In the previous article, excerpted from the recent InfoTrends and Wide-Format Imaging study called Who Buys Wide-Format, we wrote about the outlook for the wide-format printing, the outlook for specific wide-format digital printing applications, and the length of time wide-format graphics are typically displayed. That data came from professional print buyers, which is very valuable as an indication of the intentions of those that create demand for wide-format printing. Another element of the research was with wide format print service providers (PSPs), who reported on a wide variety of market trends. One of the interesting comparisons that can be made between these two constituencies is the way that PSPs told us they market their services compared to the ways that professional print buyers indicated are the best ways to market their services. The chart below compares these findings. What it shows is that there is a good match between the most effective ways that buyers want to be marketed to and how printers market their services. This is not a perfectly fair comparison because printers could choose all of the options that apply while buyers had to choose the three most effective methods.
One of the uses for this data would be benchmarking. For example, 86 percent of the PSPs surveyed reported that they use “word-of-mouth” marketing. Perhaps that means they have developed a simple referral program but it could also mean they are leveraging social media web sites such as LinkedIn.com. Have you developed a proactive “word—of-mouth” marketing strategy that includes Internet tools?
Analysis of the findings on the wide-format print buyer side show that their preference is for non-intrusive marketing methods such as “word-of-mouth” or recommendations from friends, as well as direct mail, and interestingly, e-mail marketing. Indeed “word-of-mouth/recommendation” was identified by both groups as both commonly used and highly effective. However, while only 24 percent of wide-format print buyers reported that a direct sales force would be one of the best ways to market print services, in a separate question 30 percent of PSPs reported that a direct sales force was the most effective way to market their print services, second behind only “word-of-mouth” in terms of effectiveness. I write “interestingly” about e-mail marketing because, let’s face it, who wants more marketing e-mail? But as I noted, this is a non-intrusive approach, your customers, these print buyers don’t seem to mind getting them and it does provide an opportunity for the PSP to offer visual examples of applications and capabilities.
Speaking of print buyers, another of the findings from the PSP research indicated that it is important for PSPs to try to work beyond an accounts’ traditional print buyer. When we asked who their key print buyer contacts are, the answer is frequently the business owner or department manager, or people with marketing titles such as brand manager, marketing manager or merchandising manager. Only about 16 percent of the PSPs reported that they are working with print brokers/print management companies or professional print buyers.
When we bring these two sets of data together it makes sense that direct sales would be such an effective sales method because the salesperson/account manager would be on-site, working these accounts and developing the relationships at client companies enabling them to understand that frequently the people at the company that are driving wide format printing business are not in traditional “print buying” roles.