Providing Clarity and Focus Through Market Research
During a time of major uncertainty within the print industry, thorough and wide-reaching market research enabled Newnorth Print to clarify its business strategy in order to secure its long-term future.
Newnorth Print are a well-established commercial printing company based in Bedford. Over the years they have built good working relationships with a variety of customers. The business continues to provide a range of high quality, traditional printing services such as magazines, business stationery and leaflets, alongside complementary services including interactive print and e-catalogues.
The print industry has been undergoing a period of change with a trend towards digital alternatives to hard copy. At the same time, the recent recession has claimed some of the less robust print companies.
Newnorth were looking to implement a marketing strategy to help secure the long-term future of the company.
Although the Newnorth directors were aware of some of the issues affecting the industry and were putting strategies in place to overcome these, there were a number of unknowns that could also impact on the future success of the company.
Some of the key factors and unknowns influencing Newnorth and the print industry as a whole included:
- A number of competitors and suppliers had gone out of business; what factors had contributed to this?
- Many print companies were cutting their prices, creating a commoditised market; how could Newnorth add value to their customers to avoid cutting prices?
- An expectation that the print industry would continue to contract; were there any sectors within the industry that would remain stable or expand in the future?
- Due to uncertainty about the future of the industry, staff morale was low; how could Newnorth work with their employees to improve morale?
- Newnorth traditionally specialised in high volume/low profit print jobs however these large print runs were becoming less frequent; how could Newnorth refocus their attention in other areas of the print industry?
Newnorth approached Enterprise Marketing Solutions to discover answers to these questions. EMS proposed undertaking several areas of market research to provide these answers and ensure the business and marketing strategy for the future, was based on factual information.
The Enterprise Marketing team conducted a series of market research projects to provide clarity on the overall situation and outlook for the print industry, and address the unknowns. These included:
Employee Research – to understand the internal expertise, interests and motivations of staff in order to help improve internal communication and morale.
Mystery Shopping – to understand the first impressions of Newnorth as a potential client. What level of customer service was received and what perception was left as a result of dealing with Newnorth?
Competitor Research – to understand which companies Newnorth were competing against both nationally and locally. This helped to identify any gaps in the market and determine how Newnorth could be positioned going forwards.
Industry Research – to understand where the print market was currently, where it was forecast to go and where Newnorth fits into that future picture.
Client research – to help understand existing clients’ perceptions of Newnorth such as their understanding of the services offered, levels of customer service, what they thought Newnorth were doing right, and any areas where they felt Newnorth could improve.
The results from each aspect of the research were initially presented in detail to Newnorth directors summarising the key findings and recommendations. The presentation reinforced some of the trends and statistics that they were already aware of, providing additional clarity and understanding regarding the impact this could have on their business. It also identified opportunities in the market that could be capitalised on.
By focusing their attention on these key opportunities, Newnorth have since re-evaluated their future business strategy to protect the long-term survival and growth of the company.
Based on the findings from the research and revised business strategy, Enterprise Marketing created a comprehensive marketing strategy focused on:
- Repositioning Newnorth within the print industry
- Identifying key target markets and how to communicate with them effectively
- Communicating effectively with employees
- Building even stronger relationships with existing customers and ensuring they are aware of the full service offering.
“As a business we knew we needed to make changes, we had an idea of what we needed to do but were unclear on how to achieve long-term success. The market research Enterprise Marketing completed provided a real insight into the future of the printing industry and how Newnorth fits into this dynamic market. The findings were aligned with our strategic plan, helped clarify our objectives and provided the focus we need to drive the business forward.”
David Hennessy, Director, Newnorth Print