There have been many challenges in the printing industry over the last few years and if you don’t like what has happened so far…you are not going to like what’s coming. For those that keep a keen eye on trends and invest in the knowledge, skills and equipment capable of servicing the future needs of our customers, this represents opportunities for new revenue streams that will support their legacy operations as well. For those who hang onto the hope that the market will once again return to offset, this spells doom for them. It’s a new world emerging and it belongs to those that step up and utilize the tools that work in today’s and tomorrow’s market.

Customers are not looking for printing. They are looking for sales. Sales are achieved through marketing & branding. Printing was one of the best methods for them to achieve higher sales but that is no longer the case. Print remains an important tool but is no longer the most effective one, certainly not the cheapest. Many different mediums have emerged and while adoption of these had been slow, they are gaining popularity & you can expect them to gain even more popularity in the future. The printers who have adopted and added new revenue streams such as variable data, pURL’s, wide format inkjet and mailing solutions have increased their value to the customer and have the best chance to survive the next few years. But is that enough for tomorrow’s market?

The internet has been gaining popularity and it’s effectiveness has been proven repeatedly. In fact, you can measure it’s performance in real time with the right tools. Facebook & Google make their money by allowing advertisers reach the consumer. This is what print used to do for them. What was once a catalogue is now an on-line store…who needs a printed catalogue anymore? Maybe those that serve the older demographic that do not use computers. Facebook is currently rolling out new advertising options which will increase their effectiveness. LinkedIn is just starting to implement advertising and of course Google is moving into social networking. All of these mediums offer highly targeted advertising that produce measurable results. Those are just today’s major players. Groupon and similar services are starting to gain popularity and will continue to do so. These sites are already taking business from the traditional printer and why not? The consumer themselves print the coupons so the cost to implement for the advertiser is far less than printing and distributing coupons. Apps and games are another emerging advertising opportunity that will continue to gain popularity and as mobile computing evolves, we will continue to see more effective mediums emerge.

It’s up to the printers to figure out how to fit into the new digital world that is emerging. Customers will go with those that demonstrate the ability to increase their sales with the best return on investment. Selling print is simply not enough in today’s market and places you in a commodity market. If you allow others to create and sell the solutions that people are looking for then you are at their mercy. For those that create and sell the services, weaving print into the solution, those will be the successful printers of the future.

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