Would you like your printing business to grow? How about becoming more profitable? Or both? Most owners would say "yes" to at least one of these questions. But problems arise when growth happens unexpectedly.
Without the right plan and infrastructure in place, growth can be disastrous. It can lead to chaotic situations without adequate resources to deal with them. Orders can't be fulfilled. Customers get grumpy or walk away, and things spin out of control.
Here is where scaling comes into play.
When a business is scaling, it gives itself the capacity to grow without being blindsided by roadblocks along the way. It's about making the business more efficient with better internal systems.
Scaling sets a solid foundation needed to support rapid expansion. Scaling is all about capacity and capabilities. It's about setting the stage for sustainable growth, rather than responding in the heat of the moment to increases or decreases in demand.
Scale Your Printing Business Starting Today - 5 Steps
There are five areas to review when scaling a business.
1 – Know your customers by assessing how much demand there is for your products and services.
2 – Assess your market by regularly tracking and monitoring it and identifying opportunities for scaling.
3 – Expand your products by researching your market and competitors and finding ways to fulfill your audience’s needs.
4 – Investigate the different aspects of growth and the possible costs it might incur, then plan ahead.
5 – Find your motivation by identifying the “why” behind your business and clarifying it in a simple statement.
1 - Understanding the Target Audience
At the core of every successful business are its customers. To establish a suitable brand identity and ensure the right products and services are being offered with impactful messaging, it is crucial to comprehend the target audience.
For a business aiming to scale, maintaining relevance and continuously addressing the needs of the target market is essential. That's why the first step should be to get clarity on the depth of knowledge about the customers.
A well-informed business will already have an understanding of its audience's key demographics, purchasing behavior, and interactions with the brand. This includes having a customer profile and an awareness of the ways the company currently fulfills its customers' needs.
To scale effectively, there must be sufficient demand to bolster future growth. Would new customers feel they could benefit from the unique value provided by your products and services.
One approach to gauging demand is by examining the competition. Analyze competitors' sales, their respective market shares, and gather data to create a realistic picture of their annual earnings. This can be done indirectly by visiting competitors' websites and monitoring their social media accounts. Additionally, engaging directly with customers to ask about their opinions of competitors can be useful.
It is also vital to gain an understanding of the overall market size to ensure there will be enough customers to support the business once it has grown. Investigate the types of products being sold, the number of units sold globally, and their prices. This information provides a monetary value for the market size.
Next Steps to Understand the Target Audience:
➤ Evaluate existing knowledge about your customer base. What do you know about your clients that could be helpful?
➤ Do target market research to establish proof of demand, market size, and the potential for a broader audience in need of your products and services.
2 - Evaluating the Market
Often, businesses only think about scaling when they reach the limits of their chosen niche, or of their internal capacity. Sometimes the motivation comes from watching competitors outpace them with significant growth.
To initiate scaling, it's important to evaluate the market.
How well do you know your market? Are you tracking and monitoring? Subtle changes in the market can tell a company that it’s time to scale, but only if they're paying attention to the market.
To regularly track and monitor the market and competitors, businesses should:
✔️ Conduct research and actively listen on social media.
✔️ Set up Google alerts for relevant keywords.
✔️ Stay current on industry news by reading top websites, blogs, and forums.
✔️ Attend industry events.
By consistently allocating time to assess the market, businesses can remain updated on new industry trends, changes, and potential scaling opportunities among competitors.
With a clear understanding of the market landscape, businesses can identify opportunities for scaling. Some potential ideas include:
☐ Targeting areas where competitors are losing business.
For example, during a recession or global pandemic, businesses might close stores or discontinue product lines. Explore ways to engage with these lost customers.
☐ Addressing dissatisfaction with existing products on the market.
Consumers may seek new products and services due to limited choices, creating an opportunity for the business to offer alternatives.
☐ Expanding the current product offerings to other market segments.
Market changes may generate demand for the products and services among new demographics.
☐ Adapting to technological changes.
Technological advancements can make products more relevant in the current niche or to entirely new segments.
A popular scaling strategy for businesses is to expand into a new niche. Consider related niches or areas of expertise that could provide a competitive advantage. Identify niches with little or no competition and the potential for dominance.
Research the target market and competition to understand competitors' niches and uncover new opportunities.
Next Steps to Evaluating the Market:
➤ Identify your current market or niche. What do you know about it?
➤ Explore potential niches for potential expansion.
3 - Expanding Your Product and Service Offering
One effective and fast way to scale your printing business is to expand and diversify your product and service offerings. This shouldn’t be done randomly, but strategically, with thought given to your market. If you know your marketplace well, finding a way to expand products to better suit the market’s needs won’t be difficult.
Remember that, generally speaking, the key to a good product is that it fulfills the audience’s needs—‘give them what they want.’ New products could help your current audience or could target a new audience into which you want to expand.
Consider your business’s strengths and weaknesses.
☐ Where have you had successes in the past? Is there something similar that you can offer?
☐ Think about complementary products or services you can offer along with your current ones. These can be offered as up-sells or cross-sells.
☐ There may be ways you can extend current products to meet new needs or confer new benefits. For example, there might be new technology you can add to your products to make them even more functional.
Offer New Products and Service via Trade Partnerships
One of the easiest ways to expand your product and service offerings overnight is to partner with us at Western Trade Printing (WTP.)
For example, the list of print products and services below probably contains at least one thing you don’t currently offer your clients. One phone conversation with us makes it easy to offer a wide range of new products and services to your entire client list.
Products - Western Trade Printing
|Annual Reports||Door Hangars||Posters|
|Brochures||Laser Safe Printing||Presentation Folders|
|Direct Mail Printing||Political Printing||Sports Programs|
| ||Services - Western Trade Printing|| |
|Automatic Gate Folding||Kit Assembly||Printing with Computer-to-Plate|
|Computer-To-Plate||Larger than 11x17 Digital Printing||Print-on-Demand Digital Printing|
|Consulting Services for Printers||Mailing House (Trade Only)||Publication Printing with Complete Bindery|
|Die Cutting||Map Folding||Publication Printing w/ Mailing & Fulfillment|
|Digital Printing||Paper Bands||Round Cornering|
|Drilling||Perfect Binding||Saddle Stitching|
|FSC® Certified||Plastic Coil Binding||Shrink Packaging|
|Fulfillment||Pocket Folder Binding||Trade Bindery Services|
|G7 Methodology||Prepress Color Management||Trade Only Printing|
|High Quality Large Sheetfed Printing||Prepress Digital Proofing||Variable Data Digital Printing|
|Image Modification/Correction/Manipulation||Printing with Bindery||Web2Print - Printer with Internet Ordering |
| ||Printing with Coating|| |
In addition, when you think of WTP’s capacity and capabilities as yours, this can be a powerful way to attract a new audience to your business. It can help you land bigger clients.
The Competition as Inspiration for New Products
Be sure to find out what your competitors offer so you know what you’re up against. It’s a good way to find gaps in the market where needs are unmet or ways to make your products unique. You can also analyze your competitors’ products and see if there’s a way your company can improve upon them.
You can also learn from your competitors by following them and taking note of their successes and failures. If a competitor launches a new product for a new market segment and it succeeds, analyze why. Do the same when a new product idea falls flat, or when complaints and bad reviews begin to mount.
Keep in mind that you may need research and development to create entirely new products. New products may necessitate new resources as well, such as new knowledge and staff training, new equipment, or a more robust supply chain.
Next Steps to Expanding Your Product Offering:
➤ What are your current products? Which ones are your best sellers?
➤ Come up with ideas for expanding existing products, creating a similar new product, adding services, or employing new technology.
➤ Call us at (559) 251-8595 to discuss how to add one or more of our products and services to your current offerings.
4 - Cost Planning: Boost Your Printing Revenue with Minimal Cost Increases
Scaling and the prep work that goes into it will help you boost your revenue. With prior planning, you’ll increase your revenue at a higher rate than you’re incurring expenses.
However, if your scaling plans indicate the need for some new expenses, you’ll need to be prepared for them to minimize them as much as possible.
Think about your current costs and how they might change. Common costs printing companies could face as they scale include:
☐ New raw materials or bigger quantities of the raw materials you’re currently using. For instance, do you have the funds or credit to buy and inventory bigger quantities of paper?
☐ Increased logistics expenses and a more complicated supply chain. Is there a plan in place?
☐ New marketing costs as you promote new products and services, invest in new marketing channels, or move into a new market segment.
☐ R&D and product development costs.
☐ Human resources. Will you need more staff? Or will this all be outsourced?
☐ Costs related to expanding facilities or equipment; for example, expanding your warehouse to maintain a bigger paper inventory or for warehousing and client fulfillment.
When you investigate the different aspects of growth and the possible costs it might incur, you can plan ahead. You can introduce procedures to ensure it all runs smoothly now and in the future.
For example, maybe a need for more complex logistics can be solved simply with a new piece of software that your staff could easily handle.
Another example: a good trade partner like WTP offers warehousing and fulfillment for your print jobs as they arise in your business. So there are no fixed costs for you to take on, yet you have the capacity readily available.
Another example: Equipment and staffing cost increases are minimized in a trade partnership. You have the capacity and capabilities of a much larger shop without having to make any of the investment.
We can help you calculate the costs of scaling your revenue in a partnership with WTP.
Next Steps in Cost Planning:
➤ Do an assessment of your revenue now and a projection of future income with scaling.
➤ Call us at (559) 251-8595 to collaborate on projected costs.
5 - Finding Your Motivation
Whether you own a commercial printing company, a quick copy shop, or a print brokerage, there are always new challenges awaiting. It can be a test of your strength and resolve.
The best way to stay motivated and to persevere in the face of setbacks is to be in touch with your “why.”
Your “why” will keep you motivated in tough times. It also ensures you stay on track without straying from your brand and its core values. You’ll always remain true to yourself if you know this core purpose.
Here are some ways to clarify your “why”:
☐ Try to remember why you first started your business. What motivated you during those difficult times?
☐ What motivates you now when things are tough? Think back to times when you struggled and drill down to discover how you stayed motivated.
☐ Think about risks you took and challenges you faced. What pushed you off the fence to do it?
☐ What are your passions? What change would you like to make in the world or in the lives of your target audience or in your community?
☐ What were the best decisions you ever made and why? List past successes of any kind—keep a victory list—and think about what drove you to succeed.
☐ How about the worst decisions you ever made? Did they inspire you to do something better?
☐ Why do your customers buy from you? What core values do they share with you? You can survey them to find out or bring up the topic the next time you speak with them. The answers will give you insight you might not otherwise get.
Once you have some answers, write it down and compile it in a simple statement that’s short but as clear as possible. Refer to it any time you encounter problems.
Next Steps in Finding Your Motivation:
➤ 1. Identify the “why” behind your business.
➤ 2. Clarify your “why” in a simple statement so you can easily refer to it whenever you need to.
Check out these articles for even more ways to grow your printing business.