Having an avid interest in macro-economic trends, I was drawn to one of PIA of Southern California’s recent seminars called “Competing for Print’s Thriving Future,” led by Dr. Ron Davis, PIA’s Vice President and Chief Economist.
During the first half of the meeting, Dr. Davis explained the great recession of 2007-2009 and its impact on the print and direct mail industry. Many of the trends shaping our industry over the past decade have remained the same: more digital needs, more consolidation, intense competition and use of technology.
In the second part of the seminar, more emphasis was placed on how printers and direct mailers can thrive in this environment. It was amazing to notice that a select few companies in our industry have not only survived the economic downturn but managed to outperform their counterparts. The parallel with IWCO Direct is striking since we are pursuing aggressive growth while recent industry volume trends have been flat.
Successful print and direct mail companies have many traits in common. You may recognize these traits in your own company:
Successful companies have been able to combine diversification and specialization into one strategy and offer unique solutions to their clients. For instance, IWCO Direct provides integrated total package production (diversification) for our clients, but we also specialize in some areas like postal optimization. Finding such a delicate balance between diversification and specialization is almost more crucial than achieving economies of scale.
This group often operates in niches and/or carves new ones for themselves. Over the years IWCO Direct has developed expertise in many fields without stretching our resources too thin, including niches such as print and mail recovery and compliance communications.
Successful companies think positive, think smart, think forward and think better (not bigger). They think outside their conventional competitive boxes. At IWCO Direct we are continuously finding ways to reinvent ourselves and engage our employees. We are starting with the premise that we will win and succeed (even if we venture into unfamiliar territories in some instances).
They understand the importance of partnering with diverse organizations inside and outside their industry. Over the years, we have worked hard to cultivate strong ties with our clients, vendors, associations and communities. We work as a team to leverage our national platform and welcome input from the outside world. Furthermore, we push hard to encourage internal and external training.
Successful companies have endured the test of time, but not just by luck. They often faced adversity and redefined themselves. Whether it’s economic forces or pressure from alternative channels, direct marketers have faced adversity in recent years as well. In order to thrive, it’s important that every employee is challenged to push her or his company in the right direction in terms of strategic direction, business model, pricing/cost control, positive attitude, partnership agreement and continuous improvement.
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