Boost Your Print Business with This Low-Risk, High-Reward Approach
I’ll admit it: I’m a printing technology junkie. I’m constantly on the lookout for tech and equipment that could fulfill unmet customer needs. In fact, I know I drive my staff nuts sometimes because they're the ones who have to suck it up and rally to become experts on a new capability.
But they have yet to fail me. And the thing is, after years and years of taking this approach at my company, POV Solution, I have to say it’s generally worked out well for us and our customers — and our printer partners.
Let me explain: I don’t expect you to think or run your business like I do. Yet that doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from the kind of niche capabilities we’ve worked so hard — and invested so much in — to become proficient at. And I’m sure there are other printers out there who have super-cool capabilities that you’ll simply never have on your own production floor.
But with contract printing, you don’t need to. You can benefit from those capabilities without housing them yourself. Below I’ll describe this low-risk approach to boosting your revenue, strengthening your reputation, and ultimately growing your business.
Simple But Powerful: Contract Printing to Offer Niche Capabilities
The idea of contract printing is fairly straightforward, and you may even engage in some form of it right now. But just to be clear, I define it as an agreement with another printer in which you sell their print products or services to your own customers.
For example, we use contract printing for most of our customers’ signage needs and to complete projects that require perfect binding.
But what I’m focusing on here are what I’ve already referred to as “niche capabilities” — embellishments, finishing services, and product lines that aren’t widespread among printers. Here are a few examples of the contract printing services I’m talking about:
- Spot UV coating to create a unique tactical experience (even ADA-compliant braille projects)
- Digital metallic foiling without the conventional die, making an eye-catching yet often too-pricey feature now more affordable
- Self-contained mailers and bangtail brochures, which many see as a huge pain to produce, but can actually be a game changer for your customers' campaigns
- Digital and laser die-cutting that allow short runs for 3D printed items of essentially whatever the customer can imagine
These capabilities can help your customers differentiate themselves and generate the kind of results that will keep them coming back to you for more.
A Basic Idea with Big Benefits
Contract printing is by no means a new idea. But I do have to wonder why more printers don’t take advantage of its potential. Maybe the benefits just aren’t as obvious to others as I think. Or perhaps the effort it might take to initiate contract printing doesn’t seem worth the bother.
But based on what I’ve witnessed, I definitely think it’s worth it. Let me spell out why:
Increase revenue. No rocket science here, folks. Adding sought-after services to your customers’ options means more opportunities for sales. And satisfied customers tend to stick around, right? Now you’re not only generating more revenue but also strengthening your future.
Grow without the growing pains. When you use the specialized services of another printer, you’re basically expanding your business in a low-risk manner. After all, the other guy is the one who had to do the heavy-lifting. That means you can augment your own offerings without having to:
- Spend the months and months (or longer) it can take to thoroughly research the equipment and technology to see if it’s worth buying.
- Make huge (and risky) capital investments to purchase equipment and possibly renovate, expand, or relocate your physical space.
- Devote time to training staff and figuring out how to operate that complex equipment effectively and efficiently.
Give end customers what they really want. I don’t think the end customer today really cares about the sausage-making of their printed products. Rather than asking, “Who did what, and where?” they’re ultimately concerned with price and reliability. Simply put, a successful alliance with another printer helps you give your customers what they want.
Strengthen your reputation by offering alternative solutions. As printers, we double as problem-solvers. So it’s pretty painful when you’re forced to say no to a specific request. But by adding the capabilities of another printer, you’re increasing your ability to confidently say, “Yep, we can do that for you.” Who doesn’t want that?
“Scale down” if you’re a large printer. For especially large printers, scaling — and slowing — down for smaller runs of highly customized products just isn’t cost-effective. But by offering a niche service that another printer actually handles, you can add another revenue stream and keep your go-to status with your customers.
Expand your service line, even if you’re a little guy. Small printers may not be ready or willing to grow in conventional ways. And you don’t have to if you build out your portfolio of services with the help of another printer.
Be open-minded, become a market detective — and ask your customers
Having an attitude that says, “We’re this kind of printer, and we’re not interested in ever being that kind of printer” — well, that may have worked a decade or two ago. But in today’s faster paced, more dynamic market, it could end up hurting your business.
What are the trends that the market is demanding? More specifically, what services could your customer base benefit from that you currently don’t offer? Just asking your customers is a great place to start.
Meanwhile, adjust your mindset and begin thinking more about how you could advance your customers’ success with new print capabilities. And then start conversations with fellow printers who could complement your current services.
Remember, this can be a low-risk, high-reward path to diversifying your portfolio. In future posts, I’ll share more on contract printing, including tips to help foster fruitful partnerships and details on what you should rightfully expect from a printer once you start selling their services.