By: Irving Gaither – Madison Advisors
In my post last week, I reviewed a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands”. Let’s consider how this article translates into the Printing Industry…
How can a company making printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others?
Here are a couple of suggestions:
- Become comfortable with your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses – and be able to talk to your potential clients about them. If a competitor’s equipment can generate 20-30% more copies per minute than yours, and costs the same, the client may argue that their equipment is more productive and you will lose the sale. But if the client has post-printer finishing need that cannot be done in-line at the equipment’s rated speed the productivity premium may be eliminated. In fact, using a “faster” print machine may create a total production time slower than your solution.
- Understand your client’s entire workflow – See the example above. Understanding what your client’s workflow is, from creation of a print product, through printing, finishing and even delivery, will allow you to build a solution that specifically meets your customer’s needs. If your client is in no rush to create the booklets to send to its clients, there is no need to provide the fastest piece of print equipment. If they need documents as quickly as possible, then identify where, in the current process (pre-print, print, finishing) there are the most problems and develop new solutions that meet the client time needs.
- Have a solid implementation plan, and a fail-safe – Have a solid plan for equipment delivery, connection to print servers and networks, installation and testing. If the solution is not working to the client’s expectations and requirements, have a fail-safe in place to ensure that the client’s bottom line is not negatively impacted due to your equipment or solutions issues.
- Have training and mentoring solutions in place – We’ve all been in situations where we buy a piece of equipment or a product and then have to learn how to use it. Using the Internet has made things a little easier, but, as an organization, do you want your customers to learn how to use your equipment by seeing what someone else does on the Internet? Identify your client’s most important needs and requirements of the equipment and solutions you are providing and ensure they know how to use your equipment or solution to meet those needs. Develop focus groups with other users so that they can share issues between themselves (with input from your organization) to develop new solutions they can all use.
The new world of sales is changing in this information-rich environment. Be sure to use all of the tools your organization provides to provide your potential customers with all of the information they will need to buy your products, services and solutions. Providing as much information as possible to your customers gives them the power they need to make decisions that meet or exceed their requirements at the most cost-effective price.
Reference: The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.