Archive for the ‘Printing Industry’ Category

Does this Make me a Bum?

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

Day 2, Bill Ruesch recession recovery diary

Dear Readers,

When I was a young salesman I was taught that “prospecting is like shaving–if you don’t do it everyday you’re a bum.” This quote is attributed to Jack Schwartz, the telephone sales guru.

In the pre-recession, business came to me through referrals. Sometimes I had to send customers elsewhere because I couldn’t handle them all. As a result, I haven’t made prospecting calls in twenty years! I think I’ve forgotten how to prospect, but it is obvious to me now that I’ve got to go out and beat the bushes for new customers. I was never very good at going door-to-door with business cards, calendars, and note pads. That seems to be a method best employed by quick print sales reps.

Asleep for 20 years?

You may have noticed that things have changed in the last twenty years. I feel a little like Rip Van Winkle. It wasn’t that I was asleep, I just didn’t have to deal with some of the harsher realities because my reputation carried me. With the onslaught of the recession everyone I know in the printing business has had a very difficult time.

Now the question is, how do I prospect in a way that boosts my reputation rather than damaging it? After all, I would like to come out of this stronger and not weaker than before. Would mixing it up in the fray of  hungry printing sales reps put me in the category of a me-too supplier? In other words, how do I re-establish myself as more of a consultant instead of just another commissioned salesperson? Not that I hold anything against sales reps per se it is just that consultants earn more money. I got used to a six figure income and would like to have it back again.


Is Printing Injured, Maimed, or Dead?

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Don't be so quick to place the marker.

The Internet has been buzzing with reports of the demise of printing. The book industry in particular has been all aflutter about The Kindle, The Nook, and iPad. Are they right? Have electronics finally won? Is printing dead?

I am old enough to remember all of the predictions of a paperless office. Computers were supposed to eliminate the need for paper. Instead, printing flourished at a time when the era of paper was sure to be over.

It is different this time. Although I think it is too early to write off printing, I do believe that the boom we saw with the advent of computers won’t repeat. The business climate has changed, not only for now, but also for the future. There are several reasons for this:

  • Direct Mail Advertising has been wounded–not fatally, not yet.
  1. The first arrow to strike was postal charges. Unfortunately, the post office has a blind spot when it comes to pricing. They don’t understand that there is a direct correlation between rising prices and declining customers. The higher stamps cost, the more people turned away.  The US post office has been the greatest friend email could ever have.
  2. The second arrow was the Internet. Websites provide options that ink on paper can never duplicate and at incredible prices. Electronic advertising has eliminated much of the need for media. No paper. No ink. No presses.
  3. The third arrow was the recession. Companies of all sizes hunkered down behind walls of cash refusing to spend until the customers were ready to buy. The customers, of course, having lost jobs, having had salaries decreased, and in a tightening credit market find themselves unable to buy. It’s what is known as (with apologies to our neighbors south of the US) a Mexican standoff. Where were the easiest places to cut their budgets? Printing, particularly direct mail.
  4. The fourth arrow is book readers. Book readers are coming on strong. I myself, love books. I have a well-stocked home library, but there are books I can get free and others that I would like to be more portable. I, the defender of printing, will get a reader for myself. Actually I already have one in my iPhone, but every book bought electronically is a book that isn’t printed.
  • Form Printing and Envelopes have taken one to the chest.
  1. Nearly everyone uses on-line forms to pay bills, buy something, or get credit. It’s quick, user friendly, and no one has to buy a stamp or wait several days for delivery.
  2. The changes is bill paying greatly reduce the need for envelopes. From the millions upon millions of envelopes purchased by the financial industry alone to a bare trickle.
  • Catalogs, Newspapers, and Magazines are dropping dead in their tracks.
  1. Pundits warned us of the paperless office, but they didn’t tell us about the paperless home. Who could have predicted a family breakfast scene without the father figure sitting behind the daily news? Oh sure, we still have many of the same magazines, but their page counts are down to half or more. And their sell price has gone up. They raise prices and just as surely decrease buyers.
  2. Catalogs are experiencing the same problems as magazines. It costs too much to mail, so they reduce their page count. The point where catalogs split from magazines is the Internet. Newspapers and magazines have served for hundreds of years as paid information sources. Information on the Internet has been free. People expect the Internet to be free and therefore they are unwilling to pay. Catalogs never had, and never will have a paid subscriber base.

I could go on, but I think you get the idea. Printing has changed and many of the changes are permanent. All that being said, I’m optimistic about the future. There are innovations introduced all the time to make printing, better, cheaper, and faster. The Internet for all its puffery and bluster has been proven to be less effective than direct mail as an advertising medium. Yes, you can get a great CPM (cost per thousand) but there is such a massive overwhelm that customers have learned to tune the advertising out. If you want a buyer to pay attention to your message, put something in their hands.


Printers & Publishers Prepare to be Amazed!

Saturday, May 22nd, 2010

Seeking Glimpses of the Future

I have my crystal ball out. It is sitting right in front of me on my desk. I’ve been searching its depths for some clue about the future of printing, publishing, and related industries. You know what I get? Nothing.

The only thing I know for sure is that things will change. This little prophesy doesn’t mean much, except to say that time is a river and we can either find a way to float with the current, or test our strength against it. (Pretty poetic wouldn’t you say?)

I’ve spent a lifetime, so far, learning all about offset printing. I now know quite a lot, but what is that worth? What is it worth really? When I think back, I can remember people who were expert typesetters and others who were great with scanning drums for four color separations. Their hard won knowledge became irrelevant almost instantly with the changes in technology.

I used to laughingly pontificate that someday Bill Ruesch Print Broker, would consist only of an equipment filled Winnebago. Customers would provide me with art files. I would drive over to the paper merchant’s warehouse, load-in the stock, and by the time I arrived at the customer’s dock the job would be completely printed, folded, and bound.

Book in a Box

That used to be my weird vision of the future. It made me and my customers chuckle at the absurdity. It isn’t so funny anymore now that the Espresso Book Machine exists. In one machine a whole book is created; from file to finished product in less than seven minutes.  Seven minutes–printed, bound, and ready to read. That is if you have hot pads. I understand that the books come out pretty warm and need to cool down a bit.

My vision of the future has come true. What do I see in the future now? I haven’t a clue. I think my predictor must be on the blink. I’d be willing to go out on a limb by stating, “It doesn’t matter what crazy, ridiculous, impossible notion we conceive, someone is probably already a step or two ahead of us, and are right this moment building something to make it happen.”

I’m prepared to be amazed. How about you?


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