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Day One: Charting Wide-Format Printing’s Course

(October 2011) posted on Wed Oct 05, 2011

14 days of critical information to prepare your business for 2012.

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Marco Boer, I.T. Strategies: In this sluggish economy, large accounts are questioning every dollar spent, putting business up for competitive bids, etc. In turn, this has driven profits out of the business for print providers, who are now challenged more than ever to have a broad base of customer accounts rather than the typical 20 percent of customers who account for 80 percent of business. To cater to a more fragmented customer base, the ability to create a broader range of large-format output has become more critical. Those print shops who have continued to expand their application reach, those who are printing on new and differentiated substrates – those shops are continuing to thrive. The challenge for shops, however, is finding ways to expand their offerings and reach a broader client base within their capital-spending and marketing budgets, which may be zero through the end of 2011. This requires resourcefulness on their part.

Peter Mayhew, Lyra: It’s becoming increasingly difficult to forecast too far out as short-term events are clouding longer-term prospects, and the next few months look like more of the same. The downturn in the economy has shown that proactive and innovative marketing by all businesses is an essential part of any business plan and, that’s good news for innovative print providers.

Art Wynne, BERTL: 2011 and 2012 will continue to be challenging for print providers as the economy continues to struggle and corporations are doing more with less. Companies that have diversified revenue streams, strong marketing initiatives, and excellent customer service will make out well in the years to come. Borrowing from the corporate playbook, print providers will need to do more with less and build up cash reserves to help them through the fluctuating economy.

Boer: How 2012 will develop is anyone’s guess, of course. At the moment, everyone is hoping there will be better financial conditions, but there’s little evidence one can take to the bank that it will be better given ongoing financial-market challenges. For those print shops that have right-sized their businesses and who are continuing to be resourceful, 2012 should be a relatively stable year. The good news for large-format print – unlike other print markets – is there has been little impact from electronic display alternatives. And there may not be for some time, given the capital-investment costs required to migrate to electronic-display alternatives. Some might argue that wide-format print is one of the few remaining profit areas left in the print industry.

Mayhew: The recession is also adding to the misery for the OEMs in our industry.

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Stay tuned for day two of Charting Wide Format's Course!