A new survey of the Xerox Premier Partners Global Network of leading graphic communications providers suggests that offering marketing services has become critical to the success of today’s print providers.
The survey, conducted via email by GMC Analytics during August and September 2014, found that more than half of the respondents are seeing increased demand for marketing consulting services. And most are seeing significant impacts from digital media. When asked to rank the impact on a scale of 1 (little impact) to 100 (greatest impact) for “electronic media is going to compete,” the average score was 67.9, and for “go out of business at a greater rate if offer only print and electronic” it was 70.8.
Digital Printing Among the Bright Spots
Digital printing continues to thrive in this environment, the survey found. Eighty seven percent of Premier Partners agree that digital printing enables them to expand their business, 78 percent say it generates new revenues, and 85 percent agree that, “Digital Printing improves speed and productivity.”
Further, 80 percent are seeing increased customer demand for full color variable data printing and 44 percent for hybrid jobs that integrate offset with digital. Direct mail continues to be the most promising application, with 36 percent expecting considerable new revenues from it. Other top growth applications were packaging (26 percent) and book publishing (15 percent). Six percent project considerable growth in emerging 3D printing applications.
Growing demand in non-print areas included online ordering/Web to print (67 percent) and publishing content online (39 percent), in addition to marketing consulting.
Top Challenges in Business and Workflow
The survey also probed challenges and barriers that Premier Partners face. The top challenge: building business with new customers, cited as a high priority by 75.9 percent. The next greatest were meeting demand without sacrificing quality (53.7 percent) and differentiating their business (48.1 percent), which fell by 16.6 points from 2010-2013, when it was the No. 1 challenge.
Workflow integration difficulties remain the most frequently cited barrier for Premier Partners. Once again, more than a quarter of members cited “Understanding and choosing the correct workflow integration” as a barrier (25.9 percent), followed by “Confused by manufacturer regarding workflow integration solutions” (20.4 percent) and “Customers are looking for easy ways to integrate (18.5 percent). The great pain point in their workflow: “Getting alignment between marketing and IT” (24.1 percent), followed by Web to Print capabilities, and managing databases and resources from multiple sources (16.7 percent each). The greatest non-workflow challenge was “Technology curve is getting more complex,” cited by 13.0 percent.
The impact of the recession remains a challenge but is projected to be less so over the next 12 months, registering an average impact of 61.4 on a scale of one to 100, down more than 8 points from last year’s 69.7.
How do these results compare to what you are experiencing?