A Year of Growth and Refinement: 2019 Outlook for Book Manufacturers and Publisher PSPs

With 2018 in the rearview mirror, now is the time to reflect on and refine your investments and innovations as we take on 2019. It is already shaping up as a year of growth for print service providers of all sizes, especially well-prepared book printers. Growth and refinement should be the goals for PSPs in 2019, and this involves attracting and retaining top talent, preparing for automation and operational excellence, focusing on value-added services, and attaining effective marketing activities. With these goals in mind, here are some tips for PSPs from Keypoint Intelligence — InfoTrends’ annual Road Map.

Refine Your Company Culture and Attract Top Talent

Delivering great experiences to customers and driving profits starts with company culture. When employees work for organizations whose goals align with their own, they are happier, more productive, and more loyal. Even within the walls of a book publisher or manufacturer, seek talent that fits with the corporate and production department culture! Consider ways to refine your recruitment efforts and hiring practices to reduce turnover in 2019.

Embrace Different Sales Techniques for Different Buyers

Be prepared to sell into a new environment with a wealth of information on the internet, increased competition, a rising number of decision-makers, and a focus on price as the primary differentiator. All of these factors impact the selling cycle, so tune your selling techniques to the expectations of different types of buyers as you expand into new verticals and new product offerings.

Prepare for Automation and Operational Excellence

Management personnel within the print industry must lead the transformation in their printshops to achieve the levels of operational excellence that will enable their businesses to grow. The industry’s ever-evolving technologies will become more automated, so print service providers must proactively embrace automation that eliminates touchpoints in the printshop and work to eliminate the management of spreadsheets that can prevent operational excellence. The publishing supply chain was built during a time when only physical (and preprinted) books were sold, but today’s books may be sold through many other channels, including print on demand and e-books. Demand for printed books will remain strong while the market for e-books will remain generally flat in 2019. PSPs that focus on operational costs to streamline across multiple parts of the supply chain will set themselves up for success in the coming year.

Don’t Forget the Power of Personalization

InfoTrends’ research has consistently shown that consumers notice personalization, and it often plays a key role in how they interact with transactional and marketing communications. This is just as noticeable in the book market, especially in the world of children’s books. Although children’s e-books have experienced some growth, educators and parents alike agree that reading physical books to young children can help encourage a lifetime of readership. Reading a personalized printed book can escalate that experience for both parent and child. The McEvoy Group’s I See Me! series of personalized books has proven quite successful, and nearly half of its customers return to make future purchases.

Elements That Drive Engagement

Elements That Drive EngagementElements That Drive Engagement

Sources: Beyond CYMK: The Use of Special Effects in Digital Printing, InfoTrends, 2016; Canada Post (performed by True Impact); Impact communications; In Search of Business Opportunities: Finding the Right Prospects, Keypoint Intelligence — InfoTrends, 2017; Neo Mammalian Studios; Response Rate Report: Performance and Cost Metrics Across Direct Media, ANA/DMA, 2018.

Grow Customer Engagement with More Than Just Print

Print continues to play a key role in driving customer engagement, but it is only one component of a truly immersive experience that must include a seamless combination of traditional, digital, social, and mobile interactions. The most successful PSPs and in-plant operations are reviewing their touchpoint capabilities with an eye toward adding more capabilities directly or via partnerships. When marketing a new or existing title, consider all of the elements that drive engagement for the campaign as well as the product itself.

Cultivate Smart Print Manufacturing Using Hybrid Solutions

In 2019 and beyond, success will require redefining print manufacturing to make it smarter with automation and more engaged with digital delivery channels. Adding subscription- and cloud-based workflow tools can extend Smart Print Manufacturing capabilities without a huge investment. At the same time, printed products can continue to compete against the speed, cost, and targeting capabilities of digital books by creating hybrid communication solutions that link print and digital. Augmented reality and QR codes are great solutions that all book printers should consider.

Focus on Value-Added Services and Effective Marketing Activities

According to recent research from InfoTrends, high-growth PSPs reported placing a greater focus on non-print-related value-added services (e.g., cross-media, email, mobile, social media, campaign management) and digital asset management. These options can increase customer loyalty and shift the relationship from service provider to partner.

High-Growth PSPs Focus on Value-Added Services

High-Growth PSPs Focus on Value-Added Services

Sources: Winning in an Evolving Print Services Market, Keypoint Intelligence — InfoTrends, 2018.

Spend Your Training Dollars Wisely

Today’s businesses need a plan of action for training to develop the right expertise. Ongoing training is vital to an effective sales management process. Sales managers must educate their sales teams to set them up for success, and this starts with building a learning culture where each employee is held responsible for his or her own professional development. Training should cover the sales process, sales insight and skills, target markets, and relevant products and services.

Acknowledge the Continued Importance of Printed Books

Today’s Americans have access to a wide range of content in various formats, but print remains at the center of the overall book-reading landscape. According to Keypoint Intelligence — InfoTrends’ U.S. Digital Production Printing Applications Forecast: 2017–2022, books are the top printed application in terms of absolute page growth.

Fastest Growing Printed Applications by Absolute Page Growth

Fastest Growing Printed Applications by Absolute Page Growth

Sources: U.S. Digital Production Printing Appliction Forecast: 2017–2022, Keypoint Intelligence — InfoTrends, 2018.

2019 is About Growth and Refinement!

During 2019, book manufacturers and publishers must refine their sales strategies and business practices to generate growth. Our industry is facing a significant number of disruptions from a variety of forces, including emerging technologies, sales strategies and training, print’s changing role in the communications ecosystem, and the importance of data management in delivering personalized and relevant communications. Download Keypoint Intelligence — InfoTrends’ full 2019 Road Map white paper to learn more about the strategies that can enable you to make better business decisions, craft strategies, and implement plans to innovate your operations throughout the year.

Did you know… Just 6% of Americans were digital-only book consumers in the past 12 months.