The resiliency of our industry and the overall global markets cannot be denied — no matter the price we might have had to pay on the road back to recovery. Don't get me wrong; the casualties of the financial meltdown and the ensuing recessionhave left their mark on most of our businesses. Many organizations have spent this last year scrambling, cutting budgets, reorganizing and getting back to the basics. While there might be a light at the end ofthe tunnel for some, others are just now feeling the effects of the crisis impacting their bottom lines. Yet this industry of ours is showing more than just signs of a recovery. Emerging from the economic storm is a new approach and focus on how we communicate with our customers and with each other.
At a time when so many companies are looking to hunker down to survive, it was inspiring to see so many document professionals attend our DOCUMENT Strategy Forum in Chicago (please see the two-page feature in this issue for the highlights). This year, the Forum attracted serious attendees looking for real conversation, strategies and experiences. The stories I heard and the discussions I had proved to me that, indeed, our industry is in the midst of reinvention. We are redefining what the customer, communication and even our business means.
The market space and the economic environment are forcing many of us to reinvent what we do, how we do it and to whom we provide it. While at the DOCUMENT Strategy Forum, a group of us had the privilege to tour a local, Chicago-based, direct mail print and production company, Johnson & Quin. In business for 133 years, this location produces on average six to eight million pieces a month within their mid-sized, all-in-one shop. Though smaller than some of their much bigger competitors, Johnson & Quin has maximized their size and resources to remain competitive in their space. However, today's print providers are faced with a market filled with businesses looking to cut their printing costs. As a result, these providers have had to change their business models and take on jobs of much smaller runs, some of which may have been previously less desirable.
The status quo of business has certainly been proved to not be enough; however, reinventing yourself is not a simple answer. Strategies of personalization, electronic delivery, collaboration and social networking and marketing to Gen Y should be thoughtful and deliberate. The possibility of alienating your customer base is a real and complicated conundrum. However, those companies who don't push themselves to change are those that become obsolete.