Quick Printing

JUL 2013

Quick Printing is the resource for the Commercial printing, visual and graphic arts industries. Since 1977, Quick Printing has focused on improving efficiency and increasing sales and profits in the print shop. Industry experts share their ideas and

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• Email marketing and Internet services in lieu of traditional printing One of the first to respond was Rick Moore, marketing director at MACtac Distributor Products. "We have seen commercial printers offset competitive threats from adjacent markets (online, retail) by focusing on service, innovation,andcreativity,"hesaid."Peoplelike doing business with people. The commercial printers that are thriving are talking to their customers and finding out how to better service their needs. They are exploring other products and services that their customers purchase. "Newrevenueandprofitopportunities arise from looking at the existing customer base for new product and service opportunities, or from expanding current products to new customers. In today's environment, the commercial printers that are attacking either of these opportunities are poised for growth." up a 'blue ocean' of opportunity in print. 'Up Against the Wal-Marts: How Your Business Can Prosper in the Shadow of the Retail Giants' is a book that can get the creative juices flowing on just how to go at this." "Our job is to add value and provide service the online printers cannot by assisting our clients in growing their business" says Ronnie Williams of DeFrance PrintinginSanDiego,CA."Whenwedo that, it is no longer about the price and more about the result." Tim Rolfson of Vista Graphic Communications in Indianapolis, IN, notes that online printers offer "cookie cutter models" and don't offer on-site personal assistance. "Sure, they will often provide lower price points, but some of our customers like to sit down and be served dinner versus standing in line for carry-out," he observes. Online: Friend or Foe? Big Boxes and Chains Online printers such as Vistaprint and 4Over are seen by most as a threat only when it comes to simple, low-margin work. Selling on price and gang-running simple jobs are the hallmark of the online printing companies. If that is the backbone of a printer's work, then they are a definite threat. However, most of the folks I spoke with don't depend on this type of work. In fact, they frequently job it out to these online providers. Some also pointed out what can be an unintended positive consequence of the popularity of these online printers. Consultant Jackie Bland in Charlottesville, VA, commented: "Years ago when I was at PIA, in one of their studies we learned that 'print is invisible' to most consumers. They don't even think about all the print around them. Vistaprint, in particular, helped the consumer unravel the mystery of how one gets something printed. Their ever present marketing through all channels provided an awareness of print." Patrick Whelan of Great Reach Communicationsagrees:"Asamarketingprofessional, I would suggest that people look at some of the very successful ways these companies have marketed themselves. There is information, and lessons to be learned and duplicated." "The key to competing with the likes of Vistaprint is to offer more than what they can," says Scott Cappel of Sorrento MesaPrintinginSanDiego,CA."Moving beyond ink on paper is a start to opening w w w. M y P R I N T R e s o u r c e . c o m Staples, Office Depot, the UPS Store, and FedEx Office often come up when discussing competition in the small commercial printing segment. Here again, they do the simpler, low-margin jobs and, in reality, probably compete more with the Vistaprints of the world than with the printer down the street. Staples andOfficeDepotareprimarilyofficesupply operations with a print/copy department. UPS acquired MailBoxes Etc. and FedEx acquired Kinko's to gain more outlets for their shipping business. As Rolfsonnoted,"Ifallyouneedarecopies, this may be a good place. At best, these guys and the other big box stores are posers with equipment on their floor." One respondent took issue with characterizing operations such as the UPS Store as lacking in the expertise to handle sophisticated print jobs. Bill Thompson, president of BT & CT Enterprises, doing business as the UPS Store in the Greater St. Louis area, says "We're pretty skilled at design and printing services here … furthermore, we have taken a collaborative approach with specialty printers and graphic design artists when the needs of our customers are more than we can freely handle in-house. Worst case scenario, we'll outsource if we have to." The Tangled Web The Internet has been a two-edged sword for the printers. It has opened up the market for online printers, provided existing customers with more options and avenues, and allowed alternatives to print to flourish. Most of the folks I talked with see the emerging digital alternatives to print as a definite threat, and the InfoTrends survey I mentioned earlier seems to bear this out. On the positive side, it also has allowed printers to broaden their marketing reach, get into the Web-to-print game, and offer multi-channel marketing support to their customers. At one time, the storefront was the printer's window on the world. Today, that window is the printer's website, and many, if not most, are still glorified billboards,accordingtoKateDunnofDigital Innovations Group in Richmond, VA, who surveyed some 50 printer websites recently. "Iwaslookingfortangibleexamplesof real value for their clients—like improved response rates, or process savings from an improved supply chain, or traffic increasesforsignage,"shesays."Ididn'tseeany significant reasons to pick any of them. Look at your website and make sure the reasons to buy from you aren't interchangeable with your competitors." Dunnseestheproblemasgoingbeyond the website itself. "Most companies just flat out don't have a differentiation strategy of any kind," she said. "Small commercial and quick printers are at a disadvantage because the online, big box, and other competitors frequently do a much better job of marketing inkon-paper products on the Internet and elsewhere,"addsClifHilderley,amarketing consultant who works in the New YorkCityarea. Battle Lines Drawn David Doost of Digital Traffic Builders in the Atlanta area may sum it up best. "Therehasalwaysbeencompetitionand there will always be competition," he says. "It is a brutal, competitive battle being waged right now with the convergence of lower demand for print, the move to shorter and shorter runs, the growing influence of new digital media, and the encroachment of other industries adding print to their services. The battle being waged is over your place in your prospect or customer's mind. The only way to get there is by position against the online printers, big box and shipping stores, digital media, local competitors, etc. "What makes you different? What makes you better? What value do you bringtothetablethattheydon't?"◗◗ July 2013 / QUICK PRINTING 17

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