Authors Note: If you do not work in the printing industry, read this post from the perspective of accepting change in your industry and recognizing who your real competitors are.
Your competition is not the printer down the street. Your competition is Google. Right now, they are kicking your butt.
The Situation – The last decade has not been an easy one for the Graphic Communications (we used to call it Printing Industry). Many organizations failed to accept that changes in information delivery are permanent and ever increasing. Others were slow to adapt and now are scrambling for their very existence. For those companies with a real, authentic and sustainable business model built to sniff out change and hustle to adapt – good times are ahead.
For large segments of the population electronic communication is overwhelming. Use of email, and social media tools like Facebook and Twitter will increase, but the noise that must be overcome for your advertising signal to be heard make these mediums less than ideal for advertising and promotional dollars. On the internet you get about 2-3 seconds to capture the prospects mind so they commit to look further at your message.
The Opportunity – How many emails do you delete each day without even opening them? That is after spam filters have captured a large percentage of the noise for you. Now, take a look at your postal mailbox. If your pile of mail is like mine it is about 1/4 to 1/3 the size it used to be. There’s so little junk mail I actually look at the pieces now. All of them.
Some of the junk mail I receive is beautiful printing. Extended gamut, die cut, spot coated, hyper-personalized so that the piece speaks to my needs and solves my problem. Occasionally pieces are so impressed I hang onto them and show my wife. Yes, that matters – a marketing touch is a marketing touch. Do that with an email I deleted.
Direct marketing merchants are still printing catalogs, lots of them. Each catalog may have fewer pages and mail to fewer recipients but that just means there are more targeted higher quality versions of the catalog. The direct merchants know that a printed catalog increases the likely hood you will visit their web-site and continue to browse and ultimately purchase. Their catalog is no different than a pay per click ad, designed to drive traffic to the point of action where you can spend your dollars.
The Plan – I have worked with the leaders, the followers and the “now out of business.” I have watched, listened and learned in my almost three decades in this industry. If you have a sales staff that can sell and do the things listed below together we can be successful, very successful.
1. The golden age of printing is ahead of us not behind us, so you can stop whining and complaining now.
2. Stop watching re-runs on TV and read one business book a week instead. Yes, one a week, it’s a cake walk when you turn the TV off.
3. Learn what your competition is doing – not the printer down the street, Google, Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, etc. (Hint: If you don’t have accounts on all four of those – do it right now. You don’t have to love them, but you have to understand them before they eat your lunch.)
4. Embrace the G7 methodology and learn what GRACoL is all about. (have you read all the FREE documents here?) There will be plenty of commodity jobs to fill the presses that require GRACoL and G7. With the first four steps you just became a break-even printer.
5. In order to achieve and maintain the GRACoL master printer status you will need a top notch continuous improvement and process control program in place. Without a such a program in place the next step is out of your reach so don’t even bother.
6. To print stand out pieces extended gamut, die cutting, spot coating and hyper-personalization are the future. Do you understand the technology and consumables you will need to get there? (Hint: The future is now and you are already behind if you don’t have the a plan.)
7. Pick your suppliers and outside experts carefully. Ask yourself if they have skin in the game. If they are drawing a paycheck as opposed to holding an equity stake in the business the answer is no. Your local dealer rep (working for a mega dealer) scrambling to meet his sales goals and sell you more of the consumable you already use (that are less than ideal for your environment) seldom has the time or motivation to help you with the six steps above.
So, there you have it seven steps to create you own golden age of printing. If you decide to join me steps 1-3 can be completed by the end of the day and you can be well on your way to step 4 by this time tomorrow. The hard work will not even seem like hard work when you start to see the results.
Comments are open on this and all posts at JimRaffel.com. Join the conversation and let me know what you think about the above post and how implementing the steps is working out for you.