I recently attended our industry’s major trade show (The Show), or as the late Dick Gorelick used to refer to GraphExpo/Print, “our industry’s annual over-capacity fest.” First, let me state that I’m a proponent of the Show and the value it brings the industry. It plays a crucial role in being able to stay current with business and technology issues. BUT, the dark side of the Show is that too often equipment is purchased for the wrong reasons — or sometimes the right reasons but at the wrong time.
During the two and a half days I spent in Chicago, I had several conversations with several printers as well as some well-known industry pundits and consultants on a variety of topics including “where’s the industry going” and “how will we make money.” One element which came across clearly was that too often we purchase technology/equipment without a real clear plan of the role it will play in our company’s strategy – points clearly stated by Wayne Peterson and Joe Webb. By the way, purchasing equipment to “help grow our business” is not considered a viable strategy.
So, what is a viable strategy? First, it’s not defined by what your company does. Don’t let your strategy revolve around being a “printer,” “mail services company, or even a “marketing services provider.”
It’s about providing solutions for our customers. If we can determine what we REALLY are doing to create value for our customer, we can then build a business strategy around it. It’s then much easier to determine the technology, workflow, and marketing which will put is in a place to succeed. Given our industry’s rapid changes, the old model of just adding technology to chase the next project is tantamount to chasing Alice’s White Rabbit, and our path will become “curiouser and curiouser.”