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The Soap Box

Securing a successful future

Harry Mottram listens to print’s most influential trade associations as they consider key industry challenges and the steps print companies can take to secure a successful future

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The Print Show proved a meeting ground for the industry

Still plenty of interest in printing

Changing industry

Sidney Bobb,

The BAPC recently carried out one-to-one interviews with a variety of successful print business owners throughout the UK. Most companies that participated were of a modest size and owner-managed. The vast majority attributed their success to simply making sales calls. They rose from behind their desks and went out to see customers on a daily basis.

In most cases, the owner had taken responsibility to ensure that they personally visited their top customers and prospects. Some had sales people working for them but saw the sense in taking time to make a personal effort to visit the companies that provided them with the most business and the organisations that had the greatest potential.

The question is why have they bothered?  They realise that they will eventually lose some of their top customers and so they are always working to retain them for as long as possible. They call on their top customers to keep them, but the greatest effort is with prospects. They are seeking prospects who can become significant customers.

Some less successful print business owners complain that they don’t have enough time to leave their premises and sell, because they are too busy producing work for customers who contact them. Where would they be better served? Producing a small simple job, or making a sales call with the prospect of regular substantial and profitable work?

It has been said that most printers don’t have a sales problem, they have production issues. Despite all the technology available, they have fallen short in organising their work so are stuck producing rather than selling.

One step to rectify this situation is perhaps to appoint an individual to take total charge of production and entrust that person with the responsibility of managing the workflow. This would leave space for the owner to spend the majority of his or her time telling customers of the benefits of using them and then asking for the sale.

This great industry has changed and if business owners fail to go out and ask for business, they will find it difficult to survive. People no longer walk into a print business, or even pick up the phone to talk about substantial print work. In simple terms printers have to go where the printing is and that is at the customer’s office.

Business owners need to curtail many of their tasks and give the responsibility to their employees and get out there talking to buyers. This could be the first step to ensure they survive and thrive.

Educate the buyers

Marian Stefani,
chief executive officer,

In the last two weeks, the IPIA have been busy talking to delegates at The Print Show and Technology for Marketing (TFM). For me, it was very interesting to note the differences between the two shows and the dynamic of the two audiences.

For the IPIA members who exhibited on our stand, The Print Show provided delegates who wanted to do business, with interested buyers and prospects either signing up at the show, or who will undoubtedly go on to use their products and services.

What was interesting at TFM from my point of view was the interest the IPIA generated for print. This show is not normally one where we would expect to see mass interest in our industry or what we do from the audience, however, we feel it is important that print is represented in amongst all the other marketing technologies, so we take a presence. We went along with one of our members Talking Print, and we had so much interest I could barely keep up with people coming to the stand.

The clear message was this: marketeers and people looking for new and exciting ways to deliver their marketing communications really do need, and more importantly want to know more about our industry and technologies.

It was heartening for me to hear how many of them are still interested in using print, however when I spoke at length with them I would learn that their only interaction with our industry would be to call someone for a quote. After opening their eyes to the possibilities of the innovation our industry offers, I would be delighted by their response “Really! We could do that?!” or “I never thought of doing it like that - wow!”

It was really good to have a successful Print Show, but it was even better for me to have a successful interaction with the marketeers who use our products and services. TFM demonstrated without doubt that marketeers have a real enthusiasm for print and what it delivers.

To my fellow industry members, we all need to play a part in educating the buyers and end users of our products. That means we must stop just providing quotes, instead we must work to understand their needs and deliver outstanding results for them with innovation.

Concerns over Brexit

Charles Jarrold,
chief executive officer,

Since the EU referendum in June 2016, we’ve been tracking the mood of the print industry in relation to Brexit.  Low levels of confidence have been the norm, with top considerations for Government being:

• Retaining the ease of UK-EU trade.
• Developing a clear strategy for   international trade and economic
• A post-Brexit adaptation period.

Detailed concerns are now beginning to emerge, with many worried about non-tariff barriers – border controls, country of origin checks, regulations and standards checks – causing delays to supplies reaching the UK. Absorbing the costs of tariffs themselves was also an issue as were concerns about suppliers increasing prices in anticipation of March 2019.  In terms of people, retaining existing EU staff remains a key consideration, and to a lesser extent, ease of movement across the EU when attending meetings and trade shows was also raised. 

The Government has published a series of 'Technical Notices' (TN) which provide information to businesses and individuals regarding a potential 'no deal' outcome of the Brexit negotiations. A ‘no deal’ scenario is one where the UK leaves the EU and becomes a third country at 11pm GMT on March 29th, 2019 without a Withdrawal Agreement and framework for a future relationship in place. While the Government considers a 'no deal' unlikely, it is keen to prepare for all eventualities come March 2019.

The TNs published so far have covered areas including medical supplies, financial services, nuclear safeguards, farming and organic food production. There is no technical notice which relates to the print industry or the manufacturing industry more widely, so we have identified and summarised just those TNs which are most relevant to our industry. Visit the British Print website to read summaries of:

• Trading with the EU if there's no Brexit deal
• Classifying your goods in the UK trade tariff if there's no Brexit deal
• VAT for Businesses if there's no Brexit deal
• Workplace Rights if there's no Brexit deal

It also may be helpful to get an early idea of what the World Trade Organisation’s tariffs are, if these are to be applied to UK-EU trade. InterIreland, an Irish trade body, have trawled through the possible World Trade Organisation (WTO) tariffs that may apply to the movement of goods that your business may use or produce. Their tariff checker is available to view and search here and Inter Trade Ireland website.

The tariff for the main consumable import for printing and packaging companies – paper and board – is zero percent. Most printed products are also zero percent (with the exception of playing cards at 2.7 percent). However, printing inks have a 6.5 percent tariff and most printing machinery a 1.7 percent tariff. Trade Tariffs Printing and Printed Packaging contains the extracted information for many product codes relevant to the printing and printed packaging industry. However, you may wish to examine the tariffs on further inputs to your business (whether you import them or your supplier imports them). You may also be interested in checking whether or not there are tariffs in place for any products that your clients import or export.

Public Notice:

  • Marketeers are
    interested in print
  • More responsibility
    for employees
  • Brexit takes place on March 29th, 2019

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


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