Commercial printers looking for new business – and who isn’t – should at least be eyeing the healthcare industry, which the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to grow more (3 percent) than any other industry, and be America’s number-one source of new jobs for the rest of the decade.
Getting a piece of the healthcare vertical means knowing the industry, choosing the niche – hospitals, private practices, outpatient services, home healthcare services or a host of others – that makes the most sense, going to school on it, targeting decision makers and bringing excellence.
“The real question is, why aren’t you servicing the healthcare market?” insists Gavin Smith, Vice President, Solutions and Production Planning for Konica Minolta. “It’s booming. It is one of the largest growth industries right now. The hospitals are growing bigger, consolidating, new offices opening up, new practices -- and they’re one of the biggest consumers of printed materials in the short-run business. It really is starting to make an incremental effect in terms of how hospitals are building up their business.”
Here are some suggestions:
Research: “To intelligently approach the marketplace,” suggests Gina Testa, Vice President of Market and Business Development for the Graphic Communications Marketplace for Xerox, “first and foremost they’re going to have to do some research on the industry itself; to create in their mind what is the definition of healthcare. It’s a pretty broad title.” Indeed, it is one that includes everything from hospitals and doctors to insurance, life science, pharmaceuticals, medical instruments and more.
Focus: “It’s a very, very large industry,” Testa notes, “so I guess the questions would be, what is it that they’re truly trying to go after?” The good news, of course, is that healthcare in general is growing tremendously. “Bottom line: we know there is a lot of money being poured into that industry, and they need a lot of help, so to speak.” Thus, doing the research – or at least hiring someone who knows the industry from the inside – is crucial.
Introspect: When scanning the industry, suggests Susan Weiss, Xerox’s Manager for Worldwide Customer Business Development, don’t forget to look in the mirror. Printers “really need to look internally. Given that they have identified where they want to go, what are their own skills and capabilities that enable them to provide solutions to that industry?”
Find the Decision Makers: “Obviously there are two different people you speak to if you’re a printer,” Smith says. “If it’s the hospitals you’ve got to focus on the decision makers in materials management. And in solo doctor’s practices it’s the office manager.”
Training and Education: “An invoice is an invoice, whether it’s for a telephone company or a hospital,” Testa says. “It’s just the rules and the regulations for the two industries is very important.” That relates directly to employee preparedness, adds Weiss. “Can they have those conversations if they haven’t been having them already? And are they positioned to be able to talk to different people at different levels in an organization than they may have been calling on before?”
Ask, Join: Printers’ hunger for healthcare industry information can be slaked by any number of equipment manufacturers and trade associations that service it. “Join the associations – the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association, others -- that are publishing information about the trends in your sub-segment, and then concentrate on what matters most to them: direct mail, email, directory listings, and all sorts of other materials that will be produced within that specific area.”
Not to do this is foolhardy, Smith adds. “Don’t think you can go into it and offer them a product if you don’t know what is important to them. Develop an association strategy where you can start generating a presence and an understanding of what’s relevant in their industry.”