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New business development

Graphics | November 1, 2008 | By:

Fabric Graphics advisory committee members share their ideas.

Start with the products you already have.

Related fields, same product. Use your existing expertise while adapting to markets that currently use another form of the product. For example, if your product line is aimed at the outdoor market, what about marine or tents? What similarities exist that would lend to cross marketing?

Adapt your product. Look at markets that currently use a different approach to applications. What if you modified your product for that application? For example, if an industry is using wood to manufacture a product, what benefits might there be with metal and textiles?

Same field, new product line. I recently learned that a company in our community that processed film was closing. What was this company’s business plan when digital started to develop? They depended on their old product line without understanding the consequences. This is a prime example of looking at what was being sold (film development) and at what could have been done in creating a new market. Why not combine existing equipment with a trained staff and the addition of the Internet to offer a new product: high-end digital enhancement?

Pat Hayes, founder of Fabric Images, Elgin, Ill.

Your current customers could be the best new business development tool you have.

The marketplace is more competitive than ever. With rapidly developing technology it is possible to enter the market with a smaller investment. This results in a skewed “supply and demand” principal in favor of the end user. Therefore it is vitally important to differentiate ourselves so that we are known for the value we bring to the table, rather than just being assessed on cost.

There is always someone out there willing to sell it for less. Whether the nuances of comparing “apples to apples” is understood or appreciated by clients is often beyond your control. Nonetheless, it is important to pair value with cost, for when you do, you will often find an increasing level of loyalty in your customer base, which creates repeat business. Nothing can replace satisfied customers. They will come back, and they will tell others about the value you bring to their lives, and in their own right become business development agents for you.

David Kerchman, president of Flying Colors in Berkeley, Calif.

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