PrintTrends talks to Matthew Parker of Profitable Print Relationships
A well-known figure in the industry, Matthew has worked in print for over twenty years in a number of roles for organisations of various sizes, including heading up print purchasing at Future Publishing where he was responsible for a multi-million pound print budget.
These days Matthew uses his experience to teach print companies how to build profitable relationships with print buyers and achieve margin sales in an increasingly competitive environment.
To find out more about how Matthew can help your sales team close more deals and win more profitable print business, head over to the Profitable Print Relationships web site or find him on Linkedin, Twitter or Google+.
How did you get involved in the print industry?
I became involved in print purely by chance. My first job was in publishing because it was the nearest I could get to working with photography. But then I discovered the world of commercial print and I haven’t looked back since!
What is the biggest change you have seen in print in recent years?
That’s a hard question! There are so many changes to choose from.
I think the biggest change has to be the integration of print with other communication channels. These days, the best marketing results are achieved from using a mix of print and other communication channels – whether that be broadcast media, web presence or social media. More and more printing companies are able to offer their clients increasingly unusual and effective ways to interact with their customers.
How do you view the outlook for the print industry in the UK over the coming years?
I think there is a good outlook for two types of printer. The first is the printer that has really succeeded with efficient production. They will have invested in up to date digital print technology and they will have the print software tools to be well-placed to serve the low-priced, commodity market in print. However, there are many print companies that are focusing on this market who have not yet created the right production efficiencies. It’s not just about running printing presses efficiently. It is also about managing finishing intelligently. It’s about having a management information system (MIS) that drastically reduces the amount of human administration work.
The second type of printer that will succeed is the printer that focuses on niche markets and high-value products. I believe there are great opportunities for printing companies with the right culture to go and create these markets. Recently I heard about a printing company which focuses solely on the dog show market. They make a very good living out of it, precisely because they are specialists in this area. After all, if you wanted to run a successful dog show which type of company would you choose? Someone who could work with you to help improve your show? Or someone who just provides cheap print?
Where the outlook is less good is for middle-of-the-road printers. These companies have not addressed overheads. But they are still trying to compete in a market that expects efficient production to be priced in.
What is the single most important thing that printers should be doing in 2015 to grow their business?
Be in the customer’s world. So many conversations that I have are totally print-focused. Most customers don’t care about the finer points of print. They don’t want to know about your latest digital press or your UV curing process or your new cutting, folding or inserting equipment. They just want a solution to their business challenges. If we can focus on that rather than print, the value of the conversation (and, hopefully, the print job) rises.
Can smaller print firms compete with the big players? How?
Absolutely! They are extremely well placed to provide the personal service and unusual products that many of the larger companies struggle to fit into busy manufacturing schedules.
The key to success is finding the right customers who are product-focused rather than price-focused. Smaller printing companies are well-placed to build this type of market.
How can print retain its place in the marketing mix when everyone seems to be obsessed with online content and digital marketing?
Actually, I think this obsession is fading. I have received printed marketing from LinkedIn, Google and many other major online brands. I think that proves that print still has a really important role to play.
There are also numerous case studies of brands that are returning to print as part of their marketing mix. For example, see how Ethias – a Belgian insurance company – uses personalised print to achieve phenomenal customer engagement and drive add on sales from their existing customer base….
With results like this, it’s easy to see why companies are keen to use print as a key part of a multichannel marketing strategy.
Recent research from Nielsen indicated that almost 70% of US retailers consider print to be a critical part of their marketing strategy and studies continue to show that digital will not be replacing print anytime soon.
Digital works alongside print – it’s not a case of either/or…
What would you say to someone considering a career in the print industry today?
There are still some excellent opportunities in the print industry – and it’s no longer traditional jobs like typesetters, platemakers, strippers and the like. Today you are more likely to be sitting in front of a computer screen than changing blankets and washing down between jobs. There are great openings for creatives, database managers and other IT experts. As with every business, in the print industry sales and marketing are key positions. However, I would say that the most important thing is to choose a forward-thinking company with a culture that suits you.
What is the best thing about working in print in 2015?
All the excellent people that I get to meet globally. The print industry seems to have a particularly friendly group of people who are all keen to share their experiences and help each other. With the rise of social media I now get inspiration from all over the world.
If you’d like more ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, you can download Matthew’s popular eBook “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” right now at the Profitable Print Relationships web site.
To contact Matthew about speaking engagements or to book training workshops for your print sales team, call 0845 652 1572 or fill in the contact form here.