Business Strategy: Navigating through Challenging Waters (Only for Daredevils!)

Glowing Light BulbWritten by Dharminder Biharie
Business Development Consultant, Xerox Netherlands

As a business owner, which of these statements do you think best describes the way you think?:
I wish I had more business. I wish I had more customers. I wish I was more successful. I wish this Omni channel campaign would work. 
I am going to get more business and more customers. And that Omni channel campaign is going to flourish.
Being successful is a choice, and like Marc Lammers, the famous Dutch Womens Hockey Coach, once said: “Winners have a plan, while losers always have an excuse.”
In my last blog post, I wrote how the print industry is similar to sailing. Print is constantly being hit by new waves of technology and printers need to learn how to navigate these challenging waters without being knocked off their boat. Instead of having an excuse as to why something isn’t working, print providers need to prepare for the storm ahead.
Wave 1: Electronic Communications
Our industry is getting hit with a tsunami of digital innovations.
First we had the Internet. It was created a long time ago, far far away in the digital galaxy of planet Earth… yet some people think it is still on planet Mars. It might sound harsh, but I see so many horrendously outdated websites. Last week I visited a random website of a graphic arts company and needed to install Netscape Navigator just to view the page! If Discovery Channel would have known this they would have made a documentary about ancient digital language!
Hello, wake up people! In Western society, 70% of business starts via the Internet. Customers today are educated. They’ve read all the reviews and have already selected what they want and know where they will get it from.
When was the last time you bought something online? Do you remember your selection process? Yes? Well, write it down and project this onto your own business. There is no avoiding the impact that technology has had on the selling process, so why not embrace it?
Wave 2: Web-to-Print
Web-to-Print is the next wave that rolls in. In this digital era of e-commerce, it is an absolute must. And it’s not always about ordering business cards through the web. It is more than that. A smart Web-to-Print system has become a content manager and creator. It offers a smart end-to-end system with a connection to the CRM and MIS/CMS systems.
And mind you, in the Netherlands, end users are not always keen to hand over the content to the printer. They have seen their fair share of companies go bankrupt. No content means no orders. This makes for frustrated companies.
Show potential customers how financially stable you are. Start thinking about how to manage this so that he or she can do business with you for many years. I have seen many tenders and RFP’s go down the drain because the company was too cheap initially. These companies were not financially healthy. As humans, we naturally gravitate towards other humans and companies that are dependable.
Wave 3: Social Media
Social Media smashes against the print boat next.  Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Twitter are becoming the next generation of search engines. Remember what I said before: 70% of business starts online.
Google, as part of a larger algorithm, uses social media to index you. So if you don’t have the budget for AdWords you can start investing time into social media to improve your business’s search engine optimization.
But consider social media only if you understand the words ‘social’ and ‘media’. Most people remember the media aspect but forget about being social.
Put down your megaphone. Social media, by nature, is a two-way communication mechanism. Sharing content, engaging with your audience, and building relationships are just as important, if not more, than promoting your own business. It is your profile that people are judging. Your reputation online is just as crucial as your reputation offline.
And what about the daredevils that are bracing these waves and the ones that lay ahead, you ask?
If I make an analysis of my most successful customers in the Netherlands, I can see a pattern in my invoicing. The companies who are successful have the following:
1)      Strategy
2)      Marketing Plan
3)      Business Plan
4)      Sales Plan
5)      Highly IT driven
The companies who are not successful are missing most of the points above.
And when you speak to these daredevils, it is immediately clear that they have a vision, similar to the captain of a boat. They spend the majority of their time looking ahead so they can anticipate what is coming. They spend far less time looking at the waters behind them.
For those who don’t enjoy navigating a boat, think about your car. It’s equipped with a small rearview mirror and a large front windshield. This is so you spend less time looking at the traffic behind you, and more time anticipating what is coming ahead.
The past is history, and history is difficult to repeat and impossible to change. The future, however, is an ocean (or road) full of opportunities for those with a vision and plan.
Remember, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”
What do you think will be the next wave that hits the print industry? How will you prepare for it?

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