The printing industry has long been characterized by a seasonal slump in business during the summer months and winter holidays, as many businesses close and employees take vacations. Revenue and productivity slows down. This pattern of slow or no growth in the “J months” has become a norm in the industry. But has our acceptance and complacency contributed to this phenomena and made it worse than it need be?
What if we refused to accept slow months as normal?
What if we changed our expectations and redoubled our efforts to stay busy every month?
Here at WTP, we believe there are ways to break this expected slow time boom-or-bust cycle and stay competitive and profitable year round.
From Seasonal to Evergreen: Tips for Year-Round Printing Business Growth
In this article, we’ll talk about the negative mindset of “boom and bust” along with strategies to overcome slow periods and create sustainable growth. These include:
✅ ways to maximize productivity
✅ ways to diversify product offerings without increasing expenses
✅ ways to plan marketing and promotion
✅ education and training.
Breaking the Printing Boom-Bust Cycle
Despite the historically slow business months in printing, breaking the cycle of complacency and low productivity during these times can lead to improved growth and success for printing businesses.
Of course it’s not possible to control macro-economic events that affect our businesses. Economies do indeed rise and fall. The problem is when it becomes an accepted mindset. We don’t always have to play the victim. We can take action.
For example, it may be tempting to accept the “J” months as a time to kick back and relax—after all, everyone needs a holiday. Yet this mindset can harm a printing business in the long run. For example, this past January slow-down turned into a January, February, March, slowdown. It’s easy for declines to become the new normal.
By actively seeking out new opportunities and strategies to stay busy and productive during these times, businesses can set themselves apart from their competition and attract new clients.
One way to break the cycle is by focusing on marketing efforts during the slow months. This can include creating targeted campaigns that highlight the unique services and products offered by the business, as well as reaching out to past clients to encourage repeat business. It’s also an opportune time to start offering new products and services.
Additionally, taking the time to analyze and improve internal processes, procedures, education and training leads to increased efficiency and productivity year-round, ultimately contributing to the overall success of the business.
By prioritizing these efforts during slow periods, printing businesses can maximize their productivity and set themselves up for continued growth and success.
Maximizing Print Productivity
Becoming more efficient needs to be a lifelong process in any business. Down times give us the opportunity to improve these efforts. There are three main areas to review to dramatically improve productivity.
One effective step towards higher productivity is that of adopting lean principles, which involves identifying and eliminating waste in all areas of the business. This can be achieved through various techniques such as value stream mapping, where the company maps out all the steps involved in their printing process and identifies areas where waste can be eliminated.
By doing so, the company can streamline their operations and reduce the time and resources required to complete a job, which can help increase productivity and profitability.
My colleague André Palko has an excellent nuts-and-bolts training on how to manage business processes. It’s specifically tailored for small companies and designed to work with time-starved small business owners and manager.
You can get details on Business Process Management for Small Business here.
By the end of the training, you’ll have one completely re-designed process in your company to make it more profitable. Plus you’ll have a permanent system in place to document, measure and manage all future processes. (He can also work with you one-to-one on this is you like.)
Another way to maximize productivity during slow periods is by investing in technology and automation. For instance, a company can purchase equipment that can perform multiple tasks simultaneously, such as a printer that can print, cut, and fold a document in one pass. This can reduce the amount of time required to complete a job, free up operator time, and increase the company’s capacity to take on more work.
Additionally, a company can invest in software that automates certain processes, such as order processing, invoicing, and job scheduling. This can reduce the amount of time and resources required to complete routine administrative tasks, allowing the company to focus on more important aspects of their business such as sales and marketing.
Often, internal processes can be automated with application programming interfaces (APIs.) These are simply pieces of code that connect existing applications so they can share data and eliminate tedious, repetitive tasks. Zapier is one such automation tool that can currently integrate more than 5000 apps. This type of simple automation can often save hundreds of hours in administrative work.
The third way to enhance productivity is through outsourcing and collaborating with trade vendors. The primary reasons to outsource include:
1. Being at or above production capacity
2. Not having the right equipment or staff to produce a job
3. Cost effectiveness – it costs less than internal production
For example, here at WTP, we have clients who use us for any and all of the reasons listed. It’s a fast way to improve internal productivity and open the doors to sustained year-over-year growth.
It’s efficient and fast because you can start by selling to current clients.
Pick just one item from our list of print products and services which you don’t currently offer but which is suitable for your client base. Then offer it to your customers this month.
Promote your offer via print, social media, in person, networking events, Zoom calls, conferences, email, webinars, ads and phone…whichever methods are best to reach your better clients.
You make the sale and net the profit. We’ll do the work.
One of the key benefits to outsourcing is that it doesn’t require investments in staff, overtime, equipment, or property leases.
You can read more about how WTP clients use us as an outsourcing partner here.
By adopting lean principles and investing in technology and automation, printing companies can maximize their productivity and minimize downtime during slow periods.
This not only keeps them competitive but also prepares them for future growth and expansion.
Next, we will discuss how diversifying product and service offerings can help printing companies expand their customer base and increase revenue throughout the year.
Diversifying Your Offerings
Expanding the range of products and services offered can provide a significant boost to the bottom line, as it allows companies to tap into new markets and cater to a wider range of customer needs.
Diversifying offerings can enable printing companies to become a one-stop-shop for customers, offering everything from traditional printing services to digital marketing solutions and promotional products.
Or it can allow them to offer products or services demanded by clients but not within their production capabilities.
To effectively diversify offerings, printing companies can take the following steps:
• Conduct market research to identify new markets and customer needs that are not currently being met by themselves, or by competitors.
• Partner with other businesses like WTP to offer complementary services, such as print and mail, print finishing, prepress, or any other service they might not currently offer.
• Invest in new technology and equipment to expand capabilities and offer new services, such as large format printing or variable data printing.
• Offer training and education to staff to ensure they are equipped with the skills needed to provide new services. Just as importantly, review training on current software, machinery, and systems to be sure you are using everything to its fullest capacity. Most companies only use a fraction of the capabilities of any given software.
• Develop a strong online presence and marketing strategy to promote the expanded offerings to potential customers.
You can read more about future-proofing your business via diversification here.
In the next section, we’ll look at using marketing and promotions to attract new customers and retain existing ones.
Marketing and Promotions
One effective strategy for printing companies to attract and retain customers is through implementing marketing and promotional campaigns. In other words, do your best to avoid reacting to slow times. Instead, work on and plan marketing efforts to stay busy and generate revenue year round.
A well-crafted marketing plan can help businesses reach a wider audience, increase brand awareness, and establish a strong relationship with customers. To optimize the impact of marketing and promotional campaigns, printing companies should identify their target audience and tailor their efforts accordingly.
This can include creating personalized print and email campaigns, offering special deals or discounts, and leveraging social media platforms to engage with customers.
Additionally, businesses should continuously evaluate the success of their campaigns and adjust them accordingly to ensure maximum impact.
Investing in Education and Training
Investment in education and training can equip printing companies with the knowledge and skills to adapt to rapidly changing industry trends and technologies.
The printing industry has undergone significant changes in the past decade. We’ve watched the rise of digital and online printing, automation, and the increasing demand for eco-friendly printing solutions.
To stay relevant and competitive in this landscape, printing companies need to invest in education and training programs that can help them keep pace with industry advancements and evolving customer preferences.
One way to achieve this is by offering regular training sessions to employees on new tools, techniques, and software that can improve their productivity and efficiency. This can include training on graphic design software, digital printing techniques, and sustainable printing practices.
Additionally, investing in industry-specific certifications and courses can provide employees with the necessary knowledge and skills to offer value-added services to customers. Certifications also add to the company’s trustworthiness and credibility, which makes it easier to convert prospects to clients.
Companies can also partner with industry associations and attend trade shows and conferences to stay current on the latest trends and technologies.
Good training and education can position a company as industry leaders and attract new customers who are looking for innovative and sustainable printing solutions.
Benefits of investing in education and training:
✅ Better productivity and efficiency
✅ Enhanced competitiveness and sustainability
✅ Enhanced credibility
Ways to invest in education and training:
► Regular training sessions on new tools, equipment, techniques, and software
► Industry-specific certifications and courses
► Partnering with industry associations and attending trade shows and conferences.
Conclusion - Printing Business Growth During Slow Months
Printing companies can start to break the cycle of slow business during the slow months by implementing strategies to maximize productivity, by diversifying offerings, by working on marketing, and by investing in education and training. By avoiding complacency and being assertively proactive, businesses can not only survive but thrive during traditionally slow periods.
So, while it may be tempting to kick back during the slow months, let’s work on creating a new mindset that keeps us adapting and growing year round. Sure, take that well-deserved holiday. Then come back refreshed with the mindset to succeed year round.
If you’d like to discuss how we can help you grow year round, give me a call at (559) 251-8595 ext. 411. We'll work with you to get the best print quote possible.
Frequently Asked Questions - Printing Business Growth During Slow Times
How can printing businesses break the cycle of slow months and avoid becoming complacent?
Printing businesses can break the cycle of slow months by challenging the notion that it is normal behavior. By implementing strategies such as diversifying services, targeting new markets, and utilizing social media, businesses can increase their visibility and attract new customers during traditionally slow periods.
What are some strategies for maximizing productivity during slow months?
Some productivity strategies include cross-training employees, improving workflow processes, and diversifying products or services. Innovation and proactive thinking can break the cycle of complacency.
How can printing businesses diversify their offerings to attract more customers during slow periods?
To attract more customers during slow periods, printing businesses can diversify their offerings by expanding into new markets, offering new products or services in-house or through joint partnerships, or implementing new technologies. This can increase revenue and help mitigate the effects of seasonal fluctuations.
What are some effective marketing and promotion strategies for printing businesses during slow months?
To attract more customers during slow months, printing businesses can implement effective marketing and promotion strategies such as offering discounts, creating targeted email campaigns, utilizing social media platforms, attending trade shows, and updating their website with blog content as well as new content and designs.
How can investing in education and training help printing businesses stay competitive and busy during slow periods?
Investing in education and training can equip printing businesses with the skills and knowledge required to adapt to rapidly changing market demands and stay ahead of competitors. This can help them to remain busy and competitive during slow periods, leading to sustained growth and success.