Toepfer expressed a similar sentiment, observing a "hidden blessing" in the downturn: "We all have the chance to evaluate what we can do more for clients, what we can do better and in the process discover where we can streamline and develop lower costs."
Combined with the changes already being wrought in the market by the Internet, the recession has made for an intimidating situation for commercial print distributors. Given that, many distributors are wondering what the best strategies are for their survival and success during these tough times.
According to Leighton, "For most distributors, differentiation is the key. If they can offer a customer something that they need or will help grow their business and create value, the customer will want to continue the relationship with them."
Toepfer recommended distributors make an effort "to really understand the reasons clients need print or the sales promotional products." He listed several questions distributors should ask themselves, such as "What is more important, keeping the unit cost down or keeping the total spend down?" and "Is maintaining the image and brand of the end-user being honored?"
Megerdichian suggested that distributors "keep finding ways to differentiate yourself and offer quality services." Perhaps most importantly, he offered the simple advice, "Don't give up!"
As economic indicators suggest the economy is slowly but surely emerging from the crisis, and as a new decade begins, what does the future hold for commercial print?
"4over continues to be aggressive on future plans with additional locations and product offerings," said Megerdichian. "We are working on a few projects to help our print resellers be more effective in marketing and to capture an increasing share of the online print buying market." He touched on a business philosophy that reflects the evolving market and changing role of commercial print: "We consider ourselves a marketing company first, a software company second and a printing company third."