There are many directions a printer could move in order to increase revenue streams and profits. I would assume that everyone wants to do both. If you have enough volume, then optimizing your workflow throughout the entire operation will help to improve your profits. This will do little to ensure your viability in the long term but for the short term, it will be the first step towards that goal. This blog will discuss increasing revenue streams and I will discuss process improvements another day.

Right now, I am suggesting that it is time to start looking for new ways to gain revenue from your existing customers. Adding new streams of revenue will be accomplished by adding products and services that you will be charging your customers for. These new products and services should support your existing infrastructure and most importantly, should cater to your existing customers. You should begin by understanding what the available options are and then talk to your customers to find out what they would purchase from you.

Understanding which services are available as options for you to offer is important and will allow you to have more informed conversations with your customers. If a customer was to offer a suggestion and you had no idea what they were talking about, it would be difficult to come back later and present yourself as an expert. You should also be prepared to be open to any suggestions and reserve your judgement until after you have done all of your research.

Many of the options available to you are the very same things that have been taking business from you in the first place. Some may even be services that you dropped from your offering. Others will be emerging services that your customers may not have even considered yet but may generate interest. Remember that in order to offer a service, you don’t necessarily have to produce it yourself. You may just outsource the additional services or form an alliance with a company who can.

Here are a few examples to give you an idea;

Graphic Design, Marketing Services, Website Design, Internet Marketing, Social Media Services, Database Management, Photo Publishing, Large Format, Inkjet Printing, Digital Printing, Photo Copies, Personalized Printing, Web2Print, Email Marketing, Video Marketing, Variable Data, Mailing Services, Web Printing, Screen Printing, One to One Marketing, Finishing Services, Die Cutting, Mounting, Warehousing, Distribution, Kitting, Packaging…

Adding digital printing (photo copier) can help support your existing business and prevent customer erosion. Simply adding a digital press is fairly easy to do and is the most popular direction for most print shops. This also supports the existing workflows in most shops. The addition of variable data services takes this up a notch because it requires more knowledge and the addition of specialized software. Remember that if you add something simple, your competitors can do the same. The more specialized you become, the harder for others to duplicate the service.

Inkjet printing is another popular addition and most printers who already utilize inkjet printing for proofing purposes can easily add this as a product offering. This may require the addition of finishing services and bringing in different substrates. There is a wide variety of machines on the market today and the demand for these products is high. If you add both digital and inkjet together, it gives you a wider service offering & less reason for your customers to move onto a different supplier.

On the back end, various finishing services can add revenue that typically is send to an outside service provider. Mailing services, die cutting, kitting & fulfillment are popular services and offering them in-house can greatly reduce the overall cost. Many companies that have added digital services do not have the high-end finishing equipment required and can be an additional revenue stream as a trade supplier. If you become a specialist in a certain area, this will bring additional customers as well who are seeking this service. It will be much easier to add customers with expanded services and expert advice.

Content creation is an important aspect of the production process. Those who are designing the marketing programs for companies are deciding what products will be purchased. The closer you get to these people the more influence you will have. If you decide to become a marketing services provider, you will be able to create programs that include print as part of the mix. Many marketing companies are pushing digital services because they are popular. Protect your business by pitching directly.

The world is going digital. If you are able to offer your customer the digital services that they are looking for, they will have no need to look elsewhere for their traditional print needs. Those who offer the digital solutions can easily enough offer offset & digital printing services without having to produce them in-house. Take back control and offer these solutions yourself. Even though digital services may never end up on paper, they are worthwhile sources of revenue and the investment required is knowledge instead of &1,000,000 machines.

Building websites and stores is big business these days. A web store is really the evolution of the catalogue. The only difference really is that it is on-line instead of printed. Well, there are obviously other benefits as well. There stores require constant updating and marketing materials to support traffic generation. Email marketing is the new newsletter and a good marketing program will use email marketing to support the store’s sales. SEO and back-linking strategies help to improve store traffic and represent yet another source of revenue. There are many services that can be added to support websites and stores.

Social Media is fairly new and is a service that many companies require. Putting together a social media strategy for your company can be the basis of a service offering to your customers as well. This is the current rage and promises to deliver a more personalized branding experience. While it is still fairly new, the competition is new as well so get in now while the timing is hot.

Consumer products and services can add additional revenue as well. While many people are taking digital pictures these days, there are billions of older photo prints that have not been digitized. Scanning their photos is just one of many services you can offer. Even though many people now have desktop printers, they are expensive to use. Photo printing is another potential revenue stream. Photo retouching, enlargements, paper and ink sales could be added to support this business as well.

Business services could also be added. This is the age of the small business and many people have started their own business. The most difficult part of operating a business is accounting. Since you have probably nailed this part down, you could offer the accounting services to these new companies. In addition, you could rent out office space, offer computer or bandwidth rentals (on-site), the use of office printers, reception services or whatever other services you are capable of.

Sales training is another service that you could offer. In helping companies build their sales department, they will obviously looking to support their sales efforts with marketing materials. In helping these companies develop their USP – Unique Selling Proposition – and creating a sales plan, you will be the obvious choice in providing the support materials and services.

Once you have a clear view of the options that are available, it’s time to start talking to your customers to find out what services they are looking for. It is possible that your sales force may already have some of this information and their insight could give you a better indication of how to start the discussions. Draft up a list of questions that you can ask and don’t be afraid to ask how your company is currently performing. When you ask what services do they buy or are they looking for, have a checklist and see how they react to your potential list. If this is starting to sound like a survey, that is exactly what it is. This is market research (another service you could offer) and is the basis of which you will make your decision. As for who will ask the customers these questions, it would be best for management to get involved as much as possible. Sales people are another option but they would need some background information. The receptionist is probably not your best option. Clear unfiltered results are what you are looking for.

These are just some ideas to get you started and there are many more options. Doing nothing will get you the same results that you have been getting. It’s time to start adding revenue streams that will help support your business growth in the long term. With the amount of competition out in the market today, you need something different to offer your customers that will set you apart from the average competitor. With sales people, they will grow bored and move on if there is no room for growth and hiring a sales person with a limited portfolio of options is difficult. It’s time to start thinking different and create the new future.

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