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The Soap Box

Key Challenges in the Print Industry

Brendan Perring 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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“Lots of elections mean lots of print for some, others are seeing a lack of confidence and a slowdown in orders,” says Marian Stefani of the IPIA

Political shocks and better communication

Feeling unsettled
Marian Stefani,
chief executive officer,
IPIA

I feel very unsettled at the moment and talking to members, I do not think I am the only one. We have had one political shock after another and a series of terror attacks that have left everyone shaken and wondering what they can rely on in this ever-changing world.

Businesses seem to reflect this uncertainty, with many of our members saying that their customers are delaying decisions and re-thinking their budgets. There is no easy answer to getting this bottleneck moving—it will shift and work will come through but it may not resume as before.

Businesses seem to reflect this uncertainty with many of our members saying that their customers are delaying decisions


Major events have an effect, both good and bad—lots of elections mean lots of print for some, others are seeing a lack of confidence and a slowdown in orders and wondering what they can do to drive more business.

The good news is that more and more evidence is coming out to show that people trust print, and when they want the facts in difficult times, they turn to the physicality of print to inform and educate. We know that we perform well against all other media and as we go out to our customers and talk to them about their businesses, we need to enforce this fact and help them choose us as the partner to deliver their messages.

Hopefully things will settle down soon and we can enjoy the warm weather and long evenings—obviously knowing that the odd thunderstorm could strike at any time—after all, there is nothing as uncertain as a British summer.


Effective communication
Sidney Bobb,
chairman,
BAPC

During the past month, we had the general election and although the results have been announced, the media is still full of comments regarding the outcome. Such focus highlights what an uncertain world we live in. Nobody knows the long-term ramifications, or the result of the Brexit negotiations planned to last two years.

Life goes on and print businesses have to carry on despite all the changes that are taking place. Because of all the uncertainty, it is essential that businesses are ready to take advantage of opportunities that arise. However, it seems likely that prices will go up, particularly for imported goods and services. Many companies are already facing increases in business rates.

Furthermore, competition within the print industry is increasing and we face the challenge of other forms of communications having inroads on traditional trading methods.

We now have to try harder, work smarter, and take into consideration that we can only operate effectively and profitably if we treat customers in the way they want to be served. That can only be done if we understand what customers are trying to achieve and help them succeed.

They say that good service is taken for granted. When it comes to bad service, customers tend to tell the world through social media. Many a good restaurant has been forced to close as a result of one customer having one bad experience and the incident reported on Twitter, Linkedin, Trip Advisor, etc.

Let’s face it, we all have ‘off days’, but today such occurrences can have a serious impact on business. The only way to minimise the risk of negative incidents is to ensure that everybody within the company is well trained and knows how to deal effectively with customers and be able to defuse the situation as soon as it arises.

The only way to minimise the risk of negative incidents is to ensure that everybody within the company is well trained and knows how to deal effectively with customers


We must ensure that we communicate effectively with customers, handle them professionally, and keep any promises made, ensuring that during any dialogue that there are no ambiguities and everyone understands what is going on.

In simple terms, we have to ‘walk the talk’ and only by doing that can we hope to achieve any form of loyalty from those who buy from us.

It is more important now than ever before to reveal your company to outsiders who can perhaps see weaknesses and, of course, strengths that are not apparent when energy is taken up by the day-to-day operations. Organisations like the BAPC can help you to perhaps see the wood from the trees and assist in making your business more effective.


Priorities for print
Charles Jarrold,
chief executive officer,
BPIF

With the election now behind us, we are continuing to lobby on behalf of the printing industry by sending our latest Priorities for Print 2017-2019 to all MPs and Lords. With inevitable seat losses and gains, now is a crucial time to educate both those new to Parliament and those who held their seats about the essential part print plays in the UK’s infrastructure and economy—and what they can do to help us thrive.

Recognising that favourable legislation towards our industry is vital to its success, our briefing document outlines the key domestic and Brexit-related issues those in print are concerned about. And what MPs can do to influence the relevant laws in Parliament. The main issues identified by our diverse range of members fall under print productivity, profitability, and promotion.





Key concerns include the need to receive payment promptly, which ranked number one in our members’ priorities for UK print. As one member put it: “Blue chip companies being able to demand payment terms of 120 days is disgraceful.” We set out ways the Government can legislate to tackle late payment and protect cash flow, which if put in place would also have benefits for companies far beyond the print sector.

Key concerns include the need to receive payment promptly, which ranked number one in our members’ priorities for UK print


Having reasonable business rates ranked second highest as a concern, followed by the need to attract good quality apprentices to maintain future productivity. Members also felt that print is perceived by the outside world as old fashioned, un-environmentally friendly, and even dying in the face of digital communications—but the new Priorities for Print challenges those views and briefs MPs on clear, practical steps they can take to promote a fairer picture of print and help companies to keep striving for efficiency and sustainability.

As part of the briefing, we also ask MPs to visit a BPIF member company in their constituency, to join our All-Party Parliamentary Group on print, and to attend our annual Parliamentary reception—all ideal opportunities to meet printers and learn more about the industry.

As another member put it: “Ask anyone in our industry and they would say we work in an ever changing and forward thinking industry. Anyone outside it probably thinks it is old and antiquated.” We are an industry that is constantly adapting to change. We are dynamic, unique, and depended upon by the UK economy. We need a Government on side who sees that too, and to do this we need to educate, educate, and educate some more.


Public Notice:

  • People turn to the
  • Physicality of print to inform and educate
  • It is likely that prices will go up, particularly for imported goods
  • We need to educate the Government on the print industry’s strengths



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



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