How has the Internet changed the nature of the printing business and what long-term impact will it have in the future? These were the primary topics I was most interested in discussing when I spent some time interviewing Steve Greenbaum, PostNet’s chief executive and founder. As a leader in the printing franchise business, PostNet has grown steadily and profitably to over 200 million in revenues with 700 franchises worldwide. Noting that only 50 percent are in the United States, Greenbaum said it took 30 years to build his company to where it is today.
In his years at the company, Greenbaum said he has made it his primary business to learn what customers in the small- to mid-market space most need and has delivered steady improvements in printing capabilities to meet these needs while adding a host of new media services such as Website design, graphics, direct marketing and related branding services. Typically a smaller firm does not have a full-time staff to provide these services and this is the basis of PostNet’s continuous revenue increases.
According to Greenbaum, his company’s services are best utilized by organizations with 40 or fewer employees who want both printing and digital marketing communications from one shop. Not many executives have a better vantage point on the changing print industry than Greenbaum. He recently took time out to discuss his thoughts with me on the printing landscape.
As you know, the Printing Industry of America recently took strong exception to Google and its strategic partners for pushing out their “Go Paperless” campaign. What would you say to Google if they told you you’re off base for opposing their paperless campaign?Steve Greenbaum:
I wouldn't be surprised. Google is wedded to cloud computing and online tools, their search engine is second-to-none, and they make billions from online ad sales. It's no surprise that they would be influencing people to embrace their tools and eschew other forms of marketing. The fact is that offline marketing often drives search behaviors. People who have encountered a mailer, or a newspaper insert, or have seen a sign or a banner will often go online to learn more about a business—especially when they are ready to buy. Not to mention QR codes and their implications with respect to driving print viewers to the Web. It's important to have a good Website and online strategy—and PostNet helps businesses achieve that—but it's just as important to take advantage of opportunities to reach out directly to let people know about your product or service. MarketCues:
You seem to take exception to the concept, "Print Is Dying." What empirical evidence do you have to support your perspective?
The print industry is revolutionizing, not dying. Expensive offset printing was dominant for decades but is being leapfrogged by digital printing, which the Printing Industries of America expects to grow from $36.7 billion in 2009 to $56.7 billion by 2020. As digital printing technology has improved its quality and efficiency, it has become easier for small businesses to access professional marketing materials. As of 2011, nearly 11 percent of Americans intended to start their own business within three years, according to Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.
Where do you see print moving to in the near- and longer-term future, and what projections might you suggest that supports your forecast?Steve Greenbaum:
The Printing Industries of America projects digital printing to grow $20 billion by 2020.
Who would you say is the most innovative leader in the printing business today, excusing PostNet from consideration, of course!Steve Greenbaum:
I believe Xerox is the most innovative leader today. They understand the value proposition at all levels of business and have been building equipment, training and tools to enable those businesses. That is why PostNet offers Xerox products and quality.
If my readers were to read one book on the topic of print today and tomorrow, what would you suggest?
"Business Transformation - A New Path To Profit For The Printing Industry" by John Foley.
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