Even as the world moves online, paper isn't dead yet.
When starting or running a business, entrepreneurs and business owners tend to think mostly of the core aspects of their operation. A restaurant owner considers the food they'll serve and the atmosphere they'll create, while a marketing firm considers the type of services it will provide its clients. While daydreaming about your business normally makes you think of the more glamorous portions of your business, it's important to consider the everyday tasks and smaller functions that make your business hum.
For example, your business may need office space, office supplies, a payroll service and an HR platform. One of the frequently forgotten business tools is a printer. If you're hoping to print documents or even larger banners or marketing materials, purchasing a printer can make life much easier than using printing services every time you need a document printed.
With some small businesses relying on physical marketing materials like banners and posters, wide-format printers become essential. According to a 2018 survey released by FedEx Office, 4 out of 5 small business owners said professional printing services could help their businesses stand out from the competition. Additionally, 85 percent of consumers said they were more likely to shop with a small business that had custom/professionally printed materials. It made not be discussed frequently, but printed materials matter, especially for smaller businesses.
Editor's note: Looking for an even larger printer? We can help you choose the wide-format printer that's right for you. Use the questionnaire below to have our sister site, BuyerZone, provide you with information from a variety of vendors for free:
It depends on the industry
If you're a marketing firm, you may print materials on 11 x 17 paper, in which case a wide-format printer may be a vital purchase. For less obvious cases, it's important to weigh the costs and benefits of buying a wide-format printer. Although an 11 x 17-inch printer doesn't print drastically larger materials than standard 8 x 11-inch printers, those extra few inches can be crucial in a few industries.
According to Dino Demitri, sales manager at Printer Showcase, a few industries stand out as those most likely to use an 11 x 17 printer. Here were a few of the industries Demitri mentioned:
- Advertising agencies
The uses vary, but Demitri felt a few products stood out as those most commonly made using 11 x 17 printers.
- Engineering drawings
- Art reproduction
- Retail signage display
- Brochures and sales collateral
- Packaging mock-up
There's clearly diversity among the different uses of the printer, and the value of an 11 x 17 printer varies by industry and individual businesses.
If you run a restaurant, your initial focus likely goes to your food and customer base, but it's important to consider seemingly minor tasks like menu design. Printing a larger menu on 11 x 17 paper may allow for more creativity with design as well as a larger font size, which can benefit customers.
There's no perfect case for or against buying an 11 x 17 printer, but the industry you're in will certainly affect the legitimacy of purchasing the printer. [Interested in wide-format printers for your business? Check out our best picks.]
Is it worth the cost?
Much like any other purchase a small business makes, it's important to consider the cost. Whether you're using a printing service or buying an 11 x 17 printer for your business, you need to weigh the costs and benefits. If you're considering purchasing the printer, do you print 11 x 17 materials enough to justify the purchase? If you're opting for a printing service, is that cost worth the added size of printing your materials on 11 x 17 paper?
The idea of buying a printer with exciting capabilities can be enticing, but you shouldn't jump at the chance to buy something just because it has fancy features. If you don't think you'd use the printer frequently, put the money into other areas of your business. The specific pricing of 11 x 17 printers varies greatly depending on the model and capabilities of each printer. You can go from spending as little as $200 to well over $1,000. Be sure to also note the cost of errors that will arise if you purchase a printer. According to Xerox, printer-related issues can account for thousands of dollars of IT work.
It is, however, worth noting additional positive capabilities of an 11 x 17-inch printer during your purchasing process.
"All 11 x 17-capable printers can also print letter-sized paper, and, in fact, many already have multiple feeders to accommodate more than one size or type of paper so that you can print whichever size you need on demand," said Demitri.
"It is fair, however, to say that 11 x 17-capable lasers do have a larger footprint and are generally larger and heavier," he added.
If your business will benefit from the ability to print 11 x 17 documents, in addition to the standard letter-sized paper, then it may be worth considering purchasing a printer. If you feel your use of wide-format printers will be limited, the purchase might not make sense for your business.
Focus on your business
You know your business better than anybody. Don't rush into a purchasing decision you don't need to make. Consider the costs and benefits of purchasing a printer while keeping your business's needs in mind.
"If they need [an 11 x 17 printer], they already know it," said Demitri.