If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’ve heard of Sign and Digital UK. Now nearly 30 years old, this Birmingham-based exhibition provides a chance for sign and display producers to see the latest products on the market and discuss with suppliers like YPS what the best route forward is with their next investment. For us, it’s the perfect opportunity to meet with customers and prospects alike, hear your opinions about the future of the industry, and frame how we can support your growth over the coming year.
How was the show for YPS?
Every business needs to see a return on a large-scale activity like attending a trade show and YPS is no exception. We’re pleased to report that we’ve brought even more customers on board than our barnstorming efforts in 2015, when we were the best-selling Mimaki vendor on the show floor.
That’s because more customers came to our stand with an idea of what they wanted: whether it was an expansion into textile printing, hunting down new opportunities in industrial print or looking for a sign and graphics printer that would improve turnaround times or media flexibility. Our Three Routes to Profitability campaign really came into its own, helping visitors identify revenue streams that will allow them to grow over the next year.
We were also proud to bring on board several new partners at this year’s show, including Muratex, Beaver Paper and DigiDelta. It’s one of our jobs as a supplier to find best-quality partners for all of these areas of print, and it was fantastic for our team to see interest reflected by attendees in these new solutions – not just sign and print shop owners but also from our hard-working friends in the trade press.
On top of all that we got to talk to our clients, our peers, journalists and VIPs about the state of the industry – so where do we think our sector is headed next? Here’s five ideas from you, our colleagues and other industry professionals.
- Is the industry still the ‘sign’ industry?
Back in the day, signs were made by skilled practitioners using analogue processes. Some 25 years later and the practice has changed, incorporating wide-format print and even digital signage to communicate brands and messages to the public.
But many of you are now producing graphics that exceed this remit. Even the word ‘digital’ has a new meaning: to buyers, it indicates digital screens rather than digitally driven print machinery. So, ‘sign-making’ as such is and isn’t what it used to be; there are still skilled sign-writers and manufacturers out there, but it’s a very different industry even to how it was a decade ago. As always, it’s a case of making sure we speak the same language as our customers.
- Wide-format print is no longer just about signage
As visitors to the YPS stand at Sign and Digital UK 2016 can attest, digital ink-jet technology is driving rapid progress in textile printing and industrial print, making inroads into the areas of fashion, interior décor, promotional goods, components and functional systems. Our customers are witnessing that change as it happens and taking advantage of it at the right time for their business’s growth.
But there were companies who visited us at the show who aren’t in the sign industry. These professionals were fascinated by the application of our Mimaki printers in new areas, from packaging to apparel and home furnishings. Wide-format print extends far beyond signage and there’s fantastic new revenue to be found within those verticals. Is it time for us to stop talking about ‘sign and digital’, and to talk instead about the power of print?
- The UK print industry isn’t exclusively based in the south of England
Although we’re based in Newcastle, YPS supplies customers all over the UK. Gone are the days when our industry could support regional trade shows – a trend seen across the exhibitions space – but there’s definitely a question about whether Birmingham’s NEC is the best location for its purpose. How about exposing new parts of the country to the power of print? New destinations could help new stakeholders and to everyone’s benefit. We think it’s definitely a question that should be asked.
- It’s time to promote diversity, because we’ll all benefit
We, like you, are passionate about the world of print and we’d like to see people from other industries invest in its power. To capture that properly we need to start promoting print to new audiences and bringing them to discover the amazing applications we can produce. That means an industry-wide effort to encourage new stakeholders, such as younger people and start-ups, designers, architects and other types of professional agency to come and find out how print can be used to solve problems and communicate with customers in innovative ways.
It’s all a question of marketing and YPS is stepping up its efforts to tell the tale of print’s true capability via engaging stories to a completely new audience. Across the world of print we are seeing original applications spring up, made possible by these incredible new technologies from Mimaki and our other partners that take the basics of digital ink-jet and extend them into the areas of textile and industry.
Sign-making is still an important part of that but it’s only one route to profitability – it’s time for our sector to look to the outside and find some other routes, too.