A Look at One Printer's Approach to Serving the Nonprofit Sector
The nonprofit sector is a surprisingly large market for printers, but it's still important to find a printer that specializes in meeting the needs of nonprofits. To learn more about how printers serve nonprofits, NonProfit PRO spoke with Michael Berning Jr., vice president of sales and marketing at Cincinnati-based Jos. Berning Printing Co.
NonProfit PRO: In the last year, how have you seen the nonprofit sector changing?
Michael Berning Jr.: The nonprofit sector is one of many market segments we specialize in and serve. In the last year, there has been an influx of new nonprofit customers being onboarded who were looking for a new vendor — price is always part of it, but, more importantly, they were looking for a true partner who will look out for them to maximize their marketing and fundraising ROI through print and direct mail.
NPP: What is your current biggest barrier to success in the sector?
MBJ: There is a lot of turnover within nonprofits — more than in the for-profit sector. When new employees come in and are being trained by the organization, we too try to be proactive by catching them up to speed on essential baseline knowledge, such as their brand guidelines, the production schedule, and timeline demands of their printing and direct mail. Too often, it’s baptism by fire and projects get rushed too quickly to keep on schedule, with the demands of the board and outside influences. We try to be proactive and educate them so they can hit the ground running and have success from the get-go.
NPP: Has your company had to adjust its technology mix to effectively serve the nonprofit sector?
MBJ: Yes, we have. The nonprofit sector, in particular, is one where we typically need to trim timelines. For this reason, additions and improvements to our digital capabilities and variable data software have been essential for us to continue to effectively serve this market segment of our business. It allows us to quickly print and mail, and save days in our typical production schedule to meet the rush demands of our nonprofit customers.
NPP: Is the company's amount of work increasing, decreasing or staying the same over a year ago?
MBJ: Increasing for sure. We have carved a niche as a trusted service provider for nonprofit organizations and market ourselves as such. We understand their unique needs, timelines, busy times of the year, and are proactive stewards of their hard-earned, fundraised marketing dollars as it pertains to printing, mailing and optimizing postage savings.
NPP: Do you see the market segment as being more or less competitive in the last year?
MBJ: In the mid- and small-sized nonprofits we work with and serve, I envision the market segment will continue to be less competitive than a year ago — since it’s a very particular niche that we have carved out and know. Our customers know we are going to continue to partner and guide them. It’s not just a transactional order in/order out relationship. It’s a two-way consultation process from start to finish. New nonprofits that reach out to us seek out this relationship; often it is not the same relationship they had with their previous printer.
NPP: As a percentage, describe your current production staffing level.
MBJ: With an increase in demand for quick turnarounds, especially in our finishing and fulfillment, our staff has grown 7% this past year. We are very proud too — to have kept 100% of our employees during COVID.
NPP: How is the supply chain holding up? Are you able to get what you need?
MBJ: After two to three years, we are starting to notice close to pre-pandemic supply levels and, in many instances, surpluses now from our vendors. Nonprofits especially order a lot of envelopes (and different varieties). During the thick of the supply-chain issues, envelopes were where we incurred the craziest delays. We had to pivot and consult our customers to use different options to keep timelines on task and be as close to comparable to what they had been used to.