Some businesses are abandoning websites and concentrating on social network sites. Part of the reason is because it is free, but the successful social networking businesses see it as a way to have a continuing two-way conversation with their customers. Businesses hope that the viral marketing technique will help them identify their brand and get people to use their services. The combination of a Facebook page tied to a blog and tweets from Twitter can increase awareness of a company.
Social networking doesn’t generate printing—it generates leads. It raises awareness of your company and the services you can provide. It demonstrates that you understand the technology and know how to use it. Printers should integrate their social networking with their direct mail, telemarketing, and face-to-face sales calls to keep pressure on the marketplace. The biggest sin you can commit in social networking is to start it and forget it. You can’t be a wallflower in the digital world.
The hottest new thing in marketing is mobile marketing. Since more and more people are moving from their computer to a Smartphone to follow social networking and for Internet use in general, it is logical that businesses will want to reach those phones. That’s big news for printers because the link between the physical world and the Internet world is a printed Quick Response (QR) code. If you or your customer want to drive customers and prospects to specific sites on the Internet, you need to start including QR codes on everything you print. The upside is that all of your customers will need new marketing material printed to include the QR codes.
Email marketing has gotten more sophisticated with special programs such as iContact, VerticalResponse, EasyContact, and others that make managing an email campaign easier. A printer can start pushing information about the company through email. Newsletters, information, training, and other tips can become part of the automatic selling function of a company.
The conclusion is that printing isn’t dead; it is interactive. Printing no longer stands alone as a communication tool—it must be integrated with the Internet, email, mobile marketing, and social networking. Printers must know where printing fits into communication campaigns. The only way to know is for the printer to learn how to use the tools and to use them correctly.
If a printer can develop a strategy using print and new technology to get more leads and customers for his company, then it will become easier to sell the same services to his customers.
Quick printers used to be the source for convenience copies and forms, but that business is disappearing. Now much of the printing done revolves around marketing material and customer communication. Mailing has become an important product for most quick printers. Quick printers are going to become experts in the communication aspect of marketing and help customers reach their customers. Print remains a powerful tool for brand building as well as direct marketing.
The print shop of the future is going to do more than put ink on paper. It will provide the tools to make that printed piece even more effective. The printer will become more involved with the message and its content.
For now, a printer needs to decide on his message and how he is going to get it in front of the customer. Surprisingly, with all of the technology available, the most effective technique is making a personal contact by telephone or face-to-face and asking for an order. All of the other tools don’t make up for that personal contact that cements a relationship. If a printer uses the technology to grow his business, he will prove to his customers he can help build their business.
One of the simple things printers can do to increase their business is to make print buying easier for customers by having a good interactive website. Everyone talks about how they are losing customers to the Internet, but few quick and small commercial printers are saying that it brings them customers. That has to change.
Today it is easy for printers to find the services they need. Whether it is an off the shelf, template-based website that can easily be modified or a sophisticated Web-to-print solution, a printer of any size can be perceived by customers as being an industry leader. Printers also need to start monitoring their websites to see how much actual revenue is being generated through the portals and W2P services. If the sales number is low, then there is work to be done. A printer’s website needs to be a proactive tool that customers can use to place orders at any time.