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Get Branded

(January 2007) posted on Fri Feb 16, 2007

Find out how branding your business based on your expertise can pull you out of a buyer's market and make your company more attractive than the competition.

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By Rick Mandel

Do your clients view you as nothing more than a printer? Is that what you want? I don't think so. You're a service provider, and that service happens to be printed graphics. These days, customers care a lot less about which printing method you use, as long as they get the quality they want and get the product on time. Successfully branding your business involves more than just being a printer. So let's expand our focus beyond simply being people who produce and sell graphics. Let's consider why we should promote our overall expertise as our brand, rather than just allowing our graphics to represent that brand.

Where do you fit?

Are you known around town as the digital printer? The fact that you may specialize in transit graphics, outdoor signage and billboards, trade-show displays, imaging on fabrics, or point-of-purchase kits is lost on the customers who simply know you as a digital printer. My previous column talked about the importance of not being put into a box. To be labeled or categorized as a digital printer only assists buyers in comparing your work quotes to those of other vendors in the area. After all, they're digital printers too.

So, what is a digital printer? Well, buyers think of anyone who can switch on a wide-format inkjet and image onto a wide variety of substrates as a digital printer. They're basically right. And based on that assumption, if 20 shops in town operate wide-format inkjets, then buyers have 20 options from which to choose. The buyer controls the market. But how many of those 20 shops are truly experts at digital printing? What makes you the expert? It's what you do in addition to the printing that creates the expertise that will make the other 19 choices in the market less desirable.

The inkjet printer is a tool that enables you to produce all kinds of graphics, but the ability to design, prototype, and install the graphics makes you the top player in a crowded market. I believe the printing part of the business is not that complicated and requires the least long-term investment. In-stead, the people who create your businesses proficiency are the key, and they should be the real focus of your company's investment strategy. Your talent is valuable intellectual property.


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