In Part 1 of this topic, I took a look at the topic of companies, including printers, who have thrived during the COVID-19 pandemic. In answer to the all-important question, “What differentiates the companies that thrive during a recession and those that do not?” the conclusion is this: the willingness to be proactive. This includes pressing forward with marketing, being willing to take calculated risks, and being willing to invest in innovation at a time when everyone else is pulling back.
In that post, I opened by looking at 2010 research from the Harvard Business Review (HBR) that has profound insights even for today. In an analysis of publicly traded corporations and how they fared before, during, and after three periods of global recession, HBR found that only 9% of those companies not only survived the recession, but thrived. What distinguished these companies? It wasn’t willingness to cut costs and hunker down more than their competitors. It was their willingness to do the opposite: press forward with their marketing, invest in their companies, and innovate.
That’s exactly what I have seen in three examples from the printing industry I have run across recently. In the last post, I looked at the first company, Rex Three. In this post, I’ll look at two more: Continental Web Press and PostcardMania.
Continental Web Press
This full-service printer in Itasca, Ill., services high-end clients who need color-critical proofs. With travel restricted during the pandemic, it needed a new virtual proofing solution that would provide its customers with the same confidence in their on-press color as they would if they had traveled to do the approval in person.
Working with DALiM Software, CWP created a breakthrough proofing innovation, CWP Virtual Press OK. The solution uses a high-end scanner and DALIM ES with DIALOGUE as both a color management tool and a collaboration delivery system. Once the press proof comes off the press, operators scan the physical proof into Virtual Press OK, where, using a slider tool, customers can compare the proof, inch by inch, to the virtual proof. Virtual Press OK not only provides assurance of color accuracy, but it saves customers money since it can cost up to $3,000 in travel to okay a proof.
Like other innovators, CWP has seen its revenues grow as a result of its investment, not just from current customers, but from new ones.
AdWeek recently reported on PostcardMania, a full-service postcard direct mail company that has seen its revenues rise 26% in Q3 2020, the highest quarterly revenues in the company’s history. Its secret? The same as the others. Instead of simply trying to ride out the pandemic, PostcardMania decided to invest and innovate.
For example, even as its customers faced mandatory (although temporary) closures, PostcardMania launched an API, ecommerce, and integrations division to offer trigger-based direct mail; started flanking all of its direct mail campaigns with online ads; and refused to cut its marketing budget, launching a heavy customer education campaign instead.
The results? Customers kept sending mail throughout the pandemic, and both they and PostcardMania reaped the benefits. One dental customer, for example, kept mailing even during the mandatory business closures, and when business was reopened, it saw revenues up 41% year over year from March to September.
These stories remind us that innovation trumps fear, and creativity trumps paralysis. We’ve seen it throughout history, and we’ve seen it in our industry, too. So, if you haven’t been one of those innovators, get those creative wheels churning. This pandemic may be with us for awhile, so find the opportunities, reinvent, and capitalize on them.