Our guest post today is from Lisa Bickford. Lisa, president of Highlight Printing, is a veteran of the printing industry and a lover of all things printed. Since 1984 she has worked her way up through many areas of the industry before acquiring Highlight Printing in 1996 with her husband Don, who has also been in printing since the early 80’s. The things she continues to find most satisfying are the wonderful business relationships that have developed with clients, vendors, & co-workers, and the energy that is created from challenge resolution.
If you are like me, these days are filled with a weird mixture of frustration and excitement. Frustration because everywhere I look there is another report about the difficulties our industry is facing. Even the so-called industry experts have nothing but bad to say – so much so, in fact, that one is tempted to believe them. Excitement because personal experience is showing that opportunity is everywhere – so much so, in fact, that I am not sure which is the very best way to turn, because they all seem so filled with potential!
Allow me to take a step back to tell you a little not-so-secret tidbit about me: I LOVE printing. I have loved it since the first week I entered this wonderful biz. Have you ever seen that YouTube video from Pizzazz Printing? I AM that guy in every way…except I’m a girl, and I’m an American, and I don’t swear as much, and…well you get the idea.
Really…I want to yell it from the rooftops: I LOVE printing! In my passion for it, I choose to basically ignore the “cup-is-half-empty” folks. Sure, I skim the articles to make sure I am up on trends and whatnot and to make sure there is nothing earth-shattering coming my way. But after that I look for the influence of forward thinkers (including my rockin’ staff), combine that with what I already know…and then blaze my own trail.
Just yesterday I was excitedly talking to our bookkeeper, Becky, about all of the opportunity that is out there. In an effort to help me get direction (what, me…scattered?), she asked me for a quick list of where I saw that opportunity. Then she asked me, in her bookkeeper-y, sensible way, to quantify them – to put them in order of priority of which will make the most impact the quickest. Dang! She’s holding me back with all the sensible-ness! I just wanted to be passionate and yell from the rooftops!
OK, ok…I get it – I see the value in what she wants me to do, but it still is like pulling teeth to get me to do it, partially because I don’t have the priority part figured out for myself. (There’s something else you don’t know – Karen Hall, the editor from Quick Printing magazine, after hearing about our lofty growth goals this year, has asked me to write an article every other month for the on-line version of Quick Printing Magazine tracking my progress…so I guess it would be smart of me to do what Becky the bookkeeper has asked – at least I won’t appear quite so scattered.)
So here’s my blurted out list to Becky the bookkeeper…in no particular order…remember, I don’t have that pesky priority part figured out yet:
- Direct Mail
- Trade shows
- Customer Events
- Community Service
- On-line marketing and communications
- On-line networking
- In person networking
OK – so that’s a list of all of the getting-in-front-of-people opportunities. But what if we work our tail off on all of these things and nobody is buying printing? (Yikes! Say it ain’t so!) OK…It ain’s so! I am here as personal testimony that they ARE still buying printing. I will say it again, even in these crummy economic times in which we live, businesses still need a reliable, quality conscious printer they can develop a great relationship with. (I can also give you arguments about why printing is a BETTER marketing and communications vehicle and why I see it perhaps becoming the premier form of marketing communications, but that will have to be for another blog.)
So how do I pick and choose and juggle between all of the getting-in-front-of-people options listed above? THAT is my next challenge – to put focus on my drive and desire. When I finally perfect my technique of going completely without sleep while still not biting my kids’ heads off, THEN I’ll be able to do all of it at once!
As one of my very first sales managers used to tell me, “Success in selling is all luck…being at the right place at the right time. Hard work is how you create that luck.” I would say exactly the same thing is true these 20 some-odd-years later. Yes, people are buying printing. Yes, we work in a fun, active, satisfying, wonderful industry. And yes, we have to work hard to make those sales. Would we really want it any other way?
Yell it with me: I LOVE Printing!