- A broad reduction in business volume,
- Long-time customers who disappear or merge,
- Order frequency declines,
- Job runs get smaller,
- Customers want more for their marketing dollar, etc.
The iPod was barely a year old when Mr. Jobs made his comment, above. Apple dominated the personal, portable music player market but was already releasing the third generation of the iPod. If Steve Jobs had been in the printing business, he might have been looking for ways to provide great [new] products for his print customers. So, what great products can printers offer? There are QR codes, websites, print-on-demand, mobile apps and wide-format, among others. And, there’s variable data printing and PURLs.
Steve Jobs was a big proponent of personalized things, which happens to be one of the primary uses of VDP. We often forget, but the original Apple was touted as a “personal” computer when mainframes were the order of the day. Then, there was the iPod that permitted people to create a personal collection of music to carry around. The iPhone, with its thousands of “apps”, certainly redefined personal mobile …uh…just about anything. If Mr. Jobs had been in the printing industry, there’s no telling where we might be today.
“A lot of companies have chosen to downsize, ...”
This is what a lot of printers have already done…and some continue to do. It is hard to see how to add great new products under such circumstances. Many printers are simply looking for ways to continue offering the same products while no longer having the in-house staff they once had.
Outsourcing is one way printers can maintain, and even expand, their product offerings - following the Steve Jobs concept of “We took a different path.” For example, outsourcing the VDP print file work is a way to control (or reduce) costs while keeping VDP as a product or adding a new product offering. In tough business times, customers may be more willing to try something new. Although a VDP job is more expensive than static print job, the increased effectiveness (in response) might be used as a rationale to send out fewer pieces…and possibly reduce the cost to the customer.
It’s not clear what Mr. Jobs meant exactly when he said, “…putting great products in front of customers.” Why not try putting VDP in front of all your customers. What do you have to lose? If some of them “bite”, we have you covered. If you tried this before, you may find some customers have changed their minds.
There’s no argument that Steve Jobs took a different path - quite successfully. You might want to think about your own version of a different path such as VDP and outsourced file work. Then again, you can always reflect on the original meaning of WWJD.
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