Empowering Marketing Service providers
Sudden turns How to avoid the twisting curves on the road to success The ties that bind The last hurrah
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A good sales rep should always confirm where he stands in the complex sales process – during each step and after every meeting.
creative director brandon clark
The cold hard truth
Best of Canvas Notes
michael j. pallerino
ART DIRECTOR brent cashman
Marketing Insights P10
How to avoid the twisting curves on the road to success
tom moe Daily Printing dean petrulakis Rider Dickerson david bennett Bennett Graphics tony narducci O’Neil Printing
The ties that bind Understanding what buyers really want from you
The last hurrah How a well-executed ‘tuck-in’ could enhance your exit strategy
CANVAS, Volume 5, Issue 5. Published bi-monthly, copyright 2013 CANVAS, All rights reserved, 2180 Satellite Blvd., Suite 400, Duluth, GA 30097. Please note: The acceptance of advertising or products mentioned by contributing authors does not constitute endorsement by the publisher. Publisher cannot accept responsibility for the correctness of an opinion expressed by contributing authors.
The cold hard truth
lot of what I have written over the past few years could be categorized as “feel good” stuff. I have talked about having the right attitude, changing mindsets and building relationships. In turn, a couple
of people suggested I try to stick to the facts and get to the cold hard truth. After receiving this feedback, I honestly can’t think of a harder hitting path to take. While strategy and thought leadership may seem “soft” to some people, the truth is it’s critical to your longevity. If you don’t choose to address strategy as it relates to an explicitly defined market, you can pack up all the facts you want and ride off into the sunset. Fact: Printing shipments are significantly decreasing every year. Fact: There were 39,000 commercial printers a few years ago. Today, there may be 20,000. Fact: People like mobile devices, the internet and social networking. Fact: B randing, advertising and marketing seem to have worked since the dawn of business. Specific equipment and technology may not last the year. Based on the facts, it would seem that being strategic might be the most important thing any of us could do right now. And while that may not seem hard hitting enough for some, without strategy we are lost. Strategy and marketing have been considered “fluff” by CFOs everywhere over the past 20 years. “We are all about the bottom line,” they would say. But the bottom line is that if you don’t have some discipline around your strategic direction, the bottom is going to fall out of your bottom line. Certainly, strategy means nothing if you are unable to execute on it. The bestlaid plans will fall silent if you cannot mobilize people around them and have everyone pull in the same direction. Make no mistake about it; strategy is not soft. It is for those who dare to be great. It is for the toughest people. And that’s a fact. Please enjoy our latest digital issue. In our cover article, “Sudden Turns,” Greg Coticchia answers four questions that will help you gain clarity with your strategy – and make it measurable. In our second feature, “Five Ways to Sustain Relationships,” Deborah Corn offers some practical advice on how to remain a relevant resource for your customers – before someone else is. Warmest regards,
Mark Potter, Publisher
CANVAS September 2013
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le b a r e n l u v e B
in ave “stuff” ed. We all h w a fl y tl c e rf r ine pe rojec ting ou c t – more lik p e rt rf a e p st s e y’ w d obo dy comes when want anybo e challenge th t u B s. e e just don’t liv W . rs our e th o on s on d imperfec ti and weak. securities an r vulnerable a e p p a d ow n s u ht make hen we let ig W m r. it e g se n u ro ars beca makes us st other to see our sc ble ac tually up to us. In ra s e n ln e p vu o g d in rl o that be rt flaws, the w The irony is rfec t, we sta that we have t c fa we’re not pe e t th a th ce n ra o b ti o m n nd e against the our guard a out or guard le p o e p se n we clo words, whe egins. the magic b s, e lv e years rs u . o rs d ich over the eds, an h e n w closing doo r, sh e p lfi a se P k ose aw up to visited Moh e let go of th I wa s amped r CANVAS. I Bu t w hen w so fo , ll re e ca s th le ple sa in tow, e of my first new the peo I was, vision blication. I k It reminds m u re p e r u th o f o o S . r on rtne ing our share my visi a valued pa out every th b has become a n o d n a on t then yammering to build. Bu g in o g s a w tion new publica their needs. r focused on ve e n I – e mess. it hit m I’m a sweaty , w o n k I g in The nex t th ture on a lit tle mois t u o b a g in talk water And I’m not lking about ta I’m r; e h it e n’t get my upper lip eks. I could e ch y m n ow streaming d . fast enough others. out of there think about d n a lf e rs u ing about yo d while r: Stop think ocketed. An ve yr re sk fo e ty m ie x h n it a e. Emas stayed w e door, my it to the sid The lesson h nterest at th sh -i u lf p se to y y m tr u uldn’t check , oppororse when yo Because I co . In the end only gets w d e it e s, n e rs liv e r th u o fo y be as a b o u t w ha t part of all o who just ma anxiety is a urself. Think le yo p o r e ve p o – t e rs G n with othe ingful. insecurities. more mean al connec tio brace your d re n a a r e ke p a e m e d u realize nships to be und when yo r be able to your relatio tunities abo ve d e n n fi n ’ll u ve o e Y y . a rving others u are. You m based on se flawed as yo is – lly a re , y profession lf. nt for the Selling – an ly on yourse h our conte re lis a u b u sq p s ’t n cu o fo d . That’s sharing. We tential if you learn from it your full po the idea of to to d e g e in n cl d n e a nt f of that. W ple who wa We are proo unit y of peo m m co e th r publish it fo money. We rward. to carr y us fo e u n ti n co ill w ha t w le. It works. be vulnerab r, e b m e m So re
our n w o d t le e When w brace m e d n a d r a gu e have w t a h t t c a f the ens p o ld r o w e h flaws, t up to us.
gards, Warmest Re
Mark Pot te r Follow me @
CANVAS September 2013
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Why emotions matter in leadership What does it take to be a good leader in today’s ever-challenging marketplace? Strategy consultant Doug Sundheim says it’s all about letting your emotions out. The author of “Taking Smart Risks: How Sharp Leaders Win When Stakes are High” says good leaders are in touch with their emotions, and aren’t afraid to show them from time to time. Emotional energy can inspire workers to tackle tough goals, just as appropriately expressed anger can shock workers into mending their ways. Sundheim says it’s important to let your emotions out and let people in. Both are critical to effective leadership.
Your mistake-free guide to social media marketing
So, you have this whole social media marketing thing figured out, do you? According to Entrepreneur Magazine, small businesses still make too many mistakes when it comes to going social. Here are five mistakes that can be avoided: 1. Skip over social media 3. Forget the “social” part of where people actively are entirely – Too many say they social media – People do engaging and listening to don’t have time or that it’s just business with people, not each other instead of connot important. They are wrong. companies. If used properly, stantly promoting social media can “humanize” your brand. 2. Try to establish a presence your brand. Keep it intereston every social platform – ing. Share good stuff. Let 5. Jump in without thinking – Time is money, so the more your brand’s personality The biggest social media channels you’re active on, the shine through. mistake is believing that evmore time they require for eryone must do social media, upkeep. Examine each chan- 4. T alk about themselves too diving in without a strategy nel to find which one your much – Social media is a and without knowing which audience is active on. Find conversation. A real converplatform your market is the match for your message. sation is a two-way street focused on.
Did you know P6
Mobile and social media services are becoming increasingly important to small and midsize businesses, according to a study by technology company Cbeyond. The study, “Summer 2013 Cbeyond Business Leader Snapshot,” found that 34 percent of executives said their businesses could not survive without mobile services, while 47 percent said social media is critical to their growth. Fifty-nine percent of small businesses plan to increase technology spending this year, the study found.
CANVAS September 2013
A snapshot of the trends defining our industry
The socials How much is too much? Your guide to content creation have it What sways your technology purchasing decisions? According to Forrester Research’s
an you have too much content? It’s a fair question. According to Jason Miller, social media strategist for Marketo, it’s important to have a regular cadence of content
“How B2B Marketers Use So-
to “feed” your content machine. The overall experts’ consensus is
cial Now,” 85 percent of busi-
that balance comes from focusing on quality over quantity, staying
ness decision-makers said at
consistent and using metrics tools to measure audience engage-
least one social media channel
ment. Once you find the perfect content rhythm for your blog,
is “very important” or “impor-
email marketing and social channels, you might discover that less
tant” when making technol-
content is bringing you more success. Here are three things Miller
ogy purchase decisions. As
and company say to keep in mind while creating your content:
No. 1 – Aim for epic Quality always trumps quantity. It’s more about how effective your content is. Does it meet your objectives? Is it igniting conversations and enabling relationships? Producing information carelessly just to build your content library won’t help your marketing efforts. In fact, it will only dilute your core points and distract your audience. To break through the clutter, content must be epic.
No. 2 – Keep it short and compelling for what sources they rely on
Pay close attention to word count and significance. Your content
to research and evaluate tech-
should include relevant and timely information that’s both edu-
nologies and services, the top
cational and entertaining. Don’t drone on. Instead of trying to
responses included support
say everything in one place, include links to information that sup-
forums or discussion forums
port your point. This will keep your audience engaged with your
(63 percent), followed by virtual
marketing platform and bolster your credibility at the same time.
events or virtual trade shows (47 percent), online videos (46
No. 3. – Measure what works
percent), LinkedIn (40 percent),
It is important to analyze your volume and frequency. Your in-
blogs (36 percent), professional
vestment into content can exhibit diminishing returns. Doubling
social networking sites, not in-
your investment might only return 40 percent greater results. Be
cluding LinkedIn or Twitter (35
realistic. Keep investing more while you move up the curve until
percent), Twitter (19 percent)
the marginal return of your incremental investment is at the same
and Facebook (19 percent).
level as your other tactics.
For more insights on content marketing strategies, visit the Content Marketing Institute at www.contentmarketinginstitute.com/.
A snapshot of the trends defining our industry
Content + More Content =
If you need anymore reasons as to why content matters when it comes to who’s buying what, the Chief Marketing Officer Council has your back. According its “Better Lead Yield in the Content Marketing Field” study, 87 percent of B2B buyers said online content has either a major or moderate impact on vendor preference and selection. Here’s a look at what type of content they prefer when researching their products and services:
Professional association research reports and white papers
Customer case studies
Industry group research reports and white papers
Analyst reports and white papers
CANVAS September 2013
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make measurable â€“ your strategy
P10 CANVAS September 2013
By greg coticchia
How to avoid the twisting curves on the road to success
e have all been there at one time or another. You’re at the end of a sales cycle, working on the last parts of a contract. You can sense the celebration for what has been a very long process. And then it happens. Your prospect suddenly changes his mind. “But how?” you ask. “Why?” You were down to the last three items in the contract negotiations. After weeks of back and forth, and back and forth, the compilation of months of diligent work, the end was almost at hand.
A good sales rep should always confirm where he stands in the complex sales process – during each step and after every meeting. And just like that, he wants out of the deal. I remember the last time it happened to me. After a few days of corresponding back and forth on the contract items, I received an email the next morning that read, “We will not proceed.” Ouch. I was stunned – not only that the deal was not moving forward, but how the decision was communicated. After all that time and money, I was told it was over in an email. Not even a call. Selling is a tough business. I don’t have to tell you that. There are no “easy sales” out there. I believe all B2B marketing and selling is based on relationships. Even in this high-tech world of digital marketing, where social media reigns, our interactions are based on creating relationships. And what is the basis of these relationships? Trust. I call the process of building successful relationships building a “trust bank account.” And make no mistake about it – both sides must make more deposits than withdraws. When you are in sales, you deal with all kinds of personalities. Your job is to make sure that despite all of those back and forth discussions the “trust bank account” is built up.
P12 CANVAS September 2013
In the story I just referenced,
units” process information.
where he stands in the com-
there was a “trust bank ac-
We react when we’re under
plex sales process – during
count.” But due to some last
pressure, or not ready to act
each step and after every
or make a decision. Not every-
meeting. Losing a deal at the
my client made a 100 percent
one’s communications skills
last minute is unforgivable, no
withdraw – a sudden turn.
(see that email notification
matter the reasons. Clearly, I
Maybe it was cold feet.
above) are capable of thinking
didn’t reconfirm the benefits
Who knows? But when some-
through the impact or results
of moving forward to minimize
thing like this happens, both
of their actions.
the objections that prevented
I probably shouldn’t have
a 100 percent withdraw of the
The transaction isn’t com-
been surprised. A good sales
pleted, and yet my customers’
rep should always confirm
needs remain. Sure, everyone
can stitch some set of actions together to move forward in another manner, but ephemeral decisions to stop a process can do long-term harm. That’s the way “carbon-based
“trust bank account.” That’s on me.
Bad news early is good news.
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Make sure you and your prospect are in alignment. That’s important at each and every step of the sales cycle.
Within 24 hours of the meeting, write this note and place it in your customer/prospect file folder or your sales automation system. Believe me – it’s important. I’ve found these to be incredibly important, not just at the end of a
Why you need a confirming letter
process, but during each and every stage.
What could I have done? I should
I have found prospects cor-
have reconfirmed the deal in
rect me as to my perceptions
writing and in person. Instead,
or even correct what they told
I relied on the investment that
me. Either way, it’s important.
was made to date by the other
Remember: Bad news early is
party as evidence of commit-
ment. Confirming letters are key
Make sure you and your pros-
at every step of the sales cycle.
pect are in alignment. That’s
While not having one in this case,
important at each and every
especially as the deal was clos-
step of the sales cycle. It’s a
ing, wasn’t necessary, it should
simple tool that will make sure
have been warranted given this
you’re building your “trust bank
was the first time my prospect
account” and avoiding surpris-
was making a purchase.
es as your deal progresses. A
He clearly wasn’t ready. Honestly, he may never be.
small amount of your time will pay huge dividends.
So, what is a confirming let-
Don’t be surprised like I
ter? It is actually a simple, yet
was. Build your “trust bank
often forgotten tool in the
account” with each of your
selling process. At the end of
prospects or existing custom-
every meeting, tell your pros-
ers by taking a few minutes to
pect you’ll write him a letter
write a confirming letter after
and/or email that reviews what
each meeting or phone call.
was said in the discussion – a
It’s a lesson learned – one
draft that will confirm your un-
that will help you avoid
derstanding of where things
those sudden, sharp turns in
are in the discussion.
Greg Coticchia is an award-winning technology executive with more than 25 years experience in high-tech products and services. Recently, as CEO and co-founder of eBillingHub, he grew the company from inception to establishing it in a leading market position that led to its sale to Thomson Reuters. He currently teaches both business-to-business marketing and entrepreneurial leadership at the University of Pittsburgh’s Katz School of Business.
P14 CANVAS September 2013
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s e i t e Th d n i b t a th g n i d n a t s r Unde buyers what want really you from
P16 CANVAS September 2013
By Deborah Corn (Print BUYERologist™)
s a Print BUYERologist, one of my biggest hurdles is finding delicate ways to tell printers why buyers really don’t want to hear from them. Sure, there always are exceptions, but in general, unless a relationship has been established beyond customer/service provider, it is hard to stay top of mind or develop stronger connections with check-ins or small talk.
In July, we started to dissect the relation-
And here’s the kicker – print it. You
ship between printers and buyers with the
can keep an electronic version on your
article, “Five Ways to Build Relationships
website that can be downloaded. This
with Customers and Prospects.” Now
will help you capture customer data and
we’re moving to the next step.
grow your mailing list. If you have the
Following are five ways to sustain the
ability – and you should – make the print-
relationship with your buyer – and not be
ed newsletter interactive with one of the
annoying in the process.
many technologies out there. Educate your customers on cross media by using
No. 1 – Newsletters
the medium versus talking about it.
Okay, I’m not suggesting you send your
Printing your newsletter will set you
clients and prospects a sales pitch in the
apart. And regardless of whether it’s
form of a newsletter. I’m recommending
printed or electronic, the content will
you use a newsletter as a means of be-
connect you to your customers. They
ing creative and thinking out of the box.
will love to be able to use it to showcase
Make your newsletter more of a love let-
ter to print and the people who create it. Include information about fun and funky
No. 2 – Social Media
print treatments from around the world.
I know – you’ve heard this before. But I’m go-
You also can showcase a piece you’ve
ing to break it down to help save you some
recently printed that is fun and funky.
time, starting with “Know thy audience.”
Include the production specs. Do in-
When is the last time, if ever, you actually
terviews with designers and buyers in
checked to see who is paying attention to
a “Meet the Community” format. Offer
you? Are you sharing relevant information
tips from your experts on file prep, color
through relevant channels?
management, choosing paper, work-
A million “likes” and followers don’t
ing with digital versus offset, and so on.
mean anything if your audience isn’t en-
Pass along job opportunities as you hear
gaged with you. Take time daily to go
about them. Congratulate your custom-
through whom you’re following and con-
ers on their promotions. You can even
nected to, and add a comment to some-
include information about your busi-
thing they’ve shared. That doesn’t mean
ness and capabilities. But don’t make it
things such as “Next time call us, we can
a sales pitch.
print this for you.”
The Ties that bind
When is the last time, if ever, you actually checked to see who is paying attention to you? Are you sharing relevant information through relevant channels?
Whether you do “lunch and
sound anti-social, weed out
learn” webinars, include educa-
and remove irrelevant and
tion in your newsletter or hold
inactive people you’re fol-
monthly events at your shop,
lowing to streamline your so-
as long as it doesn’t become a
cial feeds. Focus on building
sales pitch you’ll be rewarded
better connections with your
in print karma, and more.
active audience, and sharing
Buyers must stay topical and
information they will comment
relevant, and be able to bring
on and share.
new opportunities to their collective tables. Help them.
No. 3 – Education
Printers usually go wrong
Most buyers do not have an
in the follow-up. Instead of
So, Now You’re an MSP?
opportunity to attend trade
thanking people for joining,
shows or receive the financial
and then adding anything
support they need for continu-
about your services, simply
Just because you’re selling,
ing education. And beyond
thank them and ask if they
doesn’t mean they’re buying.
that, many buyers I’ve spo-
have any additional questions
In our next issue, Deborah
ken to, and even worked with,
or topic suggestions. And
Corn, our resident Print
have expressed a “fear” when
remember to follow up on
BUYERologist, will offer
it comes to asking too many
your follow-ups. This will help
insights on how you can
questions in the workplace.
you move beyond the pro-
approach customers with new
Printers and service providers
services and opportunities.
sit in a unique and value filled
to something more solid and
spot by helping buyers here.
P18 CANVAS September 2013
No. 4 – Awards
that will be submitted or of-
No. 5 – Chill
While I’ve said this before, it’s
fer to pay the submission fees.
Whether you take all or none
always worth reminding print-
Take some initiative and show
of my Print BUYERologist ad-
ers that the only thing agen-
you have skin in the game.
vice, the biggest tip I can offer
cies love more than them-
You don’t want them to think
you is to be cool. Help when
selves are awards for their
you’re just soliciting work.
help is needed. Answer when
work. Since there are plenty of
The bigger point here is that
questions are asked. Be there
awards to win, take some time
the buyer now has something
without being overbearing.
to see what will be relevant in
cool and of high value to bring
Reach out when appropriate,
2014. Send the list to your rel-
to the agency. In turn, their re-
in an appropriate manner and
evant buyers and invite them
lationship with you made this
for an appropriate reason.
to partner with you. Offer
happen. It’s a win-win. And if
And most important, be a true
them a significant deal on any-
you actually win, make sure you
partner and person we like to
thing you work on together
send over some champagne.
Deborah Corn, PRINT BUYERologist™, is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, an industry speaker and blogger, and a contract Print Production and Integrated Project Manager at PrintProQuo providing 24 years of experience in print production and advertising agency management. She is the founder and cultivator of Print Production Professionals Group on LinkedIn, and host of the weekly #printchat on Twitter. Deborah also works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping with their cross media marketing and social media endeavors.
exit strategy • by Al Reijmer
The last hurrah How a well-executed ‘tuck-in’ could enhance your exit strategy
ver the past several months, we have examined how Sam and Margaret, the owners of Valley Graphic Media
(VGM), have examined several potential strategies to transition themselves toward a proper retirement solution (To read the first two stories on their journey, visit www.thecanvasmag.com to see the April and June issues of CANVAS).
that the vast majority of printing establishments – especially commercial plants – suffered a significant revenue reduction during the 2008-2010 timeframe. In most cases, it had little to do with anything the effected companies had done wrong. Today, while many companies have regained or replaced much of their reductions over the past few years, few have
Unfortunately, the two strat-
come close to their previous
egies they reviewed – Em-
“high water” levels. Severe
ployee Stock Ownership and
excess plant capacity and the
Merger of Equals – included
need to re-tool their facilities
their continual involvement in
with new technology to remain
the company. Furthermore,
cost competitive and/or enter
Sam and Margaret concluded
new markets have forced many
that selling VGM would not
owners to reconsider their op-
provide the net proceeds consistent with their eventual full retirement goals. So now they’re evaluating a totally “New Direction” to improve
Whichever exit strategy you employ, remember that each requires proper planning and execution for a successful implementation.
their eventual exit strategy.
tions. Tighter lending restrictions, shorter terms and more personal guarantees actually have created unique opportunities for companies willing to “stay in the game.”
Sam and Margaret are in good physical health,
It’s no secret that growing organically to-
and still are very enthusiastic, even after 40 years at
day has become increasingly difficult. Growth
VGM. They decided if they were going to consider
through a strategic acquisition, most often
a “near” exit strategy that would require their con-
known as a “tuck-in,” has become the strategy
tinued involvement, they should investigate a plan
of choice for companies looking to replace lost
that could better maximize their final net proceeds
revenue and fill the excess capacity that has tak-
of that final three- to five-year “last hurrah.”
en a serious toll over the past half-decade.
P20 CANVAS September 2013
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In a well-planned and executed tuck-in, the “sum of the parts” often will exceed the base sum of the combined revenue and profits (buyer + seller) in short order. A “tuck-in” is just like it sounds. The buyer pri-
• Slowly weaning out the least profitable
marily is acquiring the sales (book of business)
customers and replace with higher margin/
of the seller and, in most cases, doesn’t require
value-added when and where applicable.
the facility or most of the seller’s equipment. The seller’s sales team, management, adminis-
• Improving the entire post tuck-in team by
trative and production personnel also are key
retaining the best employees from both
components of a successful tuck-in transaction.
the buyer and seller.
In a well-planned and executed tuck-in, the “sum of the parts” often will exceed the base sum of the
• Creating an effective financial incentive for the
combined revenue and profits (buyer + seller) in
seller and the new combined sales team to
short order. For example, $10 million in sales rev-
maximize the “sum of the parts” opportunities.
enue (buyer), plus $5 million in sales revenue (seller) equal $17 to $18 million, providing there are no serious overlaps of clients and accounts.
In essence, there often is ample room and flexibility for deal creativity between buyer and seller in a well-planned, negotiated and
Furthermore, in due course, revenue and prof-
executed tuck-in. The goal always should be to
its significantly can be enhanced post tuck-
create a win-win scenario whenever possible
in through improved capacity utilization (of
course), and also if any, or preferably many, of the following post tuck-in conditions exist. • Complimentary services allowing sales teams from buyer and seller to increase/improve their offering to their respective customers.
Whichever exit strategy you employ, remember that each requires proper planning and execution for a successful implementation. In the next chapter, we’ll further explore additional strategies for Sam and Margaret to consider in their goal to establish the most ef-
•M aximizing competitiveness with more efficient production platforms (seller provided
fective transition for Valley Graphic Media. Remember, when it comes to exit strategies,
technology), i.e., short run offset versus digital,
“One Size Does Not Fit All,” which means yours
full-size versus half or quarter size offset, etc.
could follow many paths.
Al Reijmer is a partner at New Direction Partners (NDP), a leading advisory and management consulting firm that specializes in the printing, packaging and allied graphic arts industries with an emphasis on mergers and acquisitions. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Visit New Directions at www.newdirectionpartners.com.
P22 CANVAS September 2013
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