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The Soap Box

Taking the right pathway

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

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New sections for schools and students will educate them on how opportunities in the print industry could be the right path for them

Training for a better future

Charles Jarrold,
Chief executive officer,

With summer almost over and that back to school feeling beginning to set in, what better time to tell you all about the exciting developments you can use and get involved in, to help inspire and engage the next generation of our industry. 

The industry has made it clear for some time that it wants to ensure we engage with the next generation

The industry has made it clear for some time that it wants to ensure we engage with the next generation and we are committed to helping do that as easily as possible. That is why we’ve been developing a new section of the website, which is aimed at engaging with employers, schools, students and parents.

The new section provides key resources to support you in engaging with your chosen school. The website has three key sections:

• An area for employers that has resources to support them in their engagement with schools

• An area for schools that want to find out more about our industry and to connect with employers

• An area for students and parents who want information about the industry and the opportunities it has to offer

The sections for schools, and for students and their parents, support them in easily understanding our industry and all its career opportunities, and will also help them to connect with local employers. The employers section provides print companies with the resources and guidance they need to engage with schools. These include resources to support them if they are invited to visit a school, if a school asks them to host a visit at their site, or if they wish to offer work experience opportunities.

If you want to be a bit more hands on, then why not become a mentor. We’re looking for volunteer mentors both among experienced people from the industry and people who have started on their career, are in the second or third year of their apprenticeship or have recently completed their apprenticeship, to share their personal skills and knowledge and experience.

Five key reasons why becoming a mentor will not only benefit the mentee but also you and your company:
1. Personal career gains

Mentors are people who will go the extra mile to help others and exert a positive influence, leading to huge career opportunities. Sun Microsystems carried out a study on the career progress of more than 1,000 employees over a five-year period. It discovered that both mentors and mentees were 20% more likely to get a raise than people who did not participate in mentoring. Mentors were also six times more likely to be promoted than employees who didn't mentor.

2. Improve your leadership skills

Learning how to work with people you do not naturally connect with, demonstrating patience with those in need of guidance and support, and helping people figure out the best path forward are trademarks of a great leader. The more you work at leadership on a one-to-one basis, the more you'll improve in larger group settings.

3. Help shape the leaders of the future

Most of us long for a legacy, some stake in the future that says, ‘I was here’. What better legacy than to be a part of shaping tomorrow's leaders?

4. Keep your finger on the pulse of the younger generation

Different generations think and act differently. If you are to be an effective leader, you need to have an understanding of how younger generations see things and where they can make a difference to the organisation. The intimacy of a mentoring relationship offers a unique insight into these generational differences.

5. Gain the intrinsic rewards of helping others

There is nothing more rewarding than knowing you are making a difference to someone else's life.

A good day

Mike Roberts,

Summer (noun): The warmest season of the year, in the northern hemisphere from June to August – or maybe just maybe in 2019 it could just be the wettest season?

Brexit (noun): The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union – maybe we will or maybe we won’t, so again 2019 is going to be remembered for what happens on October 31st.

With summer almost drawing to a close, what does the rest of the year hold for the industry?

To be a little more serious though, despite the acute lack of prolonged periods of summer sun, and a complete lack of political direction in regard to Brexit, one thing we cannot ignore is the political and business uncertainty that it is developing as a result of the latter.

As an industry, print is well versed with economic challenges due to political turmoil or indeed technological advances, but there is one key thing we should strive for and that is the need for a positive mindset.

As businesses we must help ourselves with positive messaging, never mind the weather or the politics

As businesses we must help ourselves with positive messaging, never mind the weather or the politics, but obviously based on reality. Too many within our industry talk of the ‘good old days’, not that many of us realised that at the time, but we have to look forward and make our ‘tomorrows’ the ‘good days’.

How do we do this? An important way is by making sure we develop the right opportunities for the markets we operate in. Only recently I have had a conversation with a major European supplier of print that is slowly waking up to the fact they need to listen to the market to develop their future opportunities, rather than push ‘what they can do’ down on the market – as simply the market has changed.

Be honest

Our EPIC event in July was such a storming success, it is hard to believe what it is achieving in such a short space of time. What is so critical to its momentum is that it is the connections we are making with the brands that allow us to deliver our value message. So, while it wasn’t directly a print conference like the ‘old days’, it was about our place in the marketing mix.

Feedback from some of the major brands that attended clearly indicates that a good number are going to change their campaigns as a direct result of EPIC.

So, with summer nearly over (maybe), and Brexit all under control (maybe), what does the rest of the year hold? 

Know your customer

Tony Kenton,

In the highly competitive and commodity driven market of print services, ensuring you have a differential is crucial for longer term financial security. Sure, this isn’t always the easiest thing to find, because when it comes to products, many of us provide similar offerings.

That said, what can be different is the level of how bespoke we make our offering. And that can only really be determined by getting to know the customer. The first part of this journey is to define which vertical market they are in.

Understand the needs of your customers and make sure that you can speak their language

A vertical market is a group of similar businesses that has a common set of needs for products and services.  Customers in the same vertical market have the same types of applications, and they often have the same business issues.

Getting to know a vertical market helps because you get to:  

• Understand your customers’ business
• Know what products and services they use
• Can speak their language
• Can emphasise the benefits that are important to their business

The more you understand about the concerns and issues of these vertical markets, the more credibility you will have with your customers because you’ll be ‘speaking their language’. You’ll be in a better position to recommend offerings that address their business needs. 

You can start by focusing on the top two or three vertical markets that your company serves. As an example of what is meant by this, below is one for Healthcare.

The Healthcare Example

Let’s use Healthcare as an example. Healthcare industry sectors have a need for every kind of print related product. The sales, marketing, and communication needs drive many high value applications. The core focus of these organisations is varied including lead generation, customer retention, education, employee training, publications, and compliance.

When you begin to understand your customers' business issues and print applications, you will be able to position your offering as a solution to their problems

When you begin to understand your customers’ business issues and print applications, you will be able to position your offering as a solution to their problems. And as you help solve their problems, you’ll build credibility.

What are the benefits to focusing on Vertical Markets?

You will become increasingly experienced in those areas, meaning you can then leverage your knowledge when speaking with other customers in those same markets.

You will be able to develop success stores more quickly.

You will have a sharper and more relevant talk track that will gain the customer’s interest and help you win business and become a strategic partner.

The BAPC has been providing support and help for sales training for nearly 50 years. Experience has proven that it is worth taking the time to build an approach based on individual customer’s needs.  If you would like to know more about sales education contact the BAPC because it’s an increasingly important factor in this highly competitive market.

Public Notice:

  • Why not become a mentor?
  • Bring positivity in uncertain times
  • Be aware of your customers’ needs

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

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