New Industry—New Thinking
As we mentioned in our previous post, when it comes to achieving enduring success in our industry, it is critical to exhibit increased value to our clients— both existing and prospective. In addition to being able to provide value, we need to make sure clients know what we can do for them; how we can make them more successful. Therefore, it was encouraging to see that, when we asked State of the Industry participants how they were going to make 2012 better than 2011, three of the top seven most frequently cited initiatives pertained to interactions with clients. These included:
• Deepen relationships with clients by moving beyond the salesperson/print buyer relationship—62.4%.
• Lean more about our client’s business—58.5%.
• Increase efforts to provide greater value to clients to break out of the commodity space—55.7%.
More than eight out of ten companies (80.9%) listed at least one of these initiatives, which usually go hand-in-hand and highlight how companies are changing the way they think about various aspects of their business—new thinking for a new industry.
Companies are realizing that simply adding services no longer is a key to success. Just offering various services on a stand-alone basis does not necessarily create value for the client, and doesn’t automatically take you out of the commodity space. Integrating services into programs that clients value and are willing to pay for can be much more effective. Other ways in which companies have adopted new thinking include:
• Recognizing that getting better at what we’ve always done isn’t enough anymore. Striving to get things done faster, at less cost, while maintaining high quality are laudable goals and are well worth the effort, but these aims may no longer be enough to ensure success.
• Understanding that our industry is getting more competitive despite record consolidation. Despite a net loss of over 10,000 printing establishments since 1998 or almost 28.0% of the total, waiting for the competition to shake out or aiming to be the last man standing is no longer as effective as when our industry wasn’t changing much. Our competition may not look just like us anymore, and it can start coming from directions we haven’t even thought of.
• Deciding that we cannot accept an “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” attitude anywhere in our organization. When little was changing in our industry, we had the luxury of time—if something needed fixing, we would do so. This luxury no longer exists. The structural changes that are redefining the industry dictate that we adopt an anticipatory stance rather than a reactionary posture—make improvements even though at the time they may not be necessary.
These are just some of the ways we must alter our approach—think differently. The NAPLState of the Industry Report, Tenth Edition (www.napl.org) discusses more. Whether we adopt all of these views or some, the key is to realize that enduring success in our industry is no longer rooted in mastering the status quo.
Andy Paparozzi Joe Vincenzino