Written by Susan Weiss
Manager, Xerox Worldwide Customer Business Development 

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Print providers have faced more than their share of change in recent years. And with the tools of marketing continuing to evolve—and customers continuing to demand greater value—the pace of change won’t let up in 2014. The most successful print providers will be those who have the fortitude to change their business models to meet the new realities of their markets.

This was how Barb Pellow of InfoTrends introduced a recent webinar entitled, “Embracing Change,” on the top 10 trends that will create opportunities—and risks—for print providers in 2014. It was the first of six such sessions in the 2014 Xerox Business Development Webinars series. Pellow’s top 10 trends—and tips on how providers should respond to them—are:

1. Follow the pages—Digital printing continues to grow, and a cluster of key applications lead the pack. Books are growing the most, and direct mail, catalogs, brochures and transpromo documents also show significant upward trends.

2. Digital is more than four-color—Today’s digital presses can have fifth, sixth and even seventh imaging units to more easily hit corporate colors and produce effects like texture, watermarks and protective coatings that add value.

3. High-value substrates—Specialty media enable unique applications that entice greater response rates and can open the door to new markets. They offer one of the simplest paths to higher margins.

4. Big data…or the right data—Big data is the buzzword du jour, but for providers it’s about getting the right data at the right time to deliver a relevant message to the recipient. To meet ever-growing customer expectations for sophisticated personalization, providers need to raise their games with data analytics, marketing automation, content management, and email and social marketing.

5. Lean gets leaner—Workflow is still at the heart of profitability and productivity with solutions that expand market reach, while embedding automation into more and more everyday operations to streamline production efficiency.

6. Mobile to print…and print to mobile—Mobile to print refers to activating print from mobile devices, much as you would from a PC. Print to mobile refers to distributing print content in digital media formats that can be enriched to incorporate audio and video. Both trends offer strong growth opportunities.

7. Print will be even more interactive—Almost twice as many people interacted with mobile bar codes in 2013 as in 2011. This trend will continue as QR codes, Near Field Communications and augmented reality find broader use for offering discounts, sweepstakes entries and more.

8. Time to reposition your business—As providers change their services to meet the evolving needs of their markets, most will at some point need to reposition their businesses to better communicate their offerings to their customers.

9. Sales people are a big differentiator—Today’s buyers do their research online and don’t need sales reps to provide information. Rather, they need insights into how provider solutions can help their businesses. That’s why good sales people can be a differentiator and why many providers employ specialists to explain complex applications as part of a team selling effort.

10. Industry consolidation continues—The steady drum beat of mergers and acquisitions will continue, as providers buy up competition and leverage acquisitions that help transform their businesses. The upshot: look at the gaps in your service offerings and consider whether a partnership, acquisition or merger can make you a stronger company.

The next session in the free Xerox Business Development Webinar Series is on “Big Data…the Right Data” on March 19 from noon to 1 p.m., E.T. You can register here.

What do you think are the biggest opportunities in 2014?