Two recent sources are painting an interesting portrait of the state of the printing industry. At the recent EFI Connect Conference, my old friend Andy Paparozzi discussed the latest Epicomm State of the Industry Report.

Andy predicts an increase in sales for the fourth straight year in a row. Although not a significant increase, it is a stark contrast to the four previous years of staggering losses.

EpiComm State of the Industry Report

EpiComm State of the Industry Report, by Andy Paparozzi

The second source is an article entitled Selling to the Enterprise Market published by WhatTheyThink.com. Authored by InfoTrends Group Director Barb Pellow, the article cites the latest InfoTrends research Micro to Mega: Trends in Business Communications, which asked more than 800 enterprise marketers about their communication priorities.

Not surprisingly the research confirms an ongoing shift in marketing preferences from traditional print to non-print channels such as email, web, and mobile marketing. The report predicts that print will remain an important marketing channel, comprising over 25% of the marketing budget over the next two years. But online and mobile will experience growth accounting for 30% of spending in 2015 and is predicted to grow to 33.6% in 2017. More specifically, mobile will grow at 7.8%, online/web will grow at 5.2%, and video will grow at 0.9%.

Conclusion

The good news from all this is that the printing industry has reversed four years of significant losses with 4 years of modest gains. The bad news, however, is that sales growth is painfully slow. And there is an ugly component to the state of the industry not addressed by these national studies. According to BloombergBusiness, “Four states – Alaska, North Dakota, West Virginia and Wyoming — are in a recession, and three others are at risk of prolonged declines, according to indexes of state economic performance tracked by Moody’s Analytics.”

Regardless of this regional recession, all the companies we work with complain about pricing and profitability challenges and are searching for growth opportunities.

If you are looking for ways to improve sales and profitability you should start by answering 3 questions:

  1. How do you track your customers changing needs?
  2. How do you measure and improve your customers perception of value, compared to your best competitor?
  3. How do you integrate this information into an actionable plan?


Howie Fenton is the Vice President of Consulting Services for IMG. For 25 years, he has focused on benchmarking operational and financial performance for enterprise, in-plant and commercial printers. For more info, e-mail hfenton@imgresults.com.