The Cheapening of Print


By John Roche, Haybrooke CEO

Pile them high and sell them cheap (‘PTHSTC’). Everyone has heard the business mantra, but what would it mean for the printing industry if all printers began to run their businesses this way? Let’s find out.

TheFreeDictionary.com sums up the PTHSTC idiom, thus:

Pile them high and sell them cheap. To sell large quantities of something at heavily discounted prices. Primarily heard in the UK. Examples: As a small, independent book shop, it’s hard to compete with the massive chains that can afford to pile them high and sell them cheap. I’d be wary of any electronic devices you buy from shops that pile it high and sell it cheap.

Fundamentally, then, it seems that ‘pile it high’ means to produce or sell in bulk and ‘sell it cheap’ means, well, to sell it cheap. As a business model, buying in bulk and selling cheaply seems to make sense. But is it true for every market? Well, that depends upon the current level of demand for a product and the supply chain’s capacity to produce it. Wikipedia explains:

Supply and demand is an economic model of price determination in a market. It postulates that in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded will equal the quantity supplied, resulting in an economic equilibrium for price and quantity transacted.

Let’s use one of the examples cited by TheFreeDictionary.com. Say you are an electronics retailer and you want to undercut the competition and offer the market cheap ‘FitBit’ devices (for the uninitiated, a FitBit is an electronic wristband containing a personal pedometer, heartbeat monitor and motion sensor). An entry-level FitBit retails at £30, but you can bulk-buy from the wholesaler at £15 each, provided you purchase at least 1,000 units. So, you do. Now all you need to do is sell them.

Before you decide what price to sell at, you must assess the current levels of supply and demand for FitBit’s in the marketplace. Let’s answer as the market might have stood five years ago:

  • Is there a demand for the product? Yes, it’s huge, every housewife wants a FitBit.
  • Are there a large number of suppliers for the customer to choose from? No, a customer can only get a FitBit from a relatively small pool of electrical retailers.

High demand means you don’t need to sell your stock of FitBit’s too cheaply – the customer will be perfectly willing to pay the price. Similarly, low availability of other supply outlets means you can keep prices relatively high, but still undercut the competition and tempt customers your way. So, you decide to sell your supply of FitBit’s for £25.

You move your entire stock within a month.

Five years on, and you have the opportunity to bulk-buy another batch of 1,000 FitBit’s again at £15 each. Over the last 60 months, however, the sales of the product have peaked and nearly every person who wants to wear a FitBit now owns one. You buy the stock, regardless, and then assess the market to determine the selling price.

  • Is there still a demand for the product? It is waning a little. Every housewife who wanted a FitBit now owns one. Only the serious keep-fit market remains buoyant and buyers in that domain are not so impulsive.
  • Are there a large number of suppliers for the customer to choose from? Yes, a customer can now go into practically any electrical retailer and purchase a Fitbit in-store or online.

Lower demand means you will have to sell your current stock of FitBit’s cheaper – the customer will likely be shopping around for the best price. High availability of other suppliers means you need to drop prices even further to undercut the competition and tempt customers your way. So, you decide to sell your latest supply of FitBit’s at £20.

You move half your stock within six months and struggle to sell the remainder.

What have we learned?

What is clear from the above two examples, is the PTHSTC commercial model works especially well in a market where certain prevailing conditions are present. Specifically, these are:

  • There is a high demand for the product or service
  • There are not enough suppliers to meet the demand for the product or service

When FitBit’s first exploded onto the consumer market a few years ago, it took retailers by surprise and they were not all geared up to supply the initial demand for the product. Those retailers with business foresight bought up huge stocks of the device and made a killing. PTHSTC reigned supreme.

Today, whilst the demand for FitBit’s is still good, the market has become more polarised and a customer can easily get their hands on the product from an abundance of suppliers. In recognition of this, the electrical retailers now employ staff specially trained to demonstrate the FitBit and talk through the many health benefits it can help bring about. The sell has become more about the product and somewhat less about the price. In other words, the market for FitBit’s has matured and the modus operandi for selling the product has become more consultative.

But what if a retailer has the notion that they can sell a FitBit so cheaply that the customer will be compelled to buy from them regardless? This is a perfectly valid business proposition; but what would happen?

Cheap FitBit’s

Let’s say the retailer decided to buy 5,000 FitBit’s at a unit cost of £12.50 each. The market is selling the product generally at £20, so the retailer can now undercut the entire supply chain at will and sell at £17.50 – and still make a profit. Trouble is, the demand for the product is waning and a typical customer of the FitBit, whilst conscious of price, is also savvy and wants good advice about the product before they buy it. So, the purchase decision is not all about price; and this is what the retailer overlooked. To successfully sell the FitBit, they need to be able to offer the best advice as well as competitive prices. They need to invest in the sales process as well as the product itself.

Despite this, let’s say the retailer goes ahead and purchases 5,000 FitBit units at £12.50 each. In principle, they can sell at the market price of £20 and make decent money; or they can undercut the market selling at £17.50 per unit and still make a profit. Whatever they decide to do, they now have 5,000 FitBit units requiring 5,000 customers to buy them. Given that the demand for FitBit’s is diminishing, getting 5,000 new customers is going to take some serious sales and marketing effort. Once the retailer has factored these additional costs into the equation, they calculate they can sell the product at £17.50 and make a small profit. So they do.

Market disruption

After selling 1,000 FitBit units at the market-beating price of £17.50 the retailer then becomes aware that its main competitor on the same retail park is now also selling the FitBit for £17.50. It was inevitable really. Retail spies have quickly discovered the attempt by the retailer to undercut the market and have responded by lowering its prices to match.

It is only then, at this precise moment, that the retailer realises that it did not beat the market; rather, it influenced it. Moreover, the introduction of a new, lower price for the FitBit had the effect of actually disrupting the balance of supply and demand in the marketplace generally.

A new, lower pricing threshold for the FitBit now exists in the market and the mind of consumers, both. For, what once had cost the consumer £30 can now be acquired for a mere £17.50.

This new dynamic creates a problem for the PTHSTC retailer. They now have 4,000 FitBit units still to sell, but its competitor is drawing customers back with its price match promise. What is a retailer to do? 4,000 FitBit’s are too valuable to hold in stock indefinitely and, with the uncertainty of the demand generally for the product, the retailer decides to sell the FitBit at an even lower price of £15. This is barely enough to cover the wholesale cost price of £12.50, plus the sales and marketing overheads, but the retailer is now anxious to move the stock.

The retailer’s competitor meanwhile becomes aware of this further reduction in price and, not only matches it, but this time beats it! They are now selling the FitBit for just £12.50. It signals the beginning of a retail price war.

Concerned as to how its competitor is able to sell FitBit’s at £12.50 and still make money, the retailer calls the wholesaler and asks if they have shipped any product lately to the competition. The wholesaler confirms that they have indeed shipped 10,000 FitBit units to the retailer’s main competitor on the same retail park; but naturally refuses to reveal the commercial aspects of the deal.

With nearly 4,000 FitBit units still in stock at a cost value of £12.50, it would be a commercial disaster if the retailer has to sell these at cost, or less. But that is exactly what it has to do. It floods the market with cheap FitBit’s in order to purge stock levels down to a bare minimum, until such time as the pricing for FitBit’s improves generally in the market; if it ever does.

By this point the electrical retailer and its main competitor are now both losing money selling FitBit gadgets to the general public. Ce la vie. There is, however, one winner in all this: the FitBit wholesaler. For, despite the ongoing price war between the electrical retailers themselves, the wholesaler maintained its standard volume-based price list throughout. It doesn’t matter if the FitBit stocks are now sat in the retailers warehouses gathering dust; they, at least, have benefited from the intense competition for the product.

The Printing Industry

So, let’s now think about the printing industry and how it compares to the scenario painted above.

Ignoring the fact that printers buy paper and ink to produce its products and outsource some elements to other suppliers, in every other sense that matters they are solely responsible for the production of the goods they sell. They don’t need to buy the equivalent of a ‘FitBit’ unit to earn a living, so what do they need to buy in bulk in order to ‘pile them high and sell them cheap’?

The answer is time; and, more crucially, what they fill it with.

Although the end product of the printing process may be a magazine, or a leaflet, or a carton, printers actually sell quite a different commodity; they sell hours. In estimating, the number of hours required to produce the end product is assigned a value (a budgeted hourly cost rate) and then totalled up to determine the full production cost. This is usually marked up or down, depending on the commercial circumstances. As such, printers spend a lot of time fussing over how much they should cost and charge each hour of production.

Moreover, it is the hours available to sell that create a practical limit as to what the printer is able to generate in terms of production revenues.

More hours = more revenue

In order to adopt a PTHSTC commercial model, then, the printer needs to first make more manufacturing hours available generally (perhaps by manning extra shifts) and then become super productive within those hours by improving the efficiency (performance) of its equipment. By doing this, scales of production dictate that the printer will drive down the cost per sheet printed and, hence, be able to out-price the competition in the market.

That’s the theory, at least.

Let’s follow the retailer example discussed earlier and insert print-specific language to make it more relatable.

Driving down the price of print

Say you are a printing company and you want to undercut the competition and offer the market cheaper print prices. You have costed your new printing machine at £150 per hour running 24×7 at a world class OEE of 85% providing a return of 1,000 machine hours per week. Now all you need to do is sell them.

Before you decide what price to sell at, you must assess the current levels of supply and demand for print in the marketplace. Let’s first answer as the market might have stood 30 years ago:

  • Is there a demand for the product? Yes, it’s huge, every commercial entity and business requires print in one form or another. The internet is not yet invented and every company has a corporate brochure.
  • Are there a large number of suppliers for the customer to choose from? Yes, there are 12,000 printers, but they are working at, or near, capacity to cater for the demand.

High demand means that 30 years ago a printer didn’t need to sell its product too cheaply – the customer was nearly always happy to pay the asking price. Similarly, because the supply chain was near to capacity catering for the demand for print, it meant that printers could keep prices sustainably high, but still undercut the competition where necessary to tempt customers away. So, back in the day if you decided to sell your printing press for, say, £200 per hour (£50 above cost), you would likely sell all of your 1,000 available weekly production hours.

30 years on, and you have the same opportunity, but the market looks very different indeed. Sales of the printed product peaked several years ago and many businesses now consider digital alternatives as a more relevant and targeted use of its marketing spend. You have ramped up your production capacity, regardless, and now assess the current market to determine the selling price.

  • Is there a demand for print? It is waning. Digital alternatives now play a big role in the mindset of marketers and, as such, are impacting on the demand for print, especially the general commercial market.
  • Are there a large number of suppliers for the customer to choose from? There are 8,000 printers remaining in the UK printing industry, but they can collectively produce more product than the previous 12,000 put together. Capacity to produce has therefore increased, in real terms, even though the actual number of printers has decreased.

Lower demand means you will have to sell your printed products cheaper – the customer will likely be shopping around for the best price. Higher industry production capacity means you will need to drop prices even further to beat the competition and tempt customers your way. So, you decide to sell your production hours at £150 (cost). Even at this competitive rate, you may not be able to sell all of your production capacity.

What is clear from the above is that the PTHSTC commercial model would have worked especially well in the printing industry 30 years ago. Back then, there was a high demand for print and the supply chain was at capacity to cater for the demand.

Today, whilst the demand for print is still good, the market has become very choosy. A customer can easily get their hands on the printed product from an abundance of quality suppliers (and print managers). In recognition of this, printers are increasingly employing staff specially trained to understand the utility function of print and advise customers how print can improve the results of marketing activity when included in the media mix. In other words, the market for print is very mature and the modus operandi for selling the product is becoming consultative.

But what if a printer has the notion that they can sell print so cheaply that the customer will be compelled to buy from them regardless? This is a perfectly valid business proposition; but what would happen?

Printing price war

Let’s say the printer invested in a new printing machine that can run twice as quickly as its old printing press. This new efficiency gain means, even if the cost per hour increases, the cost of the printed sheet effectively decreases. So, the printer can now undercut the entire supply chain at will and sell at a price less than £150 (the average market cost) and still make a profit.

Trouble is, the demand for print is waning and a typical customer, whilst conscious of price, is also savvy and often wants advice about the product before they buy it. So, the purchase decision is not always about price. To successfully sell print, then, a printer needs to be able to offer the best advice as well as competitive prices. They need to invest in the sales and consultation processes as well as the printed product itself.

Despite this, let’s say the printer goes ahead and purchases the new machine. In principle, they can sell at the market price of £150 and make decent money; or they can undercut the market selling at (effectively) £125 and still make a profit. Whatever they decide to do, they now have 1,000 production hours per week that they need to fill with twice the amount of work that other printers running the same shift pattern need to fill (as their machine is twice as productive). Given that the demand for print is diminishing, getting the volumes of print required for this business model is going to take some serious sales and marketing effort. Once the printer has factored these additional costs into the equation, they calculate they can sell the product at a little under the market average cost and make a profit. So they do.

Market disruption

Initially all goes well. For a few months they are able to sell 1,000 weekly production hours within which they are able to push out double the amount of work they could previously produce at a market-beating price. Soon, however, the printer becomes aware that its main competitor on a nearby business park is now also selling print below the market average rate. It was inevitable really. Customers have begun to talk about the great prices it can get from the company and the competition has responded by lowering its prices to match.

It is only then, at this precise moment, that the printer realises that it did not beat the market for long; rather, it influenced it. Moreover, the introduction of a new, lower price for printed materials had the effect of actually disrupting the balance of supply and demand in the marketplace generally.

A new, lower pricing threshold for printed products now exists in the market and the mind of customers, both. For, what once had cost the buyer £150 could now be acquired for £125.

This new dynamic creates a problem for the PTHSTC printer. They now have 1,000 weekly hours to sell, compounded by the need to fill each hour with twice the amount of work as previous. But its competitor is drawing customers back with equally aggressive pricing. What is a printer to do?

No time like the present

Unlike the earlier example of a retailer who can hold surplus FitBit units in stock, the printer has no such luxury. Every hour of time that passes on the printing machine with it cylinders idle, is time that is lost forever; and will somehow need making up. Moreover, the demand for sales volumes is overwhelming and all consuming once the presses have been geared up to deliver the PTHSTC commercial model.

1,000 weekly production hours are too valuable to the recovery of overheads to leave unsold and, with the uncertainty of the demand for print generally in the market, the printer now decides to sell at an even lower price of £100 per hour. This is barely enough to cover the cost of production, but the printer is now anxious to sell the hours and recover this cost at least – even if they cannot recover the business general overheads within it.

The printer’s competitor meanwhile becomes aware of this further reduction in price and, not only matches it, but this time beats it! They are now selling press time for just £90 per hour.

It signals the beginning of an industry-wide price war.

Concerned as to how the competition is able to sell print for £90 and still make money, the printer calls the printing machine manufacturer and asks if they have shipped any new printing presses lately to the competition. The press manufacturer confirms that they have indeed shipped a new 12 colour B1 (40″) perfector to the printer’s main competitor on a nearby business park; but naturally refuse to divulge the commercial aspects of the deal.

With 1,000 weekly hours to sell at a cost value of £100, it would be a commercial disaster if the printer has to sell these at cost, or less. But that is exactly what it has to do. It floods the market with cheap print in order to generate sales volumes and contribute to the cost of running its new machinery, at least until such time as the pricing for print improves generally in the market; if it ever does.

The printer in the scenario above, incidentally, has a name. It is the Anton Group. They were the equivalent of the printing industry’s titanic, to be sure.

Print is the New Vinyl

If this were not a salient enough example of the dangers of a PTHSTC business model when applied to a depressed market in which demand for a product is dropping and the competition to supply is intense, we can look toward other sectors.

In which of these technology and entertainment markets would you be inclined to apply the PTHSTC business model?

  • Vinyl records
  • DVDs
  • Sat-navs
  • Personal computers
  • FitBit’s
  • iPads
  • Mobile phones
  • Gaming

The list above goes from a small (previously great) niche market (vinyl), to a very buoyant one (gaming). It doesn’t take a business genius to figure out that it would be very unwise to apply the PTHSTC business model to the former and pretty astute to apply it to the latter; and at a gradual tangent everywhere in between the two extremes.

Now let’s replace the list with, in alphabetical order, a more relevant marketing one:

  • Advertorials
  • Amazon
  • Ebay
  • Blogging
  • Content marketing
  • Digital banners and signage
  • Email
  • Facebook
  • Film/TV product placement
  • Forums
  • Google
  • In-game ads
  • Internet advertising
  • LinkedIn
  • Mobile advertising
  • Mobile apps
  • Press releases
  • Printing
  • Push notifications
  • Search engine optimisation
  • Smart TV/Xbox/Console app
  • SMS
  • Twitter
  • Videos
  • YouTube

Every item on this list is a digital marketing channel, aside from print. As such, in the cranium of a marketer, what share of mindset does print enjoy? The answer is, increasingly little in a digital age.

Print has become the new vinyl and the cracks are starting to show.

“Increasing output levels are not enough to boost confidence in the printing industry”

So shouted the headline in PrintWeek magazine this week (November 2017). The article cited the BPIF’s latest ‘Printing Outlook’ report to deliver the gloomy news that output increases were failing to lift industry optimism and that the biggest worry for business owners was competitor’s pricing below cost, with 65% of companies citing it as their biggest concern.

So, 65% of printers are worried about the competition selling below cost. But why would any sane business owner sell a product below cost? The answer is simple: because, in the printing industry at least, they have to. Print is the new vinyl.

It is perhaps at odds with a declining market such as print, then, that the PTHSTC scenario is being portrayed as precisely the way of beating the market and selling for less whilst still making a profit; all of this by ramping up productivity to push out more print to a sector that is already hugely oversubscribed to produce it.

As previously shown, these companies are not beating the market; they are influencing it. They are actually disrupting it. And the more companies that do it, the more the pricing pressure in the marketplace will increase until saturation point is reached and printers begin dropping like flies. Indeed, this process is already well underway.

Recall Wikipedia’s explanation of the effects of a balanced supply and demand:

… in a competitive market, the unit price for a particular good will vary until it settles at a point where the quantity demanded will equal the quantity supplied, resulting in an economic equilibrium for price and quantity transacted.

In the printing industry the volume of print demanded by customers is lower than the supply chain’s capacity to produce it. That is, the industry is already over-capacity to meet the demand. This is why the pricing points in the industry are under constant pressure. In order to bring about an ‘economic equilibrium’, then (where pricing points are stable as the demand for the product is equalled by the supply chain’s capacity to produce it), we need one of two things to happen:

  1. The demand for print must increase OR
  2. The supply chain must reduce its capacity to service the lower demand

The alternative being pursued by many printing companies at present seems to fly in the face of both of these options. They are actively increasing productive output by investing in bigger and faster machinery and, in doing so, hope to outperform the competition and, ultimately, destroy them.

The plus side to PTHSTC

There is no doubt that the PTHSTC commercial model can have some short and medium term benefits for the printers deploying it. Over a few months – or perhaps even a few years – it will allow them to produce print more cost effectively than the competition. And, whilst this may be good for them, it may not be good for the industry holistically, for the reasons discussed above. The industry holistically needs to reduce its capacity to produce print in order to bring about economic equilibrium in the sector; not increase it.

Despite all of this, however, there is another good reason why printing companies adopting the PTHSTC business model might, regardless of the potential harm to the economic balance of the printing industry generally, be among the last businesses standing in the long run, amid an otherwise perhaps decimated manufacturing sector.

They are slowly eliminating the competition.

Increasing productivity before the competition might give a printing company a crucial competitive advantage; time enough to actually drive its competitors out of business, to be sure, and leave them standing in a productivity wake. The effect is most powerful when productivity gains are shared by a relatively small number of printers in any given geographical market. Here, the un-invested will quickly fall by the wayside, whilst the fully invested surge ahead unabated.

More problematic is when a particular geographical market or niche is populated by printers all possessing the big guns. Where production firepower has become unlimited in such a market, the bloody war that ensues between printing companies can be both intense; and terminal.

The future

For printers, then, regardless of what the laws of supply and demand are asking for in the printing industry to establish economic equilibrium, there now appears to be just two emerging choices:

  • Invest in bigger, faster machinery with the purpose of out-competing and out-pricing the competition and, ultimately, sending them out of business.
  • Do not invest and hope that those who do shoot themselves in the foot trying to fill huge new volumes of self-engineered capacity.

Those that do invest stand to inherit the industry by driving huge productivity gains; or go down in flames as prices tumble through the floor, thanks to the very disruption they create.

Those that don’t invest stand to mop up the pieces when the fully invested trade themselves out of business; or succumb to a swift demise themselves as the fully invested drive them out of business with uber-productivity.

It’s a stark choice and one that is not easy to make. One might think of it as a ‘war’ looming on the horizon. It might be a trade war where no-one will actually get hurt, but not everyone will lose out. In a real war, the weapons manufacturers and arms dealers win. In a trade war – especially one that is driven by productivity gains – the machinery and equipment manufacturers win.

Enormous capacity

The evidence for the war of productivity is all around us. In the 8th November edition of PrintWeek magazine, printing company ‘Hartgraph’ announced it had doubled its litho printing capacity with a £1.8m spend.

The company’s marketing manager, Natalie Stubbs, stated in the news article:

The extra capacity is enormous, not necessarily growing into other business but it’s increasing the type of business we are already doing. 

Doubling one’s capacity is indeed strategically very significant, so where is the extra work coming from? To make the press pay, Hartgraph indicate in the article a desire (likely a need) to increase sales turnover by an additional £1 million per year. In PrintWeek’s words:

The 50-staff firm is on track to post £5m sales for the end of this year, which it is then looking to up to £6m by the end of next year

And the effect this will have on the industry? Refer to the scenarios already presented.

The demand for print is finite; moreover it is actually reducing. If a printer doubles its capacity in the current market, there is only one place it can get the extra work it now requires; and that is from other printers. How will it do this? By reducing prices, naturally. Its printing press has become a weapon, of sorts, one that it will use to eliminate the competition. That is the plan, at least. It might well succeed in this quest. Or, its competitor might react by making an investment in faster equipment too, so that it can go toe to toe with the likes of Hartgraph. What happens then is all too easy to predict.

A Final Thought

Say you have an old printing machine that runs at 8,000 sph max. It is bought and paid for and you run it 24×7 to make it fully available for production (i.e. it has a high OEE, despite the machine’s age). You have calculated the cost of the machine to be c. £150 per hour. This equates to 1.87p per printed sheet. 50% of the hourly cost is admin overhead and your business is running at a 30% gross margin. With £17,000 of paper and ink needed, this equates to a sales requirement of £42,000 per week. This is your only printing machine and, thus, your target annual sales is c. £2.2 million.

However, you believe the market rate for print is running at about £125 per hour and you want to be able to compete with this. So, you think about replacing your old machine with a new one. The new machine is double the cost and, based upon the same 24×7 shift patterns, has a calculated hourly rate of £300 to recover as a result. However, the machine can run at 20,000 sph – more than double the speed of your old printing machine. This means that the cost per sheet is actually lower at 1.5p (it was previously 1.87p so the new machine is effectively 20% ‘cheaper’). This has the effect when estimating of reducing the printing cost by 20%.

£150 (old rate) minus 20% = £120.

Perfect. You can now sell at the perceived market rate of £125 and make a small profit. You achieve this by estimating at £300 per hour and running the machine more than double the speed. But how will these changes affect sales?

If we assume a similar admin overhead within the hourly cost rate of £75 per hour, this means the bulk of the cost is now related to the new printing machine itself: £225 per hour. The higher cost of manufacturing forces your gross profit margin down. It was previously 30% but is now 20% due to the additional cost of paper and ink which now stands at c. £41,000 per week, plus the additional cost of the machine itself. Your required weekly sales have become £91,000 which, in turn, is c. £4.7 million per year. It follows really; the new machine is twice the price and more than twice as productive. Your new target annual sales reflect this fact, being more than double the old target.

So far so good, but now you have to find the business. You had better have a plan for how you intend to do it, else there could be trouble. Moreover, if the target OEE of 85% is not achieved for the new press, things could go downhill quickly.

The old machine was working to an OEE of 85%. This was perfectly possible, despite the machines age. However, there was one particularly bad year where the OEE of the machine dropped to an average of 75%. In this year you lost £77,000. If the same thing were to happen with the new press, you would now lose £231,000. You survived a loss of £77,000; could you survive a £231,000 hit?

With the old machine if the OEE had dropped to an average 55% for the year, it would equate to the same £231,000 loss as the new machine would experience at 75% OEE. If the new machine were to ever fall to an OEE of 55% the effect would be nothing short of disastrous, with a likely loss in the region of £690,000. It would be very hard to come back from a loss of this order. As such, you will never allow it to happen; by selling ever cheaper – even if it means selling less than cost from time to time, just to keep the cylinders turning.

Just a thought.

So, is print the new vinyl? Maybe not just yet; but in a market that is mature and in gradual decline the choices we make today are going to shape its future. We had better hope they are the right ones – for all our sake’s.

The sales bit at the end

There is an alternative to ramping up productivity for printers; if not an alternative, then certainly a welcome companion. In a digital age, to help win back the mindshare of marketers, print needs to be more accessible. It actually needs to be more convenient; to both get a price and place an order.

Think of the list of digital marketing alternates to print we saw earlier. They include: Amazon, Ebay, Email, Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, SMS, Twitter and YouTube. As digital routes to market they are all incredibly accessible and convenient. And, to go toe to toe with them, print needs to be thought of in the same capacity.

This means a buyer ought to be able to get an instant, production-ready price for printed products and place an order online that then drops straight into a printer’s workflow.

Haybrooke’s online solution – PDQ Sales Hub – is here to help. It serves to protect printer’s margins by giving you and your customer’s instant access to the printing medium. It stops buyers from shopping around and encourages orders at every stage of the process.

We believe it is the closest thing to a digital experience of buying print available. It might be just the thing you need to bring your business back into prosperity without the need for a big investment elsewhere. Or, to compliment the investment plans you already have in place.

Either way, get in touch to find out more about how we can help your business to not only survive; but thrive in a new digital age.

Together, we can stop the cheapening of print.