By Barbara Pellow October 11, 2006 -- Market positioning is critical in the world of business communications. To succeed in our over-communicated society, a company must create a "position" in the prospect's mind--differentiating its products and services in the mind of the prospect. Positioning is a powerful tool that enables a company to shape its image. Image is the outward representation of what an organization aims to be and the leadership characteristics that it brings to the market. That's why it is so important for graphic communications service providers to transform their passion into a market position. Recent actions on the part of Standard Register provide a good example of this philosophy at work. On September 27, 2006, Dennis Rediker, Standard Register President and CEO and his management team invited a group of industry analysts to Dayton to discuss how the company is repositioning the organization through effective marketing, an expanded product and services portfolio and alliances to extend its market reach. Repositioning Standard Register Dayton, Ohio-based Standard Register has a strong heritage in the forms industry combined with strong customer relationships. From a business perspective, it has presence in over half of the Fortune 500, 20 of the top 25 financial institutions and 100 of the top 150 healthcare integrated delivery networks (IDNs). It is well equipped to meet the needs of clients with 26 secure digital, 6 rotary and 2 label facilities as well as 22 warehouses. Standard Register produces over 1 billion digital pages every year and its Web-to-print solution, SMARTworks, is deployed at 1,600 customers, with 100,000 active end-users. Repositioning is a strategic decision that builds and expands on core competencies. With its breadth of capabilities, the management team felt is was essential to redefine how the firm positioned itself in the marketplace. Repositioning is a strategic decision that builds and expands on core competencies. It is a long-term redirection of a business versus a short-term promotion or price-cutting designed to stimulate quick cash. Successful Brand Repositioning McKinsey & Company wrote a report titled Successful Brand Repositioning; Aspirational versus Achievable Strategies. It discussed the three essential ingredients for brand repositioning. They included: * Relevance in the customer's frame of reference. It is critical that any repositioning strategy resonate with the customer. * Secure the customer's "permission" for the positioning. Permission amounts to a reasonable and logical extension in the customer's eyes. Leverage the current brand's benefits to carry customers from the current brand perception to the intended one. * Deliver on the brand's new promise. This means developing the necessary product/service programs to ensure consistent performance against the repositioning with customers. Positioning Based on Trust According to Standard Register Chief Marketing Officer, Brad Cates, "One of the predominant messages from customers was they wanted a business outsourcing partner they could trust to support managing document-based information. That led us to our vision statement – to be the world's most trusted document services company." Consistent with the vision statement, Standard Register developed a new tag line – "Managing the documents you can't live without." For years, Standard Register has been managing mission critical forms that drive paper-based business process in hospitals, financial institutions, insurance firms and major manufacturers. The company is transitioning to blended paper and digital product and service offerings to manage documents across the enterprise productively and profitably. Its strategy is an integrated, holistic approach, looking across the enterprise at those areas where documents are produced including the desktop, internal copy-print and data centers and externally sourced document production. Standard Register analyzes and benchmarks printing practices, driving document production to the most efficient alternative. It develops customer-centric goals and an enterprise-wide document strategy to achieve them. It has established measurement tools to monitor progress against achievement of targets. As a result, clients have achieved 15-50 percent cost savings along with significant performance improvements across the enterprise. The service components include: * Document assessments, process re-engineering and implementation services * Document lifecycle services, design to archiving * Strategic sourcing, vendor negotiations and management services * Print supply chain optimization and management services * PrintConcierge services for on-site subject matter expertise * Print center outsourcing services for reprographics and data centers * Technology analysis, integration and implementation services Standard Register's Enterprise Document Services and Print Strategy fits within the customers "frame of reference." It is extending its brand to an expanded family of document-related services. Securing Permission Standard Register ensured it had the customer's permission to claim the ground for its redefined brand by retaining Doug McLaine from Customer Centered Consulting to conduct research with its customer base. The objective was to determine current and future needs and the role that Standard Register could play in meeting those needs. Customers told Standard Register they wanted assistance with: * Reducing cost * Transitioning to more efficient digital processes to enhance efficiency and productivity * Effectively managing risks, meeting regulatory compliance and industry requirements * Driving business growth through more effective communications * Supporting global operations Standard Register saw the ability to leverage the brand equity it had established with comprehensive forms management solutions into the allied enterprise document management and print services market. Based on the company's existing customer relationships, this is a plausible and acceptable brand extension. Delivering on the New Brand Promise Over the past several months, Standard Register has been focused on not only building its brand promise base on trust, but living up to it. A team of consultants is placed at the client's location to map an enterprise strategy. According to Cates, " Customers get a carefully defined strategy, a roadmap and timetable for streamlining processes and addressing the issues that have hampered productivity and added cost. What's more, we provide both the resources and the technology to see that what's promised is delivered. Our clients have realized savings of 15%-50% throughout their enterprises." Customers get a carefully defined strategy, a roadmap and timetable for streamlining processes and addressing the issues that have hampered productivity and added cost. Standard Register has backed this brand promise with proof sources from key accounts including Coca Cola, Parkland Health and Hospital System and Fifth Third Bank. Linda Tuck Chapman, Sr. VP & Chief Sourcing Officer, Fifth Third Bank, talked to the analysts about the impact that the relationship with Standard Register has had on her organization. Fifth Third Bank has over 1,100 locations, primarily in the Midwest and Florida. Standard Register originally provided mission-critical documents such as MICR forms and money orders. According to Chapman, "Today, Standard Register is deploying an enterprise document management strategy for all printing and print-related procurement. We have outsourced management of all print vendors to Standard Register with a three-year contract. We did a warehouse transfer of 70 truckloads of branch supplies and printed materials without a hitch in five days. The PrintConcierge provides outstanding on-site services to manage document related processes and ensure good end-user service. And each six months, we track performance against our business objectives. Standard Register is a partner that has helped us move our business forward." Standard Register further demonstrated this market re-positioning with the announcement of an alliance with HP on October 3, 2006. According to Joanna Wampler, vice president, HP Imaging and Printing Services Americas, "Our customers are looking for an integrated approach to managing documents throughout their organizations. They need to know the total cost of ownership for all of their document supply chains, so that more effective decisions can be made on investments that can drive growth for their companies." Customers are looking for an integrated approach to managing documents throughout their organizations. "Standard Register extends the breadth of print management services that HP already offers," added Wampler. "The combination of HP's Managed Print Services and Standard Register's enterprise software and document services provides a powerful and proven answer to our customers' needs." In Conclusion Repositioning Standard Register as the world's most trusted document services company is designed to enhance the perceived value to the customer and thereby increase the company's brand equity. The company has followed the guidance provided by McKinsey & Company for successful brand repositioning. It has focused on an achievable positioning to help ensure meaningful market share results while enhancing brand image. Positioning as a provider of enterprise document management and print services is not an attempt to overreach in the market. While effort will be required on Standard Register's part to achieve these goals, it should be able to build the bridge of relevant benefits to carry customers from the current perception to the intended brand positioning. And finally, Standard Register will need to continually focus on ensuring that it is effectively "managing the documents that customers can't live without."