Is Digital Print All About Search?

By | July 3, 2012

I’m finishing up my write-ups of the conference sessions from Print Solutions 2012. As I put on the finishing touches of some 12+ sessions, plus keynotes, there is an over-riding theme that keeps jumping out. It was almost as if the speakers had gotten together and coordinated the message.

The theme wasn’t about changes in technology, industry trends, or the value of becoming an MSP.  Rather, those things were assumed. The speakers moved beyond them, focusing on implementation and marketing issues of business positioning, differentiation, and visibility in online search.

I wrote a bit about the differentiation issue in my post on Barb Pellow’s keynote on creating a blue ocean strategy. But that theme pervaded the entire conference.

In his session on vertical markets, for example, business consultant Dave Baker of ReCourses spent as much time on creating differentiation as he did on vertical markets. In fact, he opened the session by asking attendees to write down a statement outlining what differentiates them from their competitors. Then he asked them to hand that statement to the person next to them, who read it out loud.

“Can that statement be said about your company, too?” Baker asked.

Time after time, the answer was yes.

“Your firms are not really differentiated,” Baker stated flatly. “In reality, most firms are not differentiated except by geography.”

Baker hammered the audience on the issue of differentiation and business positioning that is, in fact, unique. Toward the end, he finally moved into the subject of vertical markets.

“The reason I’ve spent as much time as I have talking about positioning is that I can’t help you unless you are positioned appropriately,” he said. “I don’t even work for clients that are undifferentiated.”

Part of the challenge, he concluded, is that the balance of power has shifted and clients are finding you instead of the other way around. You have to make yourself worth finding.

If they can find you, that is. Other sessions, such as Patrick O’ Malley’s on social media, delved into the realm of online search. If people are looking for you (or companies like yours), he asked, what will they find? If they are searching for the types of products and services you offer, will they be able to locate you in the crush of competition?

Regardless of the session, it seemed that every speaker had moved past the “where should my business go” phase. It was assumed that each had already adopted (or was in the process of adopting) new business models and trends. Now it was all about how attendees could succeed within them.

This is an interesting shift that assumes that the burden has shifted from education to implementation. Unlike other industry shifts in the past, this one has little to do with equipment. It has everything to do with business positioning, differentiation, and visibility in an increasingly — as Baker called it — Googlized world.

What’s your unique business positioning? If people go looking to find products and services you offer, what are they likely to find?

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