2006, George W. Bush is the nation’s president. The United States is at war in Iraq and the economy struggles to recover from a post Sept. 11 crash. Digital files can be sent across the country in a matter of minutes via the Internet and the Mp3 player is first-rate technology for compiling music collections. Business forms manufacturers are now solutions providers and BFL&S has changed its tag line to read “The Publication for Distributors and Manufacturers of Printed Products.”
today, the buzz words are more hip, the equipment mixes more high-tech, the products more diverse and the marketing methods more sophisticated. Sales pros have morphed into solution-oriented service providers adding value to build relationships in tech-savvy environments where laptop-totting, cell-phone-using, iPod-listening end-users are obsessed with upticks, downsizing and seamless workflows for increased efficiency and reduced costs.
For their part, suppliers have moved the main business focus from conventional business printing to the total delivery of a message or piece of information by various means. Add to all of this, the shift in the competitive landscape, in particular the age-old battle between the independents and the major directs with the Nov. 2005 WorkflowOne/Relizon merger.
Change is inevitable, but growth is optional. Ironically, the key lies in the one factor that has remained constant since even before the days of the green-bar paper boom—listening to customers’ needs. By continuing to understand and respond to customers’ changing business needs, manufacturers and distributors will find future success.
Hold on to Your Earbuds
Doug Traxler, executive vice president of sales and marketing for Baltimore-based Webb/Mason (established in 1989) said that what most characterizes President Warner Mason’s successful leadership style is his ability to listen to customers. “Our customers are responsible for the change in our distributorship model,” he said. “Webb/Mason didn’t consciously set out to become a print management company. Our customers told us that it is in this capacity that we are most valuable, helping them to capture information, control brands and measure results while making it easier for employees to access the print media being created.”
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