The Cheese Principle: How to Add Profit to Commodity Print

Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant
Have you ever thought about selling cheese?
No? I’m not surprised. Cheese sales are probably the last thing on the mind of the average print salesperson. After all, at first glance, there is little in common between selling cheese and selling print.
However, there is a valuable lesson to be learned from the way that cheese manufacturers have developed their offerings over the years.
Cheese manufacturers have successfully moved from a commodity sale to a value sale.
They have done this in a number of ways. Here are just two examples of how they have managed this change.
Firstly, it is now possible to buy sliced and grated cheese.  Both are sold at higher prices. Buyers are willing to pay extra for the convenience of having their cheese in these forms.
Secondly, by simply adding fruit to some of their cheeses, cheese manufacturers have successfully managed to add value to their product in a completely different way. Many people are prepared to pay substantially higher prices for what they perceive as a premium product.
Printing companies should be following the strategy.
Printing companies that create value sales will achieve higher profit margins.  They will be more in control of their finances.  They are also more likely to create longer-term relationships with their clients.
Printing companies that ignore this value concept will remain bogged down in a commodity-priced market.  And they will have far fewer loyal customers.
So how do printing companies add value to their products?
You need to go through five steps in planning how to sell value added printing services:

  1. Brainstorm ways in which you could add value to your print services
  2. Scope the cost of these extra services. Ideally, you are looking for services which have a high perceived value but which are cheap for you to provide
  3. Decide which value added services you are best positioned to sell
  4. Research which types of prospect these services fit best
  5. Create a sales message that is specifically targeted at the needs of this type of prospect

Once you have gone through these steps, you will be well positioned to start selling value successfully. However, you need to take action to get results.
Here are two action points to get you going:

  1. Call a team meeting. Ask everyone attending to bring some ideas for value added services. Brainstorm these ideas at the meeting.
  2. Choose the ideas that you feel will be most effective and talk to your customers to find out how enthusiastic there are about these offerings.

If you are struggling to find the right ideas for value added services, you’ll want to be sure to read my next piece.  I’m going to give you six ideas for value added services.
Once you have found the right value added offerings, you will be able to increase your profits as effectively as the cheese manufacturers.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on creating value:

Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site.

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