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By Jay Dizzine

Ricoh USA, Inc., 70 Valley Stream Parkway, Malvern, PA 19355, 1 ©2018 Ricoh USA, Inc. All rights reserved. Ricoh® and the Ricoh l of Ricoh Company, Ltd. All other trademarks are the property of

Practicing the art of finishing


Jay Dizzine is Director, Product Marketing, Commercial & Industrial Printing Business Group, for Ricoh USA Inc.

rom cards to banners, keychains to vehicle wraps, personalized office equipment to heart-shaped scrapbooks, the possibilities for print to play a central role in a Valentine’s Day celebration are nearly endless. The question is, did you capitalize? Advanced production capabilities, such as diverse finishing options and five-color printing, allow for a level of uniqueness that can help the thoughtful gift-giver on Valentine’s, or any holiday, for that matter. Even seemingly “simple” added touches such as bright toner on dark substrates can help produce arresting, effective seasonal applications.

Let’s take a look at some holiday-appropriate applications you can likely produce with the equipment already in your shop: • Greeting card: There is perhaps no more iconic aspect of Valentine’s Day than the Valentine’s Day card. Of course, the trick here is overcoming market saturation. Really look to bring your A-game to stand out: five-color printing, nonstandard substrates, whatever it takes. Also, consider partnering with a local retailer to get your products in front of shoppers who may not think to come to an MSP for their card. • Romantic coupon book: Put your perf/scorer to work making a book of romantic coupons, with “offers” between partners ranging from home-cooked meals to shoulder massages. Alternatively, blank coupons with attractive, creative, thematic designs can allow both your designers’ and your end-customers’ creativity to flow.

In one way, seasonal applications are exactly like every other offering at your shop: The demand has to be there. • Scrapbook: Creating scrapbooks to commemorate a couple’s time together may require ordering special paper, but you can justify the added expense if you know you have a market for particularly high-quality, high-margin uses. If you’ve got the finishing equipment for it, consider advertising scrapbooks with seasonally appropriate shapes, such as a heart or a bouquet of roses. • Booklet of date ideas: A set of general ideas can be of great help, but if you can bring some local knowledge to bear for a more specific, regionalized touch, you could have a hit on your hands. Beyond the consumer market, this could be a project worth collaborating on with your local chamber of commerce. • Notepad: With a few added design elements, the notepads you regularly offer can be transformed into a stack of love


notes. For added Valentine’s flavor, consider offering these in heart- and bouquet-shaped options, as well. • Decals and stickers: While we’re on the topic of cutting applications into Valentine’s-friendly shapes, let’s talk diecut decals and sticker options. Hearts, roses, teddy bears, Cupid’s bow—there are many options, and your design team can help put their own spin on all of them. • Wraps and clings: Valentine’s Day can bring out people’s big, showy romantic side, and sometimes that includes putting their declaration of love on a vehicle wrap, window cling or even patio furniture (who are we to judge?). Each of these applications, like the romantic notion behind them, needs to be able to withstand the elements. Choosing the right ink and substrate can go a long way in contributing to longevity. Lamination can further help prevent image degradation from abrasion, chemicals and UV exposure, so this display of devotion—and, ideally, the customer’s fond memory of your shop’s excellent craftsmanship and resulting word-ofmouth—will stand the test of time. In one way, seasonal applications are exactly like every other offering at your shop: The demand has to be there. But gauging demand ahead of time for seasonal applications can pose particular challenges. Often, your holiday customers won’t be your regular customer base. You need a plan for reaching new and nontraditional customers, but you don’t necessarily have to heavily invest right out of the gate to do so. When first beginning to offer Valentine’s applications, consider developing a few you are confident you can turn around quickly and easily without impacting other work. No one expects you to convert your production floor to 100 percent Valentine’s throughput for the month of February. You can be conservative at first, tailoring seasonal offerings to take advantage of less-in-demand equipment to avoid conflicts with bread-and-butter orders. That said, aggressively promoting seasonal applications in the run-up to The Big Day, especially in general-audience outlets that reach people who may be turning to an MSP for the first time, can go a long way, even for just a few limited-time offerings. Just remember, Valentine’s Day is about relationships—new customer relationships. If you put in the work, communicate with customers about their needs, and have a clear sense of what you can bring to the table, I expect you’ll be happy together for a long, long time.