In the 2014 InfoTrends report, “Production Print Services in North America: Understanding Industry Transformation,” commercial printers and in-plant printers were asked how revenues grew between 2012 and 2013 and how much they predicted it would grow from 2013 to 2014. Looking at the chart below, you can see that commercial printers expected more growth than in-plant printers.

ActualVersusExpectedRevenueChange

 

Why are commercial printers predicting greater growth than in-plant printers? The most obvious reason is their attention to sales and marketing. Commercial printers spend more time and money on diversifying their portfolio of products and services as well as marketing and selling their products and services.

During my tenure at NAPL, I worked on a number of digital surveys and reports. In the NAPL white paper, Variable-Content Digital Printing: Market Entry and Demand, we talked about creating a sales and marketing plan for digital and variable-data printing.

Here are three points excerpted from the NAPL report.

  • “Develop your sales and marketing strategy first. Your sales and marketing strategy will determine the applications that you print. The applications you print will then drive the workflow and equipment that you need. Most people in our industry don’t follow that order. They don’t look at sales and marketing first. Instead, they hire salespeople and say, ‘Go knock on doors and see what you can uncover.’”
  • “Start by asking the right questions, by understanding the client’s objectives. Variable content has many hurdles. For example, most customers’ data are a mess, so you will need someone who understands data. And you’ll need someone who understands digital workflow. But before any of that, if you can’t get to the right people and have the right conversations about the client’s marketing objectives in a credible way, you are just wasting your time.”
  • “Develop a good understanding of your current customer base and how this new technology can help those customers. Because that’s the first place you are going to go—to your existing customers. Before even sitting in variable-content seminars you’ve got to be having those conversations with customers. That makes the acquisition of the technology a lot easier, compared with going out and buying it and saying, ‘Okay, now whom do we want to sell it to?’ Have regular dialogues with your customers and their bosses. Know their business models and their challenges. Become a resource to the higher-ups in your top five or ten customers.”

Digital trends impacting your customers

One of the most interesting parts of the 2014 InfoTrends study is the difference in growth opportunities for commercial printers and in-plant printers. Both groups were asked which products and services were expected to grow the most. Some services were listed on top of both lists such as mobile/SMS messaging, while other services were considered better opportunities for in-plants, such as personalized variable data printing and e-publications.  To summarize, when creating a sales and marketing strategy, it’s important to listen to the voice of your customers and be aware of the trends impacting your customers’ demands. For more information about of the trends impacting your customers click here.


Howie Fenton is Associate Director of Operational Consulting at InfoTrends. For 25 years, he has worked with in-plants and commercial printers on: benchmarking operational and financial performance, recommendations to increase productivity/reduce costs and strategies to increase value. To contact Howie email click here.