Are printers missing out on the technology revolution? My experiences are showing that many printers have new technology but don’t use it. From PDFs to the Web and email, printers are ignoring what the technology can do for their business.
Like any business owner, I have to make cold calls in an attempt to get new business. My target is quick and small commercial printers, so I’m trying to find out about the printer by using the Web before I call. I’m constantly amazed by the impression that printers are making on customers with their websites.
My first surprise: half of the printers I contact don’t have a website. Using a variety of search engines, I try to cross reference the company name, address, and telephone number with a website. I usually come up empty. If you don’t believe me, go to www.maps.google.com and search for your address. Then go to Search Nearby and look for printers. It will put up the name and addresses of printers close to your location. If the printer has a website, it is usually included in the information about the company. You will see many printers don’t have a Web presence. You can also use other search engines to verify whether the company has a site or not. I predict that fewer than half of your competitors will have a website.
Even if a printer has a website, it may not project a professional image. You should visit each of your competitors and see what they offer. You will find that many of the sites are just “yellow page” ads. They list the address, telephone number and, perhaps, offer a way for a customer to submit a file. Most don’t use the wide variety of online services that prospering printers use.
Who Are You?
Another glaring omission is the failure of a printer to personalize the website. You can search every page and not find a single name of an owner or employee. Don’t any people work for these companies? Is everyone who works there named “Info”?
Printing is typically sold because of the relationships printers build with their customers. Despite that, some companies don’t even allow their customer service staff to have personalized email addresses. Some owners don’t include their own contact information on the website, even though the owner is usually the best salesperson a company can have. The website doesn’t do anything but project a faceless, sterile organization that doesn’t want anything to do with customers.
There are several companies that specialize in professional websites for printers. They do a wonderful job of providing the tools printers need to communicate with their customers and make buying easier. The websites look professional, but unless the printer does some customization on the site, the templates are just too generic to be beneficial. In larger markets it is easy to find competitive printers with the exact same website. The only change is the address and phone number. Even the photos are identical.
With all of the talk about social networking, few printers seem to be taking advantage of the opportunities to network. The real value of social networking is finding that link that allows a relationship to be built between two people. Finding that link, and then supporting it with relevant information using Twitter and a blog, is something most printers ignore. But it shouldn’t be surprising since most printers don’t even send out a monthly printed marketing newsletter to customers or prospects.
There are good websites out there, but they are few and far between. Successful printing companies are using websites to communicate with customers and to make buying printing easier. This does require the printer to promote the site among his customers and to train them to use it effectively. The ones who are taking the time to be proactive with their websites are capturing and holding customers and growing their businesses. Unless customers are told about the site and how it will be an advantage to them, it won’t be used.