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Will customers buy beyond print?

Nov 1, 2009 12:00 AM

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Perception is reality. If your customers look at you as someone who just prints stuff, you might be in trouble. The challenge lies in customers' perception of your identity.

Is the word “printing” the main part of your name? Do you primarily lead with just getting that next print order or job? Do you look at a job as part of a marketing campaign or initiative? Do you speak to customers in terms of campaign or marketing project?

Recently we ran a project for a progressive commercial printer that wanted to learn how likely customers would be to consider it for non-print marketing services. At the same time, they wanted to gauge how customers felt their printing purchases would change over the coming year.

Pie chart says…

The good news is that 86% would give them a shot and 39% gave them a strong buy signal. Now the fun begins on the strategy and what areas they could explore and invest in. Only 14% had no idea why there were even asking the question and had them pegged as a print-only operation.

The bad news was that 40% of customers stated their volumes would decrease and only 15% stated an increase, while 16% stated a significant drop over the next year.

The management team has a few options here as the market is changing. They could buy another print business to make up for the shortfall, and many printers are doing this. They could expand into other printing related services such as mailing services or large format, if they haven't already done this. They could pursue more new customers, but hiring the right people is a challenge.

Moving up and moving on

Moving beyond print is a big step, but it might be an option for you. Identify non-print services you can succeed with and that customers will want.

Knowing your customers' loyalty and perception of you is essential in the strategic planning process, and it is necessary to engage your customers to bring them along with you in a deliberate, well thought out way. Good luck as you plan for 2010!

Michael Casey is president and founder of Survey Advantage ( He is a strategic partner with NAPL supporting its consulting and research practices, he integrates project surveying with MIS systems and he is an approved supplier for several franchise networks.