10 Important Considerations Print Service Providers Should Think About in 2019
2019 is just getting started and print service providers (PSPs) are thinking about what is in store in the year ahead. As the printing industry seems to be transitioning a mile a minute, PSPs are challenged to find ways to scale and differentiate their organizations in an ever-changing business environment. The more an organization can plan ahead, the better equipped it will be to navigate challenges when they occur.
On Jan. 16, I participated in a Printing Impressions Webinar with industry experts, Marco Boer, VP of IT Strategies, and Jim Hamilton, publisher at Green Harbor Publications. The three of us shared insights and recommendations on 10 areas that PSPs should consider as they plan for and move forward into 2019.
Boer on Economic Considerations
Boer focused on critical economic factors and the implications for print industry investment considerations in 2019.
- Skill Acquisition: Boer highlighted that a critical consideration was availability of the right workforce. In today’s market, there are fewer workers in the printing industry and this trend will continue as the printing industry workforce continues to age. Across all industries the average age of a worker is 42, while in the printing industry it is 48. Less available labor and an aging workforce means that PSPs need to focus on productivity and automation.
- Customer Demands Are Shifting: Boer emphasized that customer demands have changed, and legacy business models of delivering the highest quality and the lowest price are losing their effectiveness. To be successful in 2019, PSPs must adjust business models to provide customers with high value add with ultra-efficiency.
- Look at Page Growth Opportunities: A key growth area for PSPs with digital devices are applications where traditional page volume can migrate to digital print. Digital print versus conventional print still represents a very small percentage of the overall market. While there has been some traction with digital print in transactional print, direct mail, marketing collateral, books and specialty wide-format graphics, the movement to customization and micro-runs will drive even greater activity in catalogs, magazines and all forms of packaging.
Hamilton on Application Focus for Profit and Growth
Hamilton highlighted key applications and market opportunities that PSPs should focus on in 2019 to drive strategic revenue and profitability growth.
- Wide-Format: The offering of wide-format graphics is taking hold at both in-plants and commercial printers for a number of reasons. Primarily, there have been a range of technology advances over the past few years that have brought faster speeds, affordability and convenience. Hamilton recommends that PSPs build on application categories that tie in with services and applications that they already provide to customers; for example, trade show graphics, promotional posters and point-of-purchase messaging to support marketing programs where they are producing collateral materials.
- Digital Packaging: Digital printing is the next frontier for packaging production, and brands and package printers/converters are capitalizing on its efficiency, speed-to-market and customization/personalization advantages. While digital printing has been used in the packaging industry for more than two decades, in 2019, the combination of forces is expanding package printer/converters’ and brand owners’ use and recognition of its value. PSPs need to evaluate where digital packaging technology fits in their mix.
- Enhancing Print: PSPs need to continue to differentiate and generate profit by providing services that add value to monochrome or color-printed pages. These services include cutting/trimming, stapling/stitching, folding, binding, foil stamping, diecutting, embossing, laminating, spot and flood gloss, and the use of colors beyond cyan, magenta, yellow and black (CMYK). With the advent of digital printing technologies, PSPs have been relatively slow to adapt these services for shorter runs and personalized pieces. 2019 would be a good time to increase focus.
Pellow on Print Plus Digital
And I shared with the audience how, in today’s market, offering only print services is not enough. In 2019, customers will demand print plus digital services.
- All Things Personal: The printing industry has been talking about customization and personalization for a long time. There’s no good reason in this day and age for anyone to receive generic messages and completely irrelevant offers on any communication channel. Most recently, NAPCO Research, in concert with Canon thINK, surveyed more than 300 marketers. Marketers responding to the NAPCO Research survey reported that 76% of their marketing campaigns were targeted to individuals or an audience segment versus a mass audience. PSPs need to evaluate how they are supporting customers in communicating with consumers on an individual level.
- All Channels On: In today’s market, we are seeing that the average firm uses at least four channels in creating a campaign and print is one of them. A recent NAPCO Research survey of more than 400 marketing executives found that 74% of respondents said that delivering a cohesive omnichannel experience was important. That means that you need to support customers in moving seamlessly across all channels.
- Print Drives Digital: A critical factor for service providers to consider in 2019 is that print is a driver to move consumers to digital channels. Print should not be seen as the enemy of digital marketing, but rather as a communications ally that can work alongside digital engagement to increase sales. Service providers need to understand how to integrate print with Augmented Reality, QR codes, NFC tags, and social and mobile channels.
And All Things Operational
- Operational Excellence Across All Facets of Your Business: In wrapping up, Boer, Hamilton and I all emphasized that operational excellence is critical in 2019. Print service providers need to focus on continuous improvement across all organizational processes, products and services. Critical considerations included understating your cost base, getting the workflow right, and making sure you are “walking the talk” when it comes to communicating with your customers by leveraging personalized and digital technologies.
A digital printing and publishing pioneer and marketing expert, Barbara Pellow helps companies develop multi-media strategies that ride the information wave whether it is developing a strategy to launch a new product, building a strategic marketing plan or educating your sales force on how to deliver an effective value proposition. She brings the knowledge and skills to help companies expand and grow business opportunity. Barb has had a number of high-profile marketing and sales positions including Chief Marketing Officer for the Kodak Graphic Communications Group, Corporate Vice President of Marketing for IKON Office Solutions, and Vice President and General Manager for the Xerox Document Production Systems Group. She also served as the Gannett chair in integrated publishing sciences in Rochester Institute of Technology's (RIT) School of Printing Management and Sciences (SPMS). Most recently, Barb was the Group Director for Business Development at InfoTrends. She is currently the Manager of Pellow and Partners, LLC.
Barb can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org (Mobile, 585-734-2228)