Tales From The Trail: #ProjectPeacock Saddles Up for Digital Print in Austin, Texas

After successful meetings in 2017 with over 300 professional print buyers and creatives in NYC, Chicago, and the San Francisco Bay Area, Project Peacock saddled up and launched our 2018 tour last week in Austin, Texas. Me and my Peacock partners Canon Solutions America, Domtar Paper, Scodix and Miralupa, had 3 fantastic days of visits sharing printspiration with design students, and print buyers and creative professionals at several brands and advertising agencies.

project peacock Austin print media centr

The primary goal of Project Peacock is to help our hosts learn about / make a connection to, the amazing and COOL possibilities provided by today’s advancements in digital print (inkjet, toner, wide format and enhancements), paper/substrates and marketing technology. It never ceases to amaze me how much I learn in return. Getting a peek behind the curtain helps me understand how you – printers and suppliers out there – can help the students, brands, and agencies in a more meaningful way.

Art Institute of Austin Print Media Centr

Let’s start with the students. A gaggle of them at the Art Institute of Austin. They were attentive. Never said a word. Never pulled out a device. I spoke with one design student who hadn’t had any exposure to PRINTED OUTPUT, only creating files. If you are within helping distance of a graphic arts program, help. Make friends now, help your future design and marketing customers understand the output, while learning the input. This will have long-term value relationship wise… like looooooooooong term.. and they will be better/smarter customers for your time investment now.

Something else that will have long-term value with professional print customers… Data Whisperers. If you provide any type of variable data services, get one. Fast. There is still a sense of fear related to data use and management with some big print customers out there. Someone who has experience working closely with creatives can help them overcome it, more likely it’s the production people who will have to do that. They’ll need help, it’s a real opportunity. Host friendly workshops, share samples of VDP applications, help them understand what you need to help them manage their data based marketing – so they don’t have to. I said “Excel file” during one visit and at least 3 creatives gasped. Make it easy for them to work with you and create cool print. They will keep coming back.

Randy Paar Canon Solutions America Print Media Centr

The teams we met with in Austin all had at least one thing in common. Wide Format Fever. Although Project Peacock keyboardist Randy Paar from Canon Solutions America always gets a thunderous round of applause for his presentation solo, it’s the wide format applications that bring the house down. White ink. Varnish. Raised texture. 3pt knock out type pristinely printed on a giant flatbed. Those are just a few that cause a commotion, besides the substrates. Not all of our hosts had a clear wide format need, but the ones who did asked all the right questions, and the one who didn’t are now thinking of ways to change that. Printspiration mic drop.

Tonya Powers Pro Stream Print Media Centr

That was also true for inkjet technology this go around. At least 2 of our hosts had the perfect combination of data access, print volume, and ability + desire to take advantage of the opportunity digital printing provides for communicating with their customers in a more meaningful way. While that has been our message all along, it’s the new Oce’ ProStream samples that Tonya Powers from Canon Solutions America is sharing that has finally tipped the quality scales. Now they are open to the inkjet technology. Big time. BTW, not once did anyone ask us to show them a comparison of inkjet to offset. If the quality is there, it can stand by itself.

Ashley Maydak Domtar Paper Print Media Centr

For any who were skeptical on the advances in digital print technology, Ashley Maydak from Domtar Paper had the perfect samples in hand… their own Blueline Magazine printed offset, and a French version of the same issue printed on inkjet. Same paper. While there are SLIGHT variations in color depth, you had to see the mags next to each other to notice. Even then, a non-issue. The French version illustrates perfectly how inkjet (or digital toner printing) can work with offset, and it sparked some creative brainstorming. Many of the VDP application samples Ashley shared had the same effect – minus the fear  – because the conversation wasn’t about data, it was about print possibilities. Don’t disregard that monumental difference.

Deborah Corn Scodix Project Peacock

Scodix and Miralupa don’t join us on our travels. I have the honor of sharing the opportunity of digital print enhancement, and bags filled with #scodified samples, with our hosts. It is the perfect cherry on top of the digital print sundae. They go crazy for Scodix – ummm who doesn’t? – but when they learn that finishing can be VARIABLE… yes. Jaws drop, wheels spin, a list of Scodix suppliers is often asked for on the spot. Texas is in neeeeed of a Scodix!! One guest knew of one printer in the Northeast who had one. We can do better!

Miralupa AR Project Peacock Print Media Centr

The last thing I share is the Augmented Reality experience created by Miralupa for our Project Peacock leave-behind notebooks. It’s a fun way to start a conversation about the power of print + digital marketing and the type of information that can be exchanged and accessed through the AR experience. My message is simple… If the printed component is needed to access the AR, and it is an ongoing conversation like it could be by updating WHAT the scan accesses as needed, then that printed piece has extended value. It shouldn’t be thought of as a throwaway, as it often is.  It’s worth investing in the print that opens the door to the pixels, especially if people will have it for a while.

Project Peacock provided printspiration to more than 100 students, buyers, and creatives in Austin by giving them a look at the amazing digital print, paper, and marketing technology available to them today.

Thanks beyond words to all of the awesome people we met with in Austin for your time, creativity, hospitality… and breakfast tacos. Lunch tacos, too. Ok fine… TACOS. All of them. You win.

Project Peacock is heading to Seattle, Minneapolis and San Diego in 2018. Get in touch if you like us to stop by your school, agency or office for a visit whether you are in those cities or not… you never know where we may land… Ca Cawwwww!!!

PS…Are you getting your Print Pod on???  Podcasts from The Printerverse are here!! Listen Long and Prosper!

DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, a Print Buyerologist™, industry speaker and author, host of Podcasts from The Printerverse, cultivator of Print Production Professionals the #1 print group on LinkedIn, host of #PrintChat every Wednesday at 4PM ET on Twitter, and the founder of International Print Day. She is the recipient of several industry honors including the 2016 Girls Who Print Girlie Award, and sits on the board of the Advertising Production Club of NYC.

Deborah has 25+ years experience working in advertising as a Print Producer, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them create meaningful relationships with customers and achieve success with their social media and content marketing endeavors.

Connect with Deborah: Twitter / Facebook / LinkedIn / Instagram / YouTube / Pinterest / Print Production Professionals Group / deborah@printmediacentr.com

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