How do you coax growth from a sluggish market you already dominate? That's the challenge faced by Kathleen E. Synnott, worldwide marketing manager for the large-company division of Pitney Bowes Inc. Her answer: Convince your old customers that they need something new.
For years, Pitney Bowes has virtually owned the mail-machine business. But with the market saturated, it's trying to reinvent what it sells. Enter Mail Center 2000, a new computerized system that allows mail of any size or shape to be weighed, stamped, and prepared for the Post Office in minutes. At $20,000, it isn't cheap. But automation, Pitney insists, will pull the antiquated mailroom into an efficient new future.
To Synnott, 38, has fallen the task of convincing both old customers and recalcitrant Pitney Bowes executives that the system makes sense. The latter have been a tough sell. During the design process, for instance, Synnott helped protect the original blueprint from execs who wanted to break up the Mail Center 2000 and sell it as upgrading components to Pitney's existing mail-metering machines. She also guided it through a technical maze, insisting on 22 simulations to make sure potential customers liked what they saw. "There were naysayers who didn't think we were ready" for such a system, says Synnott, the no-nonsense daughter of a Pittsburgh printer. "But they got religion."