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The best business opportunities for print service providers in 2015 derive from three converging forces:

  • Marketer’s efforts to expand the ways they engage their customers and prospects
  • New application markets enabled by innovative use of print technology, and
  • New efficiencies and growth opportunities enabled by strengthening the shop’s workflow, staffing and educational infrastructure

This was the message of the opening session in the 2015 Xerox Business Development Webinar Series, “2015: New Opportunities for Innovation,” led by Barb Pellow, Infotrends Group Director. She began by describing the characteristics of the industry’s growth leaders that emerged from a recent InfoTrends study1.

A key finding: North American print service providers who grew annual revenues by 10 percent or more from 2012 to 2013 generated 26 percent of their revenues from non-print, value-added services. That’s 10-14 percent more value-added services revenues than were generated by firms that grew by less than 10 percent or not at all.

Other growth-leader differentiators include that about one-third of their digital printing incorporated variable data, that much of their work was delivered via a Web portal, and that 25 percent of staff members were focused on sales and marketing.

Marketing Services Opportunities

Focusing efforts on capturing business from marketers makes good sense, Pellow pointed out, because half of marketing organizations plan to increase their budgets this year, by an average of 10.4 percent, according to a Gartner survey. She cited five key marketing trends that are enabling new service opportunities for print service providers, mostly in support of multi-channel marketing campaigns. They are:

  1. Increased demand for improved data analytics and micro-targeting—The opportunity for print service providers is to expand their data and analytics skills through hiring, partnerships and acquisitions to deliver greater customer insights from multi-channel marketing campaigns.
  1. The domination of mobile technology—U.S. smartphone penetration reached 75 percent in 2014, and most marketers are building their mobile presence. Among print provider opportunities: using tools like Xerox FreeFlow Digital Publisher to automatically convert marketers’ PDFs into mobile versions for a range of formats.
  1. The emergence of wearables—The high-profile launch of the Apple Watch and the initial applications of Google Glass point to a day when marketers will get a new, deeper level of data around customer behaviors. Savvy print providers will begin learning the technologies now to get ahead of the curve.
  1. Delivering an interactive customer experience—Print service providers need to speak directly to how print and technologies like augmented reality, NFC tags, QR codes and text messaging can enhance the customer experience, marketing’s No. 1 innovation project for 2015, per the Gartner survey.
  1. Automating the marketing process—Marketing automation is the fastest growing segment of customer relationship management, according to Focus Research, and print service providers have a great opportunity to help marketers apply it to multi-channel campaigns.

Today’s Technology-Based Opportunities

A range of new print technologies, workflow processes and business development initiatives are available to help print service providers address these opportunities, Pellow said.

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Among the most compelling print technologies are expanded selections of substrates and inks for digital printing, such as new metallic inks; continued advancements in inkjet technologies; new opportunities with 3-D printing; and continued growth in wide-format printing.

Other potentially strong contributors include enhanced workflow from order entry to delivery, focused marketing and customer education initiatives, new “marketing technologist” skills for wedding technologies to high-performance marketing strategies, and well-trained, strategically focused sales teams.

“Service providers should maintain a sense of optimism as they navigate through 2015, Pellow concluded. “The combination of marketing investments, robust technologies, and the creation of the right infrastructure will position print service providers for success in the coming year.”

To hear a replay of the webinar, click here, and be sure to sign up for the next session in the Xerox Business Development Webinar Series, “Mobile on the Move”.

What are you doing to pursue new business opportunities in 2015?


1 From 2014 InfoTrend’s study, Production Printing Services in North America: Understanding Industry Transformation