This case provides students an opportunity to see both long- and short-range market planning in a small company. The case also illustrates a strategic shift from a production orientation to a marketing orientation that is common among small, but growing firms.
Various aspects of the firm’s functions are addressed including personnel, operations, marketing, and general administration. The story is complete and colorful because the current president of Sigma Marketing, Mike Sapit, wrote the case. Rarely will students have an opportunity to hear the inside story of a business like this directly from the owner. Many students may work for a company the size of Sigma; therefore, this case should provide a look at the more personal side of working in a small business.
The corporate plan emphasizing marketing is unique for small printers. The marketing plan focused on building a market for the desktop calendar—a unique product that provided flexibility in terms of unusual designs, advertising messages, photographic techniques, and other special requirements. In spite of the success of the calendar marketing programs and attractive profit levels, Sapit was disturbed by trends in the printing industry that pointed toward a diminishing market and increased competition for the commercial segment, particularly in Sigma’s local Rust Belt area.
The case also discusses Sigma's recent developments. These insights show the need to constantly innovate, even with products that are successful. Planning keeps the firm in line with the latest customer needs and provides customers with an even higher level of service. Sigma's “Total Service Package” allows customers to localize their orders through the imprints of distributors or branches. The added value associated with this program has led to the addition of larger customers and an attractive future. The company is an ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute) dealer and is Chain-of-Custody (CoC) certified—a designation that ensures the integrity of the paper supply chain (forest to mill) by certifying that the paper used by Sigma comes from responsibly managed forests. The company is also certified with the Sustainable Forestry Initiative and the Program for the Endorsement of Forest Certification. Chain-of-Custody certification is a response to the demands of Sigma’s customers and the company’s own desires to reduce their environmental impact.