Yabba Dabba Don’t: The Bedrock Business Model

In today’s post, I’m revisiting my Saturday morning memories. I’m a child of the sixties.  When it comes to music, this means that Jimi Hendrix will always be the guitarist.  But that’s not where I’d like to start today.  Let’s begin with something more important . . . cartoons!

flintstones and jetsons

Even if you were born AW (after Woodstock), I’m sure that you recognize these famous Hanna-Barbera characters.  If you were born BW, you can probably sing the theme songs.  I know . . . how does this relate to print marketing? Today, we’re going to divide up the print world between the Flintstones and the Jetsons.

Working with Fred

I’ve talked with a good many printing companies over the past couple of months and I’ve been counting.  This is tough to say, but more of you are stuck in Bedrock than are whizzing along with George as he commutes to Spacely Print and Communications. Honestly, I’m a bit amazed that some of you are still able to make the stone age model work.  I’m glad for you, but I’m wondering if it’s a good long-term plan.

I had a conversation with Fred just this morning.  Here’s the scenario described:

Six years ago there were 8 viable printing companies in Bedrock.  Now, there are three.  Of the companies that closed, several of the owners now broker print.  I’m doing some of that work with the help of Barney, my pressman, who has been with me for 20 years. The prices aren’t good, but I’m able to keep the presses running and the lights on. I think I’m getting a little better price for my work than the others they use to print their jobs, but sometimes I have to adjust a little to keep the business.  I did cut costs a bit two years ago by getting rid of my salespeople.  They weren’t selling anything anyway. It’s just me and Barney now . . .

I hope this isn’t your company. If it is, I hope that this story is making you flinch, or at least giving you a nervous twitch.  If you’re not stuck in Bedrock, be thankful. I just don’t believe that Bedrock is a sustainable business model. You may have some local trade business now and you may actually be able to keep the jobs that the brokers need in a major hurry, but there will never be a profit margin. You’re not a low cost provider now, and without profits for reinvestment, you’ll never become a low cost provider.

Meet George Jetson

Let’s talk about another business model. You’ve read about Spacely Print and Communications, I’m sure. It’s in Orbit City, not far from the Skypad Apartments where George and Judy Jetson live.  There’s lots for George to do there every day.  He’s the new business development guy.  Here’s what I heard from him:

We’re still running some presses, but a lot of what we’re doing now is pretty specialized.  We’ve got a good tradeshow business going and we print and cutout all of the standing POP  for the Modern Dog Company.  Astro is the model for most of the displays.  There’s a design and data group that  works on campaign management for RoboMaid and some other similar clients.  There’s another division that started out as the fulfillment arm of the old Spacely Sprockets company.  Sprockets are old school, but they’re easy to ship.  We manage their online store and handle fulfillment for them and a dozen other manufacturers.

If your company resembles Spacely Print and Communications, good for you!  It doesn’t mean that you never have problems, but it does mean that you’ve developed some profitable business and you’re seeking more opportunities for the future.

What about Reality?

elroyCaught.  It’s highly probable that none of the printers who will read this post are cartoon characters. You’re living in the real world like me and your business situation is probably somewhere between the Bedrock and Spacely Print scenarios. Here’s the important question: Are you moving away from the Stone Age business model? Even if you’re a small market printing company in a town that seems more like Bedrock than Orbit City, it’s very important to have a plan to develop new kinds of business.  If you’re fortunate enough (and wise enough) to have built a company like Spacely Print, you still need to be considering next steps. Guess what? In just another minute, you’ll be living in the future and nothing stays the same for long.

Where to Start?

Where’s the best place to start? How about right where you’re standing?  It’s a very good idea to know where you are before starting off on the trip.  It’s also a great idea to have a GPS or roadmap  to get you to your destination and give you some idea of the points in between the start and finish.  The map I’m suggesting is a strategic marketing plan. Over the next few posts, I’ll be writing about the elements of such a plan with the intent of providing some of the information you need to begin moving your printing company away from Bedrock and towards Orbit City.

Don’t freak out! Your plan doesn’t have to be a lengthy, formal document. It can be an outline or even a spreadsheet, but it should contain 6 key elements:

  1. Goals
  2. Strategy
  3. Tactics
  1. Measures
  2. Budget
  3. Timetable

Over the next few posts, I’ll be writing about each of the elements from a printing company perspective.  Stay tuned for next week’s episode!

What do You Think?

It’s fun to think in terms of familiar icons, or in this case cartoon characters.  Here’s a few questions to consider and to provide food for comments:

  1. How long can Stone Age printers hold out?
  2. What do you think the future holds?
  3. What does George Jetson’s company look like?  What do they do on a daily basis?

The Last Part

contactbuttonDP Marketing Services  provides marketing services and support for printing companies.  Part of our mission is to help our customers plan their marketing program and execute it with consistency.  We hope you’ll take a look at our website while you’re here.  If you’d like to talk about your business, we’d be most happy to get in touch.  The first consultation is absolutely free and there’s no pressure.  You can contact Richard Dannenberg by phone at 478-719-4029, by email at richard@dpmktg.com, or you can click the button to fill out a contact form here on the website.

Art Attribution: Swiped from Google Images, but probably the property of Hanna-Barbera
or their successors. Begging forgiveness in lieu of permission.