Tell Buyers that Print Rules! —DeWese
THERE IT was! Wow! An e-mail to me from Michael Makin, president and CEO of the Printing Industries of America.
The e-mail headline read, "Special Announcement from Michael Makin." It said, "Dear Printing Industries of America Member: As you are aware, printed products are being criticized more and more for their impact on the environment—and unjustifiably so."
That's risky rhetoric, I thought to myself. Someone reading that fast might miss the "un" and read it as the more traditional "justifiably so." Safer language might have been, "and that criticism is totally without merit."
But, who am I to edit his letter?
Michael Makin didn't ask me to write about his announcement, but its implications are so profound and important that I couldn't bear to see it buried in our e-mail in-boxes and eventually deleted. It should have been delivered to every print communications salesperson in America on a semi-trailer led by a 100-piece marching band.
Something to Talk About
The announcement has the marketing power to kick-start thousands of our companies out of this debilitating recession because it provides tens of thousands of our print salespeople with messages to deliver to their customers and prospects.
The message is factual, professional and exciting.
The Makin e-mail continues, "It has never been more essential to convey the message that print (versus all the other media) is important to brand recognition, as well as the sales process." Makin added, "It is also vital to communicate that we are both an environmentally and socially responsible industry."
But he doesn't leave us holding an empty cup to simply generalize about how good we are. Printing Industries of America and The Print Council have assembled "The Fine Print" Toolkit. It's a well-rounded, detailed and fact-filled response to the unfounded criticisms that are being leveled at our industry. Makin tells us that it includes:
"Economic Statistics—employment, low-cost advertising for local businesses, tax revenue and more.
"Environmental Facts—paper as a renewable resource, vegetable-based ink and more.
"FAQs—talking points for printers.
"Press Release and Letters to the Editor—to assist you to respond to negative publicity utilizing these pre-written communications to local and national media."
Makin adds, "Printing Industries of America and The Print Council have also collected additional resources to help you convey the positive message of print." These include:
Print in the Mix: A Clearinghouse of Research on Print Media Effectiveness
"Why Print? The Top 10 Ways Print Helps You Prosper" brochure
Industry Facts and Statistics from Print in the Mix
The Green Guide for Graphic Communication
Makin encourages you "to check out "The Fine Print" PR Toolkit, as well as the resources mentioned already by visiting www.printing.org/valueofprint.
The Printing Industries of America CEO concludes by saying, "Please use these tools and resources to promote your company and put the printing industry in a positive light—right where it belongs."
Not Ready for Prime Time
Out of the darkness, someone at Printing Industries of America and/or The Print Council had a great idea when they conceived of this kit. Typical of our industry, however, it appears this offense has no game plan and could die by the end of the first quarter.
Forgive my football analogy, but I live in Philadelphia. I'll do one more: Makin may have overthrown his receiver by about 10 yards and his 65-yard pass is left spinning in the end zone.
OK, as long as I've gone this far, let's pretend we're in the locker room trailing by two touchdowns at halftime and I'm your grizzly old coach, which, come to think of it, I am.
Everybody take a knee and listen up. Here's what I want you to do.
Immediately order the kit. I'm not sure how to do this because Makin didn't give us a phone number or an e-mail address. I only tell you this to point out a great failure of many marketers who make it real hard to place an order. Start by going to the previously noted www.printing.org/valueofprint, where there is a list of all the resources you can use to get more customers and compete more effectively. A lot of the stuff you can simply download.
Nowhere, however, is there a phone number, or a name or any logistics for using the material.
Next, once you have all the material, convene all of your people, even if you are a three-person shop, and decide how you are going to use it. You will want to make yourselves the resource for all knowledge about print communications in the market(s) that you serve. The important thing is to decide how you are going to reach as many customers and prospects as possible every day.
Begin telling the story. The correct story. Begin telling it orally, in print, in press releases, by homing pigeon—you get it! Make yourselves disciples for our industry and the truth about our industry, and just watch how much business you pick up as you walk about your markets.
Oops. Another analogy. I just jumped from football to a biblical setting.
Look at some of the stuff you will be getting in the toolkit. What follows is taken directly from the Printing Industries of America/Print Council Website. Remember, your customers (print buyers) don't know this stuff. You will be helping them with factual research.
Finally, actually get out there and do what you have planned, over and over and over!
The Truth About Print
Print is often criticized for its loss of value and importance in the market, as well as its impact on the environment. It is essential to convey the message that print is important to brand recognition and the sales process, and that we are an environmentally and socially responsible industry.
The following tools and resources have been developed to help printers convey these messages to the media, your customers, the government and other industries.
• "The Fine Print" PR Toolkit (member log in required). Use this toolkit to convey the value of print and counteract negative statements from the media and objections to print by the consumer. This packet of PDFs is filled with resources and statistics to help you communicate the value of print. www.printing.org/fineprint
• Print in the Mix: A Clearinghouse of Research on Print Media Effectiveness. It advocates print as a viable and effective ROI within the marketing media mix. This Website presents compelling, verifiable and factual data from a variety of academic and reputable sources that make the case for print. www.printinthemix.rit.edu
• The Green Guide for Graphic Communications (member log in required). It provides a step-by-step approach to evaluating and marketing your sustainability profile. This resource can help you make appropriate and credible green claims; issue periodic reports on your green progress; better understand third-party certification and eco-labels; and more. www.printing.org/greenguide
• "Why Print? The Top 10 Ways Print Helps You Prosper" full-color brochure. www.theprintcouncil.org/whyPrint.htm
• Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP). This voluntary program is designed to reduce the environmental impact and increase social responsibility of the print and graphic communications industry.
It recognizes and acknowledges printers that are committed to sustainable and green printing through a formal registry program. www.sgppartnership.org
• Print Delivers seminars, hosted by The Print Council, are designed to educate media and marketing decision makers about the role and advantages of print.
On Dec. 12, 2009, a seminar was held in Minneapolis. To view a brief clip of this event, go to http://printinthemix.cias.rit.edu/fastfacts/show/306
• Printing Industries of America's Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) staff. This group offers inquiry responses (call or e-mail with your EHS questions); a member listserv for EHS professionals in the printing industry; assistance with starting or continuing a sustainability program; and more. www.printing.org/ehs
Armed and Ready
All right team, let's charge the field and kick some butt. Can I say that? Butt? Is that OK? Should I say posterior?
If you can't sell armed with all this stuff, then you need to find another job, either playing for another team or working with a different group of apostles. And remember, you must Get Out There and Sell Something! PI
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of "Now Get Out There and Sell Something" and "The Mañana Man, Books II and III," available at www.piworld.com/bookstore. He is chairman of Compass Capital Partners and also authors the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed 150 printing company transactions and is viewed as the industry's preeminent deal maker. He can be reached via e-mail at HDeWese@CompassCapLtd.com.