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End of the World As We Know It

(September 2014) posted on Tue Aug 26, 2014

A bold redesign is in The Big Picture's future.


By Robin Donovan

Well, this is it. The last issue of The Big Picture as we know it. Nah, we’re not going out of print. In fact, it’s just the opposite. This issue will be our last for our old look before we unveil a bold redesign for the magazine in October.

You know how they say facelifts are unbelievably painful? They’re not lying. And while this move is more than purely cosmetic, it has given us a new appreciation for those of you who are undergoing the same surgery.

Technological advances mean you no longer need skilled operators for every job, or even familiarity with high-end design software. And all sorts of print providers (anyone ever lost a job to FedEx Kinkos?) are nudging their offerings toward large format.

Touring a print shop last week, I surveyed a shelf full of packaging prototypes and wondered aloud about billboards. A higher-up shook his head; they don’t even try for those jobs anymore. The margins are just too slim.

It hasn’t hurt them. In fact, pitching themselves as high-end print experts had just netted the shop a multi-floor gig skinning a corporate headquarters. They’re already thinking about doing more work in that sector, and billboards are long-forgotten.

Now is the time for them, us, and you to pore over the details – to figure out what our clients need, even if they haven’t asked for it yet. It’s a painstaking evolution that doesn’t end when the client is served or the issue goes to press. The redesign for us is the first job in a new sector for you. It requires continual monitoring, and, internally, some banner waving, too.

But taking that first plunge is a public commitment: This is who we are. This is what we do best. That’s the first step – not the stasis point.

Change is tough. Taking on new jobs means laying down low-margin work, ramping up quality control, and nudging old clients toward widening the services they request. Defining the potent mix of what you do best and what your customers need most will leave you, here and there, awake at all the wrong times, wondering what’s next.

When you say no to jobs that used to be bread and butter, but no longer serve, it can feel like the end of the world. For some parts of your business, it is. But after weeks of mock-ups and maybes, palettes and printouts, I’m ready to take that first step. And you know what? I feel fine.

 


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