I recently read a short article titled “What We Have to Do” by NAPL’s Andy Paparozzi. As far as I’m concerned, Andy hit a home run with this short article. Why? Because he dealt with the elephant in the room – the printing business is never going to be the same.
He could have spent hundreds of words talking about shrinking markets or the need to add ancillary services or digital printing. Rather, he focused on what company mangers/owners must do to succeed. Here in a nutshell are the key takeaways –
We need to get better at what we’re doing. Are we still relevant to our clients? Will we be relevant to our clients in six months? Eighteen months? We can no longer afford to focus internally on “managing” the print shop. We need to become much more marketing oriented.
We have to commit ourselves to being a low-cost producer.
We are going to grow on the backs of our competitors. There’s not enough print to allow everyone to grow (there’s no rising tide to lift the boats); thus, we need to determine strategies which will allow us to increase market share. Paparozzi said, “Remember, market share is being redistributed from companies that print to companies that put print to work for their clients.” ‘Nuff said.
Although no one expects 2010 to be a banner year for the print industry, we are seeing signs of business returning. Given that so much of our industry is running very, very lean, the process of hiring new employees will be a challenge in ’10. So, now is the time to start thinking about hiring and retention.
The pool of available employees is practically non-existent; so, the temptation to “liberate” an employee from another employer will be the easiest option. Therefore, what are you doing to make sure you retain your best? Especially when they’ve been asked to work for fewer dollars, have had to work harder, their benefits have been reduced, and the specter of unemployment or business failure has hung over their head for the past year or two. “Well, at least they are employed,” is not a valid response. The economy will pick up and the grass on the other side of the fence is quickly going to look very green.
Now is the time to start reviewing all the changes which have been necessary to survive. Yes, many companies are still in survival mode, but now is the time to start preparing; so when the green shoots of prosperity sprout – your company is making sure no one starts jumping fences.
Now, the issue of hiring. Yes, it’s going to be tempting to steal an employee or two – but that’s not always the best solution. Our industry is presently going through major metamorphoses from the world of manufacturing to one of technology. If you are in the process of implementing major workflow changes, this might be the time to consider bringing an IT person (or sales) from another industry into your business. They’re not cheap, but they are not restricted by “we don’t do it that way” mentalities limiting a company’s ability to truly be successful in the new world of visual communications a.k.a. print.
Another issue is one of process. Who is going to do the interviewing for new employees, especially if you don’t have an HR department, which is the case in 80% of the industry? It’s a well-known fact that good hires result from good hiring practices. So, if it’s been awhile since anyone has done any hiring, do some reading (or contact PIA MidAmerica) and get briefed on do’s and don’ts (there are plenty of those).
Newly elected Massachusetts’ Senator Scott Brown’s campaign frequently referenced the number forty-one — signifying that if elected he would be the 41st Republican senator. Needless to say, the Democrats worse nightmare came to pass yesterday. No longer do they have the leverage of 60 votes in the Senate.
What does this signify for small business — it’s momentous. Although the health bill could still pass, the likelihood is greatly reduced. Cap and trade is now no longer a slam dunk and any potential bills regarding “card check” become much more difficult to pass. These are the pluses.
But let us not forget that for the past decade — and more so the last several years — we have congressional representatives who have become strident in moving their position forward rather than trying to work for a common good. We need more statesman and less politicians in Washington. Because there is a need to reform the health care system, and climate change IS an issue, and we do need regulations for financial institutions. We just need balance and individuals who understand it’s not just about keeping the extreme left — or right — happy.
Let’s hope 41 understands these issues and Congress puts aside it’s “payback” mentality.
One of the true values of the Internet is the ability to quickly (if not instantly) communicate with one another. And I’m not talking about the irrelevant messaging of “I’m headed off to Starbucks for a double skinny latte.” Another value is the opportunity to create community and share with one another, and I think that’s very important for those of us in the visual communications industry a.k.a. print.
As I’ve discovered with Cup-a-Joe, through blogging we have the ability to share thoughts, which hopefully create dialogue on issues of importance to us. More importantly, our willingness to share can create a stronger community. When you get a chance, check out this blog by PIA MidAmerica member Cathy Lawrimore, who has some neat thoughts to share about print sales. Of course, Cathy’s not the only member in the blogosphere; so, if you want to share your thoughts with your industry peers – let me know!
Back in November I wrote a blog titled “Print Is The Medium.” Since then I have seen more and more “thoughts” on the importance of selling print as a media. Several good points were made by Tom Wetjen at Graphic Communications World. Let me summarize.
1.) Promote the effectiveness of print in new, compelling ways.
2.) Change the perception that print harms the environment.
3.) Coach print buyers to view the relationship between print and digital as “and,” not “either/or.”
4.) Explore, understand and provide technologies that make print come to life, such as QR codes.
None of these thoughts are new, but Tom did an excellent job of stimulating thought. Bill Farquharson, who’s no stranger to stimulating thought, this past Monday shared a link from a friend of his in Boulder. It too is worth sharing; so, check out this blog written by David Heitman in the Boulder County Business Report.
Remember, print is NOT dead. Spread the word!