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Commentary & Analysis

Putting Lipstick on a Pig

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By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: March 7, 2007

--- Special Feature - John Giles' Digital Directions Putting Lipstick on a Pig By John Giles March 7, 2007 -- It has been suggested in print and at trade conferences that printing companies should drop printing from their name if they expect to continue to be in business during the next decade. The pundits say that printing is passé and people who are buying printing are looking for some other type of company to meet their communications needs. So does this mean that when a company wants to buy printing it doesn’t want to go to a printing company? There is a trend in the print industry to predict that printing is dead. Looking at the number of print shops closing, it may seem that printing is dead or dying. Yet no one has seen a drop in the amount of printing being done, just the number of companies doing it. Will a simple cosmetic change like a new name really revitalize the printing industry? A new name won't do anything for the print business if it is still going to compete on price for commodity printing in their local market. Some printing companies do need to change their names. When one printer buys other print companies and expands the services, a new name may better define the new company. A call for a new name might be necessary if a printing company abandons one type of service for another. If a printing company changes its core business, it may want to rebrand itself. Too often printers look to a new name as a way to stop falling sales or erase a bad image in the marketplace. That tactic may delay the inevitable but it doesn’t change the service delivered to the customer. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig. Customers are less concerned about the name of the company than the services they receive. A good company with print in its name is going to attract business better than a bad company that avoids the print name. Success isn’t going to come from a name change. It is going to come from an attitude change. Before a printer starts to think about changing the company’s name and forging a new identity in their market they should make sure they have a legitimate reason. Just buying a new digital printer doesn’t turn a printing company into a marketing company. Having a website where a print buyer can order printing doesn’t turn a print company into an e-commerce solution ready to meet worldwide customer demands. A new name doesn’t do a thing for the print business if it is still going to compete on price for commodity printing in their local market. One printer I know recently suggested that if he dropped printing from his name he would find it easier to get by the gatekeeper and call on C-level prospects. The only problem was that he is still going to talk about printing once he got in front of the high-level prospects. He is still a printer who sells the same commodity-based, price-sensitive services as every other printer in town. If you can make your customer money and help them grow their business, they won’t care what you call yourself. Success isn’t going to come from a name change. It is going to come from an attitude change. Printers want to talk about how to save the company money. C-level prospects want to talk about how the print provider can help them make money. If saving money is the only thing you have to offer, then you will also be relegated to the print buyer. If you can show how your printing company can help the prospective company make money, you have a reason to talk to the higher-level decision makers. If you can make your customer money and help them grow their business, they won’t care what you call yourself. Changing your name can give you a reason to talk to your customers. It can become an event to get customers in your door. But it won’t mean a thing if you can’t move from competing on price for commodity products. If you do change your name, change your core services. Invest in new technology. Move up to value-added printing where price isn’t the highest consideration by the buyer. Understand how your services can be unique and help your customer grow his business. The customer’s perception of Print is what you make it.

 

 

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