Sometimes all it takes to attract new customers and stimulate sales is a minor correction to your existing business model or a smart investment.

But which new ideas or investments are really good? What are the success factors that really matter? And are additional resources needed that only become clear when you take a closer look?

The Business Model Canvas answers these questions and many others. The planning method was the brainchild of Swiss entrepreneur, lecturer and author Alexander Osterwalder and is used to describe business models. What works in other industries also helps print shops think through and deal with all the difficult questions that crop up when changing direction or repositioning a business in a step-by-step process. At a glance, companies can see whether they have taken all the key points into account and whether their plan can ultimately succeed.

Identifying and harnessing existing potential

There is always scope to do more business in the sector, particularly if print shops leverage their outstanding process know-how for more than just straightforward printing and start to think outside the box – for example, by specifically offering their production engineering know-how as a service. There is an opportunity to do just that right now, because agencies are once again increasingly withdrawing to their core business of creative services. What they are leaving behind is open territory that print shops can move back into and market to customers at a profit – all for a minimal outlay.

There are lots of ideas along these lines floating around, and the Business Model Canvas can be used to develop them into a self-supporting business model. The planning method centers on a type of business wallpaper (canvas) divided into nine sections. Each section represents a key factor to be taken into account – from key activities and the value proposition to costs and partners that may be required. Various questions need to be answered for each factor. For instance, could a partnership with Heidelberg based on the subscription model make sense? What are the benefits? What are the drawbacks? By dealing with each item in the matrix one by one, print shops can gradually implement an idea.

Thinking things through again and again

The best way to fill in the sections is to work as a team and use post-its, as these can be moved, swapped and linked to each other. Once all the sections have been completed, the team has a coherent picture that can be refined in further rounds. It can easily take ten to twelve rounds before the plan finally takes shape and a marketable model starts to develop.

There is one thing in particular that businesses should bear in mind – the Business Model Canvas is no substitute for a business plan, which banks insist upon for financing. So why make double the work if the traditional business plan needs to be drawn up anyway in the end? It’s quite simple – working with the Business Model Canvas is the ideal preparation for drawing up a business plan that may be required. The final “picture” on the canvas is the result of an interactive process that has been continuously reviewed, checked and expanded. The results can be formulated in a business plan, and the initial hurdles on the way to repositioning are thus overcome.

“By switching to LED UV printing, we’re now successfully producing special applications that are not available from any online print shop.”

“Our recipe for success is based on authenticity and our wide-ranging portfolio. At the same time, we have made a name for ourselves as a niche supplier. On the one hand, our customers like to use our lettershop department’s services to produce mailings. On the other hand, we specialize in printing on plastics.

In 2017, in a move designed to increase our flexibility and efficiency even further, we opted to invest in a five-color Speedmaster SX 52 press with coating unit. The press can be operated either with full-UV or LED UV inks, making us much more flexible when it comes to printing plastics. This means we can now also produce special applications such as mouse pads, mats and high-end gift boxes. Above all, though, our plan to successfully position ourselves on this niche market has paid off. We enjoy strong customer loyalty because the products call for a great deal of advice and support. What’s more, there are only a few suppliers with a comparable portfolio. In that context, investing in the press was also an investment in our future.”

Peter Wiesendanger
Managing Director, Wiesendanger medien GmbH, Murnau, Germany

“As a small envelope printing business, we’re now as cost-efficient as a large company.”

“We specialize in printing envelopes, but we also offer business stationery. Two years ago, we decided to expand our business and looked for a press that would meet the toughest quality requirements while also boosting our productivity. In April 2017, we found exactly the right machine – the four-color Speedmaster SX 52 LED UV.

Ever since, we’ve been operating to the high cost-efficiency standards that are essential in envelope printing, and we’ve achieved outstanding print results. We benefit from the first-class quality of the inking and dampening system and the high register accuracy, which makes it easy for us to print motifs running off the edge on both sides. We achieve print results of consistently good quality, even in the case of small graphic, image and text elements, and now print some 50 million envelopes a year.”

Markus Bieler
Bieler Kuvert Druck AG, Wollerau, Switzerland

“Our business depends on optimum quality and short delivery times. We’re now practically unbeatable.”

“Many of our customers come from the watch industry. High expectations in terms of print quality and short delivery times are the norm for us. In late 2017, in response to growing customer demand for a wider range of substrates, we started printing on a four-color Speedmaster SX 52 press with UV technology and LED drying that is unique in the western part of Switzerland and has given us a number of competitive advantages.

For example, we can print on virtually any material to the highest quality standards, and we use Saphira consumables, which are perfectly coordinated with the press and are appropriately certified. What’s more, we’re doing something good for the environment, because the LED UV process saves energy and doesn’t generate any ozone. However, the biggest improvement for us is that we’re able to send printed jobs to postpress immediately, without any delay. This makes us practically unbeatable when it comes to delivery times.”

Eric Brechbühl
Druckerei Gessler.Zwahlen, St-Blaise, Switzerland

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