Well, my crystal ball is a bit hazy this morning; so, I’ll share some ideas from some of my readings/webinars, etc. Let’s start with an article Barb Pellow posted on WhatTheyThink.com regarding 2012 and what to expect. Pellow covered many of the topics we’ve heard about over the past few years: 1.) We’re going to see more digital; 2.) There will be less offset; 3.) Mixed-media messaging will have a big play; 4.) Operational efficiencies will be critical; 5.) SAS (software-as-a-service) will be a solution for printers; and 5.) An ROI approach when purchasing capital equipment is more important than ever.
In an online NAPL webinar in February, Andy Paparozzi and Michael Graff (CEO Sandy Alexander) had a moderated discussion led by Howie Fenton. There were several key take-aways, which I though were crucial as we begin to look at 2012. 1.) The attitude of not knowing what’s to come is common place in small business. It could be technology, health care, legislative, or the economy; 2.) We’re seeing cost creep occurring across the industry – no surges; 3.) Hunkering down and riding these hard times is not an option; and 4.) We must listen to our customers and determine what they truly need.
The last item should be no surprise to firms who have a marketing focus. They find out what their customer really needs and develop a solution. This is VERY different than the approach we’ve historically used in our industry, and which we called “listening to our customer.” The customer would tell us that we needed a new “high-speed wiz-bang wachamacallit” like our competitors, and if we bought one, they would send us all their business. The result is over-capacity in the marketplace, while our competitors engage us in a defensive price war to keep the work from leaving their house. The customer gets an immediate solution in cheaper prices and in the long-term everyone loses.
All though I may not have the silver bullet, tune in for my next blog, when I’ll share some discussions I’ve had with printing (for lack of a better word) company owners who are re-thinking how we position our selves to be successful.