Lip service or business service?Are suppliers really helping you develop your business or is all the talk of business partnering just a disguised sales tool? Canon LFP product professional Gill Mussell says why the former makes the most sense.
As digital print technology vendors we have a real responsibility to work with the industry to develop printers' capabilities by offering support and training so these businesses can get the best out of their equipment and the greatest return on investment. It's in our interests to support the industry and to make it a profitable environment for all concerned. That means helping to develop a customer's business strategy and expanding their current offering into areas that they may not have previously considered.
In the large-format printer (LFP) market, Canon's main sales channel is through resellers and distributors. We set out to equip our partners and resellers with all the tools they require in order to provide solutions and support alongside LFP hardware, creating a real value-add package for their customers. For us, our channel partners are an essential route to market, and to ensure an effective, two-way partnership that adds real value to end user customers, we run an accredited Partner Programme.
This programme provides ongoing training and education events, as well as integrated marketing materials in the form of sales tools, case study materials and website development, point-of-sales items and online promotions through the Canon website. We also offer dedicated Canon account support and service training so our channel partners always have a point of contact at Canon to speak to. This training and support enables our channel partners to work with their printer customers to develop their business strategy and create added-revenue streams through their LFPs.
Many partners also host their own initiatives for their customers. For instance, Velmex, one of Canon's largest distributors, uses trade shows and events to present seminars on 'how to make money from your LFP'. The company recently attended The Education Show in Birmingham, as well as Focus on Imaging in Birmingham and the Canon United for Growth event at Old Trafford Football Ground last year, to speak about the benefits of LFP printing and how users can make the most of it. In addition, Velmex offers one-to-one consultancy with its customers on how to generate business and how an LFP can fit into a customer's current portfolio of devices.
Whether it's partnering with our LFP resellers or targeting printers directly, a large proportion of our marketing initiatives are focused on helping end user of Canon equipment make the most of the technology and develop new revenue streams and grow business. One such recent initiative is the Canon 'Business Leap' competition which encourages printers to consider new ways of developing business and invites them to submit a business plan outlining a commercial venture showing how they're going to achieve this. Entrants have the opportunity to win an imageRunner Advance C9070 Pro, with a second prize of an imagePrograf LFP. As part of the competition, Canon also provides guidance in the creation of a comprehensive business plan, a key requirement when seeking access to finance.
'Business Leap' is a great example of how print technology suppliers can support the business growth of their customers as well as help them become more innovative themselves. To us, as a supplier, it's about lending support and guidance, encouraging new thinking and offering help when needed.
Suppliers should be viewed and used as valued consultants. Ultimately, we all operate in the print industry and it's in everyone's interest to ensure that the industry prospers.