Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant
NAPL

The recently published NAPL Quick and Small Commercial Research Trends was sponsored by Xerox and was the subject of the most recent NewsTalk Live presentation. The two panelists were Andy Paparozzi, NAPL’s chief economist, and Rick Schildgen, the president of CL Graphics located in Crystal Lake, IL.

The presentation began with the definition of quick printers as companies with annual sales of $3.5 million or less at one location. Rick was quick to respond “I’ve never considered myself a quick printer. I just don’t agree with that terminology. I don’t feel the need to classify myself as small. We can do a lot of the things the big guys do, even though we are just $2 million in sales. One of the things I have run into more this year than in the past is that I have actually competed against RR Donnelley on a number of projects. Projects quite frankly I would never have thought they would be getting into. We are talking about $3,000 jobs.”

Rick talked about 13% growth and Andy agreed that the research was showing the same growth. Andy said, “I’ve heard Rick describe his 2012 outlook as ‘cautiously optimistic.’” That describes the consensus of participants in our Quick and Small Commercial Printer Trends Report as well. There’s optimism in the sense that over two-thirds (67.5%) of our study group expect their sales to grow in 2012, nearly half (48.8%) by at least 5.0% and over one quarter (28.8%) by at least 10.0%. Overall, our study group expects sales growth of 4.6% on average this year, up from 2.8% last year.”

But the most interesting discussion in this presentation focused on old and new marketing strategies. Rick talked about how CL Graphics continues to print and mail a newsletter, marketing brochures and seminars. The seminars have been a mainstay in the marketing program and are offered 2-3 times a year either in-house or at a customer site.

Rick also mentioned a number of new marketing tools including an email newsletter, blogs he writes twice a month, and short marketing videos. In fact, success with the in-house creation of video has led to the development of video services. Rick says, “We have created 25 to 30 videos ourselves and have our own YouTube channel. None of these are the high-end videos that you used to spend $10, $15, $20 thousand dollars producing. But rather we do them internally, all the editing and everything. And, as a result, we have been able to engage 5 different clients with video. We would like to expand that—it’s a great opportunity.”

Andy agreed and discussed how companies are taking advantage of new technologies. “Many Quick and Small Commercial Printer Trends participants see opportunity in and emphasize the importance of learning more about their clients’ businesses—their challenges, opportunities, objectives, critical trends, etc. Of course that’s prerequisite to being a solutions provider. The good news is that social media can help you do this. We talked about using social media to promote ourselves, to market and brand more effectively. But we can also use social media to learn more about our clients businesses: Invaluable market intelligence can be gained by following the best blogs, forums, LinkedIn Groups, etc. in the client’s industry.”

For more information, you can access the Newstalk Live interview on the NAPL website.

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on: benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research.

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