The attitude of many UK SMEs is in need of modernising. Colour no longer has to mean cost, and print VARs have the opportunity to educate customers about the possibilities that are available in the office via affordable colour printing.
Technology is dispelling the myth that mono is the safest option in terms of price, reliability and management. Colour printers are only slightly more expensive than mono printers. But a purchase factor that matters more to SMEs in the long term is total cost of ownership, which includes the cost of consumables, parts and maintenance.
Answering this concern is a group of transition devices that act as mono printers. They keep running costs down and provide colour printing on demand. Colour toners are built into the cost of the printer and last for up to 5,000 pages, which can equal the life of the device. Parts and maintenance are often protected under warranty.
Many of the mono transition devices on the market provide colour printing on demand at the same speed as draft mono printing, and at a similar cost per page. The ability to do this springs from the wider proliferation of colour devices, forcing manufacturers to keep costs down to be competitive.
It is true that allowing good-quality colour devices into the office environment may allow employees to take advantage of the colour functionality to print out personal material, but this worry can be addressed. New software is available for entry-level colour, and transitional devices that allow remote control of the use of colour, both by user and by application. Rules are entered centrally for each user. For those allowed to print in colour, the customer can decide what type of files they are permitted to print.
Colour adds another dimension to printed documents, whether they are intended for internal or external use. Consider some form of promotional material – a poster, for example. It is clear that a colour version will have more impact. In fact, for any promotional material, colour documents will get better response rates and lead to greater sales.
Internally, printed materials still often have to fulfil a persuasive function, as well as an informative one. When producing internal communications, small businesses should take care to ensure that their employees feel part of a professional organisation.
So mono or colour? The fact is that SMEs no longer have to choose. With the introduction of transitional devices in the market, colour is within easy reach. In-house marketing possibilities bring new opportunities for UK business and VARs. C
Andrew Forsyth is commercial business manager at Hewlett-Packard.
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