Find out how branding your business based on your expertise can pull you out of a buyer's market and make your company more attractive than the competition.
By Rick Mandel
The message may take time to develop, but you can start by exploring a short cut. Search the Internet for your specialty (i.e., printing on fabrics). What do you find? Right before your eyes are hundreds of companies describing their focus on fabric decoration. Which shops did a great job of explaining in a sentence why fabric decoration is not just printing? Which ones lost the significance of the expertise? The description should create an image in the prospective buyer's mind of exactly how you want to be perceived.
On the flip side, clients and prospects also surf vendors' Web pages to develop a very quick understanding of what is available in the industry. The message you create for your own Website must be consistent with the pitch you make when you meet potential clients in person.
The new buzzword for the branding industry is customer-centric branding. Under this model, the job of a com-pany is to create value, communicate value, deliver value, and ultimately innovate value. The value message your company promotes must have the client at its center. Also note that companies that offer innovative value, which lawyers call intellectual property, are usually considerably more successful than those that do not.
Much of what creates value requires investment. That means spending money on knowledgeable and talented people, modern equipment, and up-to-date software. The big decisions you face are where you'll spend limited resources (remember, investment capital is normally finite) and how the customer-centric approach will take center stage in the process.
If we use the term innovative value as part of the assessment, the following questions fit perfectly: To create innovative value in our market segment, in which area should we invest? Do we need more printing equipment? Do we need faster printing equipment? Would software additions or upgrades create more value? Should we hire people who possess certain skills and knowledge, and will that create more value?
I truly believe that investment in intellectual property always creates more value for everyone. But if you simply want to be known as the most progressive digital shop among the 19 other shops in town, by all means move all of your money into bigger and faster inkjets. Just be ready for competition to increase as other companies around you do the same. What will you do when that happens?
Printing companies always have a difficult time setting themselves apart from their competition. Shops that specialize in digital imaging fall into this same trap and are often faced with greater challenges. For example, many of those who work in market segments such as offset printing have ventured into the world of large-format digital imaging. They have technologically comparable printing equipment, but many lack the expertise in, and understanding of, how the final print will be used. That is your big window of opportunity. Use your innovative value and customer-centric branding to shut out the shops that are content with simply being printers.
Did you enjoy this article? Click here to subscribe to the magazine.