Remember the 1988 romantic comedy Bull Durham? Every season baseball groupie Annie Savoy adopts a single-A league player from the Durham Bulls as her project, to improve, using her own homegrown rules.

Like Annie, every year I, too, take on a project (just the business part, NOT the romantic side!). It’s a passion project that falls outside my regular marketing strategy and consulting business. 

As we enter the new year, I am all set up to work in a customer’s business on a very part-time basis for a few months.

We’re going to see if we can achieve significant growth using my own brand of coaching from the inside, kind of a mix of Annie Savoy, ”Crash” Davis, and “Nuke” LaLoosh techniques. 

I began this exercise back in my 20s when I would spend a week each year volunteering in a key client’s business. It was always eye opening. It certainly made me more patient and empathetic.

Two years ago I spent three months with a client in an intensive campus-based program. 

The course gave my client the foundation to quadruple his annual gross revenue and position his company for acquisition. Each time he would drive over to pick me up, he would shake his head and say, “I can’t believe you’re doing this program with me.” 

This type of deep participation gives you access to a side of your customer’s business you can’t get by hiding in a dim conference room with a Power Point presentation clicking away behind you. 

How about you? Do you ever step into your customer’s space to…

…Observe what your customers are dealing with? 

…Discover how people in their world make buying decisions? 

…Understand their technology challenges? 

…Get a view into their company hierarchy and decision-making cycle? …Participate in the good, bad and ugly of their organization as they strive to sell and serve?

Being in the trenches is not a comfortable or convenient place, but it’s a learning experience unlike any other. 

If you’re a printer or print-related professional, try getting out there and experiencing your customer’s reality. Work side by side with them. Understand how you can bring better solutions to the table. See what works in today’s market. 

As for my upcoming stint, you’re probably wondering if I will advise my client to breathe through his eyelids, as Annie Savoy did in Bull Durham? 

Perhaps! Tune in for updates!

(Curious to hear about how it goes with my client and his goal of doubling his monthly revenue? Let me know in the comments below!)

Sandy Hubbard has been author and contributor at Print Media Centr since 2011. She is a Marketing Strategist and Business Consultant who serves print, publishing and media businesses. Sandy helps clients build their businesses using solid, proven techniques and a systematic approach. She hails from a long line of printers, publishers, authors, and newspaper owners. For 22 years she published a magazine for the printing trade, counseling her readers about how to make better business decisions and grow in an evolving print landscape.

Connect with Sandy on LinkedIn and find her on Twitter at @sandyhubbard every Wednesday at 4 pm ET, leading or co-hosting #PrintChat with Deborah Corn of @PrintMediaCentr — Join in the fun at social media’s most popular chat for the global printing industry!


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