Advice to Printers: Choose Your Lane Carefully
What do Nordstrom, Walmart, and Marriott — brands that you know well — all have in common? They have carefully determined what markets they will serve and how they will differentiate themselves. They have carefully segmented their markets in a way that gives them a competitive advantage, and they don’t try to be all things to all people.
Let’s expand our conversation that was started in The Great Pivot. Ask yourself: What are you good at, no, really good at? Where do you excel in a way that you win all the business in that category? And finally, how are you leveraging what you have learned to continue to outperform the competition? These are some of the thoughts that are discussed in a typical strategy planning session. The answers to these questions can become the foundation of your go-forward strategy.
The structural changes that the pandemic has brought upon the printing industry are yet to be fully understood. What is clear however, is that things are not like they used to be. For example, many people have changed their outlook on how they work, where they work and who they want to work with. These changes have affected the labor market available to staff your print business, as well as the buyers and their teams at your customer and prospect companies. Challenging times indeed.
Resource allocation can mean many things. In this context, it means where, and how do you direct your efforts so that you can do well. In "The Discipline of Market Leaders," Michael Treacy and Fred Wiersema talk about the importance of these in developing a winning strategy. Understanding what customers will value, and pay for, is a key attribute in developing your market approach. They go on to define the three main disciplines of operational excellence, product leadership, and customer intimacy. These are documented strategies that companies can take to achieve their goals. You see these every day in companies that you know of, but that you probably don’t view in those terms. I encourage you to read the book as there will be several ah-ha moments as you turn the pages.
I don’t see leaders waiting for an all-clear signal during transformative times. I don’t see leaders wait for others to act so that they can follow. I do see leaders using these opportunities to revisit, restructure, and prepare their strategy so that they can meet their goals and provide shareholder value. They pick the lanes they want to compete in. Sure, there may be risk in doing it this way. There is also risk in doing nothing.
“Optimistically paranoid” is a phrase I’ve used often over the years. I’m optimistic for the future but I don’t want to take anything for granted or leave anything to chance if I can help it. I like the phrase, and I think it applies very well these days. Focus on your competitive advantage, commit to doing it better every day, and execute like heck.
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike Philie leverages his 28 years of direct industry experience in sales, sales management and executive leadership to share what’s working for companies today and how to safely transform your business. Since 2007, he has been providing consulting services to privately held printing and mailing companies across North America.
Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the graphic communications industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion, and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach.