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The Case of the Killer Squid

The Case of the Killer Squid

Most mistakes that we make in the normal course of business are not killers. And that’s a good thing of course. If most of the mistakes we made were killers, we wouldn’t be around to learn from them.

As a matter of fact, since most of our mistakes (squids) are not killers, our survival lulls us into a sense of complacency and acceptance. We make a mistake and we think, “well, the last mistake/series of mistakes didn’t hurt us all that much, so let’s just put this behind us as fast as we can and get on with the rest of our lives.”

That’s a dangerous mindset and one of the reasons why I wrote Killer Squids. Your complacency/accepting mindset of your mistakes can be fatal in the long term. As Bob Newhart would say, “Stop it!”

But some mistakes can kill you. Some mistakes are so big and so bad and the consequences so dire…there are Killer Squids.

I extended credit to a friend who was starting a business. Over the objections of my long-suffering wife, I allowed him to rack up bills of $20,000. When his house of cards came crashing down, we were stuck with big paper bills and labor costs. This was not a killer squid, but it could have been. The loss was great enough that it jeopardized our ability to stay in business.

My takeaways from this Squid?

  1. Listen to your wife.
  2. Don’t let friendship cloud your judgment when it comes to extending credit.
  3. Don’t extend too much credit to start-ups.
  4. Don’t let anyone go past a pre-determined amount of credit. Limit your potential losses.
  5. Have your credit policies in place before you encounter a problem.
  6. Know your policies and stick to them no matter what.

These are the lessons I learned (I hope).

This was not a Killer Squid, but it could have been. And there are mistakes that you can make that will kill your business, or your job.

I remember well a Killer Squid that took out a client of mine. Sad.

It was a big project for us; the client requested a bid for scanning and printing a 500 page book; the quantity was 2000. We won the bid and started scanning the pages. Early on in the scanning process, our production expert came to me and said, “hey Kevin, this project is not 500 pages…it’s 500 sheets, front and back. It’s actually 1000 pages.

Uh oh. Our client did not know the difference between pages and sheets. Of course when you are dealing with a 1,000 page book vs a 500 page book, the price is going to go up, a lot.

We quickly communicated the problem and a new quote back to our client, and then it went quiet. Real quiet. Crickets.

But the deadline was fast approaching, and still we heard nothing. We knew our price was good and we were prepared to proceed (not many other printers could knock this job out fast enough), and our client was in a bad situation. And so, our client authorized us to proceed.

We finished the project on time and on the newly approved budget, but our client lost her job. Painful. Killer Squid.

Takeaways?

  1. Double check your specifications.
  2. Understand the jargon of the industry.
  3. Slow down and think through ramifications of not understanding all the specs before you begin.

September Song Squid

I do love my playlists. I have playlists for different days of the week. I have unique playlists for months/years. For example, one of my favorite playlists was created in April 2014. Spring of 2014 was a particularly tough time, and almost all the songs are quiet and in minor keys. Playlists can bring back memories of how you felt then and there. A history of emotion in songs. Nice.

Here’s a screen shot of my April 2014 playlist:

See what I mean? Great songs…most of them in a minor key.

I recently created another new playlist for September 2017. I found a recording by Willie Nelson called September Song and since I made the playlist in September, I thought it made sense to include it. I love this particular recording of a classic that has been covered many times. Have you heard it? Here are the lyrics for you:

Oh, it’s a long, long while
From May to December
But the days grow short,
When you reach September.
When the autumn weather
Turn leaves to flame
One hasn’t got time
For the waiting game.

Oh the days dwindle down
To a precious few . . .
September, November . . .
And these few precious days
I’ll spend with you.
These precious days
I’ll spend with you.

September Song, sung by Willie Nelson

Composed by Kurt Weill with lyrics by Maxwell Anderson

Of course, this is a sweet romantic song, and I dedicate this blogpost to my incredibly long-suffering and sweet wife, Rhonda. Thanks for all the precious days we’ve been able to spend together. Thank you Lord Jesus for Rhonda, a gift worth far more than rubies.

And what do all of this playlists, September Song lyrics and lovely dedications have to do with Squids?

When you reach September, you don’t have time “for the waiting game.” The days “dwindle down to a precious few.” I’m not saying this well, please forgive me. It’s a struggle. Please let me try again.

Time is running out. Will you spend your time trying to cover up your mistakes? Or will you humbly embrace them and learn from them and get on with your life?

Life is short. Don’t waste it in pride and unwillingness to learn from your mistakes.

Oh, and by the way. It’s already October.

Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle? Part 2

Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle? Part 2

Please see the previous blog post where I introduced two key decisions that were formative in our rolling out a “one-stop shop” destination for our customers.

These two decisions were to add Direct Mail and then Signs; one decision was made in the crucible; one decision was made in the timing.

This post covers two more key decisions that helped us become a “one-stop shop” destination.

This decision was made by our clients

I highly recommend peer groups. I used to be a cowboy. I thought I could figure it out all on my own, and I enjoyed trying to figure it all out on my own. But eventually I came to the end of myself and started asking for help. When I started asking for help, I realized the beauty of “the pool of shared meaning.”

Peer groups expand the “pool of shared meaning” and help you see your problems/opportunities from new perspectives.

It was in one of my peer groups that it dawned on me that we absolutely had to offer website creation and management to our clients. Even though I had heard my clients ask over and over for websites, it was not until my friends in my peer group hammered me that I finally got it.

The next decision was made in the personnel

We have wanted to offer marketing services to our clients for years. Such a natural extension for us. We have worked with over 5,000 different small businesses since 1966, and we’re a small business ourselves. We’ve seen ‘em come and we’ve seen ‘em go. We’re blessed to still be here!

We knew we could offer marketing services, but we were all so busy with design, direct mail and printing that we couldn’t prioritize them. So, when the timing was just right, two key persons joined our team, and we were off to the races. These key individuals were knowledgeable and dedicated to helping our clients.

These four decisions; to add direct mail, signs, websites and marketing services helped us become a truly a “one-stop shop” destination for our clients.

Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle? Part 1

Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle? Part 1

Just about everybody, right? That’s what we thought too, and the answer to “Who Wants to Save Money, Time and Hassle?”

I can’t say that we were able to accomplish this from day one. We just didn’t have the expertise or the money to roll out a fully formed “one-stop shop” destination for our customers back in 1966.

But I think we’re pretty close now. We haven’t “arrived” that’s for sure. But if our clients need marketing/design/print/digital/mail/sign integration…we’re there.

As I reminisce on 51 years of family business, there are two key decision points that defined our pursuit of the “one-stop shop” destination.

This decision was made in the crucible

One key decision point was 1996. We decided to go all-in on Direct Mail in October of this pivotal year. This decision was made in the crucible. We had printed well over a million direct mail pieces for the 96 campaign and I had trusted a friend to do the direct mail processing and get them all in the mail stream.

I was in the middle of my unsuccessful State Senate race at this point, and my friend called with some really bad news; he couldn’t get all of the mail done in time. One thing is for real about political printing; limited shelf life. The mail has to be in the mailbox BEFORE election day or it’s worse than worthless.

By the end of that difficult Monday, I had moved over 1,000,000 pieces of printing to three different mail houses in the Nashville area, and I had decided “never again.” Never again would I send mail to mail houses that may or may not meet my client’s deadlines.

Even in this difficult situation, we made all of our deadlines, and we were in the direct mail business.

The next decision was made in the timing

Another key decision point was 2015. We decided to go all-in on Signs. How did this happen? We had puttered around with sign making for years, but in 2015, our Sign Guru showed up on our doorstep. He was more than ready to join our team, and we were more than ready to welcome him!

So, the decisions to add Direct Mail and then Signs were key to our becoming a truly “one-stop shop” for our clients. One decision was made in the crucible; one decision was made in the timing.


The Difficulty of Making the Double Sale

The Difficulty of Making the Double Sale

Years ago, I launched a new business that just about everyone told me wouldn’t make it. Eventually, “everyone” was right. The business lasted 6 years, had increasing sales every year, but I shut it down when the first waves of the Great Recession washed up on our beach.

There were many reasons why the business didn’t make it, and the difficulty of making the double sale was a major contributor.

What’s a double sale? It’s easier to explain than define, so here goes. If you’re selling cars and your potential customers don’t even know they want or need a car, you’re trying to make a double sale. If you start with selling a car, you may indeed “sell” them on your car, and you will have made the second part of the sale. But then you have to go back and “sell” them on having a car in the first place.

A lot of sales efforts break down at this point.

Or, you could sell them on having a car (so far, so good!). But then a world of opportunity opens up and your potential client realizes that there are a lot of cars out there for sale. You’ve sold them on buying a car (first sale); but then you have to convince them that your car is the best for them (second sale).

Even more sales efforts break down at this point.

I’m not offering any solutions to the double sales difficulty; I’m just pointing out how hard it is to make the double sale. It is helpful to the sales professional if he or she realizes that they are in a double sale situation.

First step in making the double sale? Realizing that you’re in a double sales situation.

3 Tips to a More Powerful PR Strategy

3 Tips to a More Powerful PR Strategy

Good public relations do not equal good marketing. They are related, but one is not the other. Marketing is the process of wooing your customers to buy from you. PR (Public Relations) is talking to others about your service, products, or industry.

WARNING; It’s not your sales pitch; it’s a conversation, verbal or written, as a guest on someone else’s established platform. It can be one of the most powerful tools in your overall marketing strategy because being a guest is a great endorsement of you and shows you are a trusted expert.

Marketing strategies are different than public relations strategies. Marketing strategies tend to send press releases to local or national media in hopes that someone will call for an interview. Public relations strategies mean skipping the “send and wait” mentality and, instead, getting out there and getting active.

To get active, know who to call and target them directly. Remember, your endgame is a public conversation with their audience. Be willing to be quoted and willing to talk on camera. Then, they’ll think of you first when they’re doing a story where you can help “dramatize” their point. Marketing and PR are similar in one respect: they both require you to think about your first step and then take it.

PR Tips:

  •  TIP 1: Pitch the right person. Find out who books guests or does stories related to your industry, etc.
  • TIP 2: Engage with the editors. The person with the final say can encourage their writers/hosts to use you as the go-to expert.
  • TIP 3: Follow up. Return calls and emails, and don’t wait to be contacted. Remind them you are here.

For more information contact us at (615) 893-4290 or info@waxfamilyprinting.com