At present, the short-term objective for 90 percent of the printers out there is survival…And if they make it through another day (week, month, quarter), then they will want to focus on the medium term” technological wish list (or service need) of their clients. Long-term goals become the transitional goals for growth, achieved by utilizing the skills and market knowledge gained in day to day activity to make major decisions such as acquisitions, the sale of the business, a succession plan to transfer ownership to the employees or the next generation of family members, etc. As Schaffer pointed out, in today’s economy, “We are adding a whole other level” to our owner objectives, so it is even more critical to carefully think through your plan, and to review and update it frequently to quickly respond to the ever-changing needs of your market.
A strategy to ensure success in whichever business model that is chosen is “marketing.” Traditionally, printers are manufacturers. Sell it, make it, ship it—all within the same basic and relatively predictable production parameters. Having to actually “market” ourselves just to stay competitive is unchartered territory, and even more of a challenge for a sales staff ingrained in standard business models.
A secret to successful marketing today is positioning your company as partners to clients, helping them achieve their objectives, reducing their costs and becoming an integral part of their company’s success. Management must become more agile, embracing not only the new technologies, but also be open to the new marketing mindset offered by the next generation of owners and workers.
Defining the owner’s objectives is still the most important step in planning the company’s financial model. Printers are becoming aware that the concept of the typical printer’s definition of success has changed. Between the economy, technology, and customer needs, building a business model of “success” has us going back to the owner’s objectives, short term, long term, and now even mid-term, as the consideration in driving the business plan and culture.