Commercial Printing Outlook : Bootstrap Time for Printers
While Paparozzi sees the U.S. economy healing at a maddeningly lethargic and inconsistent pace, he does anticipate it continuing down the recovery path in 2014. One positive aspect revealed in the "NAPL State of the Industry" reports is that printers are taking an assertive stance at the ownership level to ensure they are making every effort to evolve and prosper.
"During periods of uncertainty the tendency is to wait for clarity," he contends. "The opportunity is to create our own clarity."
In creating their own clarity, Paparozzi notes that printers have undertaken a number of initiatives to maximize their own value, as well as the relationships with their clients. Some steps include:
- Establishing themselves as experts. In a world of shrinking margins for error, clients and prospects look for the expert who can get it right the first time.
- Documenting their contributions to the customer's success. It isn't enough just to understand the client's problem and solve the problem. Printers also have to document their contribution to that client's success—i.e., how much money have they saved the customer? How much time? How much has the printer increased traffic to the client's Website or the return on their direct mail campaign?
- Identifying the most valuable customers, so that printers can spend more time with them and less with marginal clients.
- Defining competitive advantage precisely and in terms that are most meaningful to the target market. For example, competitive advantage isn't "great customer service," it's having 80 percent of clients recommending your company to a colleague and 40 percent of your business coming from customer referrals.
Remember, ask what you can do for your company. PI