As a small commercial printer some of your greatest concerns include improving your customer relationships and increasing the sales of your business. Today, innovative printers are generating new sources of revenue by providing more to customers than just traditional print offerings. By making the move from print service providers to true marketing service providers, these printers are expanding their capability and offering highly desired services to customers through providing variable data print (VDP), multichannel marketing, and other services. Yet in today’s economy, even the greatest campaign can fall short if the correct audience is not targeted or if the right offer is sent to a consumer at the wrong time. What can a small commercial printer do to ensure the generation of revenue as a marketing service provider?
As a small commercial printer offering marketing services, understanding how the marketing personnel and the sales personnel relate to each other is key because you provide these services not only for your own business but also for your customers. So the solution is to start small. The best way to kick-start your success as a marketing service provider is to self promote. Putting your own marketing services to work for your company will help your staff see how the new tools work, experience the shift in response rates, and even increase your sales. As an added benefit, getting acclimated with new marketing software on your home turf allows your target audience (customers and prospects) to not only see the new tools in action, but also allows them to experience first-hand how you can help them increase their marketing efforts.
Taking the first step to offering customers your new services can be as simple as employing one marketing service first, taking time to understand its value, let it resonate with customers, and then look to grow from there. For example, offer clients a personalized direct mailer and combine it with a personalized URL (PURL). In doing so, you can integrate the marketing message from the direct mail piece to the Web, where you can track and measure responses for your customers, giving them the most valuable part of any marketing campaign—feedback.
Defining the Market
Advancements in technology have made it easier than ever to use PURLs within a direct mail initiative to generate sales leads. As a novel and attention getting form of outreach, PURLs can bring you immediate response. But how can a marketing service provider verify whether these responses will lead to paying customers?
How well PURLs will work in locating viable sales prospects requires market research, including identifying the likely print buyers in your area and determining what kind of outreach materials they utilize, such as direct mail, email blasts, or even telemarketing. Next you must assess your own ability to meet these needs profitably. Can you serve these customers without rebuilding your entire operation? Maybe it would be worthwhile to add Web-to-print capabilities or mailing services if you see enough demand to justify adding it to your product mix.
Once you’ve done the homework to answer these questions, the challenge is implementation. How do you reach these prospects? How do you grab and hold their attention? How do you get them to contact you for that next project?
Let’s go back to the PURLs example. Suppose you’ve acquired a database of likely prospects, including local businesses that use direct mail, which is one of your specialties. This might even include your existing customers, because you’ve recently installed technology that allows you to generate PURLs and you’d like to introduce them to these added capabilities.
Do you plan to send the same PURL teaser mailer to both new prospects and existing customers? If so, design it carefully. As a customer of companies like telecommunications service providers, you probably know that few things are more annoying than receiving a special offer on cell phone services for new customers only, when as a long time customer, you do not qualify for the lower rate. You might even start looking for a similar discount from someone else who knows their customers and appreciates their loyalty.