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The Soap Box

Key Industry Challenges

Jo Golding listens to print’s most influential trade associations and bodies as they consider key industry challenges and the steps print companies can take to secure a successful future

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Print firms should have a marketing strategy and use professional people

Be prepared for some tough challenges

Marketing skills
Marian Stefani,
chief executive officer,

The print industry is a production led environment. We deliver outstanding products and services using all the technical expertise that makes this manufacturing industry such an exciting place to work.

We have delivered communications and marketing content for our customers for several hundred years and we continue to sell their products and services for them with beautiful, memorable, tactile and targeted pieces of paper.

Many printers know how to deliver fantastic online solutions and fully integrated campaigns too.

I want to see more marketing professionals coming into print to help us do a better job of selling value and outcomes to customers as we need to have very different conversations with people who often think digital by default and print as an afterthought.

We need to have very different conversations with people who often think digital by default and print as an afterthought.

To do this we need proactive connections with the marketing industry and we need to train our own people to understand how to communicate with marketeers and encourage them to see what print can do for their campaigns.

And this is where I think industry trade bodies are invaluable, working with relevant associations that can help us to form these closer connections without the commercial agenda an individual company would need to bring to any relationship.

Our EPIP initiative is focused around encouraging brands and marketeers to buy more print. This has led us to build a relationship with the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and to adapt a course to teach marketing fundamentals to anyone in print who wants to learn the basics and how to apply them to their business.

I hope this will develop into a full suite of marketing and sales training delivered for us by the CIM to help our industry connect and market itself better, and in time to many more print businesses employing qualified marketeers to help promote the value of a piece of paper.

Brexit alert!
Sidney Bobb,

The announcement of increased interest rates together with the uncertainties of Brexit have added to the complexities of running a business. With the vast majority of companies relying on external financing such as loans and overdrafts, the pressure of higher rates affects everybody. It is critical that businesses closely examine their financial situation and prepare themselves for any additional costs in the future.

An increase in interest rates can affect the ability to grow the business and retain profitably. In an environment of escalating rates, banks charge more for business loans and companies with fluctuating interest rates may experience challenges in repaying loans. With possible reduced profits, it could be more difficult to secure additional funding.

It is essential that companies revisit business plans and determine the best course of action for both short and long-term growth. It is also advisable to include in any revised plan provision for further rate increases and take into account capital that may be required for innovation, diversification and reinvestment activities that will help sustain growth momentum.

This is also the ideal time to revisit existing levels of debt. An important step is to determine whether the existing type of debt is appropriate. For example, compare working with an overdraft to a straightforward business loan. Businesses should undergo a full financial analysis: awareness of stress points can help streamline cash-flow management and accelerate debt repayments. It is recommended that companies have an open and honest dialogue with their lenders before any problems occur.

Have a close look at costs and see where savings can be made. At the same time, ensure that selling prices are at a level that makes the company a profit because, as they say “turnover is vanity – profit is sanity!”

Take time to discuss the situation with your accountants, and if you have not as yet installed MIS software, now is an ideal opportunity to consider such a move. There are a number of very efficient and user-friendly systems available.

Remember that managing a company is more complex than ever before so be prepared to face any traumas that may occur in the future.
UK book market continues to rise 
Charles Jarrold,
chief executive,

This August, our London office has been full of talk concerning beautiful books, primarily due to the stunning entries to the British Book Design and Production Awards (BBDPA) that have been flooding in. The numerous entries to the awards seems to reflect the trend for the UK publishing industry. Indeed the Publishers Association reported in its 2017 Yearbook, published in July 2018, that the value of the UK publishing industry had increased by five percent to £5.7 billion. It’s worth noting here that these figures come after a record year in 2016 where sales of books grew to £4.8bn, with physical sales up by eight percent.

Chief executive Stephen Lotinga has spoken of the ‘enduring appeal’ to printed books when explaining the rise in sales, and perhaps the two percent decline in digital book sales which was amongst the upturn. This growth for print was demonstrated with total physical book sales income up five percent and further supported by the physical non-fiction/reference book market, where sales were up to £620m, and hardback fiction sales were up 31 percent, signalling an ongoing return of consumers to a print format. He described how physical books are becoming celebrated again. This is something we’ve always known, and when looking at the just released shortlist for the BBDPAs there are many objects of beauty to admire.

Public Notice:

  • Printers must decide if their level of debt is appropriate to their size
  • Employ professional marketing people to promote your firm

To find out more about the issues discussed in this article please contact the relevant organisation via their website: www.bapc.co.uk, www.britishprint.com, wwwipia.org.uk

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