There is a conflux of pressures on businesses today: increase speed, personalize products, respond to the market faster, localize the messaging, and do all this with less people on a tighter budget. Read on for tips on how to cope with these challenges.
There is a conflux of pressures on businesses today: increase speed, personalize products, respond to the market faster, localize the messaging, and do all this with less people on a tighter budget.
This pressure is creating serious workflow challenges.
What does this have to do with the print industry or the growth of your print business? Everything. A customer’s workflow challenge is your opportunity. Print is a commitment to communication that often happens near the end of a workflow. More times than not, the real challenges are upstream from the print. Customers don’t want a printer that just prints anymore—the expectations are rising for printers to solve workflow challenges before and after the manufacturing.
In a recent RFP competition, there were two focuses in the RFP: one I would characterize as an upstream challenge. The customer has a serious challenge around getting content created, approved, and translated into many languages. This was front and center for them. The downstream challenge was getting the printed product shipped globally. The buyer of this “print” really wasn’t buying print at all; they were looking for a solutions partner to solve the workflow pains before and after the print.
Do you see how “being just a printer” would eliminate you from consideration here? What’s important to the customer is what impacts the deal. If you walked into this opportunity and focused on your printing skills you would most definitely lose. The decision makers don’t even know about print here; they are ignorant about print quality, color control, etc., because they assume any printer invited to the RFP can print. What they are focused on is solving their workflow challenges before and after the print. This is what impacts them.
This is such a different sale. This is such a different market to compete in.
In some ways, it’s very good for the print industry that this conflux of pressures is descending on businesses. Wherever there are challenges, there are opportunities for those companies who are willing to create the aptitude to solve the challenges.
Who do you bring to a sales pitch like this? Your old-school print sales person? What titles are represented in the room on your team? If you were really matching up with the customer’s needs you would fill the room with people whose business cards read something like this: “database solutions architect” and “supply chain/logistics specialist.” These are the people the customers want to hear from. Do you know how to solve my content/data/composition/translation/approvals challenge? Do you know how to solve my global logistics challenge?
Printers have created “specialists” around prepress, color, CAD, etc., so why not create specialists in the workflows that happen before and after your manufacturing? I think simply introducing a team of specialists would have made a difference in this sales cycle. This is Joe, he’s our supply chain/logistics expert. Joe talks about his expertise then explains how he would optimize the supply chain. This is Frank, he’s our data/composition/workflow expert. Frank talks about his expertise and then describes what tools he would use to solve this particular customer’s challenge.
That would have been powerful.
Instead the approach was more print centric. It was “print first, customer workflow challenges” second and the outcome was not ideal for the printer. I think this is one of the areas where innovative printers can really differentiate themselves. Don’t just change a few guys’ titles; push them to actually become experts. Just about everyone of your customers has workflow challenges upstream of your manufacturing in the form of data/workflow management and downstream in the form of fulfillment and distribution. Create those areas of excellence in your business, not just to win more print but to make more money. Customers will pay you to solve challenges that are costing them time and money. This is not a “throw it in with the print” kind of service—that would make you look like a printer and in many deals that’s the last thing you want to look like.