Printing Is His Platform --DeWese
I don't know what's wrong with me. I've written three of these columns in the past six days. I'm usually late with each column and here I am more than 60 days early with this column.
I know! I'm inspired! Nothing worse than an inspired columnist.
Topics just keep jumping in my head. Topics are the hardest part of this column-writing job.
Topics are easy for Presidential candidates. Just give 'em a microphone, a topic and they'll make up something.
It's a high stakes marketing game. We salespeople understand.
John Kerry, a rich Boston aristocrat, speaks wearing no tie and an unbuttoned dress shirt with the sleeves rolled in casual sloppiness. He's saying to the people, "See, I'm really just one of you."
George W. Bush, a rich Texas aristocrat, on the other hand, wears a dark suit and the new power tie, which presently happens to be a shade of blue lighter than his suit. Used to be a red tie. Now it's blue. He's saying, "I'm the President 'cause I'm tendin' to the people's business wearin' this suit."
They are marketing when they speak. Selling themselves. They've got many topics to talk about, including the war on terrorism, the war in Iraq, taxes, the economy, education, social services, foreign policy, domestic policy, ad nauseum, ad infinitum, etcetera, and etcetera. The biggest topic available to Presidential candidates, however, is the other guy—the opponent. More specifically, the topic is the demonization of the opponent.
Candidates have learned how to make their job easy with one liners and sound bites. These short bursts of rhetoric require no back-up facts. At most, a sound bite is about two sentences. Kerry might say, "Tell those special interest groups that we're coming, they're going and don't let the door hit them on the way out." This implies that the present administration is run by special interests without telling us which ones, and that he's kicking them all out when he gets in the White House. George W. Bush might tell us that John Kerry changes his positions on important issues in order to suit the audience or to get elected. He doesn't tell us which issues or exactly how Kerry changed his position.
I have to write at least 1,200 words, 40 to 50 paragraphs and 100 or more sentences in one of my columns. No baseless one-liners for me. Attila the Editor won't let me get away with anything that easy.
Let's see. What if printers ran their marketing like the Presidential candidates? You could say things like, "Demon Litho is guilty of ghosting, dot gain and is out of register by at least four rows of dots." You could instruct your salespeople to say, "Rascal Label's pressroom crew is always drunk. They're late 100 percent on all jobs." You could also pronounce, "Scoundrel Printing is a price-cutting prostitute who will kill you with AAs."
You could eliminate the equipment list from your capabilities brochures and Websites, and instead use the space to attack your competitors with one-liners.
But, you say, "Oh mighty Mañana Man, you've told us that knocking the competition is unbecoming and wrong." You are correct and it's unbecoming and wrong for Presidential candidates or any candidates, for that matter.
Who Is Qualified?
No one is really qualified to run the richest nation in the world. Wouldn't it be more pleasant to hear them talk about how they might be semi-qualified to run the country and talk about what they might TRY to do if elected? Then just stand back and let us voters decide how to vote. This sound bite attack strategy is teaching our children a horrible lesson. Many adults are still children and they're learning the same bad lesson. Presidential candidate bashing is probably the model for spousal abuse.
I hate one-liners and sound bites. They insult my intelligence. Do you really think one President's policies have led to all the jobs that have moved abroad? No President can control supply and demand. No President can stem the inevitable, immutable tide of Alvin Toffler's Third Wave of economic change. America is moving from a manufacturing economy to a service economy and no President can stop that. Just look at our industry. Could a President have stopped the digitization of prep and pressroom? That technology cost people their jobs. Where are all the strippers that used to stand over light tables in your plant?
If I ran for President, I wouldn't stand a chance. First, I would have to say a few words about my sordid sewin'-the-wild-oats past involving some booze and the police a few times when I was younger. I wouldn't want that dug up. I'd rather just fess up at the git go.
My opponents would check the police database and find my fingerprints. Mind you, they'd find I never stole anything, took any drugs, cheated on any tests, divulged inside information or bribed anybody. There were a couple of fist-fights. I never wrecked my car with any passengers; I was always alone. I did lose the car a couple of times in New Orleans. It seems you can't park a vehicle overnight on Canal Street. The police down there tow you if you're parked past midnight.
Okay. There it is. I was just a little bit of a hell bustin' rogue up until age 30, er, maybe it was more like 40 or 50. Anyway, I'm over that now.
I suspect those few statements would move my rating in the Gallup polls down from 50 percent to about 20 percent.
Next, I would not permit any network or cable news programs to air any one-liner sound bites from my speeches. In fact, I would give no speeches. I would only send out direct mail printed, 200-page statements explaining my platform. Get it! I believe in PRINTED marketing communications.
I'd run as a member of the Lithography Party. Hardly anybody reads anymore so my ratings are probably down to about 10 percent of the electorate.
Here's a summary of my Presidential platform:
1) Nations, like print salespeople, must learn to sell with their ears rather than their mouths, their fists or their military might. Human beings must be motivated by persuasion. Persuasion occurs by asking artful questions and attentively listening. Socrates taught us that many years ago. I tried my mouth and fists and they didn't work.
2) Governments, like print salespeople, must sell solutions to human problems. This requires the aforementioned listening, observation, analysis, creativity and consultation with others.
3) When a solution is proposed, the salesperson, or President, if it were I, must ask for the order and shut up. Always ask for the order. The buyer will either say yes or give you some objections. You should cherish objections because they give you the opportunity to listen, observe, analyze, consult and create better solutions.
4) If I'm elected, I will continue my practice of recognizing and respecting everyone. Great Presidents and every salesperson knows that he/she must be outwardly focused. I think most of our politicians are just a wee bit egocentric. We all know that self-centered people fail as print salespeople. The same goes for U.S. Presidents.
5) I believe in supply side economics. It's the basis for the free enterprise system. It creates jobs and generates tax revenues. I will figure out a better taxation system once I'm elected. Of course, then I'd have to sell it first to the people and then, ugh, to Congress. I'd beg fellow Americans to spend a few extra bucks to buy American-made products because there is no stronger force in the world than a bunch of united Americans.
6) I'm taking no money from any "special interests" or PACs or anyone else who wants something from the President. Okay, with no money, my ratings are down to 1 percent of the vote and my chances are slimmer than Ralph Nader's. Maybe some of you will print up some posters and buttons that say something like, "The Mañana Way is My Way." Wait? Does that qualify as a one-liner?
7) I ask for some free printing and all of you are closing this magazine and saying, "I'm not supporting the Mañana Man with his sordid past." Well, if you feel that way, why don't you just get out there and sell something!
About the Author
Harris DeWese is the author of Now Get Out There and Sell Something, available through NAPL or PIA. He is chairman and CEO at Compass Capital Partners and is an author of the annual "Compass Report," the definitive source of information regarding printing industry M&A activity. DeWese has completed more than 100 printing company transactions and is viewed as the preeminent deal maker in the printing industry. He specializes in investment banking, mergers and acquisitions, sales, marketing, planning and management services to printing companies. He can be reached via e-mail at DeWeseH@ComCapLtd.com.