Do you have the mindset to Make It?

Mathew Faulkner
Mathew Faulkner

EMEA Senior Marketing Manager, Professional Print, Canon Europe Ltd

For anyone at the helm of a business, 2020 and 2021 have been a rollercoaster ride. A constantly changing situation and limited concrete information to work with have meant that many decisions have had to be made on instinct and gut feel. ‘Agile’ has been part of management thinking for decades, but it’s taken on new significance during COVID, as leaders have had to respond, often in a matter of hours, to new situations, restrictions and challenges.
In the professional print sector, there’s no question of the dramatic impact the pandemic has had on order books, production volumes and working practices. The resilience we’ve seen in our customer base has been amazing. We’ve watched customers reorganise their workforce, manage staff absences, introduce new systems and processes, accelerate plans to automate workflows, put online ordering in place for their customers, pivot production to new applications, and develop new service and product propositions to meet changing customer needs.
As a technology partner to these print businesses, we’ve supported with a combination of central and local initiatives to meet different needs and ramped up the information and business advice we share, whether through our customer-facing teams, via webinars and podcasts, and through our virtual Make It event, with its focus on business recovery and growth.
Listening to our Make It keynote speakers, all prominent experts on leadership, one thing was crystal clear. Surviving and thriving in tough times is really all about attitude. At times like this, entrepreneurs can’t always be sure of making the right decision, because they simply don’t have all the data. But if they come at things with positivity and purpose, they’ll bring out the best in themselves and their teams and keep moving forward. 
René Carayol talked about finding your ‘spike’, your unique strength, and honing it. Mental toughness expert Penny Mallory zoned in on the need to learn from setbacks and commit 100% to your goals. Simon Alexander Ong emphasised the importance of seeing obstacles as opportunities. “When you focus on what you can control, you become empowered to take action, and energised”, he says. 
Wise words. But if it’s hard to imagine what the future looks like, how do you decide where to put that focus? Talking to our Canon Ascent Programme mentors, all of whom are actively advising print businesses, one message is consistent – businesses succeed when they see their services and products through the customer’s eyes, strive to understand their needs at a deeper level, and find ways to add real value through the delivery of their services and products. 



Four ways to find your ‘mental toughness’

Our recent Insight Report points in the same direction. We interviewed 200+ marketing buyers, who told us overwhelmingly that their print suppliers are ticking all the expected boxes – quality, service, price. However, what many buyers are missing in their interaction with those suppliers is proactivity, creativity and expert advice.

These days it’s not enough to ‘just deliver’. Business is tough, and buyers expect more. They want to feel that their supplier is emotionally invested in them and their needs, that they’re in a true partnership built on shared knowledge and goals. So, if print businesses want to thrive, they need to take a step back from the process of fulfilling orders and producing print, and channel their energy and expertise into creating customer value.

How? By nurturing a much deeper relationship with the customer, built on an understanding of their business objectives, their sales and marketing strategy. Armed with this greater insight, the print service provider can then see print’s real purpose within that plan. They can offer ideas and share innovations. They can volunteer expert advice and guidance on how to make print work harder and smarter, to deliver positive results that the marketing decision-maker can measure.

Canon Insight Report Cover

For most PSPs, this requires a mindset shift. Many solid print businesses have been built over decades on quality, speed, efficiency and delivery. But the marketing landscape has shifted, and the decision-maker has to prioritise spend for the best, most measurable outcomes. The product itself – print – doesn’t necessarily need to change, but the quality of the conversation with the customer does.

We distilled this insight into this 10-point ‘Make It Mantra’ – a reminder of the behaviours that PSPs should major on to ensure they’re seen as value creators, not ‘just suppliers’: 

  • Be creative. Use your knowledge of print to show customers how to maximise impact and drive response. 
  • Be confident. Champion print’s unique advantages over digital – impact, authority and emotional engagement.
  • Be proactive. Push past the print order, challenge the brief, make suggestions and share your expertise. 
  • Be consultative. Ask questions to understand the commercial objectives and offer solutions, not just products. 
  • Be knowledgeable. Know your customer’s business and steer them to make sound choices that will deliver ROI. 
  • Be agile. Prove the value of print-on-demand to help customers move fast and flex their campaigns. 
  • Be digital. Talk the language of data and help customers target and personalise their print marketing. 
  • Be multi-channel. Understand print’s role in different customer journeys and place print in a campaign context.
  • Be accountable. Be ready to help your customer prove print’s ROI in commercial terms linked to business goals. 
  • Be different. Stretch your boundaries, build multi-channel expertise and exceed your customer’s expectations. 

As important as they are, you won’t find the words efficiency, quality, turnaround and speed here. It’s about elevating the discussion, seeing print in a wider context and pushing the boundaries.

Ultimately, the Make It Mantra reminds us that we need to adjust how we think about business growth and be guided by what matters to our customers. When we do, that all-important focus and purpose becomes much easier, because we can test any business development idea, any investment proposal with a simple question: does it help us to create customer value? If the answer is ‘yes’ then it’s most likely a recipe for success.

You can still access the Make It Festival content, including keynotes and mentor sessions. Click here.