DIGITAL digestDecember 2009
"Become your customer. Make them the center of your world," urged Sue Hershkowitz-Coore of SpeakerSue.com, a noted business speaker and sales trainer, in her keynote address. "Make the promotions you send to customers and prospects about them, not your company. Focus on what they need to become more successful."
How customer relationships are changing was also a topic raised during a panel discussion featuring three next-generation companies. Included were Andrew Hrywnak, president of Print Three in Concord, Ontario; Chris Tews, vice president of Graphix Products in West Chicago, IL; and Michael Marcian, director of marketing strategy at Corporate Press in Landover, MD.
The panelists were asked about offering creative services and the danger of being seen as a competitor by agency customers. Corporate Press has designers on staff, Print Three has a sister company that is a true ad agency and Graphix Products freelances out creative work.
All three agreed that care must be taken in maintaining these relationships, but said they've found agencies don't necessarily have the specialized expertise required for doing variable data printing and cross-media campaigns. Their advice was to position your company as a resource for ad agencies and to only pitch services that complement a given customer's in-house capabilities.
One of the hot topics at the conference was a bit surprising—wide-format digital printing. Multiple speakers and audience members worked for companies that have recently made significant investments, despite the economic downturn and the technology having been touted as an opportunity for years. Part of what's driving the current surge is UV ink-jet systems in a flatbed or hybrid configuration because of the productivity in printing directly on rigid substrates for applications such as POP displays.
High margins are the draw in adding wide-format capabilities…at least for now. In his session, Charles Lawson, president of PDQ Printing in Las Vegas, said working in the investment and business turnaround field led him to take over PDQ four years ago with the intention of selling it after building up the business. "But the margins turned out to be too good to sell it," he noted.
PDQ currently does around $10 million in sales with wide-format work being one of the biggest profit departments, Lawson reported. "It's not too late to get into the market. At least in Vegas, though, we are just starting to see deterioration of margins. I don't think the high margins will be around much longer."