Naysayers and Yea-sayers

Howie Fenton

Howie Fenton talks to TACUP audience

Every organization has naysayers and yea-sayers. The number of their complaints or compliments can affect—and even determine—the perception of the in-plant.

Of course, the yea-sayers are just the opposite.

Measuring and Acting

Every organization has naysayers and yea-sayers, and the number or the amplitude of their complaints or compliments often affects, and perhaps determines, the perception of the in-plant. While we all know about the more vocal critics or fans, have you tried to measure them?

The numbers of naysayers and yea-sayers can be measured on surveys and through focus groups. A thorough analysis of an in-plant will do both and often target certain key questions such as best and former customers, products that are growing or shrinking, etc. In most cases, statements made in focus groups reinforce the data from the surveys and provide a greater depth of understanding about the data.

For example, in one large university in-plant we learned that the largest group of customers bought stationery products. Of course, this is a commodity product, and in the focus group we learned that those customers appreciated the competitive prices. The next largest group of customers identified in the survey talked about more specialized and expensive products, including large-format printing and VDP. In the focus groups we learned that these customers felt the in-plant provided greater value than the competition, and these products were used for marketing and sales purposes.

Don’t Ditch Commodity Products

What can you do with this kind of data? Many experts will say you have to distance yourself from the commodity products because it’s too tough to compete on price for them. These same experts will tell you that you have to grow the more value-added products and services. While we agree with the second point, we disagree with the first. Often you need the volume of the commodity products to afford the slow growth of the more value-added products such as VDP.

Related story: Texas University In-plants Gather in Houston

Howie Fenton is the Vice President of Consulting Services for IMG. For 25 years, he has focused on benchmarking operational and financial performance for enterprise and commercial printers. For more information, email

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