2011 Is Looking Like a Good Year...or Is It?
Over the last few weeks, I've read several reports on the state of the printing industry and the outlook for 2011. I’ve been surprised. Most of them project sales, especially in the direct marketing sector, to be up—not a lot, but still up. That’s a huge improvement over the last two or three years.
Most of the top corporations anticipate spending more on print this year. One of the reports even surmised that volumes would return to pre-recession levels because of pent-up demand.
There might even be some logic in this. The stock market is in good shape. Fortune 500 corporate profits are higher than they’ve ever been. The recession has made process improvement and efficiency tantamount.
We see a lot of that in the printing industry. The industry leaders, such as Quad and Consolidated, are acquiring firms and merging operations to keep a handle on costs, while looking at how to handle the predicted increase in demand. It looks like printing is successfully holding its own against the social media evil empire. Maybe we can return to the good old days of the past after all.
But let me take off my rose-colored glasses for a moment.
After I read those reports, I thought I’d talk to a few of my old printing clients. These firms ranged from about $2 to $15 million in annual sales—your basic range for the majority of commercial printing. Their client bases consist mainly of local and regional firms cut across a wide range of industries. They print collateral, as well as some direct marketing and even retail signage.
While we can sit back in our living rooms and read the latest NAPL report, we can’t help but see there’s an elephant blocking the view of our TV. And the elephant is the likes of the printers I called—printers like the majority of you that read my rants. But I don’t need to tell you that.