There’s a quote by Zimbabwean-born and Canadian-based philosopher Matshona Dhilwayo that goes like this:
“The ordinary think inside of the box, the extraordinary think outside of the box, but the genius thinks inside, outside, below and above the box.”
Dick Olenych, owner of Spectrum Printing (Home of the Happy Printers) in Virginia Beach, Virginia, uses this genius-described way of thinking to position his print (and other) businesses differently from anyone else’s. Dick’s interesting perspective and approach to the world of business are worth exploring for yourself and your print business.
While many small- to mid-size printers found their start in the world of print through the family or production side of entrepreneurship, Dick had a different beginning.
Dick spent 25 years in the unique dynamics of corporate America running national programs. In 2005, Dick decided to go into print, seeing the print industry as a customer-focused industry that suited his mentality and an ever-changing space due to technology.
“Little did I know that owning a small business could be so difficult,” says Dick. “I came into print through a sales and marketing background, which I believe makes it easier for me to position for success. But the operational side has always been a challenge for me. I am happy to say that after more than 15 years, I am getting the hang of it.”
Despite the challenge, Dick and the team at TheHappyPrinters.com began to see success through the consistent sales and marketing lens Dick used to approach the world.
Dick has used several marketing initiatives over his time as a print owner, including gift card giveaways, animated logos, radio ads, Happy Juice, his fun mascot “Sunny,” and more.
But, if you were to strip all of that away, Dick’s continued growth and success have been built on the following foundational marketing principles.
“You need to know your strengths and your competitors’ weaknesses,” explains Dick. “Then, you can present something that your clients want and need and that you can do better. Something that you can do better. For example, don’t sell quality. Your unique selling proposition (USP) has to be something emotional. No one ever says their quality is ALMOST as good as someone else’s.”
Dick goes on to explain what to look for in studying your competition and learning how your business can be different.
“Look beyond prices to simple things, like do they answer the phone? Do they listen to you? Are they rude? Then, be different. Maybe you’re the printer that answers the phone on the first ring, or always offers a smile, or in our case, it’s happy,” says Dick.
“Spectrum Printing sells happy,” Dick continues. “Who doesn’t want to be happy? If I focused on print, what would I be selling that is uniquely my brand?”
Without consistency, the marketing messages that you’re working so hard on will get lost.
As Dick says, “No one likes a company that surprises them. People want consistency. It builds trust and is the foundation of a great business relationship.”
How is the consistency in your own business? Are you delivering on what you said was unique about your business? This is why understanding who you are is so important.
In the land of small business, it’s all too easy to get caught up in comparing one company’s size to another, but size doesn’t matter.
Dick hit this point well when he said, “It doesn’t matter how many employees you have, it matters what your profit is. At one point, we had four times the number of employees we do now, but we are more profitable now with fewer employees. These are not percentages; this is money in the bank.”
“We had a client once come to us from an online competitor whose job was delayed. When the order finally did come in, it was wrong. So, they came to us, and we got the opportunity to save the day,” says Dick.
“You want people that are going to appreciate you and give you a great review. And, you know what? We beat their online competitor. Don’t assume that the online stores are inexpensive. You can beat them not only on price, but also with service, like providing hard copy proofs. Be on time. With the supply chain issues, local printers look better and better. Right there is a strategy for going after new business.
One of Dick’s growth tactics has included the creation and utilization of Facebook Groups.
“Becoming an expert on Facebook isn’t what I dreamed about, but social media is taking the place of in-person. That’s a fact. If you want to extend your brand, you have to be on these platforms,” Dick explains.
But why private groups?
Dick continues, “I believe in having a private group. It’s a platform where you can have a concentrated, dedicated audience. Prospects and buyers want more than just, ‘By the way, paper is on sale today.’ You have to approach social media and groups as an overall organization. It’s about more than marketing. It’s about providing information that businesses need every day. And that information is not always all about print. Our customers run businesses just like us, and they need and want answers to help them.”
When asked what words of wisdom Dick has for other printers, he says,
“Be creative and try something new. If you fail, try something else new. And never give up. If you want to be an asset to a client, be more than a printer, be a partner.”
This article originally appeared in the November 2021 issue of NPSOA magazine. For more information on how you can become an NPSOA member and enjoy the many benefits offered there, contact Member Services at firstname.lastname@example.org or head to their website at NPSOA.org.