Archive for February, 2011

If Discouraged, Try Something Different

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Day 5, Bill Ruesch recession-recovery diary

Dear Reader,

Some may wonder if I’ve been sitting on my hands the last two years. My previous blogs could lead you to that conclusion, but you’d be wrong. For a quarter century (doesn’t that sound painfully long?) I semi-specialized in direct mail printing. Most of my customers were either DM agencies or in-house marketing departments of companies communicating with their customers through the mail.

We all know what happened when the recession hit and companies en masse pulled back on direct mail. We could see it coming. The Internet was making promises of delivering tons of new business at a fraction of the CPM. The post office, thinking in government logic, decided to bump up their rates to solve their cash flow problems. This awful triad of recession-fear–the Internet rainbow–and postage costs all but killed direct mail.

I said we could see it coming and we could, but no one thought it would happen so fast. It was literally almost overnight. One day DM was thriving, the next, BOOM the bottom dropped out.

In an effort to prepare my business for the coming crash, I had already been looking in new directions. I asked myself what I love, and determined that I love books. Wouldn’t it be nice to help authors print books and get samples for my personal library in the bargain? Yes, but moving into new markets takes time. It requires making new connections, and building trust.

To shorten the time I decided to begin blogging. I reasoned that the Internet would provide me with a minimal cost platform. It does, but the competition for attention is overwhelming.  I read somewhere that 17 thousand new blogs are started every day–e v e r y day.  That’s over 6 million a year!

There are many, many Internet “gurus” that for a fee, promise to show you how to drive readers to your site and earn you more money than God while you are sleeping peacefully on your yacht. I don’t know about you, but I shy away from these kinds of promises. I may be old-fashioned, but I truly believe that if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.

The problem still remains, how do you make an impact on the Internet when the odds are so staggeringly against you? The answer for me is to keep chopping at the tree. No one knows how many cuts it will take before it topples, but for certain it will never come down if you don’t wield the ax.


 

A Faint Voice from the Way Back Machine

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

Day 4, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary

Dear Reader,

The name for a watch without hands--broken.

I remember when the Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons were first aired. I remember when pagers were the hottest thing. Why, someone could reach you even if not standing near the telephone. Yup, telephone answering machines, faxes, cell phones, digital watches,and personal computers have all be introduced during my lifetime. I tell you this to remind us all that this world is very different from the past–even the recent past.

The very first American web page went up in December, 1991. 1991, that’s only twenty years ago! Twenty years–I have sweat shirts older than that. Before that, everything was routed on a very limited basis through Switzerland.

How long has it been since you’ve seen a door-to-door encyclopedia salesman? What about a vacuum cleaner salesman? The world changed and selling has changed. Old fashioned selling methods don’t work as well as they used to–if at all. The trick is to keep the things that do work and toss those that don’t.

What still works? Human contact works. Through all the levels of wires, glass, and ceramics, the effective salesperson has to find a way to connect eye-to-eye with the customer. For repeat business there is nothing that can replace the personal touch. Without it, the customer is buffeted by every other company willing to buy their business with discounts and premiums.

In an Internet world how can you create a sincere personal touch? I’m going to have to mull this over. Do you Dear Reader have any thoughts on this?


 

My Wife is Probably Right

Monday, February 21st, 2011

Day 3, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary

Dear Reader,

In my headlong rush to create a diary of my experiences in recession recovery, my wife says that I’ve been revealing T.M.I. She says that it is no body’s business how much I used to earn in the pre-recession world. Maybe she’s right. Probably she is right. She usually is.

My only excuse is that I want my readers to know that I’m not a rank amateur who has garnered a little information and decides to pass himself off as an expert. I’m also not a flop at selling printing who is now trying to make money in some other way. It often amazes me to see “experts” who have never actually done the job making tons of money selling real sales people their secrets. This may sound bitter, but my impression is that their secrets are nothing more than keeping their buyers from knowing how little they actually know based on their experience.

If they looked like this no one would be duped.

It doesn’t matter if these brazen showmen are selling on the Internet, at conferences, or at seminars. The show is what matters and I’ve never been good at the show. I have always tried to provide valuable service at reasonable rates. How about you, dear reader?

I’ve been employed full-time in printing sales for 35 years. For twenty of those years I’ve been self-employed as a printing broker or as I’ve begun calling myself an Independent Printing and Mailing Manager. For some unknown reason that I have never been able to fully understand, customers always think that my services as a Print Broker are going to cost them more. That’s just not the case. I find better ways to do their jobs and that frequently results in lower costs. Plus I negotiate to get better bids so that I can create a margin that I can live on. Whether my customers went to the same sources for bids or use my service, they’ll pay roughly the same price.

Whether you are a broker or a captive sales rep, what are your thoughts? I’d like to know.


 

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