I just flew back from Chicago and the last ever Print show (sigh) and boy are my arms tired. That’s a Dad joke for those who don’t know.
I spend a good lot of my time creating new and hopefully valuable content for the print industry as it relates to sales and marketing. I see it as one of my primary jobs to educate my audience and help them do the best job they possibly can, whether that is sales, customer service, or marketing their printing or other kinds of graphic arts companies. I am also evangelical about supporting students and trying to make sure that this industry has a pipeline of young people and especially more women entering this industry and thriving once they get here.
But it’s not just my job.
It’s your job, too. Your job, that is, if you play a role of any sort in the graphic arts industry. Look at what follows and see if you are doing your job regarding education.
Equipment vendor – These peeps get an A+. At least many of them do. They have users’ groups, they provide content to their customers, they put on events for their clients and prospects. They participate in events like Project Peacock and ANY trade show or industry event with a booth or table or sending people to events
Paper vendor – Same deal. A+ paper peeps. Whether it’s vertical market research, attending events, offering to go on sales calls with printers, and my favorite of all time, Sappi Off Register which you can watch here. These folks understand that the more information people have, both print buyers and the people who sell and work with paper, the better the product is. Kudos!
Bloggers – Maybe I can’t be objective about this, seeing as I AM one, but bloggers take the time to try to educate, entertain, and engage with anyone who shows an interest, to varying degrees to success. Keep up the good work your bloggers, you.
Management – While my bias is toward sales, I acknowledge that everyone within an organization will preform better the more they know and are able to help customers. Managers can educate people by leading by example, by being involved with everything from setting goals to helping develop talk tracks to making sure that everyone is managing his or her time well. There is a great time management strategy that you can read more about here. If you manage people, ask yourself this: How well do my people understand this industry and the changes that have happened regarding technology? How much time do we spend educating our customers? What is our on-boarding process for new employees? If I see a problematic behavior or poor results from a member of my team, what do I do? OK – That is WAY more than one question, but you get the gist. Managers must be ready to assess everyone who reports to him or her and know what to do to make sure everyone is up to snuff, product knowledge wise.
Co-Workers – I would hope that if you are the more seasoned side of things, that you regularly make yourself available to new people on the team to ensure that they know what the need to know in order to be successful. On the other hand, I hope that you are also open minded enough to know that newer and younger people might have quite a bit to teach you about technology and what is going on in the world. Education is a two-way street and we are never to old to learn.
Associations – I am not going to name any associations specifically, but there are quite a few of them. Many of them have local affiliates that meet regularly. Hey often put on events that have speakers who are there to help you learn. Getting involved with an association or two is a great way to make sure you are staying updated on trends, issues, regulatory decisions, and even HR and accounting support.
Shows – Attending a show is a great way to network, learn and find out what is new and exciting. I have seen a lot of important conversations and connections made, and I cannot emphasize the importance to attending and exhibiting at events like Printing United, Project Peacock and even smaller and more regional events. Your own communities’ networking events are also a great use of your time.
Your own education is your responsibility. But it is not yours alone. We all play a part in making sure that everyone is armed with as much knowledge as possible, because knowledge breeds confidence and help us do what we need to do, which is use print to help our customers achieve their goals. Let’s make it a 2020 goal to make sure we are doing our part.
As a sales and marketing coach and consultant at Success In Print, Kelly Mallozzi advocates for graphic arts companies to start a revolution and fight to keep print relevant. She may be irreverent, but what she lacks in convention, she makes up for in smart-assery.
Listen to Kelly’s Podcasts From The Printerverse: Achieving Success In Print and Sales with Kelly Mallozzi / Strategies for Sales Success with Bill Farquharson and Kelly Mallozzi
Check out her book, co-authored by Bill Farquharson: Who’s Making Money at Digital/Inkjet Printing…and How