The Association for Print Technologies sued SGIA and NAPCO for trademark infringement and unfair competition. The suit resolved amicably, with SGIA and NAPCO denying liability by changing the name of their event from PRINT United to PRINTING United.
You can wade into weeds about the legal aspects of this issue if you want, but I’m more focused on some telling data released by SGIA in conjunction with the event.
Taking Advantage of “Adjacent” Marketing Opportunities
In their study, “Convergence in the Print Industry: Understanding Growth Opportunities and Competition,” SGIA revealed how segments are starting to take advantage of “adjacent” marketing opportunities. For example:
● 43% of Commercial printers are considering adding Label printing
● 32% of Commercial printers are considering adding Folding Carton printing
● 37% of Commercial printers are considering adding Signage/Graphics
● 40% of Signage/Graphics companies are considering adding Commercial printing
● 44% of Garment printers are considering adding Commercial printing
On the surface, this seems like a no-brainer concept. You have a customer, and your customer will likely need printing in all these adjacent areas.
However, this type of approach is easier said than done. The most striking difference is obviously the big iron: Different market segments require different pieces of equipment, and that requires more capital. Do you venture into a new area, or buy better equipment for your current niche?
Experience Just as Important as Big Iron
Big iron is critical, sure, but you get nowhere without expertise. From operations to finance to sales, a new market segment requires experience and innovation at the same time. You’re already behind in the race, and the only way to get ahead of the competition and steal customers is by doing something better. That’s a tall order.
Look, my point is not to dissuade pursuing adjacent opportunities. Far from it. Growth is good, and there’s no faster way to expanding organically if you can bring new product to an existing customer base.
Just heed the cautionary tale of how the tech giants have fumbled and bumbled their own respective expansions into each other’s territories. Did Google Plus unseat Facebook? No. Did Bing bonk Google Search? Strike two.
Any expansion requires a tempered approach. Courage is needed to expand your printing biz, but arrogance will only result in disaster. Proceed, but proceed with people, strategy, execution and cash. It’s all a risk – so do it right.
Rock LaManna is the author of L&NW's popular column, The Bottom Line. Rock helps printing owners and CEOs use their company financials to prioritize and choose the proper strategic path. He is President and CEO of the LaManna Alliance, and provides guidance on how to grow a printing business, merge with a synergistic partner, make a strategic acquisition, or create a succession plan. Rock can be reached by email at Rock@RockLaManna.com.