The Innovation Trifecta: Making Smarter Decisions by Asking Customer-Focused Questions
At my printing company, we’re constantly on the lookout for what’s going to both give us an edge in the market and help us maintain who we are. And for us, who we are has become inseparably linked with daring to be different.
One way we’ve done that is by diversifying our products and services through innovation.
Not surprisingly, this can be challenging.
I wouldn’t exactly call our decision-making process a perfect science. But if I had to put it plainly, I’d say our “formula” for innovating has involved identifying a trifecta of customer-centric factors:
- Does the innovation allow cool, compelling print features/products?
- Do those cool, compelling print features/products have practical value for new or current customers?
- Does the innovation make it possible for once cost-prohibitive options to now be cost-effective?
Our Trifecta Criteria in Practice
Here are a few examples to show you what I mean:
Investing in textured spot UV technology. Foil stamping, embossing, and similar embellishments have been around for a while. But for many customers, these options are still too expensive.
Enter textured spot UV. Our investment in this feature lets our customers use the power of interesting textures to differentiate their postcards, business cards, brochures — or really any printed piece—like never before. Moreover, they can do it at a fraction of the cost of those other embellishments.
And considering what the research on sensory marketing says, a lot of good things can happen when people touch high-quality collateral.
Investing in digital diecutting equipment. Traditional diecutting equipment and procedures are complicated and costly. In the past, a lot of customers with smaller businesses just couldn’t take advantage of this option and had to settle for cheaper alternatives with less of a wow factor.
But with our recent investment in digital diecutting, things like point-of-purchase displays or eye-catching specialty boxes are within a more affordable reach. We can do a print run of 1, 5, 25, 50 — whatever a customer wants.
And did I mention we can possibly do it all within minutes once we have a customer’s dieline?
Upgrading digital copiers strategically and pushing what they can do. You know as well as I do that digital copiers are really the heart of a modern print shop. What we’ve done is open up our digital capacity by going with a few solidly performing copiers — rather than opt for a single thoroughbred.
After all, what happens when Secretariat goes down?
Also, we’re trying to innovate by more fully leveraging the digital copier tech that’s sitting right in front of us. Do you really know what these babies are capable of?
That’s what we’re making a concerted effort to do. For example, delving deep into our copier capabilities has allowed us to provide customers with more complex, uniquely sized products like oversized and landscape-folded brochures.
These can stand out in a sea of swag at a tradeshow, for instance. On top of that, the advances in digital printers let our customers choose smaller print runs of highly targeted, memorable collateral that was unaffordable even a few years ago.
What’s your Trifecta?
Of course, I’m simplifying here. We haven’t gotten into things like the education effort to understand new tech, the importance of a sales plan, or the unexpected ROI that can emerge when you start offering a new product or service. (I’ve actually written on those things before.)
But if you have your eye on a new direction for your printing company, I still think the trifecta notion can be helpful for starters.
Your key questions may not at all look like those above. Your target markets may be completely different than ours. Heck, your end goals could be way different.
But if you start with real-world questions that put your customer at the center, you’ll at least know you’re headed in the right direction.
About the Author
Chris Yuhasz founded POV Solution as a basement desktop publishing business 27 years ago in the Cleveland, Ohio, area. Today, POV Solution provides clients coast-to-coast with commercial printing, graphic design, and spot UV printing for finishing services.
Chris Yuhasz founded POV Solution as a basement desktop publishing business 27 years ago in Chagrin Falls, Ohio. POV Solution provides printing services from Cleveland, Ohio, servicing clients coast-to-coast with commercial printing, graphic design and spot UV printing for finishing services.