Are small printing businesses running out of ink?

The art of printing has been around for hundreds of years. But, despite the growing rumbles that say ‘print is dead,’ we believe that there’s a formula for businesses in the print industry to be thriving in 2018. In fact, at Luminar, our turnover is growing year on year, our team is growing steadily, we’ve hit a record number of orders this year and we’re so excited to roll out new products and services. So, what’s the secret? (Hint: It’s not the ink.)

Are you up to date with the latest printing technology?

Of course we acknowledge that the industry is in decline overall, but it does depend on what you’re printing for clients. For example, are you printing newspaper and magazine production, or in consumable goods labelling and packaging? Elsa Callini, from Ebeam Technologies, explains that almost two-thirds of all printed packaging now is produced for food and drink applications.

It’s no surprise that consumers are increasingly seeking out information through online platforms to make purchasing decisions. Retailers have responded by adopting digital mediums to maintain consumer engagement. However, some small to medium-sized print businesses have been slow to respond to this shift in consumer behaviour. And, they’re paying a hefty price for it.

So what do successful print, label and packaging companies do to stay relevant? Here’s our four observations:

1. Don’t let your marketing grow stale

The printing industry carries a stigma of being stale, ‘dinosaur-like’, and conservative. This is because many long-standing print business owners aren’t willing to change their marketing tactics, service style and selling approach to their new clients. It’s the old, “you build it, and they will come” mentality. That may have worked for Ray Kinsella, Kevin Costner’s character, in Field of Dreams, but it could prove to be fatal in a small business.

If you’re in the printing industry and your business has been the same for a decade, ticking along just fine, you’re probably asking, ‘why should I bother changing?’ According to Mike Stevens of Gutenblog, “when [printing companies] let marketing materials get stale, it sends a strong signal to prospects and customers that ‘there’s nothing new there’. You might as well invite customers to shop elsewhere.”

It’s all about modern technology, fast turn around times and speedy service.

2. Millennials are, or will be, your customers

Millennial business leaders do things differently, so you need to adapt to make sure that your products and services meets their needs. For example, many gen-y and millennial customers want their product labels and packaging to be produced as quickly as possible, and expect delivery within days, not weeks. For them, speed to market is extremely important. These younger customers also expect honesty and transparency from suppliers and appreciate personalised customer service.

Technology journalist for Printvergence, Eileen Fritsch, highlights that the millennial generation are expected to control about $1.4 trillion in spending by 2020, with their focus on high-quality private label products and customisation. “The buying preferences and mobile-first communications habits of Millennials are causing massive disruptions in retailing, marketing, manufacturing, publishing, entertainment, travel, and hospitality,” she says. In response to this, printing businesses need be able to deliver a wide range of products and services and flexible and customisable solutions. A one size fits all approach is not going to work. Elsa Callini from Ebeam Technologies, predicts that businesses are increasingly turning to personalisation to boost brand interaction, digital media engagement and sales.

Keep this checklist handy.

3. Embrace the #digitalworld

To stay afloat, printing, packaging and labelling businesses need to be digitally present and connect with customers where they work and play. Content Marketer, Greg Mischio of Winbound, suggests incorporating a range of digital tools such as content marketing, SEO, social media and email into the marketing mix of printing industries. At Luminar, we utilise social media, offer an industry-focused blog to our customers, generate leads through online channels and have developed a strong digital marketing strategy. For businesses to survive in 2018, it’s imperative to have a strong digital presence that’s relevant and speaks the language of its new audience.

How printing companies get it done.

4. Be customer centric – it’s not about you

It’s imperative that business leaders genuinely care for their customers. Reaching out to them, engaging with them, and sharing your story humanises your company, says Jeff Rum of Social Media Today. Millennials network and frequently base their decision making off referrals and reputation, so speak to them, directly through two way conversations or indirectly through sponsored advertising through social platforms. Megan DeGruttola of Stackla explains, “social media is no longer just about conversations; it’s about commerce. Social factors have always played a part in consumer buying habits, but the ubiquity of smartphones and social networks have taken word-of-mouth to new heights”.

According to Gartner, 84% of Millennials say user-generated content from strangers has at least some influence on what they buy. And, as reported in Forbes, 81% of consumers’ purchasing decisions are influenced by their friends’ social media posts. You can build up rapport with your customers by supporting their brands online, recommending their services to someone else, or providing exposure for our customers through interview opportunities on a blog or other publication.

Actual footage of the printing industry in 2018.

Try a different approach

Are you in trade printing? If you haven’t worked with us before, we’d love to show you how we do things differently. Get in touch with us today to see why more Australian print businesses and print managers partner with us.