Ask most anyone these days in the print, mail or envelope industry about the current state and future of mail and you’ll generally get an answer that’s hopeful but cautious. The great digital disruption of the last 25 years or so has caused an irrevocable change in printed communication. Those of us who’ve seen these changes as they’ve occurred are naturally wary about what is to come. It hasn't always been pretty!
On the one hand mergers and acquisitions continue apace with smaller, less capitalized companies unable to profit in the new landscape and selling out (if they’re lucky) to larger firms more able to diversify and adapt to changing market conditions. Obviously, creative destruction is part of every sector of the economy and generally indicates overall health in the market. But it does seem that there’s more of it going on in our industries of late and it’s been accelerated by the ubiquity of smart phones among other things. Not a week goes by when we don’t receive some notice of an equipment auction. Used envelope and printing equipment has never been less expensive and more available. That’s a tangible sign of over-capacity due to a still-shrinking market.
However on the other hand direct mail is certainly coming back with a vengeance. After a relatively brief flirtation with relying exclusively on digital-based marketing, fund-raising companies as well as colleges and other large institutions are coming back to mail solicitations because they achieve better results even with the added costs of printing, envelopes and postage. And at Elite Envelope, we have seen a significant increase in new customers comprised of small start-ups ranging from print brokers, consultants, marketing agencies, and craftspeople making a high value product that needs to be mailed in a printed bubble envelope or promoted with a full-color package including a window envelope and reply envelope.
We speak to customers every week who are changing their business around; getting into providing new services and products to customers in order to capture more of their business. And far from being the bane of our existence, technology is enabling us to work smarter with more information at our fingertips and marketing software and website apps which allow a one-person marketing “department” to reach thousands (or millions) of potential customers with a few clicks.
It might sound contradictory for companies in the print communication business to use website and e mail to such an extent to promote their wares but it’s really not. It’s all part of the grand, shaking-out and reorganizing that’s going on not just in our industries but in just about every business across the entire economy. And what we’re finding is that print and mail is settling in to have its place in the mix of ways people communicate, sell and solicit. It’s up to us to increase the value of what we provide and hopefully our share of the market.