How to grow a print companyPublished on 14th August 2019
Even though businesses may be going digital, the fact remains that they still need print - for flyers, reports and more. But if you are in the print industry, you are already aware that the rules are changing and your customers are changing with them - and that the traditional market for print may even be shrinking.
However, you can’t afford for your business to do the same. In fact, if your print business is to have a future, it needs to grow.
For a printing business to enjoy significant growth in the coming years, you need to, not just to find more customers for what you do, but you need to evolve your business and bring in new services and products to meet your customers’ changing demands and needs.
Fortunately, new and emerging technologies can mean a real rebirth of the printing industry and a major change in your role of a print shop owner. The print businesses that are most successful today are those that realise they need to keep an eye on the technological developments. These new technologies - such as the latest digital print equipment - mean both changing the way you do business and the services you offer.
There may always be a need for offset, for the very highest quality of work and long print runs - but even its supremacy in those areas may no longer be certain.
Digital printing needs no printing plates and allows digital print jobs to be set up and run directly from a laptop with a suitable graphics design program. It means a very quick turnaround and requires no plates or typesetting. Such flexibility gives businesses the ability to serve customers who need short-run production and quick turnaround - you can literally take a brief in the morning, call up templates that you have used before and deliver the clients order in the afternoon.
But the benefits don’t end there. Digital printing also offers such innovations as variable-data printing, which enables you to change the content during a print run. This is ideal for customers who need personalised products, such as custom promo materials with unique names, addresses and coupon codes on individual pieces.
Personalised printing is a new concept that can revolutionise marketing - and your business.
How your business can change
The potential of digital print means that printing businesses can evolve into graphic communications centres. Instead of simply producing print to order, your business can become a full-spectrum marketing service provider.
It will mean bringing in some extra skill sets. You may already offer new services, and expect to print on a wide range of substrates, from plastics and cloth to metals. Knowing how to harness the latest in digital personalisation will increase what you offer your customers even further.
You may need to extend your design skills into the digital realm and offer web design and social media to provide an all-round marketing service, with print being just one of the services that you can offer.
You may also need to consider :
- Adding full mailing service capability - Direct mail may be making a comeback and being able to mail out complete, personalised mailings makes more efficient use of your print equipment
- Developing an online ordering system - Allowing customers to place their print orders online can mean increasing your throughput, and web-to-print also gives customers an important extra reason not just to use your services but to become repeat users, who come to rely on you for all their marketing communication needs
- Creating an online marketing capacity - Emails have become a staple of marketing campaigns so being able to offer email as an extension to your physical direct mail ensures clients need not look elsewhere for the services they need, and, with the right expertise within your team, online design may be simply an extension of your digital design for print expertise
- Providing large format capabilities - Being able to deliver signs, banners, posters and even vehicle sides will provide the potential for profit and, again, ensure that clients will have no need to look elsewhere
- Becoming a one-stop-shop for marketing - Being able to offer the full spectrum of marketing will mean calling on specialists familiar with everything from best-practices in copywriting, strategy, data and more, but it will ensure that your business is kept busy - and profitable.
Make a Business Plan
Like anything else to do with business, planning is essential. You probably had a detailed business plan when you first set up your business but now you need another to work out how your business can move forward.
Look at your current customers - what can you offer them now which will answer their marketing needs? Will some simply want to discuss new types of printing - or are there some who will see the advantages of turning to you for all their marketing needs?
Work out what it will cost to bring in the additional equipment you will need - and decide how you will furnish the additional expertise. Freelance consultants may be available - but you may want to look at getting in a full-time marketing expert.
You will also need to look at your own marketing. You must have a website that showcases your services - and probably one which provides an easy and effective interface for print-on-demand services.
For this, you will need to budget accordingly.
What are the costs you will need to deal with?
To grow your business in the ways discussed, you are likely to need new equipment. As an experienced manager with a print business, you will already know the advantages of Asset Finance to spread the cost of the equipment you need.
Leasing may be your approach of choice - by bringing in the latest equipment with no upfront cost, you could give your business an important competitive advantage over competitors who are handicapped by legacy equipment. But the costs of moving your business forward do not end there.
Just as it takes time to build up a list of clients in need of regular print work, you will need to spend time finding clients who will want rather more from you. In business, time is money - you may need to find Working Finance to help keep cash flow positive while you are taking your business further.
You may also need funding to pay for the new people you bring in with the specialist skills you need.
Your business plan will be an important asset when it comes to approaching lenders for the funding to meet all these needs. But equally important will be a funding expert who can help you help you find the most appropriate lenders and take you through each step to arrange the finance you want.
The new economic realities of the print industry may be too complex for many lenders, and it is important to approach lenders with an enlightened approach and who can see the potential of moving away from the traditional core business models.
A call to Rangewell can help. We work with all types of business, and we understand the challenges of taking a print business to the next level - and the solutions to them.
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