Printing in the new world

PrintFour different client-service models can best define today’s printing industry. These are: price factor; product focused; customer driven; and customer-centric.

At the bottom end of the value chain are the price factor companies, who compete solely on price – commodity printers who might be termed the ‘quote and hope’ companies. Their relationships are low-level and cost is usually the deciding factor in their winning jobs.

Then come the product focused companies who have well defined manufacturing strategies, but who remain relentlessly price-driven and who must constantly drive efficiencies and reinvest to cut costs.

Moving up the chain we come to the customer-driven businesses, those who are strong on service and work closely with marketers and design teams. At the top end, however, are the customer-centric print businesses. These are highly proactive, they are ahead of the customer, they are dealing with CEOs and MDs, and they have the highest margins in the industry.

Survival of the fittest
The old traditional price-driven, product-focused business model is no longer fit for purpose, and the printing industry must therefore adapt if it is to survive. It is now business-critical that printers move from a client model that is mainly price-factor driven and product focused to one that is essentially customer-centric. For this reason the BPIF – the UK’s printing trade association and business support organisation – has developed new services to help printers move up the print value chain. The challenge is to equip them to seek new business by developing new services that add real value to their clients’ businesses.

Print is a major part of the modern, digitally-based communications landscape but is just one of a number of channels that clients are seeking to use to engage with their markets in multi-media world. Its clients are seeking to do business with suppliers who can deliver integrated communications solutions that add value and solve their problems.

Increasingly both public and private sector clients are looking for cost-effective campaigns rather than commodity print, and printers can no longer rely solely on their products and low prices to differentiate themselves.

The whole world of publishing, marketing, advertising and broadcasting is being turned upside down and inside out by the digital revolution. And print is no exception.

In a recent survey of senior marketing professionals from agencies and corporates while nearly 90 per cent of respondents agreed that print still has a major role to play in communications, 97 per cent believed that to ensure a profitable future print must adapt by integrating with e-media.

The challenge for printing companies then is to meet the changing expectations of today’s media and communications buyer – someone who is seeking added value rather than additional cost. So it’s no surprise therefore that more and more printing companies are transforming themselves into cross-media suppliers, providing integrated marketing solutions as wide-ranging as web design, database management, personalised print, social media, and fulfilment solutions, to name but a few examples. 

Sink or swim

Printers have for decades been in the business of transmitting data, text and images by electronic means. Printing is an industry that began life at the dawn of the age of mass communication, and which has adapted expertly to the age of personalised communication. Many printing companies have already made the transition from a product-led approach to a more client-focused business model, rather than face a slow and not-that-lingering death in the cut throat world of commodity printing. 

The BPIF is helping many more to join them, by supporting them in moving up the value chain to offer new profitable services and solutions based on a thorough understanding of client needs.

The industry

UK Print today is a creative, dynamic £14.5bn industry – the World’s fifth largest – producing quality products using highly sustainable production methods. It utilises state-of-the-art IT, and as it continues to widen its cross-media service offering. The range of jobs it offers is mind-blowing: from the graphic designer working in a digital studio, to the machine manager at the controls of a £10m colour press, to the estimator pricing a major client order. Anyone looking for an exciting career can chose the printing industry safe in the knowledge that its focus on bespoke products and services will mean that, quite literally, no two days will ever be the same.

For more information