Saturday, March 12, 2011

Are Printers Going To Lose Out Again?

Are printers going to let someone else make money off a cool communication idea and just sit around waiting to compete for the printing? It seems so as we see new social media support companies popping up around the country to handle the social media mechanics for businesses. These companies are charging premium fees and handling the print buying for their clients because print is important to use when creating followers and fans.

Why can’t printers offer social media services too? They already work with customers in creating and distributing the customer’s message with print. They know how to manage a customer’s printed brand. Why not use those same skills to help customers with their social media?
The printing industry has let this happen before. Graphic designers and ad agencies sell the print buying customer the perceived value part of a project (idea, design, concept, etc.) and leave printers to compete on price and service for the printing portion. Printers can do just as good work, but customers don’t think about printers when getting graphic design.

The same thing happened with PURLs. PODi, the organization that helps set strategic direction in the digital print industry, reported that on many PURL (personal URL) projects, printing costs made up only 10% of the total selling price. The people selling the idea to the customer took the other 90%. Printing became the commodity product in the mix. Someone else sold the value of the project to the customer and left the printer to compete for what was left.

The same thing could happen with social media unless printers get in front of the curve. Printers need to learn and use social media to increase their own sales as well as learn the mechanics so they can do social media services for their customers. It isn’t hard. It doesn’t require a major equipment investment. It is an opportunity that the printing industry shouldn’t let slip through its fingers.


  1. Hey John... Interesting stat from PODi how people selling the PURLs took the additional 90%. Could you provide a link to where PODi mentions that?

  2. Marty,
    Pricing studies done several years ago by PODi showed that printing made up only a portion of the total selling price for PURLs. It was about 10 percent. When printers started selling PURLs they concentrated on the print portion and left out many of the other things that marketers were selling including campaign brief, creative/copywriting,technical implementation, data processing, analysis, project management, etc. Look for information on the site. It was reported at the 2007 conference.