What Do We Want to Be?
My AMSP/NAPL/NAQP colleagues and I devote a lot of time to studying our industry’s most successful companies. We’ve learned that some have diversified broadly, while others have stayed focused on printing—including lithographic printing; some provide commodities, while others provide highly customized services; and some serve a broad range of markets, while others specialize in a few.
These companies prove that there is no single path to success in our industry—i.e., we don’t have to be this or that. We do, however, have to select our value proposition carefully and understand exactly what’s necessary to excel with that proposition.
For example, if we want to be the low-cost producer in a commodity market we must be prepared to compete with companies we’ve never had to compete with before because the Internet and digitization are letting everyone into everyone else’s business. If we want to be a one-stop shop we have to integrate—not simply add—services into programs that our clients value or we end up looking like everyone else who adds but doesn’t integrate. And if we want to be a marketing service provider we have to cultivate news skills in sales, marketing, business development, database management, IT, and other critical areas because the services we’ll be taking on are very different from our core printing services.
So what do we want to be? We have more options than ever. The key is to base our selection on a careful evaluation of our resources, circumstances, and goals—not on what’s hot or what the competition is doing. That’s one point on which all the leaders we study would agree.