What's In Our Way?

By Andrew Paparozzi
In May 6, 2014

We recently asked NAPL State of the Industry participants about their biggest obstacles to profitable growth. Of course everyone talked about the economy, intense price competition, the declining demand for print, and the other factors that make our business climate so harsh.

But the conversation didn’t stop there. Over 60.0% of the companies we survey identified internal as well as external obstacles. They talked about “our bads” such as ineffective sales and marketing, letting ourselves be commoditized, letting uncertainty get the better of us, and failing to make the case for print. A representative comment: “The challenges are tough, but we have to stop using them as excuses and move on!”

That’s good advice. And it is a hallmark of NAPL Leaders, whose strategy can be paraphrased as follows: Let the competition fixate on what’s happening outside. We’ll focus on what we have to do inside to take their market share. (See “NAPL Leaders: Who They Are, Why They’re Successful,” www.napl.org/resource-library.)

So let’s get our key people together and have a frank discussion of what’s in our way. The only rules: No talk about the economy, the price cutter across town, the USPS, or anything else we can’t control. And no excuses.

It will take time. But it will be time that put us way ahead of our many peers who are waiting for the economy to turn up or the competition to shake out.

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.


  1. Its interesting to hear the expression “our bads”. As I write this I am working in a company struggling with internal communication issues resulting in last minute overtime and schedule changes as well as inconsitently filled out job tickets, resulting in rework and additional $50K/month in production costs. In this small company, these relatively simple production issues is taking them out of the “profitability” zone. Let’s be honest, 25 years ago companies could still survive with these kinds of operational issues, but in todays hyper-competitve pricing environment no one can afford these “our – bad” mistakes.

  2. Howie,

    Would you consider these areas “sales prevention” departments? I agree, no place for this in today’s hyper competitive marketplace.


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