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Forrest Leighton of Canon on Business Development

Published on January 12, 2010

Interviewer: Hi, Cary Sherburne and Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Forrest Leighton who is a Senior Manager with Canon. Welcome.


Forrest Leighton: Oh, thank you.


Interviewer: And I'm sure you're happy to see that we're using a Canon camera?


Forrest Leighton: Well that's fantastic. Otherwise, I'd have to go.


Interviewer: I know. You know, we've been talking to a lot of the suppliers in the industry about what they're doing to help their customers, in terms of business development, especially in this economy, but in any economy really. So maybe you could talk to us a little bit about some of the business development and issues you have going on at Canon for your customers.


Forrest Leighton: Oh, great. Well thanks for having me. I appreciate it. From the business development sides, we think from the Canon perspective is that it's really important that we deliver more to our customers than just technology and especially in an economy like this. If we're not really helping them with their business and how we can propel it and how we can help them put the right marketing plan in place and really implement them, then we are not doing them a service that they need.


So from a business development side, we have our essential business builder program and one of the key things I want to highlight is that it's actual industry experts that do it.


Interviewer: Okay.


Forrest Leighton: It's not people that come in with a Canon hat, it's people that have done their whole -- spent their whole career doing this; folks like John Hamm and Steven Schnoll that are very well renowned in the industry. And they go in and they take a real core look at the business and what's going on and really it's a very neutral look at it and their idea is to give real tactical steps that the business can take to propel itself.


Interviewer: So it's not just like going in and saying, "Oh, you should be doing photo books." It's really looking at their business and saying, "What are the things that -- where are the niches that you can develop? How can you expand your own core competencies?"


Forrest Leighton: Right. And you know it's interesting, in our industry we are always talking about printers have to be marketing service providers. You can't be a printer, but there are still a lot of really good printers out there and they're not ready for cross-media sometimes.


Interviewer: Right.


Forrest Leighton: So it's a matter of adjusting to based on where they are. We had one example where one of the -- I think John actually went into one of the folks down in, I think it was, the southeast and their business was off significantly from the year before and they didn't know why. So it was really taking a fundamental look at the business, at who their customers were, what vertical markets they were focused on. The 80/20 rule: 80 percent of your business coming from 20 percent of your customers. Of that 20 percent what are the markets that they're hitting and then what are the applications that our digital printing can help to drive and help to bring more revenue for. So there are fundamental approaches to the business.


Interviewer: That's great. That's really important. Good work.

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