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About Clay

Clay's recruiting and strategic consulting efforts over the past 20 years have provided firms in the printing and communications industries the talent and perspective that has enabled them to navigate the constant change they’ve faced.

His current company, the bleedingEDGE, provides digital printing firms with 1:1 marketing solutions that enable their small- and medium-sized clients to compete with larger competitors using a cooperative strategy and production model. In addition to the normal 1:1 marketing techniques of personalization and customization, the bleedingEDGE incorporates timing strategies, generational analysis and sociological factors in producing results well above the norm.

 

The Alliance: Joining Forces to Survive

 
“It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Charles Darwin.

Nothing can be truer than the current situation in the printing industry. Our industry is having to reinvent itself daily with the pressures of the challenging economic climate and the push to become cross-media providers.

The purpose of this column is to help you deal with this change, not so much technically, but through a change of thought, a look at the Big Picture...thought that will help you position your company, help you market and operate it, and, most of all, help you help your clients.


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Changes in environment often require changes in thinking. Nothing can be truer than the current situation in the printing industry. Our industry is having to reinvent itself daily with the pressures of the challenging economic climate and the push to become cross-media providers.

In 1876, two mortal enemies found that the differences they had between them paled in comparison to the a threat both of them encountered. After the Civil War, the U.S. government turned its attention to the Wild West and the fight against the Indians—or as they were called then, “savages.”

Two warring tribes, the Lakota Sioux and the Cheyenne were being relentlessly pursued by the U.S. Army, and specifically, General Armstrong Custer. After numerous skirmishes with minor military leaders, they learned of Custer’s intention of attacking them in Southern Montana.

Neither the Sioux nor the Cheyenne would have had the upper hand separately, but together the result could very well be different. The Lakota chiefs Crazy Horse and Sitting Bull met secretly with Cheyenne chief Gall and devised a plan for their survival.

The Sioux set up their encampment of 20,000 plus on the banks of the Little Big Horn river. Sitting Bull moved the women and children down river while Crazy Horse amassed the Sioux warriors in the cover of brush. As the Army moved in to attack, they were surprised from the rear by Gall and his Cheyenne. Outnumbered by the Cheyenne alone, Custer retreated towards the banks of the Little Big Horn only to come face to face with the Sioux.

The infamous battle of Custer’s Last Stand lasted only 20 minutes, with Custer’s army being annihilated.

While the current economic climate may not equate to the dire situation the Sioux and Cheyenne faced...lessons can learned. Our enemies of a year ago—the competition down street—may well be our life line to survival now.

New thinking is not just a luxury anymore. It’s mandatory. Business as usual has become no business at all. Look at everybody as an opportunity—your competition, your suppliers, everyone. How can you combine assets and clients to become not just sustainable, but uniquely positioned for inevitable economic upturn down the road?

For example, take a look at the content creators—the social media experts, the Web designers, the programmers and all of the rest doing the neat stuff that most us know little about. I’m willing to bet that a lot of them would be more than willing to join forces and collaborate with an established printing firm.

If you ever see the site of the Battle of the Little Big Horn, you will see scores of small white crosses running down the hill towards the river. They represent where the Army soldiers fell and died. While the recession may not deliver your little white cross...it’ll deliver somebody’s.

Take advantage of these times to think new and bury old conceptions and archaic business practices. Evolve or die.

Who do you want to be—Crazy Horse or Custer?

You can read more from Clay Forsberg on his bleedingedge site and twitter.com/variable_edge.

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