(Editor’s Note: Today’s post was inspired by a project I was involved in to learn about ink technology. I have no obligation to write about the experience. I did receive a couple of HP Ink Jet printers and supplies as part of the project so I do want do want to disclose that upfront. Enjoy the post!)
Ink technology…who knew there was such a thing?!
One night I’m reading articles from my LinkedIn groups and there’s a posting asking for volunteers to participate in the HP Ink Challenge. Technology is critical for my business and I’m a big fan of HP printers – that’s all we’ve ever used here at ITM Group, so I signed up. I figured I would never hear anything. But there’s something exciting about signing up.
Then, what do you know – I get selected!
Over the past five weeks, I’ve been part of a community of small business owners testing ink cartridges. Each week, we get a printer challenge and then share our stories with the online community. It’s been really interesting and I’ve learned a few things along the way.
Time is money. Our first challenge was one of the most eye-opening experiences. We had to get refill ink cartridges. I’ve never used refill ink before so this was an ordeal. Couldn’t find a store. Ultimately, I ended up ordering it online. While I did complete the challenge, it took hours. It reminded me that just because I can do something, it doesn’t always mean I should. Business people should spend their time where it brings the greatest value.
Cheaper is not always better. Yes, the cost of refill ink was significantly cheaper. But we discovered during week four that doesn’t mean it’s better. We had all sorts of problems printing the assignment including having the printer completely lock up. There are times when saving money makes sense and you still get a great product. And there are times when saving a couple of dollars costs more in the long run.
The smallest details can make a huge difference. One week our assignment was to compare identical copies using two different types of paper. Something that might seem small like the type of paper makes a huge difference. Not just in the feel of the paper but the look of the image. People notice the small details and they appreciate them. For example, during the challenge I learned my printer can automatically generate Sudoku puzzles. How cool is that?! Whoever came up with that idea deserves a raise.
Always have a Plan B. We’re a small company and have always shared a printer. It wasn’t until this challenge that we realized how convenient two printers can be. Especially after the refill ink cartridge started acting up. As a small business owner, I can’t afford to be without a printer. It always makes sense to develop a plan of action along with a contingency plan for unexpected issues.
Everything is someone’s passion. Our community moderator was an ink technician named Thom. He went to incredible lengths to answer our questions, respond to our stories, and encourage us. He would make videos each week talking about the challenge and why we were doing it. Ink is his passion. Me? I haven’t put this much thought into ink – ever. It’s a good thing that Thom is passionate about ink.
The HP Ink Challenge was a fun project. I learned a lot about HP, their products, and what they do to make sure they deliver quality. It made me think about the entire quality process and what individuals and companies can do to ensure they provide value.