Revising, repositioning and reimagining strategies sets the best course in uncharted territory

Times of crisis are often catalysts for business leaders to re-evaluate and reset operations, revive customer communications and reimagine products and services. Perhaps one positive outcome from the business disruption caused by COVID-19 is that printing companies are reflecting on and redirecting their business strategies. A recent blog in Target Marketing reports that businesses today are operating in the “Age of Re-” (as in the prefix “re” meaning “again” or “back”). The post was written for brand marketers, but the author’s key message about businesses operating in the “Age of Again,” re-evaluating plans to regain their footing in an uncertain landscape, applies to printers as well. Here are three “Re’s” printing company executives and managers can embrace to reposition operations, marketing and sales tactics.
1. Revisit business plans, investments and strategies
Now is the time to re-evaluate plans. Chart a course to move beyond any declines in sales. Given what your company is experiencing today, are there any changes you should make? Here are key questions to consider:
– Which areas of your business are in decline?
– Should you pursue new industries to diversify your customer base, insulating your company from drops in demand?
– Are there new product and service areas your company should add?
– Is it time to invest in hardware or software that will enable you to serve new areas in markets that are less affected by economic swings?
– Should planning horizons change given unclear market conditions? Are shorter planning horizons, such as three, six, or 12 months at a time, better?
It’s a good business practice to seek advice from customers, sales staff, customer service teams, suppliers and other parties with solid insights. These groups of stakeholders can help an organization test plans and make decisions.
2. Remind customers that you’re here to support them
Communicating with customers is always an essential business practice, no matter the current state of business conditions. Your customers need to know that you’re open for business, how you can you help them, your values and what makes you different from your competitors.
A great way to educate customers on your services, capabilities and the value of print is with printed marketing materials. Research shows that direct mail offers positive psychological benefits to recipients. Direct mail campaigns that remind customers about the benefits of direct mail and how to best use it may lead to an increase in print sales as print is also a great way for your customers to stay in touch with their customers while in-person communication is limited.
3. Reimagine product and service offerings
It might be time to add new products, expand into other markets or transform a core competency into something different. Recent articles in NAPCO Media publications indicate printing companies are adding new types of products, including social distancing graphics, face masks, personal protective equipment (PPE), safety shields, printed cardboard cut-outs of people to place in the stands of sporting events and other print products that are filling new demands. Some printing companies have even added a COVID-19 product tab to their websites.
Beyond products, print service providers are diversifying into new market segments to buffer against future sales disruptions. The current economic climate has demonstrated the benefit of having a more diversified customer base as many key industries that use print – including events, retail, restaurants and more – needed to put their businesses on hold or, at the least, reduced print spending.
When taking steps to reimagine products and services, avoid allowing past practices or ways of thinking to be a barrier to making changes.
Moving forward
While there’s no handbook for detailing how to succeed in today’s business environment, organizations that adopt a practice of “Re” may have the best chance of a successful recovery. Taking the time to gather staff and other key resources to rethink, revisit, retool, and reimagine offers printing companies a solid chance for redirecting a company’s course to profitability – whatever lies ahead.
At Ricoh, we work with a clear mission in mind – to help you thrive today and keep growing tomorrow.  Check out these videos and see how we’re helping other print shops adapt and grow.