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Overcoming run of the mill reputation

Feb 1, 2010 12:00 AM

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In late 2009, a commercial printer wanted to dig deeper into customer perceptions. After two terrible years, the printer needed to understand the current situation and, more importantly, determine whether it was time to reinvent the company. An online survey of 2,000+ customers investigated perceptions in: loyalty; client share of printing; product and service quality; likelihood customers would buy “beyond print”; and demand for new products and services.

A strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT) analysis of the results revealed that the printer's top strength was e-mail list management. Also, a couple staff members were given high praise as the reason for buying from them.

The top weakness was customer loyalty. Only 58% of customers were “very likely” to recommend this printer to others, and only 12% were “very likely” to consider them for marketing communication services beyond print.

The top opportunity was the 250+ customers who identified themselves as willing to buy more. The firm has an opportunity to pick the right customers and drive the business, instead of trying to be all things to all people. More than 70 customers were “very interested” in new products the printer was thinking of expanding into. This is a great catalyst to jump start a new service offering.

The top threat was being pigeonholed as a run of the mill, traditional printer with below average quality.

When things are tough, look to those customers who appreciate your value add, and spend time with them to become a true business partner. Think about how you want your customers to perceive you, leverage your strengths, and focus on magnifying those strengths to sell a wider offering to each customer.

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.