Farquharson/Tedesco on Business Development: Mimic How the Octopus Adapts

Let’s start off with a quick printing history lesson from a couple of ex-print-sales guys. During the past 30-odd years, what’s been required for sustained growth in our industry has changed repeatedly.

The progression has gone something like this:

  1. Back in the 1980s, simply offering a quality product and adopting the right technology (e.g., electronic prepress) consistently put dinero in the banco for printers.
  2. By the ’90s, quality had become ordinary, but printers with fast turnaround speeds stood apart from the crowd.
  3. In the 2000s, the goalposts moved again: only printers that had complete value propositions—with perhaps a smidgen of digital marketing excellence on the side—were growing.

Printers today need to nail items 1, 2, and 3 to even have a shot at growing in the traditional, organic way. Just one problem: we’re no longer a growth industry. In other words, executing in all the areas above to squeeze out market share growth will likely get you… about back to baseline. Whoopee!

Now, an even quicker economics lesson. Since 2006, the number of U.S. printing facilities has declined about 40 percent. And total printing industry output has declined from the mid-$170 billion range to around $140 billion. You don’t have to be the Freakonomics guys to figure out this has been a TOUGH situation for us.

Darwin was right: only the strongest printers have survived. And this presents yet another challenge for survivors. Since most of us have it together on items 1, 2, and 3—let’s be honest, those that didn’t are resting in peace for the most part—these attributes are no longer exceptional in our industry. A well-run printing business will survive, but that’s about it.

Surviving isn’t enough. Your printing business should strive for significant, sustainable growth. And you can do it! As long as you think and plan differently.

As a 30 year sales veteran, Bill has the perspective of a been-there, done-that sales rep in the commercial print arena. Following sales fundamentals and giving unapologetically "old school" advice, he writes and speaks in an entertaining fashion to make his points to sales people and owners who sell. "Bill Farquharson will drive your sales momentum."
T.J. Tedesco is a sales growth, business strategy, marketing and PR consultant operating at the intersection of clear vision, compelling content and effective outreach practices. For nearly two decades, T.J. has been an independent consultant and sales growth team leader. Previously, he sold commercial printing, graphic arts machinery and supplies, and finishing and bindery services. T.J. helps North American companies with content development, Web and print design leadership, nurture marketing programs, sales coaching, sales team alignment and business strategy. Since 1996, T.J. has worked with more than 100 clients on retainer, 80 percent in the graphic arts industry. T.J. is author of "Win Top-of-Mind Positioning," "Playbook for Selling Success in the Graphic Arts Industry," "Fire! How Marketing Got Hot," "Direct Mail Pal" and four more books published by PIA. He can be reached at (301) 404-2244 or tj@tjtedesco.com.
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