Dr. Joe Revisited

Did you miss getting a chance to hear Dr. Joe Webb last week in Kansas City or Dallas/Fort Worth?  It was an extremely informative meeting with over 80 attending in total at both locations, and to quote Dr. Joe, “Many folks say I’m much more depressing in person than online.”  That’s the knock on “Dr. Doom” as he is known by many — but Webb’s prognostications have been on target when it comes to the general commercial printing industry.

Joe’s key message at these meetings was there is no more “business as usual.”  We live in an industry which is changing – but in a very different way than in the past. From the days of letterpress up to about the year 2000, the changes were fast and furious (hot metal to cold type to desktop; letterpress to offset litho to digital) – but they were internal changes.  As an industry, we were changing the process used to produce print. With the advent of the Internet and the rapid expansion of advertising/marketing channels, our industry has been affected by outside sources — and will continue to be so challenged over the next 20 years.  The result will be that our industry will share a much smaller slice of the advertising pie.

The analogy Dr. Joe used was a pizza which was sliced in half – that was the old model.  Advertisers would either use “media” (radio/tv) or print to distribute their message prior to 2000.  The new model looks like a “Twister” board with probably 30 different choices an advertiser could make, e.g. Broadcast TV, cable TV, internet TV, social media, direct mail, print, radio, viral marketing, etc., etc.  Yet, advertising budgets have not grown, and advertising/marketing decision makers will make decisions which mean less of a slice for print.

But all is not lost per Joe – and that’s why his book (the premise of the presentation) is titled “Disrupting the Future.” He shares ideas of how companies in our industry must find ways to not do business as usual in order to “disrupt” the future realities.

Although the presentation was sobering – the message was clear.  Change the way we think about ourselves – think as entrepreneurs and find ways to help our customers achieve their end goals – regardless of how their message will be delivered.  Per Webb, our industry is uniquely positioned and skilled to be a key player in this new world of media.


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