All businesses have something that they do better than others. Or at least their customers think they do. This is where the crisscross lines of reality and perception appear on the graph. The opportunity for company leaders is to fully grasp how they stand out from their peers and to use those strengths to reach whatever goals they have set for the business. And to do it over, and over, and over again.
What do your customers pay you to do? Print their catalog or direct mail piece, yes, but what else? OK, they pay you to deliver it on time and within a budget. What else? Maybe that’s it, nothing else. Or maybe they pay you for peace of mind, for a good night’s sleep because they trust that you’ll be reliable and deliver that wow factor experience like you always do. Maybe they pay you for their job security. It could be many different things, but most likely it’s not because of what you may think it is.
How can you solve this pesky problem? Ask your customers directly. Thank them for the business and ask them what is it that they appreciate the most when working with your business. Listen to both what they say, and what they imply as the two may not always be the same.
A fun exercise is to ask your staff why they think your top customers keep coming back. Set up a poll, or electronic survey. This doesn’t need to be overly taxing and can be insightful. Capture the responses and contrast and compare the results by different departments. It’ll be interesting to see how the office votes as compared to the production teams. And of course, the sales team will vote that it’s all because of their charm and wit. Another slice could be by demographics. Sort the responses by age groups. And finally, sort the responses by tenure at the company. What do the newbies thinks vs. the veterans? When the results are in, you can share them with the company.
The Leverage Levers
Based on the feedback from your customers and your staff, have you changed your opinion on what your competitive strengths are? Maybe this exercise reinforced what you already thought. Either way, how can you best harness it, and give your business the oxygen it needs to jump to the next level of success?
In my role as an advisor to printing company CEOs and their teams, I’m fortunate enough to be inside many businesses every year. They share the good, the bad, and the ugly with me. But guess what? I tend to see so many cool things that they do, and how they do it. A common theme though, is that these leaders are so close to the business, that sometimes they don’t see how different their business really is (in a good way), and thus miss out on using their unique levers to leverage what they do.
It may be a workflow automation pipe that they connect directly to a key customer, it could be their youthful workforce with fires in their bellies, or it could be their geographic location that could attract like-type folks to relocate into their region.
From a day-to-day perspective, building a business can be both brutal, and rewarding. Take advantage of your true differentiators to capitalize of your business. Please add any comments or questions below. Good luck!
Mike Philie can help validate what’s working and what may need to change in your business. Changing the trajectory of a business is difficult to do while simultaneously operating the core competencies. Mike provides strategy and insight to owners and CEOs in the Graphic Communications Industry by providing direct and realistic assessments, not being afraid to voice the unpopular opinion and helping leaders navigate change through a common sense and practical approach. Learn more at www.philiegroup.com, LinkedIn or email at email@example.com.
Originally published in Printing Impressions.