I have a confession to make. I listen to NPR. Every time I get in my car, even with the kids, I am listening to All Things Considered, This American Life, even Car Talk. I like NPR because I learn stuff. And if there is one thing the wisdom of my 43 years has taught me, it’s that there is a LOT I don’t know. And I realized that I didn’t know what I didn’t know until I knew it. (Yogi Berra, anyone?)
And it got me thinking about our industry. Things are moving pretty fast technologically speaking. And I like to think I’ve learned a lot about print in the 20 or so years I’ve been working, and yet I know I don’t know everything.
What about you? How do you stay informed enough to stay ahead of your customers, not to mention your competition? Here are a few suggestions for those of you out there who don’t know everything already.
1. Read the blogs. What the heck is 3D Printing? Is it going to ruin your life? Should you be afraid that someone can go out and make a digital press without having to invest the million dollars that you did? When I want to know something, I Google it. And then I look at the sources that are coming up in the searches. I read many of the blogs on PIworld.com
, What They Think, and even some of the other sales coaches out there. I follow certain printers on Facebook and Twitter. I retweet stuff that looks cool.
2. Listen to your customers, and ask questions. We are a society that seems to engage in conversations that are very much—I talk then you talk. Slow yourself down. Ask, “Why is that important?” Or “What does that mean to you?” or “Tell me more about that.” You will learn something. I guar-on-tee it.
3. Ask your vendors. Network. Spy on your competition. I could have broken this one up into three, but I’m lazy and tired. Enlisting the expertise and vision of your vendors should be a given. If they have events, go. If you have the opportunity to talk to someone on their senior leadership team, do it. Ask them where they see the industry going and what they think you need to know. Ditto networking. And of course I am not advocating committing corporate espionage or anything, but keep your ear to the ground. If your competitor is making a major acquisition, it will be obvious. You can decide whether it was a good decision; something to emulate, or sit back and wait to see what happens. Beware, however, of looking too “ME TOO.”
That’s all I got for now—like I said—I’m pretty sleepy. Just be aware that you may not know what you don’t know, and every day is a new opportunity to learn something new.