No Worse But Not Much Better

By Andrew Paparozzi
In December 18, 2012
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Our industry’s sales increased 0.5% last quarter, continuing a two-year long trend of no-worse-but-not-much-better results. Sales (from all sources, not just print) now total $78.2 billion, essentially unchanged from 2010 and still down more than 20.0% from the pre-recession value of $98.3 billion. It’s “two steps forward and one step back,” in the words of one NAPL State of the Industry participant, with “some positives but nothing sustainable yet.”

And there isn’t going to be anything sustainable if we wait for the economy or consolidation to make everything right. For reasons discussed in the current NAPL Printing Business Conditions, even if Washington doesn’t take us over the fiscal cliff, the economy isn’t going to give us any more help in 2013 than it did in 2012. And despite record consolidation, our industry is getting more competitive, not less competitive, increasing the pressure on prices and profitability: Just 30.3% of NAPL State of the Industry participants have been able to raise prices above year-ago levels despite rising costs, and just 29.2% are more profitable than they were a year ago.

So what do we do? We create our own recovery by, for example:

• Understanding what our best clients and prospects are trying to accomplish. Why are they buying—whether from us or from the competition—the graphic services they buy? What problems are they trying to solve? What goals are trying to reach?

• Solving their problems and helping them reach their communication goals.

• Documenting our contributions to their success. Showing how much money we’ve saved them, how much time, how much we’ve increased the return to their marketing campaign or the traffic to their website, etc.—and never assuming that they recognize our contributions.

That’s just one idea. There are plenty more, which we’ll introduce in future posts.

Andrew Paparozzi

Epicomm's Andrew Paparozzi, Vice President/Chief Economist, is well-known for his accurate and thoughtful discussions on the economy and US commercial printing industry. A foremost author and speaker on economic business trends in the printing industry, Paparozzi heads Epicomm's Printing Economic Research Center.

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