2020: The year of the bottom line

An excerpt from AP March 2020 Print Leaders Forum – by Print Media Centr intergalactic ambassador Deborah Corn 

While some may boast about bigger bottom lines, 2019 was generally not a great year for industry press manufacturers, especially those producing digital printing equipment.

My theory: the early adopters are set and don’t need new presses (yet), and those on the fence about making a large equipment purchase are probably waiting for drupa (16-26 June) to see what comes out at the world’s largest and most important print event.

This situation is going to affect the industry in many ways – from consolidations, to workforce reduction, to the slashing of marketing budgets. Dollars that were allocated in 2018 and 2019 to helping educate the market and print customers will likely be diverted in 2020. The big money will be targeted for supporting sales efforts and generating leads, and that means printers need to refocus their strategy to do the same.

Here are three ways to boost your bottom line in 2020:

Learn, then earn

Customer education and events are the best way to increase awareness for everything you do in a relaxed setting, as long as you keep it relaxed. Take a quick survey of your customers in a fun way. Have them take a quiz on printing techniques, bindery options, finishing, specialty substrates, and your capabilities, whether in-house or through partners.

Based on the responses, you will know immediately where education is lacking, and providing answers to the quiz as a follow up teaches everyone about all you can do, without the hard sell. Make it a monthly feature in your newsletter, and provide a “prize” for the most correct answers throughout the year.

Keep the engagement and education flowing and focus on creating new print projects with your current customers using new techniques and materials highlighted in the quizzes.

Tie the knot

Platonic is so 2019; strategising for customer commitment is a better way to go in 2020. Look at the work they are doing or have done with you over the past few years. What has grown, what has gone away? Are they utilising all of your capabilities? Are they working with other printers for capabilities you don’t have?

Take a hard look at how you can service as many of their needs as possible, refer above to help them understand all you can do, and find partners to help you do the rest. Customers prefer to do as much work in one place as possible, as long as they trust you to execute. Be ready, willing and able to prove you can.

Seek and find

Assuming you take my advice above, you can now elevate your prospecting game armed with educational opportunities that you can invite relevant prospects to, testimonials from your fully-serviced customers, and a proven track record for bringing partners to the table when they are needed.

Break down the components of your most profitable accounts and seek out new customers exactly like them regarding print needs, budget, and time constraints. These are your strengths; play to them. From there, revisit your current client roster and create a checklist of the most common print requests, pricing, and timing. What types of businesses have the same needs? Market to those people only.

HubSpot shared a horrific stat last year that said at least 50 per cent of the prospects a company is engaging with are wrong for their business.

What if you spent 100 per cent of your time engaging with the 50 per cent that are right for your business, and put 100 per cent effort into helping the customers you already have to do more? Wouldn’t that be a more productive use of your time?

Speaking for the print customers, it’s certainly a more productive use of their time, and being contacted about work that is 100 per cent relevant makes the payoff more valuable – for everyone.


This article was written prior to the impact of COVID-19. The digital version of AP March 2020 is available here.

And as part of AP’s 70 anniversary, we’re pulling together a list of 70 local industry pioneers – you can make your nominations here.

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