The Opportunity of Applications
A recent visit to Longmont, Colorado-based StickerGiant, a producer of (you guessed it) decals and labels, got me thinking about the ongoing blending of the printing industry. For this discussion, the pressure-sensitive decal is will serve as our example.
During the visit, I asked Jesse Freitas, the company’s senior director of marketing, whether he considers StickerGiant to be more of a packaging producer, making decals and labels that adorn products, thus giving them identity; or a promotional products company, producing decals to build brands and identities. While Freitas says the company falls more to the promotional side, there is no denying the company serves both segments.
Expanding on this, a video interview I conducted with Dolf Kahle, CEO of Visual Marking Systems (Twinsburg, Ohio), included a discussion of decals and how that company uses them to serve a different segment. The company’s focus is on decals for the OEM (original equipment manufacturing) market, which includes branding on products like lawn mowers and snowmobiles, or provides notices or warnings to ensure the products are used effectively and safely. These decals are neither packaging nor promotional – they are a part of the final product. Same application, but for vastly different purposes.
While the reality of specific types of applications being used in multiple ways has existed for a long time, technology may be increasing the ability of printers of all stripes to move into new opportunity areas simply by attracting a new kind of customer. The ability of digital printing to produce, in this case, decals with outdoor durability, has served to open the floodgates of for many producers to offer decals as an option for more people. Full color is the norm, offering higher levels of possibility; smaller minimums mean that many who would have balked at required minimums for analog production are now making decals a part of their packages, their branding, or their products.
While the concept of convergence resulted in much discussion in recent years, many of the illustrations of the concept involve segment access via technology. Example: the same wide-format dye-sublimation printer used to create soft signage for retail settings can also be used to create custom-printed fabrics for interior design. With this reality in mind, it is important to consider that convergence can extend beyond technology. It also exists in applications, as our decal example illustrates. In other words: it’s not what you do, it’s what you do with it – or – it’s not what you make, it’s who you sell it to.
The crux of this discussion, the consideration proposed here, is launched by that last statement, because the technology you use, or the decal you produce, will not drive your business forward if you have no thoughtful method for reaching those who will do business with you. Accessing new areas of opportunity, whether through technology or application, requires to ability to redefine, to change your priorities, to tell you story in a different way. It requires learning the language and understanding the priorities of your new roster of prospects. It requires building a culture based on opportunity.