A difficult, painful lesson from 2020 is that sometimes we simply have no control. But, while we can’t change the course of a pandemic, we can control how we react to it and move past it.
So, onward to the hope of 2021 and to thinking about how to position your company for the expected recovery. Projected GDP growth will reach 3.7% this year and, according to industry association Printing United Alliance, commercial printing will grow by 2.5% to 4%.
Now is the time to begin the transition from reactive survival tactics to pro-active recovery and growth strategies. Post-pandemic effects are still largely unknown, but success will surely go to those who are already considering business strategy changes. This can, admittedly, be slightly daunting, so one strategy to kick-start the process is to work with a third party who can help focus your thinking more clearly.
The Starting Point
Start by taking stock of your company. Look at staff, equipment, services, supply chains, cash supply, and other critical elements. Analyze what’s changed from pre-COVID days, and the impact those changes have had on your company.
Next, assess your client base and the markets you serve. How has the pandemic affected them? What challenges are they facing? Do they still need what you sell? How can you help them? Can you build on your existing client base, or do you need to expand it drastically? Talk to your clients, ask for their stories, and keep communicating.
If you’re lucky, you can simply wait for your clients to return and for business to pick up, then decide what to put in place to meet this expected demand. Do you need to rehire staff? Or is this the time to clean house and put a new, more agile team in place to deal creatively with a post-pandemic world? Perhaps you can look at implementing efficiency-boosting tools like MIS or workflow systems to eliminate manual tasks.
New Business Strategies?
If you are faced with declining demand for your services, it’s time to pivot. Think about expanding your offerings and how you can capitalize on any opportunity arising from the pandemic. A survey of printers by Printing United Alliance identified several of these areas for potential growth.
Personalized communications, supported by advanced data analytics, is expected to grow, especially as most people are ready to reduce our reliance on virtual meetings and overflowing email boxes. You can download your free eBook - A Printer's Perspective & Guide to Digital Printing and Variable Data by clicking on the book.
Consultative services will become more important than ever. Take a deep dive into your clients, potential clients, and their industries and develop a deep knowledge reservoir so you can share ideas to increase their business. If your clients are in hard-hit segments they will welcome any creative suggestion.
Building from Pandemic-Inspired Shifts
Diversification is important. Many printers shifted to producing masks, other personal protection equipment, and wide-format graphics during the pandemic. What else can you produce once demand for these items begins to diminish? Moving beyond ink on paper may be the right route for you. Can you bring mailing or fulfillment services in house, for example? What about offering design services?
E-commerce has been a huge trend during the pandemic, and is expected to grow. Consider how you can you expand your online capabilities to support the e-commerce industry with product demos, education, and other tasks. Make sure your website is up to scratch and easy to use with all the necessary functions.
Once you’ve identified your strategic course, analyze what must put in place to branch out. Map out your prospects, start a sales planning process, develop new messaging about who you are and what you do, finesse your value proposition, and strategize about how to get in front of prospective clients.
This is a reset moment for most of us. Whether we need to make simple adjustments or rethink our entire business, reorganizing efforts, though challenging, can be valuable exercises.