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Issue Date: August 2004

Reinvent yourself to stay in business

August 2004
Stan Hannath

Business is business, and it does not matter whether we go back 50 years or catapult ourselves 50 years into the future. What is important, especially today, is that we must constantly reformulate our methods.

Business is business, and it does not matter whether we go back 50 years or catapult ourselves 50 years into the future. What is important, especially today, is that we must constantly reformulate our methods.
I learnt quite a lot from my late father-in-law. He was a canny Scot with a harsh accent and a great sense of humour. He also happened to be a scratch golfer for many years, which never made me feel particularly good about my own game. But when he was not out perfecting his swing, he was a wool merchant who added value between the mill and the tailor.
And therein lies the lesson; while he could add value in the supply chain between manufacturer and customer, he and many others flourished. The best cloth was manufactured in the UK and hungry tailors from Milan to New York lapped it up. With time came change and hundreds of wool merchants were faced with two options; reinvent your service or seek new employment. Because if you do not reinvent, the market always finds you out.
When I read advice from strategists it all seems like common sense and still so few businesses seem to just do it. Someone once said that the printing industry is the second oldest profession in the world and I suppose that is why it is viewed as it is.
Nowadays changes in technology are so dramatic in graphic communications that there is not really a printing industry as such. Although technology is a tremendous enabler, it is not the be-all and end-all. Nothing can replace direct contact with a customer, or the trust that materialises out of such a relationship. If you trust your graphic communications partner you will be willing to accept how printing technology could benefit your company.
With ever improving technology that brings printer and customer together, the question is raised as to what the future role of the independent print broker is? Is there a future? Maybe, like the wool merchant, he will survive only if he can add value that outweighs his costs, and evolves to stay abreast of changing times.
*Stan Hannath is MD of Creda Communications.
[This article was originally published in Creda's Blueprint magazine. For details visit www.creda.co.za or e-mail blueprint@creda.co.za]


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