Big Numbers are Great - Making Use of Them Is Even Better!
Big numbers are impressive. Big numbers are what make the headlines. When you want to see things with measurements given in outsized numbers, there are few better places to look than the purchases of the Federal government. Indeed, as evidenced in its December 7 press release, the Government Publishing Office certainly has some respectable, if not downright brag-worthy, figures regarding the work it outsourced to private sector printers during the 2016 fiscal year. Nearly 75% of government printing, valued in the neighborhood of $360 million, was sourced from printers across the country. Those are big numbers to feel good about. Right?
It depends on how you look at the world. If you’re the big picture kind of person, chances are impressive numbers will, to put it bluntly, impress you. If you’re the devil’s-in-the-details type, you may be much more skeptical of big numbers. If you are like yours truly, your take on the world around you involves the big picture viewed through a loupe; you’ll feel good about big numbers but want to tear them apart to see why you should feel good about them. Since I have at my disposal (speaking of big, impressive numbers) the world’s largest known repository of GPO data, let’s dig into this big old number, see what makes it tick and make use of it.
GPO buys so much printing for so many agencies from across so many product categories and in such a unique way that one of the best ways to make this big number more useful is to look at what is actually being bought. We can group those numerous product categories into a handful of familiar groupings. We can then look at the groupings through the lens of a combination of metrics to tell a story about that $360 million figure. In this case we’ll use dollar volume, job volume and average job value to identify the 2016 fiscal year’s best opportunities among the top product groupings:
- Direct Mail and Variable Imaging
- Book Work
- Four Color Work
- Cut Sheets
- Non-Paper Including Ad Specialties and Screen Printing
- Label Work
- Multi-Part and Continuous Forms
So, what does this mean to you now that we are into GPO’s 2017 fiscal year? Comparing the 2016 fiscal year to the previous three there are some trends worth noting. Perhaps most interesting and important is the fact that after a dip from 2013 to 2014, the combined dollar volume of these product groupings continues to rise and job volumes are also very stable. With that being said, we can expect certain opportunity patterns to continue.
Across the four years, the amount of direct mail and variable imaging sourced by GPO is on a noticeable upward trend. Book work, in all forms from saddle stitched to case bound, continues to present a strong opportunity. GPO’s sourcing of non-paper products including ad specialties and screen printing has definitely been growing. Reflecting general trends in graphic communication, four color work is becoming the norm except in the case of multi-part and continuous form work, which incidentally shows a trend of continuing to hold its own with Federal agencies.
Taking all of this into consideration, printers with capabilities in mailing, binding, screen printing, ad specialties, four color and forms looking to fill voids in their production schedules would be wise to consider seeking government work. Of course working with GPO is different from working with commercial clients. For instance, in the case of direct mail, most of the time it is a combined production and mailing project, not simply a stand-alone lettershop or mail house job. As always, access to the right information and know-how gives any printer a leg up and you’re getting a good start right here. Stick around, there’s a whole lot more to come!
When most kids in the neighborhood ran to the sandlot for ball games, Rich Scotti ran to his collection of graphic arts tools to create parodies of ads, magazines and catalogs. Some even saw publication thanks to illicit use of the middle school mimeograph machine. In spite of the fumes, Scotti has succeeded in a sometimes unorthodox communications career spanning more than 20 years.
As communications director at Government Print Management, Scotti combines his passion for print and storytelling to help printers find their own success in printing for the federal government. Email Rich at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit governmentprint.com for more information on winning GPO work.