For label and packaging companies marketing to product manufacturers, this type of development presents potential challenges and opportunities. On one hand, it can cause companies to rethink and/or slow deployment of programs. For digital label companies and the like, however, it may enhance the appeal of doing quick-turnaround shorter runs to meet immediate needs while longer-term situations play out. So, it’s truly a double-edged sword.
Cannabis is just one example of a dynamic marketplace’s position in an era when one statement or position taken by a government/regulatory agency or report can upend the tenuous “status quo.” Its lessons can serve to help identify potential issues before they ever become reality and reinforce the importance of planning for all contingencies to remain nimble and responsive.
Following are key ways to “raise the consciousness” of product manufacturers about fast-changing, ever-evolving circumstances that characterize commerce today:
1. Use an emergent issue or development as a reason (and way) to reach out to discuss possible ramifications. No matter what industry, there’s likely to be something to latch onto as a topic of conversation. This isn’t always something potentially negative. In fact, promising developments can (and should) create just as much discussion buzz, if not more. Arguably, it’s worse to mishandle rapidly growing volume than to suffer from declining sales.
The pharmaceutical/nutraceutical world is a prime example of roller coaster developments, both good and bad. Anything from a study claiming positive or negative effects of a specific product to a regulatory or government investigation of product claims or assertions can be fair – and immediate – game that impacts its ebbs and flows. One negative report of a particular product’s imperiling or killing of people can send everything into a tailspin within hours. And, once the “genie is out of the bottle,” the ambulance-chasing attorneys will be trumpeting the terror with relentless TV commercials warning consumers.
2. Use a dramatic example to complement the conversation. Even if this doesn’t involve the industry being contacted, an example such as cannabis can get people thinking – and hopefully thinking ahead. Cannabis is a great example because it’s timely, poignant and high profile. Even though the ramifications of Sessions’ comments are unlikely to radically alter the industry legally in the near-term, its psychological effects are sure to impact the nascent realm of cannabis. Based on “early returns,” it can be argued that the declaration is ramping up sales, potentially because consumers fear a threat to future buying ability.
3. Run a series of potential scenarios and how to address each one. Once again, cannabis is a perfect example to set the stage for a discussion of potential scenarios in just about any industry. Here’s a wildly popular product that’s threatened by federal government intervention. Structuring label and packaging orders can be discussed according to the following basic scenarios: a) short-term skyrocketing demand in light of a potential shutdown coupled with the opening of new states – such as California – to recreational cannabis; b) shifting operations from recreationally-based cannabis over to the medical side, which may be less prone to interference; c) handling roller-coaster occurrences that may keep the industry twisting in the wind (e.g., court challenges to the Department of Justice, existing Congressional legislation that protects purveyors adhering to state regulations, Sessions’ own potentially tenuous hold on his position).
4. Reinforce your company as a trusted, go-to resource no matter what happens. Using industry developments as examples (and perhaps cannabis as a “lead dog”), label and packaging companies can further cement good relationships with customers. By being proactive in recommending strategies covering any number of possible outcomes, savvy firms can provide reassurance, demonstrate the value of proactive planning over Chinese fire drill-type reactive behaviors, and generally make companies feel more certain of their position in an uncertain world.
It’s important to approach these conversations from a helpful how-to, problem-solving perspective versus any type of outright sales or upselling pitch. This should be every bit as much about relationship-building as sales – and both will occur if it’s handled correctly. Also, consider approaching companies from the vantage point of a keen observer of industry trends – not just pushing on a potential pain point. While traditionally effective, pain point selling may be starting to backfire. Many people have had enough bad news and are looking for positive, constructive ways to survive and thrive. They don’t need to be scared any further.
For the foreseeable future, the name of the game will be moving targets and how to keep hitting bullseyes, no matter where they’re located.
Mark Lusky is a marketing communications professional who has worked with Lightning Labels, an all-digital custom label printer in Denver, CO, USA, since 2008. Find Lightning Labels on Facebook for special offers and label printing news.