Strategy For Change

Posted by John Veckerelli on Tue, Apr 24, 2012

Reposition for Change: Color Printers in Focus

Reading a recent Xerox blog post on the color print opportunity, I was struck by how similar the business challenges of the color printers are to their "sister" industry of AEC (Architecture, Engineering, Construction) printers (a.k.a. reprographers or blueprinters). 

Having worked with AEC printers over the years and most recently with a group of CEOs who participated in our Blueprint For Change (B4C) program, there are learnings from the AEC print community that color printers may find useful and relevant.

Let's start with the key business challenges. In the recent Xerox survey of Xerox Premier Partners, digital color graphics business leaders listed their top three business challenges as:

  1. Differentiating the business
  2. Establishing new services
  3. Meeting demand without sacrificing quality
For the AEC printers it was:
  1. Operating in a depressed customer base [construction industry]
  2. Repositioning for growth [differentiating the business]
  3. Launching new digital services 

Two out the three business challenges draw strong parallels between the two communities. 

First Reactions

Naturally, the first reaction is to shift the business where the print demand is. Even though InfoTrends forecasts a healthy color volume increase through 2015, resting on printing laurels may be short-sighted. Just like in the Xerox survey in which 71% of color digital printing business leaders believe that “Graphic communications providers will go out of business if they offer only print and distribution,” many AEC print leaders recognize the same for their market segment.

Here the services might diverge, but most will be high-value digital and technology based professional services. For the color printer, it might be the PURL and digital marketing services; for the AEC printers who participated in the B4C program, it is Construction Information Management (CIM). CIM are digital services and tools that accelerate construction processes historically reliant on engineering drawings. These digital services come with a print less message.

Redefining the Business

Most in the AEC print space have diversified services to include wide format color graphics (e.g., signage, trade show booths, banners, etc.) with some offering narrow format too. Some offer digital marketing services creating a smorgasbord of products, services, and customer needs. 

The AEC print leaders who graduated from our Blueprint for Change program, learned that overcoming their business challenges goes beyond "tacking on" another service offering or rebranding your website. These approaches can help but "a more fundamental transformation of the business is necessary for continued prosperity," as cited in the Xerox findings.

These AEC print leaders wanted to remain relevant to AEC customers as the AEC workflows transformed from paper to digital. These leaders needed to shift from print services to technology services; changing not just their brand, but the way they look, sell, deliver and think. The B4C program led company leaders through a defined change process that included a sales and marketing assessment of what's working and what isn't today, brand positioning, marketing strategy, and development of a marketing roadmap to reach their newly-defined customers. Individual company coaching and monthly group webinars kept CEOs accountable and facilitated sharing of new business approaches.

Blueprint for Change Process

PLS Launch Solutions Blueprint for Change Process

Position for Success

If you're a business leader who's faced with the need to shift the business for long term success and growth, consider that diversifying into new markets with new offerings poses new challenges, including:

  • Selling to a completely different customer – different pain points, different expectations, different value proposition.
  • Being seen as a printer only – what you sell and how you sell it must change to move up the value chain.
  • Pricing risks – new pricing models introduce risk with unknown or unproven reward.
  • Alienating or confusing customers – diversity of products, services, and customers can dilute your brand and risk alienating current customers.
  • Addressing a competency gap – Current staff challenged to shift; there may not be a place for all as you scale up digital services. 
  • Creating operational disruption / confusion – new products, new services, and new customers challenge all. 

Your strategy for change can be performed as an individual company or like in the B4C program, as a group. In either case, having trusted advisors inside and outside your company, to bounce ideas, talk through scenarios and gain perspective, is vital to staying on track as you lead your company through change.

Sustainable growth demands real change: to your business model, brand, even people. Find out how, and learn from others who've been there. 

For a fresh perspective on your strategy for change or to discuss your business challenges the are driving your need to change, contact us for a FREE no-obligation 30-minute consultation with one of our principals. 

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Topics: Business Insights, Marketing Strategy, Change and Innovation, Branding and Identity