Print Taking a Bigger Piece of the Budget Pie?

April 1, 2009

Print Taking a Bigger Piece of the Budget Pie?

BroadBased owner Jan Korb turned up a surprising result when studying the company’s first quarter business mix.

“We have several in-house services that we track including public relations, marketing planning and print and online development,” says Korb. “While it certainly takes more than one quarter for a trend to take shape, we are very surprised to see that development of print materials is well ahead of the volume forecasted. This comes after five years of steady decline in print development. That’s pretty stunning to me.”

What does this mean? Is it an anomaly? Is it a return to simpler times, simpler media? Have clients spent the last several years building an online presence and simply run out of printed collateral?

Where our clients spend their marketing dollars is important to us as we plan staffing and equipment according to our forecasts. It’s essential that we provide the service mix that meets or exceeds our client requirements, so we’re keeping a close eye on where this trend may be going.

Most popular print product developed in the first quarter:

  • Handbooks for recruiting and retention of employees
  • Corporate magazines
  • Capabilities brochures
  • Direct mail

The Printers’ Perspective

Jon Cummins, CEO and President at Paramount Performance Marketing, said diversity is definitely the key to surviving in this economy. “Commercial printing, while down approximately 8%, is still one of the largest and most important manufacturing businesses in the U.S. ($98 billion in total sales). We are being strategically optimistic. While the current economic conditions are certainly challenging, it is the best time to redefine ourselves.”

Ami Caswell of Hartley Press reports that business has indeed suffered since the economy tanked late in 2008. But although some regular publications have been pulled to the Web, the company is holding steady, and its diversified business base is yielding some distinctly bright spots. Of note:

  • Direct mail is definitely on an upswing. For example, although expected to go away just a few years ago, it turns out print catalogues continue to remain strong.
  • Health care industry is investing heavily in print.
  • Stimulus money is starting to trigger printing projects – proposals, informational brochures in businesses like transportation, public infrastructure.

We’ll continue to watch what may be a developing trend and report our findings to you. We can only conclude that using all appropriate media as part of an integrated, strategic marketing communications plan is the way to go for our clients.


Jan Hirabayashi founded BroadBased in 1996 and is the company's CEO and lead marketing strategist.