Monday, October 24, 2011

What Happens in Vegas Does Not Necessarily HAVE To Stay In Vegas!!!

Wendy’s held their franchisee convention in Las Vegas last week and Dave Held, Lori Mitchell and I were there!  It was a great opportunity to meet so many franchisees face-to-face from across the country.  I’m proud to say, Old Trail Printing was honored by Wendy’s Corporate as a 35-year partner.  We have been printing, kitting and fulfilling their training materials for decades.
On Monday morning, Wendy’s new CEO, Emil Brolick, gave one of the most inspiring presentations I have ever witnessed.  He literally had 3000 people in that room riveted in their seats.  I quote from USA Today, “Emil is fed up with the No. 3 burger chain being portrayed as the fallen star of the fast-food industry.”  It was so interesting to hear about his plans to once again make Wendy’s an industry innovator.  Emil is a big believer in the importance of leadership in an organization and he believes his leadership can make a difference.  Again, I quote, “A leader has to bring a vision to an organization, because an organization works best when you have an end in mind.  Vision is great, but if you don’t have strategies, people get frustrated quickly.  A leader has to define reality and give hope.”  Hold on, stop the presses…did I hear him say “have an end in mind!”  Why, that is Habit #2 of Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, “Begin With The End In Mind.”  Covey says, “If you don’t make a conscious effort to visualize who you are and what you want in life, then you empower other people and circumstances to shape you and your life by default.”  After spending time listening, observing and interacting at the Wendy’s convention, I am confident Wendy’s will once again rise to the top!
At Trojan Litho in Seattle around 1998, the management team was trained on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  I found Covey’s 7 Habits useful in not only my business career, but personal life as well.  How many times have all of us wanted to drive our point home so badly to someone we are talking to without listening first?  I try to remember Habit 5, “Seek First To Understand, Then To Be Understood.”  If we as managers practiced this habit regularly, I’ll bet we would have more effective relationships with our employees.  I got to thinking after Emil’s presentation: would the owners at Old Trail Printing be open to learning more about Covey’s 7 Habits?  If they are, would they practice what they learn?  Well, I have ordered 5 of Covey’s books from Amazon and am preparing our management team for training.  I have 2 simple goals for this program:  Create an environment where our management team communicates more effectively with each other and give our management team the tools and knowledge to communicate more effectively with our employees.  I hope to have this training completed before the end of the year.  I am very fortunate our ownership gives me the freedom to take time to “work on the business” as compared to always “working in the business.”  I believe this is the way you move companies successfully into the future.
Circling back to Emil Brolick’s presentation, when he finished, all 3,000 people stood up and gave him a standing ovation that seemed to last forever.  What an inspiration not only to his employees, but the rest of us who were fortunate to be there.  If you are interested in reading USA Today’s interview with Emil, go to:

Written by Jeff Lampert, Director of Marketing and Business Development
“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Is printing’s online presence dying? With such a rush to “go social“, the industry news fails to keep us interested.

If you haven’t noticed, our Twitter feed has been unusually slow.  Now, this is not for a lack of effort.  In fact, it feels like I am trying even harder than before to find interesting news about the print industry and get the information out to our followers before it becomes either irrelevant or redundant.  When I think about the reasons why it feels so much more difficult now than before, I keep coming back to the same excuse.  Well, it is not an excuse, but I suppose whenever I see something not being done, I call the reasons behind the inaction an excuse.  But anyway… the reason it is harder to keep our social media sites constantly streaming and buzzing with current topics and news is that I am no longer doing “the social media thing” full time.  In fact, I am doing a completely different job now and we all thought it would be fine to drop to an hour or two a day for Old Trail Printing’s social media “maintenance” since all the sites are up and running.  How other companies can do this, I do not know!

So, you would think that setting aside an hour or two within each day to search and read articles, other social media feeds, etc. would be an easy thing to integrate into someone’s work life, right?  No- it is actually harder to ask someone to squeeze in another task when they already have a full day.  And it is not like the world of social media waits- if you don’t have time today you cannot just get to it tomorrow.  There is new information, new technologies, new everything out on the web and so the cycle starts over; you can’t post tomorrow what you found online today.  So, this leads us to the question: how do you do it? If your company cannot afford a full time social media assistant, or does not have an internship program in place, how do you stay relevant with your online presence?  I know there are tools and dashboards out there that are supposed to help you manage RSS streams and schedule your posts, but it still does not do the research for you to the point where social media is an easy thing to fit into your schedule.  Easier, yes.  Easy, no. 

Now, I think Old Trail Printing, along with the other print companies who are embracing the world of social media, are at an even bigger disadvantage than other companies.  Why?  Because we are print.  This means that there are a limited amount of legitimate and credible sources online to get your information from- and that means we are all competing to see who can translate that information to our followers first and in an interesting way.  Sure, there might be an article here or there in newspapers and magazines that are great to pass along, but not always.  This means we have to decide if it is worth a few minutes of our precious time to actively seek out random publications and hope to find information to share.  Wouldn’t it be easier to just wait for someone else to find it, share it then ride their time-invested coattails?  Well, that just isn’t the point, is it?  So, will it ever get easier?  Probably not.  In fact, with the internet changing daily, I am sure it will become even harder to stay relevant unless you can devote your entire day to it… but maybe one of these changes will involve micro-chipping and newsfeed contact lenses or something “futuristic”.  But, I digress.  In keeping with the challenge of social media and print, I have also found that it is not just our Twitter and Facebook feeds that have slowed, it is the diversity of topics in general that has slowed.

I remember when I first started looking at all the online websites for print, media, marketing, etc. everything was new and interesting.  Great- there was a lot to share and so many topics to cover.  However, as time wore on, I noticed the topics all stayed the same and were just being presented with a different title or with one “new” piece of information that did not necessarily affect anything.  I started to grow frustrated, which is part of why I decided that dropping the amount of time I invested in Old Trail Printing’s social media maintenance was going to have little effect on our feeds.  I mean, how many times can you read about the debate between PSP, MSP, OSP or any other type of “service provider”?  Or how many times do you need to be told that “going green” is what printers need to be doing and all the ways to do that, especially if you are already, in fact, green?  So when everyone in the printing industry says, “things change so fast”… do they?  I mean, yes, the technology behind the printing changes fast- very fast, but what else is actually changing?  The need for print fluctuates with the economy- this is usually a constant.  Print has integrated with the internet to create very effective multi-channel campaigns… ok, so that is kind of the end of that discussion.  We have all participated in the “what do we call ourselves” discussion and, frankly, I am blue in the face from it.  These are just a few examples of how the “trending topics” in print are, well, dead.  Yes, new experts and anyone with a computer can put their opinion out there (clearly, we are), but is it changing the discussion; is it progressing?  I guess my question is: What is next?  I am bored with the topics and bored with searching for topics.  How can the printers who want to be out there, online and active, maintain that level of involvement without the time, budget and conversation to fuel it all?

Written by Julianne Kaercher, Social Media Consultant

"Creativity is the result of boredom if you are inspired enough to make the change."