Changing the Front End of Your Printing Company

Well first, you must be serious about seeking to make changes. Really serious. You need to be to the point where changing things is a top priority for you. Second, the front end of your company is all about your overall organizational plan and strategy for growth, your branding and positioning in the marketplace and your sales performance and execution. You need all three of these things to succeed. I call it the DAE123 plan: Direction (where you are you going); Alignment (are all of our communications/marketing and branding in alignment with this direction?); and Execution (does all of your sales team know what you are doing, how you are positioning yourself and how to communicate that message?)

The organizations in the printing industry that are doing these things are growing. In many cases, an outside consultant is needed to look at things in an objective manner. But, you ask, who do you trust? All consultants are the same, right? No, they are not. So, in this blog I give you a litmus test of the qualities that any “front end” consultant you bring in should be well versed in. Be sure to ask them their experience in each of these areas. Here goes:

  1. Do they do work nationally and in all regions of the country?
  2. Do they work with a variety of different size companies?
  3. Do they understand the nuances of a family-run printing business?
  4. Have they worked in a family printing business?
  5. Have they ever run a printing business?
    a. Have they overseen sales and sold actively?
    b. Have they overseen marketing? (sales and marketing are two different things)
  6. How far removed are they from their print sales career?
  7. Have they run a marketing service provider (MSP) company or been involved in starting one?
  8. Do they understand ALL three areas: organizational strategy, branding and sales execution?
  9. Do they spend time training onsite and offsite?
    a. Do they keep their sales skills sharp by going out in the field?
  10. Have they published a widely recognized book or white paper that people read/follow?
  11. Have they worked in related industries to print (i.e. promotional products, large format)?
  12. What level of education do they have? Masters or higher? In what area(s) of study?
    a. Do they have a track record of success in teaching to working adults?
  13. What types of certifications do that have in personality assessments (understanding human communications); or marketing, sales or organizational culture change?
  14. What knowledge do they have, following do they have and how engaged are they in the social media space?
  15. Do they have experience on how to tie all of these areas together? (Integrated Communications)

These are some of the things you should consider when looking to bring someone in to help change your business unless you have this talent inside your company. The same way all printing companies are unique, so are consultants. I strongly advise you to keep this list handy as it is one I have compiled over the past few years. Be sure anyone you are working with has a strong background in most, if not all, of these areas if you truly want to change the front end of your company. Anything less would be selling yourself short and paying too much. Have a great week.

Ryan T. Sauers is president of Sauers Consulting Strategies. The firm consults with the front end of privately held printing and related organizations across North America. The areas of focus are: sales growth, brand positioning, organizational strategy, and integrated marketing (with an emphasis on social media). Sauers speaks at many national events and writes feature articles in global publications. He is an adjunct university professor teaching leadership and entrepreneurship. Sauers is also the author of the best-selling book "Everyone is in Sales" and the newest book "Would You Buy from You?" Please visit:
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  • Brent Clarke

    Ryan, you missed one… are they under 125 years of Age!

  • Susani N

    Interesting article, .. A great need to answer for the questions. for every printing organization.