Some organizations will be happy with an electronic newsletter. Others won't. Some will need a combination of the two. But until a printer gets in front of the customer and asks about the newsletter, the myth will continue that the Internet is the only way to distribute newsletters today. It is up to the printer to point out the advantages of print and the pitfalls of going to an entirely electronic means of communicating.
Winners and Losers
It is hard to stay positive with all of the bad economic news swirling around you. Business closings and layoffs tied with roller coaster gas costs and rising prices don't paint a pretty picture for the next 12 months. Even President Obama warns it is going to get worse before it gets better.
For most quick and small commercial printers, the economy turndown is just another nail in the coffin. Most printing economic experts report that 75% of the printing companies make little or no money, so in tough times things will get even harder for those companies. If a printer wasn't making money in the good times, he can't expect to rebound in the hard times.
Surprisingly, not all printers are participating in the recession. Sure, all printers are seeing select customers cut their spending on printing, but there are also printers having success. They know that, no matter what the economy, there are still going to be customers who need printing. And they are making sure they are the ones who do it.
What's the difference between the winners and losers in the printing industry? Winners have a computerized estimating system. Surprisingly, there is still a large percentage of printers who don't have a computerized estimating system. If you can't easily track the costs and profit margins of your work, you are flying blind. The printing market is too competitive to rely on gut feelings. A business can't grow if only one person in the organization can price or if others in the organization use their best guess on a price. The sales and marketing data that is automatically collected by an estimating system can deliver a savvy printer a world of information to make selling easier. Just avoiding the mathematical mistakes will usually pay for the estimating system and keep a printer from losing money.
Winners don't try to sell everything. Successful printers usually have a niche. They produce and sell a product better than any of their competitors and they target the people who need the product.
Winners use PDF. Successful printers use a PDF workflow to make production easier. Not only do they use the PDF technology for internal work, they train customers how to prepare and submit properly constructed PDF files. There are still many printers who think PDFs won't work or will cause problems, but the winners in the industry are making buying printing easier for customers by using the PDF format.
Winners automate. The printers who are using PDF workflows are automating their production processes, especially in prepress, to lower their production costs. Jobs that once took hours are now handled in a matter of seconds. Automation isn't expensive to implement. Most printers have the tools, but they haven't set up the proper production procedures to take advantage of the automation.
Winners get out and sell something. Any printer can start working his way out of the recession by getting out of his office and listening to customers. Too few printers actively solicit business face-to-face with customers. Winners take their message to the customers so they can find out what the customers really need and then meet those needs. Successful printers know what they want to sell and are out looking for the customers who will buy it.
Winners aren't cheap. Successful printers don't cut prices; they add value. Making it easier to buy printing is something valuable to the customer. Getting faster turnaround because of technology can be valuable. Helping lower a customer's administrative costs for buying printing is a plus. Successful printers are either holding their prices steady or raising them, but giving customers the added value that keeps them buying.
Winners have a functional website. There are a lot of printing websites that give the printer's contact information and allow for a file transfer, but customers want more. Customers want printers to provide document libraries, portals, easy file transfer, online ordering. The website needs to become an electronic customer service representative ready to meet a customer's needs 24/7.