Helping the world of packaging, labels, textile and industrial coatings decrease waste and deliver printing jobs both quick and flexibly—that is the goal of InkConnection, GSE’s content platform. As a producer of dispensing equipment and ancillary software, they have serviced the graphic industry for over 45 years. We sit down with co-owner Maarten Hummelen and copywriter / PR consultant Adrian Tippetts about the thinking behind InkConnection.
Content platform against waste
How did InkConnection come to life?
Maarten: “The idea arose about five years ago, but only came to fruition when corona hit. 2020 was a tricky year for GSE, earnings went down and trade shows were canceled. To stay in view, we embraced digital marketing, with staff interviews and a look at our history. It turned out to be a good opportunity to launch InkConnection too, which I co-designed with Adrian and Herman [Krabbendam, owner of Vuurwerk].”
What is its purpose?
Maarten: “One of our company’s four core values is ‘connection’. Not just being connected with our customers, but also with other partners in our value chain. Hence the name InkConnection. A platform for ink management didn’t exist yet. With this, we want to establish the basics: explaining about dispensing and how to reuse inks from the printing press. Already we have over two-and-a-half thousand readers and I hope it will become a platform other companies publish on as well. Customers, equipment manufacturers, software developers, their perspective.”
Adrian: “Innovation doesn’t just come from one part of the machine. InkConnection—and I believe this is an industry first—is a resource in five languages that people can use to improve all ink-related processes. So we absolutely want to involve others for their experiences and expertise.”
Is a content platform like InkConnection today’s best marketing tool?
Adrian: “The business-to-business world has changed. People are increasingly going online to find solutions. With our new approach we prioritize web content, though we still invest in traditional media like trade magazines. This enables us to speak with a more authentic voice. And with good SEO and quality content, we have something with a long lifespan.”
What was the development with Vuurwerk like?
Maarten: “I’ve known Herman for fifteen years, he’s visually very strong and keeps us from veering off into crazy directions. He’s a graphic designer by trade, but you can just as easily spar with him about strategy. Every Tuesday afternoon we have a ninety minute session with the three of us. We’ll be brainstorming away and every time hit upon a new idea. Which gets picked up immediately and a week later there’ll be three proposals. It’s an incredibly lean way of working together.”
Which of the design choices make you happy?
Maarten: “The fresh and colorful, yet recognizable design. And the links we make to physical objects, such as QR codes in magazine advertisements or on calling cards. When you scan them, you’re taken to the platform. That way we connect the physical and digital world. We also have a newsletter that sends the platform’s best content to your mailbox.”
What’s in store for InkConnection?
Maarten: “With every blog and infographic we make, we create content that we can use in lots of ways. Next year, for instance, we might hold an InkConnection workshop on Labelexpo, a big trade show. We’re also involved in organizing a Flexo Frühstück, a casual breakfast where you meet other people in the industry. All places we can apply our content.”
Adrian: “Our goal is to make this a reference point for the entire industry. We need media with a focus on high quality articles and journalists that really dig into the material. With that in mind, it’s fantastic that GSE, Vuurwerk and I deliberate every week. Face to face is when you take the biggest steps.”