Printing: Innovate or Die

Regular readers may have noticed that it has been a few days since I made a post. Please accept my apologies. I do have an excuse. My solution to battling  printing economic woes is to develop additional income streams. I reason that if my livelihood isn’t dependent on just one source, should one be down, the other streams can still keep my boat afloat. The problem is that I’ve spent thirty-five years developing the print broker income stream and barely three months working on the others, and since my other income ideas still revolve around printing, there is no guarantee that there will be any better payoff–is there?

There are thousands of financial gurus out there who promise to teach one, for a fee, how to make big bucks during an economic downturn. They have the secret and it’s always easy, fast, and guaranteed. Blah, blah, blah. The way you learn how to get rich is to buy what they are selling. You give them money, and they get rich. You can’t fault them. They deliver what was promised. With your money they do demonstrate the number one wealth building principle–get someone else to give you their money.

Heck, even in my own advertisement next to this blog I promise to reveal a secret that will teach printing buyers how to save money. It isn’t really a secret at all, but it does work. All of the marketing experts I’ve read say that you have to have some sort of hook to draw people in. Can I really teach methods to cut printing expenses? Yes, I believe that I can. So please forgive me if I use a little teaser to call attention to my message. All I’m attempting to do is utilize my long career in printing to help other people. If I can teach them a few techniques to help make smarter purchasing decisions, then I’ve provided a needed service. How do I know that it is needed? I meet people all of the time who have the responsibility of handling printing for their companies and they don’t even know the difference between digital and offset printing. If you don’t even know the basics you are in over your head. How many art and marketing students graduate with an understanding of printing? Not many, I can tell you. If the schools don’t teach it, how are they to learn?

So am I trying to present myself as a printing guru that will swoop in and give you a magic elixir that will fix all of your printing woes? Oh G_d, I hope not. I’m not flashy (just ask anyone who knows me), I don’t swoop, and I don’t promise anything I can’t deliver.

I hope you readers aren’t too bored by this point. I’m going somewhere with this train of thought and it isn’t just self-promotion, although it may sound like it. President Bill Clinton was quoted as saying, “Ah feel your pain.” In his position he wasn’t sharing the pain. He was above it. I have to confess that I am sharing your pain. My business is off too. My wife and I are in a position we haven’t been in for thirty years. We are struggling to make ends meet. We share your pain.

What are we doing about it? We are trying to implement some, and I hate to trivialize it with a cliche`, out-of-the-box thinking. We are attempting to establish multiple income streams and redefining our service. Would we have done this if we weren’t faced with the current difficulties? Nope. Adversity is the mother of invention, not to take anything away from Plato who said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” And when the dust settles, what will the printing industry look like? Truly, I don’t know. I can make some guesses which may or may not be right, but I am optimistic about the future. Upheavals present challenges, challenges lead to new thinking, and new thinking leads to improvement. The printers who survive will be leaner, more efficient, and I hope, more prosperous. It’s not that that we have a choice. Innovate or die. That’s the only choice.

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