The Wrong Answer
Earlier this month, we asked Epicomm State of the Industry participants what they are doing to make 2015 better than 2014. They listed more than 40 actions, ranging from revamping sales compensation to M&A to tightening control of billing and receivables. Among the most frequently cited actions:
- Take a new approach to marketing. Not just market more but try something new, such as redesigning the company website, search engine optimization, introducing more personalization into direct mail campaigns, and social media marketing.
- Streamline workflow, reduce touches, and reduce steps. Get faster and more efficient because turn times are shrinking, run lengths are shrinking, and even though business has finally turned up, our markets are still far too competitive to pass inefficiencies of any kind on to clients.
- Cross train. Cultivate a flexible, adaptable labor force that can be where it is needed when it is needed to increase productivity and to avoid the profit drain of being understaffed when business unexpectedly turns up and overstaffed when it unexpectedly turns down.
Of course, the large majority of participants in our research are taking actions to boost sales, the single biggest challenge across our industry. But here’s what’s interesting: They aren’t just doing the typical add another sales rep or find a rainmaker. Rather, they are taking actions such as learning more about their clients’ businesses so they know what those clients really value most, deepening relationships with clients by moving beyond the usual salesperson/print buyer connection, and minimizing time spent with unprofitable clients.
What are you doing to make 2015 better than 2014? There is no right answer because what we do depends on what we’ve already done (e.g., we just redesigned our website last year) and on our specific resources, circumstances, and goals. But there is definitely a wrong answer: We aren’t doing anything—we have it all figured out.
(Check the Epicomm State of the Industry Update, Spring 2015, which we will publish in early May, for complete results of our “making this year better than last year” question, a review of our industry’s performance so far in 2015, and important data on how tightening labor markets are beginning to affect business.)