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Color: a different point of view

30 Nov, 2011


"We (our industry) owns 7% of the market place.”  What does this mean?  With literally millions of dollars spent in R&D, marketing, training, technologies, certifications…we own just 7% of the market place. So, maybe we need to look at addressing color in a different way.

For years, we manufacturers have come to “you” with new technologies, components, color matching and various techniques to have you salivating at the mouth, in search of the golden ticket - that is color compatible cartridges and what it could mean to your profit and to your business, including MPS.

Today, collectively, we have only managed to scratch the surface.  Maybe our view should be from the people that matter most to our livelihood - the end user.

What expectations do your customers have of the color products that you provide?   If we go back to the basics of selling…we have heard that buying anything is an “emotional” decision. How then can we as an industry tap into this emotion to win additional business and grow our market share?

Let’s explore some of the buying decisions an end user might make when choosing color compatibles:

  1.  Is the product attractively packaged?   The days of the plain brown box are clearly over.  The OEM’s have invested millions in packaging research to ensure that the customer will be attracted to the brand which they are searching for.

Our tip:   Challenge your manufacturing partner to get better with their box….something that will draw people to you, the product, and most importantly, come back for repeat business. 

 2.  Is the product readily available?   Have you experienced your manufacturing partner being out of stock in a particular product?  Even one of the four colors?  Color requires an investment in inventory that is 4 times the monochrome investment.   The end-user’s expectation is to be assured there is available stock so they can print….not to wait for back orders.  When HP announced earlier this year that certain products were on allocation, many dealers ensured that they had sufficient inventory to manage customer needs. 

Our tip:   Invest and manage inventory to ensure end user expectations are met. Believe that nothing can be worse than selling from an empty shelf…it is critical that you maintain inventory…or your customers will pursue the product elsewhere - and you lose.

  1. Does the product perform?   At the moment of truth, does the product perform as advertised?  At the end of day, the bottom line is, the product has to perform, and consistently.  If not, the end user forms an opinion on compatibles that become an objection which is tough to overcome.  The issue of price,  stock, packaging or  certifications don’t matter if the product does not work.  Period.

Our tip:  Hold your manufacturing partner to a high standard on performance.  In today’s world, it is tough to get a customer and retain them.  Ask your partner to provide performance reports specific to the color category….not just an overall mix of product.

  1. Is the product of great value?   Too often, we start (and end) the dialogue with an end user, talking about price…and forget to build value into the product.  Without real value, the end user does not see the need to switch from OEM to compatible.  It is not always cheaper, but build on better value, a slogan that has been around forever.   The end user wants to get their money’s worth!

Our Tip:   Add value to every sale of consumables.  Whether it be extended warranty (which the aftermarket does), CPP versus the OEM product, or as simple as a percentage of savings…the end user must see the value.   

Food for Thought

Our industry owns 7% of the color market today in consumables.  Where would we be if we owned 10, 15, or 20% of the market? 

If we view our business from the ultimate decision maker’s viewpoint (the end user), we may find that we have a long way to go in making sure that our offerings in color live up to their expectations.  Think about why and what we can change. In the meantime,  good selling, and prosperous times to all.      

Gary Michaels is COO and co-founder of International Laser Group (ILG). Visit http://www.ilglaser.com for full company information.




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