Friday, October 29, 2010

Masking our Authentic Self

In life we wear masks. These masks are of all shapes and sizes and they hide our true, authentic self.

Think about it, everyday...

...a salesman is making a promise they know they can't deliver on.
...a company is re-branding just to re-brand (GAP). employee is working to build and promote a product they don't believe in.
...a printer is lying to themselves about the effects of e-readers on the printing industry and not taking steps today to adapt and change.
...someone is deceived by falling into a relationship built on lies.
...blame is assessed to an undeserving scapegoat because the fear of taking ownership of an issue or fixing the real problem overwhelms others. artist becomes a suit.
...a musician or band goes mainstream, moving on from their raving fans.
...a teacher is forced to adhere to a system of education as opposed to touching student lives on a daily basis with unique, thoughtful and tailored methods.
...the truth is hidden.

We wear these masks out of fear of reality. Sometimes we are forced to wear these masks to make a living while other times we wear them because the truth just doesn't seem profitable.

Halloween gives us the opportunity every year to dress up and wear a mask in a more obvious way. In some weird way, many of us represent our true, authentic selves on this holiday more than any other day of the year. As an adult, if I like to emulate a Will Ferrell character (Mugatu) on Halloween because it's fun and makes the other people around me laugh, why is it so hard bring that same honesty, energy and laughter to work on a daily basis?

As a sales rep and marketer, I struggle with this constantly. I'll get so caught up in coming across as professional and portraying a certain image, that it becomes easy to lose sight of who I really am. No one can expect perfection out of people and sometimes just being who you are makes more business sense than the mask that you think you should put on each day.

Long term relationships are build on the kind of tough honesty where people are willing to take off their mask.  However, being your true, authentic self means you are probably not standing in the middle on every issue. When you take a strong position or represent a more clear image of who you are, then you will certainly have more enemies but you'll also create bigger fans. Fans like this will stand behind you through thick and thin. Fans like this make it profitable to take off the mask.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Dutch Cut

Have you ever cooked in such a way that requires you to arrange your food on a baking sheet in different directions just to achieve the best fit? Think about a time where you were trying to fit strips of chicken on a pan or pieces of dough like the touloubakia pictured above. When you try to fit as many in that pan as you can, sometimes you might turn a couple at the top or side in a different direction just to get a good fit. You've probably done this before when cooking although you may not have realized that you were doing something that printers do on a daily basis - creating a dutch cut layout.

When a printer is figuring out the best way to fit a job on a press sheet, sometimes turning some of pages in a perpendicular direction allows them to fit more total pieces on a press sheet. This may not seem like that big of a deal, but in a scenario where you are printing 100,000 postcards, the difference of fitting 16 versus 19 postcards all on one big sheet amounts to 1,000 total sheets of paper!

Achieving small savings in printing adds up overtime and it can significantly reduce your overall marketing costs. To achieve savings though, you have to be open to suggestions and small size adjustments in your specs. While you hope all printers will offer suggestions on their own accord, printers still need the occasional nudge or trigger from customers. Sometimes all it takes is a customer to let the printer know that when quoting, if there is a slightly different size that works better for them, to quote that as well.

A dutch cut layout requires real thought by the printer, as computerized quoting systems often aren't sophisticated enough to layout such a scenario. It's just like baking where you can't possibly foresee that you will need to turn a couple pieces at the end to make them all fit. You may even have to reshape a few to get them all in. Printers do the same and the flat sheet of paper is a printers baking sheet and the postcard is their dough. Enabling a print chef to make things work for the resources they have will put put money back in your pocket.