Business usage of colour printing is no longer restricted by perceptions of high cost, inferior performance or complexity. There are many compelling reasons to deploy or widen the deployment of colour laser printers in an organisation.
Today, the use of colour printers in business communications is widely recognised as an essential and strategic commercial tool. Not only does colour help to more readily engage the attention of customers and employees, it significantly improves their comprehension of documents.
The net result of using colour is more effective communications that can have a direct impact on the productivity and bottom line of a business.
Today, the cost per page of a high quality laser printer can match that of a mono printer and, when the savings that can be made by printing marketing and sales documents in-house are taken into account, a colour laser printer can very quickly pay for itself.
What is more, with the advancement of single-pass technology and faster engine speeds, colour laser printers now match or better the speeds of mono printers - ensuring productivity is maximised whatever the print requirements.
In fact, thanks to high reliability, excellent print quality, high speed and colour consistency, today's colour laser technology meets the needs of all workgroups and departments.
Mood and meaning
The power of colour is inherent in our everyday culture and lives. Many of us will be familiar with the fact that colours can be culturally symbolic, affect our moods or be used to impart specific meaning or emphasis. It is a scientific fact that certain colours can incite actual physical changes in humans - for instance, excitement, stimulation, a feeling of warmth, or an increased appetite. This is known as chromodynamics.
So, whether it is the calming or cooling influence of a blue, the passion or good luck of a red, the envy or environmental representation of a green, or the sacredness of a yellow, colour shapes the very way we live our lives and how we respond.
Today, using a colour laser printer in business communications is one of the most effective ways to increase the clarity and comprehension of business documents and in-house marketing materials. In fact, according to the Pantone Institute, when printing a message in colour, assimilation of information and recognition by a reader can increase by as much as 78%, when compared to the message being printed in black and white. Colour also improves both understanding and learning because it helps to gain readers' interest and enables them to retain information more easily.
Colour gets results
From a sales perspective, colour is vital in increasing the chances of making a sale. The power of colour has been proven in repeated direct marketing tests to significantly improve response rates. Just highlighting a headline in red or reversing some copy out of a yellow box can have a dramatic effect on the impact of a marketing document.
An in-house colour printer can be a powerful creative marketing tool that will enable you to design a whole range of high quality marketing materials and office stationery. From business cards to direct mail flyers, company brochures to sales presentation documents, spreadsheets to customer newsletters, the scope to motivate customers and employees with hard copy colour run-outs is only limited by the imagination.
The use of colour in customer communications will also enhance brand image, creating more positive associations with the company, helping it to sell more and retain customers longer.
Using colour in internal documents is also highly important in aiding employee productivity. Not only does it encourage workers to pay more attention to documents, it actually increases readability. The result is faster and better internal communications.
In-house colour laser printing makes a business more flexible, allowing organisations to print on demand and run-off the exact quantity needed. This means documents can be updated and reprinted as frequently as necessary, without incurring the cost of waste and the clutter of storing large runs and unwanted materials.
Marketing and beyond
Traditionally, the marketing department has been the principal domain for the colour printer and one of the greatest advocates of its use. There are a number of reasons for this - from greater knowledge about creativity and design to the recognition that printing marketing materials in-house can result in significant savings.
However, there has been a rapid and marked increase in the use of colour laser printers by a host of other departments, each with their own specific range of applications for using colour in the office.
For instance, the finance department can use colour to highlight important information from complicated spreadsheets or financial reports. It can send out invoices or statements that use colour to flag payment dates or outstanding amounts owed. IT uses colour to highlight reports and infrastructure or networking configuration diagrams, training uses it heavily for course materials and manufacturing uses it for production schedules and technical documentation. Additionally, the sales department, which produces a range of customer facing documents from proposals and tenders to contracts and sales graphs, is another major user of colour in the business.
Reliability and performance
Developments over the past few years have made colour laser printers as fast and economical as monochrome lasers. Due to today's single-pass technology, which means the printer uses multiple lasers printing in tandem, combined with improved engine speeds, colour laser printers offer superior output. In fact, many are able to print in both mono and colour at speeds of 25 ppm or higher. And with fast warm up times, they can execute even the smallest print jobs quickly.
When selecting a colour laser, choosing one that has the best possible print quality is essential. Many factors influence print quality, from dpi (dots per inch) to the number of colours per dot, to the specific technological features of a printer vendor. The toner in colour lasers is made up of small plastic particles that are melted and fused onto the paper, a technique that ensures that, unlike ink-based printers, there are no concerns about the ink dot being absorbed and growing larger on the paper.
The affordability of colour
Today, businesses are able to fully realise the benefits of colour laser printing without the incremental cost burden that used to accompany the technology. In fact, in many instances, a business can now genuinely save money through the strategic deployment of colour laser printers in the office.
Typically, many businesses would use external printers or quick-print shops to produce office marketing materials and stationery. If a business is producing large runs in the thousands, this may still prove cost-effective. However, in many instances, a business only needs relatively small quantities of leaflets or brochures, which means it will pay a far higher cost per unit or per page using offset or digital printing. If the business prints these documents in-house using fast and easy-to-use colour laser printers, the cost per page will be greatly reduced and quickly contribute to the costs of acquiring the printer. What is more, it is not only more convenient, all those boxes of unused leaflets will not be cluttering up the stock room for years to come.
Total cost of ownership
When evaluating the true cost of colour printing, it is important to take into account not just the purchase price of a printer but, in addition, the associated lifetime operational and maintenance costs. These combined costs represent the total cost of ownership of the printer. As we have seen colour lasers not only offer low maintenance and low consumable costs, they can also minimise the cost of promotional print by enabling the printing of high quality documents in-house. In fact, colour lasers that operate as both colour and mono printers are often more economical to run than many mono-only laser printers with comparable print speeds.
Managing colour print costs
Providing multiple departments or employees with access to a colour laser printer could lead organisations to the assumption that this increase in deployment could be matched by an escalation in print costs. However, with today's advanced colour printers, it is simple to manage and control the use of colour printing within a company. An organisation's IT administrator will be able to determine which users are set up to print in colour or black and white. It is now also possible to decide on which days, and at what time of day, users can print in colour. In addition, a company can also choose to invest in document accounting software or benefit from in-built print management tools that enable it to track usage by department or individual user and even cross-charge that cost back to a particular department if required.
There is a sound business case for a company to standardise on an in-house colour laser print capability. In recent years, both capital and running costs of colour laser printing have fallen dramatically and, with so many benefits, the reason for colour's growing dominance is plain to understand.
Colour laser printers are not only easy to use, they also deliver high speed printing, exceptional print quality and provide a business with the flexibility and convenience of being able to print documents on demand.
For customer-facing communications and marketing they are an essential tool that can directly impact on the success of the business, while, for staff, they are vital in increasing productivity. Most importantly of all, investing in colour laser printing can, in the vast majority of cases, deliver a measurable return on investment through lower cost of ownership, increases in productivity, savings on external print costs and the return on customer facing communications.
Ian Revell, country manager: South Africa at Konica Minolta Printing Solutions