Profiting via sustainability programs.
By Marty McGhie
Since then, we have designed a specific marketing approach to the products that we will offer our customers. We no longer try to offer a little bit of everything; instead, we've selected a good assortment of products addressing the needs of vinyls, foam substrates, corrugated substrates, pvc substrates, digital press papers, and others.
We then approach our customers with these products and work with them as to what will specifically suit their needs. We certainly don’t meet everyone’s needs, but this type of approach seems to be the most fiscally sound-and demonstrates to our customers our commitment to offering them green solutions.
Marketing your green expertise
You can leverage your green program to higher profits. But, product offerings that are oriented around environmental friendliness should not be solely price driven. Develop a marketing plan that creates value for your customers. While your customers will want a fair price, these products should earn higher margins for your business.
Because this part of our industry is really in the infant stages of development, very few of your customers are likely to understand what products are available for them to choose from. They'll rely upon your expertise to help them become environmentally friendly with their graphics. This places you in an advantageous position: As your role becomes one of a business partner and a consultant for their business solutions, you will no longer be merely offering them print for pay. Instead, you will be able to charge higher dollars for the value you add to their own business.
Also keep in mind that transitioning your business into a more sustainable company can be tricky. For example, our company recently sent out a mailer to our customers advertising our new line of green products. Without a thought, we simply produced it on our digital press on non-recyclable paper. It wasn’t until we received a pretty terse e-mail asking us how many trees we killed to produce the mailer that we realized our blunder. We could only laugh at our own shortsightedness. Even though it was only one e-mail, it did raise our level of awareness that when you get in this game, you’d better be in it for keeps.
No doubt we all have a lot to learn, but the future prospects of becoming environmentally clean in the world of graphics will be an exciting one. If you aren’t already heading toward that direction you had better jump on board, because this train is leaving the station.
Marty McGhie (firstname.lastname@example.org) is VP finance/operations of Ferrari Color, a digital-imaging center with locations in Salt Lake City, San Francisco, and Sacramento.
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