Finding Answers Any Way You Can --Cagle
The answer virtually all speakers gave for rectifying the uneasiness printers are feeling these days was nearly universal: diversification. Spread your wings beyond the realm of printing. Most of you are already offering creative services, mailing and fulfillment. A good many, according to the NAPL's State of the Industry Report, also provide client training/consulting, database management and variable-content digital printing, among others.
It only took one inquisitive soul to ask the question that would be on the minds of any printer presented with the diversification edict. How are we supposed to pay for it? Especially when banks aren't exactly a printer's best friend these days.
Not the answer anyone wants to hear.
Apparently, fate and ingenuity play a pivotal role in bringing the how-to in line with the why-to. Paparozzi, et. al, were correct in the analysis that "printers" need to think of themselves as communications providers, whereby an entire suite of services augment the base product. For while the printed product will never go away, the ways and means of producing and distributing are being led by those "printers" who are willing and able to offer the entire complement of services. You don't have to like it and you don't have to agree with it, but it is true.
There's something to be said about having a forward-thinking plan in place. Some time ago, during the height of the current recession, I interviewed the head of a large commercial printer. I asked him about his company's economic outlook over the next 12 to 18 months and how his company was going to approach the near-term future. His answer floored me.
"My answer to that is I don't have a clue, and how would you expect me to? How would you expect anyone to be able, in these times, to make a forecast relative to the economy for the next 12 to 18 months? (Voice rising) Can I possibly know whether there are going to be more terrorist actions? Can I possibly know what the Senate, the House and the president are going to do? I mean, you're asking me a question that has no answer."