Stay Focused and Exploit Your Competitive Advantage
Printers often define themselves by the range of products and services that they offer. Some have added additional services by choice, to take advantage of market opportunities, and other did it by necessity, as they saw their legacy business contract. Then there are those that continue to have a thriving ink-on-paper business, who also tend to be more product-focused, and have really stepped up their operational excellence game. Regardless of which camp you consider yourself in, or even if you don’t put yourself into a category, you’re undoubtedly faced with many new product, service, or client opportunities to consider on a weekly basis. You’ll also be challenged to keep your competitive advantage relevant and in the forefront of the markets you serve.
What is your true competitive advantage? Is it the range of services that you offer, is it being a product specialist, or is it offering the lowest prices? Or, is your customer experience level so good that there’s a line of folks outside the front door ready to buy from you? Chances are, it’s a bit of all these things. Once you’ve confirmed what it is and how to articulate it, you need to make sure that you’re using it every day to maximize customer retention, to drive new business opportunities, and maximize shareholder value.
There’s no one answer in handling these situations, but one of the challenges that most printers are faced with is the with concept of saying, “no, that’s not really what we do.” While I’m not advocating that you shoot yourself in the foot and start losing work, I do want you to focus on the business that you are really good at, or even, better than most (if you’re not clear on what that is, go back and review how you have articulated your competitive advantage). As you try to grow and expand the business, it won’t seem natural to turn down opportunities. But by focusing on the business, the clients, the products, and services that help you stand out, you are less likely to be commoditized and fall into that downward pricing spiral. As a test, take a look at the top prospects your sales team is chasing as well as the demographics of the inbound marketing campaigns that are in place — are they focused on the right type of business that you can excel at?
The other benefit of having a keen business focus is that you’ll be less likely to go down rabbit holes chasing the variety of opportunities that come your way. Remember, all customers and markets are good, some are just “gooder” than others. Your focus will enable you to capitalize on the ones that really fit, while passing on the ones that don’t.
The goal for most firms in adding additional services was to help de-commoditize their offering. Take a hard look at your results and either stay on course, or re-group. What will be your next steps, and what is your plan of action? Add your comments and thoughts below. Good luck in your evaluations, and keep at it.
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.