How many of us have the time of day to sit and listen to the myriad of webinars being advertised in all industries.? After a year of being stuck in your house attached to Zoom, you are probably dealing with virtual exhaustion. We all want to get back out there and see actual live versions of clients and associates. But webinars are still an important way of getting first-hand information on what other print and graphics professionals have experienced, how they changed course to increase business and where they see the future of our industry. Here is a short report from one recent webinar you may have missed.
In-Plant – Sponsored by Ricoh
This In-Plant Impressions webinar featured an expert from Ricoh and panelists from three educational institutions who shared their experiences during the pandemic. The in-plant managers described some innovative steps they took to respond to the challenges of a shut-down and shared what they learned.
In-plant print shops were hit especially hard with the pandemic. Many were educational and university in-plants relying solely on printing and mailing within their immediate organizations. One printer mentioned that everyone was home “but me” and another lamented that with sales down over 25% per month it put them in a very bad and challenging position to stay afloat. Yet another printer said they had to come up with a new way of receiving orders.
Signage To the Rescue
Everyone’s pandemic savior – signage! In-plants produced the floor graphics, signage and decals used in many of the elementary and middle schools, and universities with in-person classes. Those with wide format equipment were kept super busy.
In-plants began to get involved in promo items and fulfilment. One set up a website allowing people to order floor graphics, signage and window clings through their portal. The newest items on the list were PPE. They bought over 1 million masks for use by the university and did all the designs in-house! Another printer added swag packs for the students filling them with branded banners, mugs, stickers, keychains and other promo items and mailing them out. They gained a new spectrum of clients simply by mailing these swag packs out to students.
Look Out for Logistics
Mailing became a new source of revenue for some in-plants. One innovator was able to open shop three days a week to have people come and get their packages. With the campus shut down, all USPS, FedEX and UPS deliveries came to the print shop. People could now not only pick up packages but were also incentivized to place orders for print and promo items. One in-plant said that mailing became a more important part of their business. They were able to take the time to cross train employees on inserters, mail permit applications and other aspects of direct mail. This has now become a new revenue stream for them.
The in-plants participating in the webinar all agreed that signage kept them going during the darkest time of the pandemic. But as new ideas emerged, such as repurposing the plastic used to surround children’s desks, discovering that they had new outsourcing opportunities and increased mailing capabilities, these in-plants began to prosper beyond their original financial projections. In-plants discovered they had gained increased recognition within their communities and organizations!
New Opportunities Considered
Die cutting became very important in creating stand out pieces such as small boxes. For one printer it became a fun way to keep mailers out of the trash can!
Most webinars are free to attend and while you think you’ve had enough of them there is always one out there offering real life stories about innovation and success. Ideas tossed around by our peers are some of the best ways to gain insight into developing new business opportunities. Take the time to seek them out. One hour a month is not too much time away from the daily routine to find a new revenue source or a great idea suggested by the speakers on a webinar.
Gimbel & Associates participates in webinars and delivers some of our own on important topics relating to print operations and business development. If you haven’t yet had a chance to view it, check out “Why Should You Hire A Consultant, “ produced by G&A for XPLOR and our blog, “Uncovering Opportunities for In-plant Print Operations.”