Thoughts about the change in Printing Communications?

Marketing_Change_ComingPrinting communications “The Times They Are a-Changin”… in 2010

Was Bob Dylan thinking of the printing communications industry in 2009, and moving forward into 2010, when he released this song in January 1964? Probably not, but it certainly seems to fit the situation! Below are a few of our thoughts on what happened.

Where printing communications are going.

  • Mergers of vendors (or rumors of upcoming mergers…Heidelberg & ManRoland?) continue and will increase in frequency.
  • Will the Big Three (Kodak, Fuji, Agfa) become the Big Two in 2010? Very possible… Consolidation of the Print Service Providers (PSP) accelerates, but will provide a much needed cleansing of the market of both weak organizations and obsolete technologies.
  • Transitioning from a PSP to a Marketing Service Provider is harder than most thought, but many consider it critical for survival.
  • Shifting of marketing dollars to internet and electronic (Search Engine Optimization, Social Media, Email) is growing, at the expense of traditional print methods.
  • Newspapers and magazines struggling in their transition to internet business model. Less will be more in the future.
  • Public concerned about maintaining their privacy on the internet and becoming more reluctant to provide personal information on the internet. This will impact ability to provide relevant information to the consumer.
  • Print runs continue to drop, forcing PSPs to become more efficient and automated. If they don’t, they join the dinosaurs.
  • Web-to-Print (Web-to-Ondemand-Print?) is becoming the preferred workflow for customers and PSPs.
  • Commercial printing moving closer to a commodity due to increased access to web-to-print solutions from retail focused organizations (Vistaprint, 48hourprint.com, Mimeo.com, Fedex/Kinko, etc.)
  • Web-to-Print becoming “Web-to-Everything” within the PSP’s workflow, continuing to confirm that web-based workflows are boss and it’s more than print when planning a communications strategy.
  • Print sales professionals are struggling with the transition to “Solution Selling”. Many won’t make it, but a select few will become “Stars”, when they think of helping their customers instead of selling to them.
  • Training for print professionals is not as readily available as it should be (more interactive web based solutions on the way!). Have we lost our ability to train for print due to reduced resources available and expansion of hybrid (offset and digital) and cross media workflows?
  • Inkjet grows in popularity as an imaging technology…thinking it will take market share away from silkscreen, offset and toner-based solutions. There are still some quality and speed issues, but those are slowly being overcome.
  • Wide format inkjet solutions growth accelerating. Marketers are learning how to best use the wide range of media available.
  • Personalized URLs do not guarantee success of a marketing program. They are best integrated with print components and automated email responses and alerts.
  • Integrated marketing solutions (print, email, web, video, etc.) are becoming the norm. An ONLY print strategy has become obsolete.
  • Book publishers are struggling with transition to eBooks and digital rights management is becoming a bigger issue.
  • Libraries are seeing increased usage due to the economy. Used for both access to print material (books, magazines, etc.) and to the internet for those who don’t have access at home.
  • United States Postal Service (USPS) is struggling with pension funding and reduced volumes while trying to break even (maybe even make some $$$). Trend will continue without RADICAL change in structure and service offerings.

Lots to think about when looking back and learning from the past as we move into the future. “The Times They Are a-Changin” and opportunities are everywhere, if you are willing to change with them.

Best of Days to You,

Audrey Ferrante
Ferrante & Associates, Inc.

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