My most promising sales relationship for 2012 is with a gentleman who, at the young age of 73, is as curious about technology as an environmentalist is passionate about propagating the false notion that trees are not renewable and, subsequently, printing is not sustainable. In other words, he is the biggest fellow geek I have ever met!
Over my 15 years of sales and marketing in this industry, I have yet to meet a person who has sought out, embraced, and deployed new communication tactics, marketing strategy, and printing technologies so as to force change in his clients. I asked him why he so fervently seeks obsolescence when he can take the recommended annuity approach to print. He replied, “Sudhir, I have had a lot of customers over the years, but technology has changed so much since the ’30s, that it (change) is actually the only constant.”
Being a measured man, he followed that up with, “However, always remember, pioneers are always the ones that get scalped.”
The take away there is that we should not innovate for the sake of innovation, but innovate for the sake of application. Remembering his comments over the holidays, I spent a good deal of time thinking about how to apply this simple but powerful advice.
We all start the new year with fresh legs and, hopefully, greater clarity on how to grow our businesses. In the first week of returning to work, I separated customers by levels of innovation into three simple buckets: 1) laggards, 2) adopters, and 3) innovators. I then took our 20 or so services and started applying them to each of the three levels of innovation.
I quickly had what started to look like a quality sales path and one which I am excited about reporting and commenting on via Twitter/LinkedIn. As our company’s primary sales channel is print brokers, agencies, and forward thinking printing companies, we are challenged to stay ahead of the curve and to offer services (mostly tactics) such as dynamic mapping, PURLs, customized QR codes, mobile websites, as well as complete solutions (mostly software) such as Drip Marketing, and variable document composition.
The exercise described above showed me that I was oftentimes proposing solutions (and spending a lot of money doing so) to groups who were simply not of the mindset to adopt the solution. It also showed me that some were spot on and energized me about the prospects of 2012.
Join the Theme
I am a big fan of themes. For 2012, I believe our industry’s theme needs to be unified, and for that we need a rallying slogan. For example, Caesar famously proclaimed “Veni, Vidi, Vici!” when he faced adversity against the Persian king, Pharnaces. As our industry goes through its fair share of change and adversity, I say “Mobilize! Personalize! Socialize!” These three service categories, which you may or may not be offering, just might be the ticket to keeping your print relevant.
Keep printing, my friends!
Sudhir Ravi is a serial entrepreneur in the marketing services industry who grew up in his father’s quick printing business. After successfully starting and selling two technology businesses, he started a variable data print practice within TVP Graphics in Streamwood, IL, in 2004. Contact him at email@example.com or 312-772-3191.