The question is continually asked for printers, “What is the cheapest way I can print?” Another form of that question is, “What is the cost?”
Cost is relative. Sure, you need the best price. But you also need the most sustainable price. You also need the best price over time. A quick cheap solution may produce enormous waste in cost and environment over time. Printing 50,000 that are stored on the shelf and only half is used is really the price divided by 25,000. So a $50,000 job for a run on which only 25,000 will ever be used cost $2.00 a piece and damages the environment unnecessarily. Maybe you need to run 5,000 at a time at a cost of $1.10 a piece. If you succeed and need more, you can go up to the 50,000 and beyond based on profitability not cost of piece thinking. Chances are running digital fits. If you go to 30,000, you still have only spent $31,000 dollars and have not waste and no unnecessary environmental impact. You save money. The environment is handled responsibly. What a deal. Read the blog. Be responsible.
I’m not saying go out and buy the equipment being promoted here. But follow the logic. Stretch your mind as a buyer and person who uses print when you are talking to those that serve you. Read this blog.
Before we take a look into the six areas, let’s look at why these areas need addressed.
What is driving this fear of out of control print and media costs? What worries the executive? Pain points to the problem. It does not always point to the solution.
There is a valid fear among CFOs that continued dollar loss is unavoidable in print and related communications services. Studies show that in excess of 70% of CEOs distrust the marketing engine. The inability of marketing and communications areas to relate expenses back to profitable company growth stymies a financial analysis. Why settle for this? There are gains to be had. There are profits to be built and encouraged. The activity can be and should be measured with a hard look at Return on Marketing.
Another pain point is the threat of new media channels and mobilization demands. Marketers and executives alike tell analysts they are afraid they and their organizations do not understand what they need to know to adapt. They are thrashing and reading statistics of other attempts in similar organizations in disbelief and despair. What to do? Where to start? How much to spend? Will the long term value traditionally obtained through customer loyalty and persistency be affordable? How many channels of communication need to be engaged to be effective? Which will be life threatening if you don’t engage now even if the expense is unmanageable and lacks decent measurement points?
IT Collision Course
Add to those two the collision of IT and marketing that plagues most companies. IT has been the technology driver and owner of control of data assets. A continual emphasis on security and access and controls has made the information inaccessible and hard to understand for most marketers and communicators looking to take deep dives into segmentation and determine relevant categories of buyers on which to focus. Proliferation of disparate systems within most organizations means the data is not congruently analyzed. Add to that mess, the data was accumulated for operational purposes not for human communications and conversation and concern. It is dry and most times irrelevant. To work in the conversational communications of people to people in which marketing happens, the systems of accumulation and the intelligence behind them must be reworked. You cannot take a financial programmer and build a human sensitive interactive analyst. The change does not work in most instances. Certainly attempting to do it in the speed needed by marketing and communications and sales tasks most companies well beyond the capability of their human resources departments.
Late Adoption of New Media Marketing
Face it. You’ve waited too long. The competition is racing and working with new media and you just got your facebook presence online. It is static and not getting feedback from the right people. Forget about customers in this world. Focus on people. It is people that buy your products. And they are not talking to you. You have done something, but it is just not working. How do you leap frog over the inaction of the last few years when you should have been an early adopter?
Summary and Setup
If you agree with the dilemmas posed above, you know you have to do something about that massive print engine. It is a powerful tool in the Marketing 3.0 Blueprint. Trust me. All those other channels need print to bring them to life. That is one of the lies of the technology thought base. If you buy a lie in the beginning, you will suffer and suffer and suffer. Print is not gone. It is radically changed. It is interactive. It is humanized. It is responsive and direct and timed. It is focused and integrated. Using it in flat and traditional manners will get you decreasing return on your marketing and sales dollars. You need to optimize the engine and take quick advantage of the power of customization and integration of print media with other channels of communication. It is not cheaper to skip print. It is foolish. Neither is it smart to print like you have been printing. That won’t work. You need a new print engine that is dynamic, customized, interactive, data driven, communicative, and humanized.
We will begin to look at the six core areas that must be addressed in a print engine overhaul to build the powerful and competitive approach for your organization. You must.
Discussions with shops around the nation result in a few inevitables.
1. How do you get people to move forward?
2. How do you get other people to move forward?
That is a purposeful pun.
It really gets to be all about people in our efforts to change products and processes. Those changes always mean changes in people, projects and props (the tools and technologies). But the people are in the center of it all.
Product change means marketing and selling customers and investors. For an In Plant, they are the same. Customers are investors. They are the source of income and many times the only source. Sure, the CFO, COO, and CEO have strong opinions and input especially for transactional product lines. Yet, more and more effective print and distribution management for In Plants must engage the Marketing and Sales customers. That is high powered growth. Transactional has a high likelihood for being sourced and reduced significantly. You must move forward.
Process change is the same. Your highest sell is to your internal production teams. Next comes the customer. Many processes can be changed without engaging the customer. Yet, you need to ask yourself why you are doing changes if the customer does not benefit? They have an interest, even if it is just to know you are working on cost improvement or cost containment for them.
Prop changes are for the products and processes or they should not be done. Nuff said. You should not be retooling just to get the next fancy wangamahoochie. Technology must meet real business demand to go through the pain of change. Your production team must understand how the customer will benefit along with the product and the process. Your production team should improve skill and contribution and have more fun when you change technologies and tools.
Projects are what implement changes. Have them or die. A defined way to analyze, define, plan, implement, and optimize goes with every change. There are budget approvals and customer approvals and departmental approvals and worker approvals and self approvals and vendor approvals and IT approvals and on and on and on that must be planned and coordinated along the path to productive and prosperous change.
So people are involved in every step and every area of change. Those murky, hard to understand, mental, emotion, physical, and spiritual beings can make change heaven or hell.
Just for fun think of four types you will encounter.
Mundane Mary: The person will ask question after question. She will want to understand the universal and specific reasons for the change. Put her on the analysis team with a specific deadline. She might drive you insane, but she might find a hole in some plan that saves your hide.
Slap Happy Sam: The person will want to implement without a thought. Every day is an opportunity for a new party. He can get inclusion guaranteed as long as he is armed with a few facts to support his sales of you and the project. Make friends with him. Get him to understand how this change will improve happiness for someone.
Hard Ball Bart: Whew.. he will want profitability or cost reduction. This guy is important. He will make you justify in the right manners. Convince him. Do your homework.
Amiable Amy: She just want to get along. So make sure she is on the implementation and training track. She will work until it works for everyone else.
This is a blog not a book. So I am ending here. Just some thoughts to stir you up on the path to progress.
Over decades of assisting companies in healthcare, insurance, non-profit and retail, there are three essential adaptations that always play. For improvement to stick, you need the right stickem. Stickem? Remember the old glue sticks as a kid? We called any type of glue out of a pot or a stick, stickem when I was a kid.
That’s right. Start by adapting staff.
Raise Up Others. It is so easy to let folks down. Find a way to raise them up. You will grow when others grow around you. You stand on their shoulders.
Replace Yourself. It is essential that find others to replace your skills and expertise. Probably one of the most frightening activities of your career will be replacing yourself. What if “they” don’t need you anymore after you replace yourself? There is always someone looking for a new leg up, a new improvement, a new approach. There is a promotion waiting for the right person who is free because of great management development of others.
Visiting with one shop ten years after working with them was enlightening. One of my early hires during reengineering had risen to become the shop manager. We were visiting at a national conference over a cup of coffee. He looked me in the eye and said, “We still use the PAL method.” Puzzled, I asked him what he meant by the “PAL” method. He explained that I had initialed every new memo and organizational tip and note with “PAL”. Those are my initials. He and others had learned concepts of operations and improvement through those notes and continued using them ten years later. They did not need me, they had learned me.
Reinforce Service. Get that team to engage a full service mentality. In Plants and In House operations have bad reputations for service. Do whatever you can to find a new service mentality. Never rest on service. Years of acculturation can kill service. You find yourself not hearing what you really need to hear.
The same old tired product line is unexciting to your organizational customers. They want pizzazz and look and feel and different sizes and approaches. Sure, there is a penchant to live within the norm at every organization. Trust me, the norm is boring. You need some spice in your product line.
A recent in-plant manager talked to me about finding right support product for banner stands. A year ago, there was no capability to do banners. Now, the largest customer was demanding access to the new product line and they wanted it in volume repetitively. Foresight to acquire equipment and train staff had turned into a “have to” product line.
Find collateral services that accent what you already do so well. Can you add multi-channel support of email and landing pages to your direct mail? Can you add direct mail with variable impact to your brochure printing? Can you add online ordering and fulfillment on-demand to static box shipments of marketing collateral? What can you add that makes sense?
Customization is a must. Everything you do needs variable integration and segmentation design and capability.
Challengers in other departments, companies, other thought leaders, the market, all these need to be attended and addressed. Expect them and respond with wisdom and research and cooperation. Some of your biggest supporters will get mad when you launch a new product that helps another supporter. People just like to be in control and keep it all compartmentalized. That is, until they need something new that you don’t supply. You have to lead and laugh and remember they will come demanding more after getting upset that you grew.
Adapt Marketing Speak
Adapt your language and approach to each different audience. It is amazing how many sets of ears exist in our limited universe. Each has words they love to hear and ways they love to see information. Become an expert at telling the same story in multiple ways.
C Suite listens to different actions and words than your staff. These are results oriented, cost reducing, compliance happy, and culture protecting individuals. Speak the language. Make the emotional and logical connections with them. Help them see. They have seconds to assess new information, not hours. Be brief and positive.
When working with a client to add a product line, we had a C suite luncheon. Using new techniques of landing page survey, we acquired food and drink preferences. At the luncheon all the food and drink was ready and organized by name. C’s came into the room expecting a normal corporate cattle line. They received custom service. As the client presented the new information ears and eyes were open and ready for new input. The client took orders for that product line continually over the next year out of that one low cost personalization that touched the C suite ego. One top executive mentioned that luncheon a year later. To him, it was the most professional he had been treated in 30 years of leading his corporation.
Your customers don’t care what you do for others. They just want to know what you do for them personally. Find that one product line or service that is most meaningful to them and make notes. Find a way to make it appear easier at the right time on the right day. Find ways to customize and improve it.
Working with one client, we modified a “book of forms”. They were shipping these to each new customer. Through some simple cooperation with the IT web folks, we created a custom variable post card mailer using mainframe data feed. Everyone struggled with the concept. The forms went to online download. The cost went down over $120,000 a year. We kept the customer for the client. Other business that came into the shop from that customer more than made up for the $60,000 a year in print that went away.
Influencers are looking for ways to grow their contribution. Show them how you can help them do that. Help them move up in the eyes of their clients and customers. Find out the influencers in your organization and find ways to advance their cause. It is amazing how you can help someone in administration by simplifying business card ordering processes.
Whew! There you are. Here are three essential areas to adapt. Staff, Marketing, and Product all need adapting to move forward. Of course, there are more areas. But without these, the others are meaningless. Love your customers enough to talk to them in their language. Love your products enough to do them with excellence and continuing improvement. Love your staff enough to build them into a better body of service.