Executive Perspectives: Brian Meshkati, vice president of marketing for SinaLite
As part of Print+Promo’s ongoing feature, Executive Perspectives, we get to know leading professionals in the print and promotional industry. This month, we interviewed Brian Meshkati, vice president of marketing for SinaLite, Dublin, Ohio. Here, he explains his goal-setting process, talks about his preferred marketing mix and offers a passionate defense of print.
How did you first get started in this industry, and what path did you take to land in your current role?
Brian Meshkati: Printing is in the family. My parents established the company over 20 years ago. It was a very basic small shop with a two-color press. When I was a child, during the summers and weekends, I would go to the shop and [be in awe of] the machinery. Starting in high school and then in university, I worked there in the summer. Instead of pursuing some other internship, I would come to the shop to help my parents and my brother.
After I graduated with my BBA, most of my classmates went into finance or accounting, but I was fascinated by print and I had a great time talking to the pressmen. I took that knowledge of finance and marketing that I learned in business school and applied it to the family business—and, then I joined full time.
I [was] a customer service representative for two to three years, handling customer cases and online chat. It was the perfect place to start because I learned about our customers’ problems and the issues that they experienced. General knowledge is the best path into the business.
Then, for one year or so, I became a production coordinator. I handled and took care of customer work from docket to shipping. Having gained the necessary experience and knowledge of the print industry, from there I jumped into marketing at SinaLite as vice president of marketing.
How do you set goals for yourself? For your business?
BM: Before setting any of our business goals, I first look at the customers. For us, they’re print resellers, such as brokers and commercial shops. I ask myself: What will give them better quality and faster turnarounds? How can we make them make more money? How do we grow their business?
In terms of structure, we set goals quarterly and objectives annually. And, quarterly, we look at ways to get to the objective. The goals for the business are discussed among family [members], which include my brother, my parents and me. And, of course, we get the input of our employees. Then, they’re finalized.
What do you expect to be some of the biggest challenges the industry will face?
BM: One of the biggest challenges that printing, in general, is faced with is keeping up with the digital side of marketing. You’ve got SEO, Google Ads, Facebook ads, etc. Not a lot of print companies are adopting these. Some are, but compared to other industries, we’re far behind. Vistaprint is doing it, so for our customers to compete, they, too, need to adopt digital marketing while still using traditional marketing as well. At SinaLite, we are currently using traditional advertising methods, like magazine advertisements, as well as digital ads.
What keeps you up at night?
BM: Material costs are going up, but, at the same time, we want to maintain competitive prices for our clients for them to maintain competitive prices in the market because they buy and sell. The way we do this is through efficiencies and the best equipment to bring our costs down to offset the rising material costs.
What is the most exciting, cutting-edge thing your company is doing right now? Why?
BM: Generally, our focus is always to help our resellers grow their businesses. We offer good quality products, but we’re also taking a step forward [in] using content marketing. For example, we provide weekly content in our blog, Printer Success, that helps printers and graphic designers grow their businesses. We also have, for our print partners, a Business Tools page, which has free marketing assets and other helpful resources.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
BM: Up until the very end of undergrad, I was ready to go to law school. I had written my LSAT and was already accepted to a great law school. A really good conversation with my dad changed my mind, and I went into print instead. I have never regretted that decision.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.