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It’s interesting that this version of the right size for a printing company is based on data that is prior to 2008. With the printing industries’ adoption of print aggregation models, the right size becomes highly dynamic and should be answered with “it depends”. It depends on how effectively a printing company can integrate print aggregation technology into their business model. Suffice to say, the right size has little to do with the number of employees and everything to do with the amount of sales revenue generated for the business.

The following is an excerpt from an article about the the optimum size for printing companies:

“It was started by George Alexander, a veteran print industry journalist, and because it’s so relevant to the industry segments served by A Printing Office, we’re quoting it in full here:

“A recent study by the German consulting company Pier 18 suggests that medium-sized printing companies (100-500 employees) are surviving the best in these difficult times. The report looked at the period between 2004 and 2008, a period when the number of German printing companies decreased by 10%. Most of the troubled companies were very large or very small. The only size group that increased was the 100-500 employee group. The report concludes that this is the best size for a printing company. (From: What’s the ideal size for a printing company?)

“On the other hand, Heidelberg’s second-in-command, Jürgen Rautert, thinks many medium-sized firms are doomed to disappear. He says: ‘There will be a structural change in the direction that the medium-sized printers will form a substantially smaller percentage of the industry in two or three year’s time. The big ones will grow and the small ones will maintain profitable niches, offering special services or servicing local business mostly. The medium-sized printers, I think, will either shrink or grow by consolidation. So this hourglass effect will happen: the industry will no longer be a pyramid – it will be an hourglass, more larger printers and smaller printers and the medium-sized printers will thin out.”

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Yes, China is becoming a big story in the printing industry just like it is in so many other primary industries. High quality and low production costs are the story as is the cost to ship product from China to the US and other global destinations. 2GoTools has already formed partnerships with several printing vendors based in China and is aggressively continuing to add more. The 2GoTools, Digital Print Aggregation Storefronts, are an ideal way to capitalize on the booming printing capabilities in China and all across Asia.

The following is an excerpt from an article on China’s growing printing industry:

“China has been experiencing a stable development even in the recent global economic downturn and is believed to be the first to recover. One year after the Expo 2010 Shanghai China, the 4th All in Print China, China International Exhibition for All Printing Technology and Equipment, will be held at the Shanghai New International Expo Center from November 14 – 17, 2011. All in Print China 2011 intends to highlight the recovery of both China’s economy in general and the printing industry in particular.

With the theme “Synergy of Print and Digital Era”, All in Print China 2011 will be jointly organized by Messe Düsseldorf China Ltd., the Printing Technology Association of China and the China Academy of Printing Technology – with the support of Keyin Print Media. Due to the concurrently held 2011 Asia-Pacific Web Printing Image Exhibition and the China International Network Printing & Digital Printing Exhibition, the range of products on display at All in Print China 2011 will expand and attract more visitors from diverse industry sectors to the event. The trade fair will showcase the latest printing technologies such as planographic processes, letterpress printing, gravure, screen printing and inkjet on about 861,000 square feet of exhibit space. More than 100,000 visits are expected.

The Chinese government has implemented positive measures to ease the global financial crisis and is confident that economic revival and long-term stable development will be achieved. All in Print China 2011 will highlight the strategic importance of innovation, integration and communication in the printing sector. Offering a global platform for trade visitors with strong purchase authority from around the world, All in Print China 2011 will explore new channels for printing industry developments.”

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10% represents a large number. The 2009 decline in printing has turned the industry upside down in many ways. And the economic downturn coming just as the industry is beginning to adopt the newest technology and web based business models, e.g. print aggregation, will mean the printing industry will never be the same again. And that is a good thing. The printing industry needed to catch up with the 21st century, and without these extreme conditions, it might have gone on for five maybe ten years still firmly rooted in the 20th century.

The following is an excerpt from an article updating the U.S. government’s figures:

“Recently updated U.S. government figures show an ongoing decline in the U.S. printing industry at a year-over year rate that InfoTrends expects to come in at around -10% by year’s end. The table below shows U.S. government data dating back to January of 2007. The source of the data is the U.S. Census Bureau’s Manufacturers’ Shipments, Inventories, and Orders (M3) report. This is a monthly report with the most recent available data coming from August 2009.

Looking over the data from the past two shows that the U.S. printing industry posted a -4% decline from 2007 to 2008. So far in 2009, the industry has declined over -10% (comparing the January – August period in 2009 to the same period in 2008). In addition, comparing the 12 month period from August 2007 through July 2008 to the same period from Aug. 2008 through July 2009, there is a -8.8% decline. The average month-to-month decline in 2009 is around -1%. Assuming, as some economists have, that the recession ended in September, it is likely that there will be  slightly smaller month-to-month declines for the remaining months of 2009. Even with that assumption of slower decline, this would result in about a -10% decline for printing industry shipments in 2009.

The decline is not only being felt in printing industry shipments. The U.S. printing industry has also been experiencing a decline in the number of establishments, which was occurring at about a -2% rate over the past few years, even at a time when the U.S. economy was growing. This is due to ongoing industry consolidation driven by changes in information delivery. As the economy has eroded, it is safe to assume that the decline in the number of establishments will accelerate as well.”

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There is no doubt that the printing industry is searching for solutions that will evolve it away from the traditional business models. Online order processing, print-on-demand and the like are all the buzz at every printing conference, seminar, trade show any event where the industries’ leaders are talking shop. And there is also no doubt that the most evolutionary and revolutionary discussions are focused on print aggregation models, be it portals, storefronts or mash-ups, the future of print will follow the successful business models from other industries such as the travel industry with Priceline, Travelocity and Orbitz.

The web playing a significant role in this change is a given. It is the specific business model that will best generate real change rapidly enough to turn the tide on the industries’ decline that is needing of confirmation.

The excerpt from the following article provides some more insights:

It is a widely acknowledged fact that the demand for quality printing services is steadily increasing with the passage of every day. Professional printing service providers are needed to print books, manuals, documents, promotional and advertisement materials.

It is also a fact that many people are vexed scouting for commercial printing companies that can offer economical and efficient printing jobs. But the Internet is flooded with online printers capable of fully meeting all your printing needs. With computers and Internet facilities, you can now easily get the quality printer you want.

There is awareness among customers, in need of good quality prints, that it is convenient to seek online printing services. This way, the customers get to browse over a wide range of sites, choose from a wider variety of online printers, get instant quotations, make comparative studies and zero in on the right choice.

You can also get to view samples of quality of print offered and the procedure of placing orders is also provided in the website. Thus, the online printing services are flourishing day by day and more and more people are flocking to the websites of the printing companies to place their orders.”

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As stated in the following article, marketing is really a broad umbrella term for all activity that contributes to the revenue side of the business equation. Advertising is just one of the categories of activities that occurs under the marketing umbrella term. Other categories include, public relations, distribution or channel promotions, sales promotions, trade show activity and even the development of the products or services themselves – think iPod, a marketing concept.

The collection of these activities will create a perception of your company by your customers and target audience. This perception is your brand. And the design and quality of your printed marketing materials can greatly enhance the perception of your brand.

The following is an excerpt from an article that provides more information:

“Advertising and marketing is a billion dollar business. In fact, these are the fastest and ever growing in the industry today that many would want to cash in on these two.

But do you really know the meaning of these two terms? Many business owners and marketers do not. They often even confuse the two that many ineffective strategies have been produced for this reason.

So are they similar? Or are they different?

Although both are used to help increase the income of any business, marketing and advertising are very much different from each other. Nevertheless, both are equally important. If you want your business to have any chance of being successful in your field, you need to fully understand the distinction between the two terms.
To start with, advertising and marketing can be described according to the manner your business would have to introduce the products and services being offered. For one, when advertising, you are putting yourself in the limelight through the use of different media sources, e.g. TV and radio commercials; produce collaterals such as brochure printing and cheap brochure printing; write press releases and submit to different publications; initiate trade exhibits; just to name a few.

This just means that when advertising, you make your business become a public entity. You utilize these different venues and means to ensure that the consumers would know about you and your brand. Branding is therefore your objective; advertising would be your means to get your business recognized and remembered.
Marketing on the other hand, is a much bigger concept. In fact, advertising is just one of the stages in marketing. Brochure printing or cheap brochure printing for example is just a small part in the whole scheme of marketing. It is the total psychology of getting more sales and increasing the profits of your business. It is the umbrella of all your strategies to promote yourself to your target audience.

Marketing therefore needs a lot of psychology and concept building. You need to research and create your strategy to produce your campaign. This is very important for you to understand because when you realize the immensity of the whole marketing process, you will realize that it involves strategizing so you can position your business in such a way that people come to you even if you don’t sell directly.

From the graphic images you choose that will be included in your campaign, to the words you use to convey your message and even the shade of color of your paper – these are parts of the strategy you come up with the end goal of generating as many clients to take your offer.”

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As the economic recovery continues to move forward,  the printing industry is on the brink of real growth for the first time in several years. The National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL) Printing Economic Research Center just announced the availability of its “State of the Industry Report”. And while the report asserts that there are no easy answers, it does not discuss the rapid growth of print aggregation models and an accelerated print industry recovery due to this revolutionary business method its technological systems.

The following is an excerpt from the announcement:

“According to NAPL Chief Economist Andrew Paparozzi, one of the report’s authors, the new study begins with a recovery preparedness checklist, looks at the numbers for our industry and the economy, and considers how companies have become more valuable to their clients over the last 24 months. “Next we discuss who really is a leader in our industry, why some former leaders-the fallen leaders-lost their competitive edge, and how leaders think,” he explains. “We conclude with a look at the structural change that is the reason this time it really is different.”

The report takes an in-depth view of various examples of structural change, the reach of such change-in one NAPL study earlier this year 92.9% of participants said they were affected by structural change-and the consequences of such change, primarily making the industry more competitive than ever and forcing printers to compete “in new ways with people we’ve never had to compete with before.”
“Our defining opportunity is to make clients more successful and to ensure they recognize our contributions to their success,” states the report. “We have to integrate our services into a compelling value proposition that makes clients more successful for doing business with us” and “carefully measure our contributions to our clients’ success.”

“As always, the NAPL State of the Industry Report isn’t about easy answers, can’t-miss markets or sure things, because there aren’t any,” says Paparozzi. “Rather, it’s about thinking, challenging, and questioning-actions that will make the difference between who participates and who is left behind by the recovery ahead.”

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The following article accurately identified four significant trends for the printing industry – (1) Digital Technology (2) Consolidation (3) More Services (4) New Print Technologies, however the article fails to mention what is perhaps the most significant trend – the introduction of print aggregation models that will revolutionize the commercial printing industry in a way that is similar to what travel aggregation models did for the travel industry a decade ago.

Why has the commercial printing industry been dragging its feet in adopting the aggregation models? The short answer is fear.

The following is an excerpt from the trends article:

“Trends in the Commercial Printing Industries

1.  Transition to Digital Technology: Digital presses have become the norm in commercial printing; industry growth is coming almost entirely from digital printing. The commercial printing industry is shifting to faster production of smaller order quantities with more color, the major benefit of digital printing over offset and other printing methods. While digital inkjet printers began at the small end of printers, technology is increasingly able to make digital printers with greater capacity.

2.  Industry Consolidation: Consolidation has characterized the US commercial printing industry since the 1990s, and is ongoing due to the dramatic changes in the marketplace. Industry consolidations are driven by technology shifts and companies seeking to grow by expanding into new geographic markets through acquisitions. Most consolidations are private companies, losing value and unable to keep up technologically, selling to another private firm. Small, family-run printers are least likely to be able to afford digital printing technology and the investment it requires.

3.  Transition to Service Business: Commercial printing has traditionally been a manufacturing industry. While it maintains its manufacturing focus, it’s evolving into a service business. Smaller printing runs, subject to customer changes, edits, and faster deadlines, are becoming the norm. Almost all industry growth comes from companies with digital printing capabilities, able to respond to smaller runs and changing customer needs quickly.

4.  New Print Technologies: With the introduction of digital plate-making, the entire printing process can be handled most effectively using digital technology. The traditional printing process relies on cameras and photographic film as an intermediate step in the photochemical production of the plates used in printing. New processes can make film from digital images without using a camera.”

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