20% of print companies will go bust in 2013 – why you need ICE to stay in business

Posted by Matthew Parker

I recently made a prediction to my newsletter list. I said that 20% of print companies would no longer exist by the end of 2013. I said that one in five print companies would go bust this year.

This is a horrible prediction for me to make. I love the print industry. I hate seeing so many good companies go under. Nevertheless, I see 2013 as the final year for many traditional print companies.

But there is hope

ICE strategies will stop your profits going like this

I also see a number of print companies that are growing and becoming stronger. They are managing to sell print at higher margins. They have loyal customers. It is hard work. But they are surviving and thriving.

However, this success is not a chance factor.

These companies are using ICE strategies

Print companies that use ICE strategies will create much stronger client partnerships. They won’t just be based on price. These printers will be in control of their sales pipeline. They will achieve their targets. These printers will be the winners.

Printers who do not use ICE strategies risk being losers. Chances are, they’ll be stuck with customers who buy on price. Customers who view them as commodity suppliers. So these printers won’t have the same control over their sales pipelines. They will struggle to achieve their targets.

To achieve what you need, you should seriously consider ICE strategies.

So what are ICE strategies?

ICE stands for Investment, Change and Engagement. Print companies need to focus their plans around all three areas. But investment, change and engagement need to be in the right areas.

So let’s look at these areas one by one.

Investment (in training)

Good print companies have to continually invest in their staff. It is important that all staff are aware of the latest developments in their world. Companies should make sure that they are continually investing in:

  • Technical skills
  • Sales skills
  • Customer management skills
  • Purchasing skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Social media skills

However, these good skills are no good without the right services. And that’s where the second strategy comes in.

Change (add services)

To achieve sales at a reasonable profit margin, it is no longer enough to put ink on paper. Print companies HAVE to sell value added services as well. Winning print companies will be constantly considering what their customers need. They will understand the challenges that they face. They will be producing solutions to overcome these challenges.

There’s a huge buzz around marketing service providers at the moment. That may be a good route for a printer. But only if their customers need these sort of services. It may be more appropriate to develop value added services around design or fulfilment or data.

However, selling these types of services requires a further shift in thinking. That’s where the third strategy comes in.

Engagement (customers)

The sales world has changed substantially in the last few years. Sales teams should be looking carefully at the messages that they are sending to their prospects and customers. The messages that I was receiving a few years ago are no longer good enough.

The routes to customers are changing as well. Print companies need social media strategies. They need multi-channel communication strategies. And they should be able to keep in touch on a regular basis with their customers. A sales call every month is no longer enough.

For many print companies this requires a shift in thinking. For some it may seem a step too far.

This isn’t for us– we specialise in putting ink on paper

If you keep that mind-set you will stay in the commodity market. You will be fighting for fewer and fewer jobs in a marketplace where there is already over-capacity. Print companies must move on from this. ICE planning should be at the top of your agenda in 2013.

However this isn’t a one-off exercise.

Make sure you create an action plan and review it regularly

It is important to create a plan of the projects that you are going to carry out each month. But in this fast-changing world your 12-month plan may no longer be relevant in a year’s time. You need to review your twelve-month plan every four months. This will also ensure that you are on track with your targets.

So where do you get started?

Here are three action points that you can get on with straight away

  1. Investigate 3 new services
  2. Decide areas where your staff can improve
  3. Review your sales messaging

Do you want to avoid being one of the 20% of companies that will go under?

Then you need to get going with your ICE strategies today.
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