(Alexandria, Va., December 9, 2015)—When it comes to what the coming year will hold for the industry, "a blend of challenges and opportunities, at once unique and the culmination of all that has come before," is the conclusion reached in "Outlook 2016," the cover story in the December edition of Bottom Line, the bimonthly member magazine from Epicomm, the Association for Leaders in Print, Mail, Fulfillment, and Marketing Services.

Interviewing a cross-section of top industry executives—printers, mailers, marketers, and vendors, each of whom serves on Epicomm's Board of Trustees, article author Howard Riell finds that these business leaders foresee both encouraging prospects and potential pitfalls in the months ahead. A sampling of their comments:

· Calling the climate for printing, mailing, and fulfillment "positive, but competitive," John Cockrell, President of Cockrell Enovation, Fort Worth, Texas, notes that "the customer is seeking not only ink on paper in most cases, but a provider that is a source for print, fulfillment, and mail."

· Overall, "the market will have modest improvement," says Wayne Marshall, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Edwards, Des Moines, Iowa, who believes there will be business opportunities in targeted direct mail. "We are finding the market moving back to direct mail because it works, being able to segment the data and use that information to sharpen the message to the recipient based upon past touch points," says Marshall.

· "Small and medium businesses remain cautious with their marketing spends," notes Andrew Field, Founder and President of PrintingForLess.com in Livingston, Mont. "Run quantities are shrinking, but custom finishing is on the rise as marketers seek to cut through the clutter and connect with their audience."

· Ken Orr, General Manager-Lansing for Pii-Lansing in Lansing, Mich., believes "marketing using printing and direct mail will continue its upward trend," but cautions that the cost pressures of labor, especially in information technology, will present a challenge in 2016. "The cost to acquire and retain talented IT staff, and staff in general, continues to climb while the ability to increase prices remains weak," says Orr.

Possible concerns for 2016 cited by some of the 10 executives interviewed include the need for additional process automation, problems with marketing creative personal not focusing on print, industry overcapacity, U.S. Postal Service worries, and difficulties in finding both IT and sales talent. Potential positives in the year ahead include an improving business climate, opportunities to develop turnkey offerings for vertical and niche markets, and diversification into growth areas such as fulfillment.

The "Outlook" issue of Bottom Line, now in the mail to members, also includes articles on growth in packaging services, why the U.S. Postal Service may be a change leader next year, and how small company owners can use technology for networking when time and dollars are both in short supply. In addition, columns by industry experts such as Andrew Paparozzi, Leo Raymond, Ben Cooper, Mark Rheaume, John Foley Jr., and Bill Farquharson cover topics ranging from economic trends, postal matters, and legislative issues to marketing and sales management, among others.

Created through the merger of the Association of Marketing Service Providers, National Association for Printing Leadership, and National Association of Quick Printers, Epicomm serves a broad spectrum of industry disciplines with business management information and services for printers and mailers, as well as fulfillment and marketing services providers. Its broad membership base gives it a unique perspective on the needs of a transforming industry.

In addition to Bottom Line magazine, Epicomm members receive print and electronic economic trends and business management newsletters each quarter and have access to a number of regional meetings and programs, as well as free interactive webinars covering topics from mailing and sales management to fulfillment and marketing strategies. This spring, the association will launch its new Annual Conference, The Epicomm Experience, May 16-18, at the Hyatt Regency Savannah in Savannah, Ga., bringing together all segments of its membership for education, networking, and sharing ideas.

To learn more about the benefits of Epicomm membership, please contact Tyler Keeney at (201) 523-6316 or tkeeney@epicomm.org. For more about the 2016 Epicomm Experience Annual Conference or to register for the event, go to www.epicomm.org or call (800) 642-6275. To become an event sponsor or partner participant, please contact Dean D'Ambrosi at (201) 523-6314 or ddambrosi@epicomm.org.

About Epicomm:

Epicomm, the Association for Leaders in Print, Mail, Fulfillment, and Marketing Services, is a not-for-profit business management association representing companies in the $80+ billion graphic communications industry in North America. It provides industry advocacy, management training, and a comprehensive slate of business-building solutions for companies in an evolving market environment. It was created in 2014 through the merger of the Association of Marketing Service Providers (AMSP) and the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL)/National Association of Quick Printers (NAQP). Its founding associations have some 200 years of combined experience serving graphic communications companies of every size and specialty. Epicomm headquarters is at 1800 Diagonal Road, Suite 320, Alexandria, Va., 22314. For more information, visit www.epicomm.org or call (800) 333-6272.