Written by:
Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant
NAPL

The MFSA Spring Show was a great event that focused on a subject near and dear to many graphic arts companies, which is transforming your business from print and mail services to integrated marketing services. The MFSA (Mailing and Fulfillment Service Association) members are mailers, fulfillment companies and printers that do mailing.

The opening session set the stage for the whole conference. Wayne Peterson, Principal of Black Canyon Consulting Group, created a unique presentation based on the Tom Hanks movie, “Castaway.” Throughout the presentation, Peterson mixed video clips and stories of how quickly things can crash, the need to adapt quickly, and the challenges of returning to civilization. Perhaps one of his most important points was that the challenges today are much more than a simple mid-course correction and is more like a ball bouncing off a wall and creating an inflection point.

Peterson was followed by MFSA President and Chief Executive Officer Ken Garner, whose topic was strategic planning. Garner opened with this quote from Greg D’Amico’s book “Customer-Centered Marketing:” “Building a business that will prosper over the long term means clarifying its core values and vision, studying every facet of the market environment in which it operates, and then fulfilling well-conceived plans that will meet current customer needs while preparing for, and being open to, new missions that may result from industry and environmental change.”

Throughout his presentation Garner also used the term BHAG—“Big Hairy Audacious Goal”—from Jim Collins book, “Built to Last.” The concept of the BHAG is fitting when you consider that, for many companies today a transition into integrated marketing services means changing from a product-based manufacturing company to a service-based organization.

A quote from one of Wayne Peterson’s handouts provides an apt summary of the conference discussions: “Nearly all MFSA members are faced with the real need to reinvent their companies, and the need is getting urgent fast. But it’s not my role to make the case for reinvention. My task is to show you how, to describe the process of reinventing a company while you still have the resources to get it done. The good news is that it isn’t complicated or difficult to understand, despite the fact that so many people have made it seem complex. The bad news is that it isn’t easy. The work itself is hard, it is demanding and it is sometimes frustrating. But it is very doable. And the great news is this: where you’re going can be dramatically better than where you are now.”

Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.