 14, 2010 -

    I agree with you Buzz… great add.

    Color management can definitely be achieved across different technologies. Our color management partners like Oris and CMI can help those who have digital, offset, and other technologies get the color they need. It sounds like your company has color management under control, which is fantastic!

    In regards to the length of the run… I agree that digital isn’t the answer to all. It is definitely meant for shorter runs. It is a compliment to offset; not a replacement. The run length and characteristics of the job will be a determining factor in which technology to use for the creation of the package. I hope this blog post helped to shine some light on what can be done with digital in this space.

    Another thing I want to stress, which is mentioned in my comment above to Chris; is that it isn’t just about the cost of digital vs. offset. Those longer runs aren’t needed if you now have the choice to do a shorter targeted run that saves you costs. Although a digital print may be more expensive, there can be a big difference in overall cost savings once you factor in waste, inventory, mailing and distribution, etc. I have a blog post coming up soon about MediaWare printing Microsoft’s Windows 7 boxes that shows significant savings.

  5. Paul Edwards September 14, 2010 -

    What shape and material weight was the ‘dimensional package?”

  6. Paul Edwards September 14, 2010 -

    If you were not agraphic arts/print interested Xeroid, would this piece have motivated you to take action and spend money? More than the same type of graphics on an envelope and contents?

  7. Patricia Clancy September 15, 2010 -

    Wouldn’t this be an excellent opportunity to have a sales person contact that company and tell them the benefits of having Xerox fix their inconsistencies and improve their overall product? I’m an ACSer, and do not know what the process would be to escalate somthing like this through the company. If there isn’t a process, then there should be one!

  8. Lindsay Lamb September 15, 2010 -

    Paul– It is hard for me to say the exact stock that was used, but I’d guess it is a 18 pt. SBS packaging board. The package was a normal box shape…

    And you ask a really great question: Would this piece have motivated me to take action? Even being a Xeroid, my answer is still YES. I did notice IQ and color, but the package did achieve its goal by catching my attention and I did keep my coupon for when I go shopping 🙂

  9. Erik Walczak September 15, 2010 -

    Differentiation! A key “selling” tool.

  10. Lindsay Lamb September 17, 2010 -

    Patricia, Thank you for your comment! We actually have packaging experts throughout the world who are more than happy to help answer questions and implement a solution for those interested in digital packaging 🙂

  11. Digital Labels November 7, 2010 -

    I think one of the most important parts of this story is that the packaging label wasn’t that well designed. With working with custom digital labels, I’ve found that it’s actually fairly easy to get a unique mailing label that will be useful in many situations.

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