Nearly every industry is undergoing its own transformation due to new and emerging technologies. Few have been impacted as heavily as the print industry, and the relentless pace of change is exacerbating the challenges you face.
Josh Linkner’s book, “The Road to Reinvention,” outlines a clear path for firms that want to transform their business models to succeed today and in the future. One of Linkner’s key messages concerns the importance of proactivity. He explains, “Leaders disrupt the status quo long before there is a need to do so. Instead of losing ground, these innovators are accomplishing dramatic growth and spurring tremendous economic gain. Companies fall for many reasons, but one of the most common — yet easily avoidable — is the failure to reinvent.”
What’s a Print and Marketing Service Provider to Do?
Technologies are available to support the reinvention of the print industry and, most importantly, your company. Options include variable data, cross-media, mobile applications, inkjet, 3-D printing and wide format. Linkner provides a number of steps to get your organization moving down the path toward reinvention. Some takeaways from the book:
1. Getting started is the hardest part.
The first step is always the hardest. It requires vision and a strategy to reinvent your business. Regardless of industry segment, leaders view reinvention as a mission that is critical to their company’s survival and prosperity, even in times of growth. Linkner notes, “Executives need to think of reinvention as a necessary process for proactively crafting a new future.”
2. Be prepared to cannibalize current business models.
Steve Jobs is quoted as saying, “If you don't cannibalize yourself, someone else will. Don’t protect your products; protect the customer experience and customer relationships.”
The printing industry has seen its revenue streams migrate from traditional offset to digital printing technologies. Today’s print and marketing service providers need to create strategies for deriving more and more revenue from value-added services and non-print revenues. Successful providers are adding cross-media capabilities to their portfolios, and those with entrepreneurial instincts are figuring out how to leverage mobile solutions to make print interactive.
Digital publishing tools like BlueToad, GTxcel and the Adobe Digital Publishing suite are designed to repurpose content for mobile devices and also incorporate rich media. In the future, success will be linked to making money on what you do print as well as what you don’t print
3. Launch Version 2.0.
Software companies are continually reinventing new versions of their core offerings. These firms use new launches as an opportunity to make a bold statement and communicate the fact that they have reinvented their offerings. Although many service providers are continually adding new capabilities, they simply assume that prospects and customers will somehow find out about these expanded offerings.
The printing industry can learn a lesson from the software industry in this regard — firms must make a bold statement when they expand their core offerings. This is a surefire way to attract customers’ attention in a crowded market space
4. Develop operational innovation.
Successful firms have a commitment to operational innovation. According to Linkner, “This goes beyond operational improvement or operational excellence. Operational innovation is the concept of overhauling the way a company does business to create a significant competitive advantage.” He cites Walmart as an example — this company went from $44 million to $44 billion in revenues during a 20-year period. The success driver was reinventing the way that inventory was managed.
For those in the print industry, operational innovation can incorporate a focus on new ways of producing print, new products and services, or a focus on retooling sales and marketing. The key message is that you can’t afford to let processes grow stale in any facet of your business
5. Reinvent your customer base.
While you always have opportunities to reinvent products and processes, Linkner highlights that transforming your customer base is another way to drive your organization forward and seize new opportunities. Proverbially speaking, service providers must look around corners and rocks to uncover new places to sell their products and services. When attempting to transform their organizations, print service providers should slice and dice the population of potential customers into a variety of segments that are easy to target.
Endless PossibilitiesToward the end of his book, Linkner acknowledges that today’s businesses are dealing with challenging times. Along with these challenges, though, we live in a world of endless possibilities. He concludes: “You have all the approaches, strategies and tactics that you need to transform your organization. It takes a strong commitment to craft a vision and unleash creativity to bring it to life.”