Today's Imperative: Reinvent Your Company
Canon Solutions America, ESS and Rosemarie Monaco present seven steps to transition from printer to marketing partner
Reinvention used to be a means to rejuvenate a company. Today, it’s business as usual. Companies across every industry are constantly redefining who they are and how they can best serve their clients. Media companies, for example, constantly reshape their offerings based on which device their viewers prefer.
Graphic arts companies are hardly strangers to reinvention. Remember when typographers became service bureaus and prepress shops became printers, all of which evolved into print service providers? The difference, though, between high-tech industries and the printing industry has been the rate at which changes occurred. Yet today, business for every company regardless of its industry has to evolve at the rate of technology. Those who don’t adapt will get left behind.
The concept of reinvention
Reinvention is as much about how clients perceive you as it is about what you offer. Nowadays, most print service providers (PSP) offer clients much more than print. In addition to the full gamut of print from personalized direct mail to building wraps, many offer the means to multi-channel marketing. But if their clients see them as “the printer” rather than a marketing partner, they get stuck at “versatile” and never reach the coveted position of “indispensable.” So what’s a PSP to do? Follow these seven steps and reinvent your business.
STEP 1: Understand market shifts and shifts in marketing
Market trend reports vary. But there are some things all of them have in common. First, web-to-print has moved from a nice perk to a must have. Today’s consumer does more shopping online than in store. That trend extends to the business-to-business environment. So ordering and customizing print needs to be as easy as buying an item from Amazon Prime ™.
Fenway Group, located in Boston, MA, uses web-to-print to provide B2B storefronts to a wide variety of customers. Co-owner Rick Sands says, “Any communications/marketing services provider in the 21st century needs to be in the space of some form of web-to-print and ecommerce.” For his company, it establishes the added value current customers desire while also attracting new ones.
Second, the packaging market is booming. While hardcopy may be shrinking, eye-popping packages are exploding. Plus, the growth in packaging goes beyond the package to labels and shipping cartons.
Third, marketers are data-driven. Providing the means to collect and analyze data is critical. Quad Graphics CEO Joel Quadracci says that “Marketers are in a crisis of measurement for all channels; they need to know the impact one channel has on the other.” Did a consumer shop their website because they received a direct mail piece or printed insert that drove them to log on? Or did that mailer or mobile coupon drive them to the store? Quad Graphics uses data from clients or a third-party source to create engaging, action-oriented campaigns.
Fourth, wide format is getting soft. Printing on textiles makes shipping easier and more cost effective, and the applications broader. Plus, this capability could open the door to new markets such as fashion and home or business décor.
Follow industry intelligence to identify growth markets and learn from clients how marketing is shifting.
STEP 2: Analyze and understand clients’ needs
Who are your clients? Do you work primarily with agencies or with marketers? When offering multi-channel marketing you need to reach the marketer. If you are working with agencies, consider forming a partnership with the agency. Let the agency develop the creative and strategy while you provide the campaign technology and implementation.
Regardless of who you work with, get so close to your customers that you understand their pain points and what you can offer to relieve the pain. “Play with customers,” advises Quadracci. “Help them sell more stuff wherever they do it.”
STEP 3: Develop a strategy
Choose your targets. Start with current customers so you can build the expertise and case studies to attract new customers. If you are close to your customers they trust you, so you can experiment together.
Choose your channels. Perhaps you will sell products online to a broader range of customers.
Consider the possibilities of entering new markets, such as labelling, packaging, or textile printing.
Decide what you want to be known for and think about how you will present yourself to your public. Position yourself as a marketing partner, a strategist in data analytics, or an expert in gaining consumer mindshare (packaging and POP) rather than a full-service printer.
STEP 4: Get consensus within the organization
You need a focused team that believes in your mission— from management and administrative staff to operators and floor managers.
Meet with your management team. Once you have consensus, arrange advisory meetings with each department. Allow your employees to offer opinions, especially your customer service reps, who may be closer to the customer than you are.
Having the entire organization on board is crucial to your success.
STEP 5: Build a strong operation
Analyze your operation. Do you have the necessary technology, people, and infrastructure?
Determine what you will need in terms of equipment and software. Consider the importance of workflow automation. You’ll need an MIS system that allows you to gather intelligence, streamline production, control multiple technologies and lower costs.
Much of the new technology nowadays is designed for ease of use and has short learning curves. As you streamline your workflow perhaps you can retrain current staff. But you may also need to hire new talent—perhaps a marketing pro or someone who is seasoned in a new market you are hoping to enter.
Customer service continues to be a key element of any successful operation. Think about how you interface with clients.
STEP 6: Create and follow a plan
By now you can commit your strategy and tactics to paper. Develop a plan that will allow you to make changes incrementally rather than trying to do everything at once. Start with one new service and add others after you master the first. Develop a timetable and keep it visible so you can see it every day. Post it throughout your organization as reminders and to acknowledge when you have reached every milestone.
STEP 7: Develop a marketing plan to promote the “new you”
If your name is Standard Printing Company, change it. Get the word “print” out of your identity. If your name is non-specific like Fenway Group, make sure it comes to represent all that you stand for and the services you provide. Fenway never uses the word “printer”; Sands refers to his organization as a marketing services provider. Getting the word out requires marketing. Consider recruiting one of your agency clients to help you with your new identity.
Use your own capabilities to market your services. If you offer personalized direct mail or multi-channel marketing, use it. Show samples of radical new ideas that agencies can take advantage of when working with you, from printing on unusual surfaces to collecting vital data.
You cannot stand still. Successful companies evolve with their customers, the market, and new technology. “Print is about evolution and adapting,” says Quadracci. “You have to ask yourself how does print play in the new chapter. Keep changing the story with your customers.”
Reinvent your company into a marketing partner that embraces change and you’ll never be left behind.
Rosemarie Monaco is a marketing consultant specializing in graphic communication arts. She writes for a number of international and US publications.
She can be reached at email@example.com.
This analysis was commissioned by Canon Solutions America and NAPCO Media to help printers better understand how today’s technology can optimize their production and how they can benefit by adopting these solutions.
Canon Solutions America, Inc., a Canon U.S.A. Company, provides enterprise, production print and large format solutions, supported by exceptional professional service offerings. www.csa.canon.com.