THE CHALLENGES a printing company owner faces today can, at times, seem daunting, overwhelming and downright discouraging. I should know; as an owner I shared those same challenges.

Advances in technology have had a significant impact on our industry on many fronts. Our clients now have the ability to design many of the materials they use today, and a significant portion of these materials that used to be printed are now loaded onto Websites where they can be downloaded on-demand or are simply distributed electronically.

This has led to increased competition for the work that still exists and has caused increased pricing pressures, which make our margins suffer. Further challenges from offshore printers and the proliferation of “Internet printers” (a very high growth area right now) assure that the situation is going to get even more challenging.

Technology has affected the manufacturing side of the business at a dizzying pace, as well. Suffice it to say that a client came into our shop a couple of years ago with art boards and overlays—half the staff didn’t know what they were. We have all had to make significant capital investments while our margins have continued to shrink; a daunting prospect to say the least.

The good news is that there is a solution to these challenges. Customers are still essentially allocating an equivalent amount of funds to market their businesses and run their organizations. This is being done by pursuing different types of initiatives than they have in the past.

As printers, we have an enormous opportunity: We occupy the central point of the marketing and communications supply chain, which puts us in an ideal position to continue to capture these marketing dollars.

The task at hand is to capitalize on these opportunities as they relate to your business. Let me share with you five proven steps that, if properly executed, will allow you to exploit these opportunities and take your business to the next level. Proven, because the techniques outlined below allowed my business to triple its revenues over a four-year period in the midst of the dotcom bubble and 9/11—one of the worst economic periods in this country’s history when nearly 20 percent of our industry’s facilities closed their doors. So, let’s get started.

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