Adding a little color to your world is more difficult than clicking your heels together Dorothy-style, buying a color printer and poof you've got a color printing environment. In the real world you've got to consider your technology options, evaluate your true color-printing needs and consider the added costs to your business.
We've outlined below three critical elements of color printing that will help you keep technology options, needs and costs in mind while you evaluate color printing solutions.
Color printing technology choices would be easier if there were only two options. A triad of choices makes a decision more difficult to arrive at. Consider this: if I asked you what kind of ice cream you want, chocolate or vanilla, the choice is easy. But if I add a third option, say chocolate, vanilla or strawberry, you might have to hum and haw a little more. This is the same unfortunate effect that three printer choices have on consumers. But having all three laid out in front of you (along with their benefits and drawbacks) makes the choice significantly simpler:
1. Ink Jet
Beeeeep bee bee bee bee beeeep. Ink Jet printers are responsible for the classic printer sound/rap that we grew up with. But despite our reminiscent attachment to this affordable and readily available technology, the prohibitive cost of its cartridges has been pushing it out of the corporate market. The technology of spraying ink onto the page from tiny nozzles makes decent quality color prints and can apply dense color coverage but isn't affordable for bigger jobs because unfortunately that quality and coverage will cost you, upwards of $2 per page. As a readily available and affordable technology with high-cost replacement consumables ink jet printers have thrived in homes and small business environments where volume doesn't exceed 250 pages a month.
Laser printing was all the rage in its day thanks to its high-tech print process of fusing dry toners with heat to create color print images. The process is efficient and quick. The cost is also a fraction that of ink jet color printing, at between just 5 cents to 50 cents per page. After the initial hoopla ended laser technology was considered wasteful for a time, since laser cartridges needed to be replaced regularly to maintain efficiency. This technology however continues to be popular in larger corporate and commercial spaces though thanks to the high availability of cartridge recycling programs that reduce waste.
3. Solid Ink
Solid ink color printing is the newest technology on the scene and is highly sought after thanks to its clean, mess-less printing. This technology offered solely by Xerox has replaced bulky, dirty ink cartridges with a wax that won't come off on your hands or clothes. Another major selling feature is that it is the only 'green' option (it reduces waste by 90%). The real selling feature of solid ink technology though is the quality of its results. Solid ink color printing can produce prints that look like they were printed on a commercial machine or printing press—and it can do it for a fraction of the cost. This technology is beginning to take over the larger corporate space as companies replace their aging laser units.
When it comes to choosing between ink jet, laser and solid ink printing technologies you will need to assess how much printing you do, how fast you need your print outs, how much your budget is and most importantly—how much you plan on spending on consumables over the coming years.
There are people who buy a color printer and make the best of it, and there are people who invest in color printing and leverage it. Be the latter. To be the latter you need to use color printing strategically, to enhance your company, its materials and its employees' abilities. Consider the following ways to leverage color printing:
- Presentations & Proposals: while many companies are afraid to give color printing privileges to their staff in fear they would abuse it, presentations and proposals are two scenarios that are not abuse or overuse—they are the ideal uses. Nothing grabs the attention of your audience like stunning color copies in bold, statement-making colors. Use color in presentations and proposals to accentuate critical points and differentiate between similar, yet important data. Studies have shown that proper use of color can increase your readership by 40% and improve reader comprehension by 73%.
- Invoices: Want to get paid faster? Then print your invoices with color. Companies that highlight key information on their invoices with color receive payment on invoices quicker than with black-and-white invoices.
- Graphics and Advertisements: the whole point of an ad, graphic or logo is to get them seen. And since color is eye-catching you should be leveraging it so that your ads, graphics and logos get the attention they deserve. Studies have shown that using color increases recognition of your brand by up to 80%. Also, color ads are read 42% more often than identical black-and-white ads.
These stats from Why Color Matters give you food for thought on what value color brings to your business versus how expensive the technology is; remember, color printing might be more expensive than black & white printing—but it can pay off in tangible and intangible ways.
If you decide that investing in color IS right for your business, first evaluate your needs then weigh all your options and their benefits with the cost of the solution. Another thing to do before you decide on whether color printing is for you is to read our next blog, which will give you important tips on how to control your color print costs.