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This Time Next Year

Diversification Strategies

Variety is the spice of life, and it is no different in the world of print. Matthew Parker divulges three diversification strategies to help improve the flavour of your business

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You don’t have to do it alone: finding the right partner company can immediately expand your services

The spice of life

Can you imagine if Heinz had only launched one flavour of soup? It would have failed to make the sales that it has achieved over the years. One flavour of soup cannot create the same level of turnover that 57 varieties can. The diversity of such a company is what has made it such a successful brand.

Just like Heinz, printers also need to diversify. Companies that offer a variety of services are more likely to create deeper customer relationships and their clients will rely on them for more than just one service—it is then easier for a PSP to become a business partner.

Companies that offer a variety of services are more likely to create deeper customer relationships

Naturally, that means that these companies are more likely to achieve higher sales and they are also more likely to increase their profit margins. Further to this, diversified offerings can be sold at a higher markup.

Printing companies that stick to selling their core print offering better be good at lean manufacturing. Pure print offerings are likely to continue to be treated as a commodity buy. It will be difficult to achieve good profit margins from selling just print services and it will also be a lot harder to create deep customer relationships.

Here are three ways in which you can diversify your business:

1  Sell extra print

Of course we all want to sell more print. This strategy may seem like stating the obvious. However, there may well be new types of products that you can sell to your customer. These may be items that you have not previously provided or even manufactured before.

It is important to offer variety in order to spice up your print services

For instance, can you sell banners to customers that are currently buying commercial sheet-fed work from you? Could you offer more personalised print? Later on in this article you will see that this does not necessarily require you to invest in new equipment. Not all customers see a need for more print, so here is an alternative strategy.

2  Sell before and after 

Many companies focus purely on the manufacture of printed items. We all know that the manufacturing process is just one part of a more involved supply chain. Who better to help out with this than the company itself?

The supply chain might become an awful lot more efficient if you offered design services. For one thing it would eliminate all the issues with faulty PDFs. Design is also an emotional purchase: more buyers are happy to pay more for a talented designer. With design, they are buying more than manufacturing.

Printers can also help with the onward part of the supply chain. Again, there are potential savings and efficiency gains if the printer starts managing fulfillment. This can develop into more just in time or batch production. It also makes it harder for the customer to suddenly decide to change supplier for a small reduction in price. It is also a great start to being able to develop the third strategy.

3  Sell new channels

If you are helping a client with their need for print, you are helping them with their communication requirements. Could you be providing other channels as well?  How about website services, e-mail services or SMS campaigns? If you can offer these channels, it is also a powerful way to safeguard the client’s budget.

Choosing to offer design services is a great way to gain customers: buyers are often happy to pay more for a talented designer

Naturally, many printing companies may be nervous about how they could adopt new services like these. For example, the provision of website or e-mail services not only requires investing in the right staff but also potentially a complete change in company culture. But is providing these services is just too much change for a print company? If you are going to diversify, it may appear that you will have to invest in more equipment or even set up and resource a new design studio or a fulfillment department.

It doesn’t have to be this way

Offering new services does not have to involve any major investment or change in culture. Instead, it is quite possible to find partner companies who offer these sorts of services.

Offering new services doesn’t have to involve any major investment or change in culture

You have the opportunity to sell these services and work with your partners to deliver them. Naturally, it is important to find the right partner. If you choose the right ones, you may also find that they are able to offer your printing services to their clients.

There is one change you have to be prepared to make: your sales team will need to be prepared to develop their skills so that they can sell these new offerings successfully. It requires sales people to be prepared to offer these services to customers.

Customers will also have to be convinced that you are a serious provider if you are offering new services for the first time. The traditional skills of selling are generally not enough in these sorts of situations.

So here is the first step to take if you are thinking about diversifying your offering: make an appointment to see your five largest customers. Talk to them about the new services you plan to offer. It is important to see if there will be any interest in taking up these services. Your customers may also have ideas on exactly what they would like you to offer.

Who knows; you too may end up being able to offer your customers 57 varieties of service.

Key actions:

  • Invest time in searching out new services and products you can offer existing customers
  • Consider adding pre-print services to your repertoire, such as design
  • Offer online and digital services to clients to help with their communication

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