By Carmen Greger
A PTERODACTYL’S EYE VIEW ON THE PRINT INDUSTRY
The print industry has been around for centuries, but in today’s fast-paced modern world, it can be a challenge to keep up with the ever-evolving demands of the market. With the rise of digital technology, many people have been predicting the downfall of the print industry. However, the truth is that print still has a place in our world. While technology may be fast and broad, people will always want to hold something in their hand as they read, whether it be a good book, a magazine, or a school calendar. In fact, due to the overstimulation and decreased personalization that the digital world often offers, it is essentially giving the print industry deeper access to impacting the customer on a more personal, intimate, less streamlined and often more sophisticated level.
To stay afloat in the modern world, the print industry must reinvent itself by evolving its methodology and integrate with the digital world, optimizing the ability to rapidly deliver specialized products that meet the needs of consumers, essentially using technology as a faster vehicle connecting business to customer to optimally satisfy supply and demand.
The print industry must also continue to diversify its products and services. One way to do this is by investing in customizable advanced print technology. This technology allows customers to personalize their products, creating a unique and customized experience. For example, printing companies can offer personalized invitations, brochures, business cards and specialized packaging options that are tailored to each customer’s needs. This web-to-print system trend is one of the most popular ways to modernize the print industry and allows a small one-shop business to thrive nationwide. If your company has already implemented this system, it’s prime time to elevate your offerings and expand your reach and your impact.
Another way to modernize the print industry is by expanding product and service offerings to other types of printing, such as 3D printing, publishing on-demand printing, and implementing/marketing the use of high-quality eco-friendly recycled paper. 3D printing is a relatively new technology that has the potential to revolutionize the print industry. It allows printing companies to create complex shapes and designs that were previously impossible with traditional printing methods. On-demand printing is another trend that is gaining popularity. It allows customers to order only what they need, reducing waste and saving money. Using eco-friendly recycled paper or FSC is a new and evolving trend that appeals to environmentally conscious consumers, and eventually all consumers will be forced to be environmentally conscious; although paper is a renewable resource, the certified recycled variety, although a bit pricier, is certainly the way to go for the future. Stand behind the ‘certified’ seal and show your customers you care about the impact your products have on them and on the environment.
Expanding services and products with gear, wear, and swag printing for established clients from whom you have already gained trust and who respect the quality you provide is yet another impactful and immediate way to diversify the print industry. For example, printing companies can offer t-shirt or jersey press for local organizations, schools, teams, and corporations. This not only adds to the product offerings but also increases brand awareness for the clients, leading to more business and revenue for the printing company.
E-commerce driven packaging is another way to modernize the print industry. As online shopping continues to grow, companies are looking for innovative ways to create a memorable unboxing experience for their customers. By offering custom packaging options, printing companies can help businesses create a unique and memorable experience that will keep customers coming back.
Corporate event and Birthday/holiday/special event collage and signage packages are also a great way to expand product offerings. Printing companies can offer a range of options for corporate events, including banners, signs, and custom photo collages. For birthday parties and other special events, printing companies can offer customized photo booths, signs, stickers, swag bags and other festive goods and decorations. These packages can be marketed to event planners and businesses, creating a new stream of revenue for the printing company.
Of course, modernizing the print industry is not without its costs. Investing in new equipment can be expensive, but it is necessary to stay competitive in the market. However, the value of investing in the modernizing of the print business with new equipment is clear. By offering new products and services, printing companies can increase revenue and attract new customers. They can also retain their long-standing clients by ramping up, reaching out and offering new and innovative products that meet their changing needs.
Consider scaling: broaden and expand your reach. Have you established a reputation as a local go-to printing expert with schools, organizations and houses of worship? Replicate your practices and expand your niche reach to a regional presence and then make plans to do so nationally as well. Oftentimes your established local customer base are comprised of local chapter organizations of a much bigger picture. Inform them of your intent to grow your business and as them for the referral. Your long-term professional relationship, having served the loyal customer exceptionally well over time, is bound to pay off. Perhaps you offer your current customers a referral fee for new business they send your way, or offer to discount their next order with your company by a certain percentage. Everyone’s happy, smiles and handshakes all around; win-win.
Perhaps, as the local expert you can hold online or in-person events, host an ‘ask the expert’ series or give talks around the the environmental impact of paper. Remind your viewers/attendees that paper is a renewable resource, and use this self-made platform to share your certified organic/recycled paper option, and maybe even commit to planting a tree for a certain number of pages used/sold. Participate in local business and community events as well as township meetings. Get out there into the world and be seen. Look people in the eye and mindfully remind them how paper can often be a more personal and thus more impactful vehicle for their message than digital.
Advertise. Just once. Word of mouth is the best form of advertisement, and with an established business, your reputation is likely working for you, but consider a second best place to advertise/promote your business and spread the word. Motion is the only thing that can keep up momentum for both consistency and expansion. Perhaps you become the corporate sponsor of your daughter’s basketball league and your business name is on all of the local courts every Saturday morning for all to see (and with your new heat press, you can supply the jerseys too!), or maybe you purchase an add in your son’s Senior yearbook or rent a booth at a marketing tradeshow (consider registering to give a brief talk about environmentally friendly print while you’re there) or maybe buy an add in an eco-mag that aligns with and highlights your recycled paper printing option. Who knows? They may eventually become your customer as well. Pick one; Your ROI will be well worth it regardless of which you choose, just do something. In order to maintain and grow a successful business, you need to continue to serve your current customers as well as gain new ones. You must think outside of the box and maintain an ever-evolving growth mindset. Stagnation yields atrophy, the precursor of demise. Heed the wise words of Craig Charles: “Evolve or Die”. Keep moving; perhaps, now more than ever, it’s time for a full court ‘press’.
The print industry is certainly not a dinosaur that is destined for extinction. By diversifying skills, products and services, investing in customizable advanced print technology, expanding product offerings and marketing them mindfully to existing and new customers, by thinking outside of the box, and by collaborating with pertinent businesses and industries while keeping their printers on the pulse of the evolving trends, this dinosaur is sure to sprout wings and soar into the future.