The printing business is picking up around the country and I’m on the road every week visiting printing companies throughout North America. What makes some printers so successful while others flounder? Here are some random thoughts and observations I have had about quick printing success while waiting in airports, dodging bad weather, and battling the byways of business travel.
QR codes give printers a reason to sell printing. While QR codes aren’t magic, they should increase sales for any printer who uses them. A QR code is simply a special bar code that links printed material to the Internet. Anyone with a smartphone can scan the QR code and their phone’s browser will take them to a landing page. Now that the majority of mobile phone users have smartphones, QR codes have become a perfect way to expand and augment information from the static printed page.
QR codes should be a boon for printers. Most businesses have a Web presence today and adding QR codes can drive eyes to their websites. Successful quick printers are convincing customers to put QR codes on every piece of marketing material they have.
A high impact use of QR codes is to direct visitors to online videos. Almost all businesses have videos on YouTube that feature information about their companies or the products and services they sell. Since YouTube tracks the number of views, it is easy to show a customer the opportunity he is missing.
Successful quick printers are talking their customers into throwing away their old marketing material and printing new collateral that will integrate with the Internet. They tell the customer, “Just think of how many leads you are losing by trying to save money by using old material. The new business generated will more than pay for the printing of the new material.”
Quick printers with wide-format services should be selling point-of-purchase (POP) displays that use QR codes to link to websites, videos, and social media accounts. Successful printers tell their customers how easily they can get new Twitter or Facebook fans by just linking the landing page through a QR code placed on a POP sign.
Websites are Mandatory
Websites give printers an advantage in their market. Successful printers who have a fully functional website can’t imagine being in business without it. As I visit different cities, I review the websites of my clients’ competitors. It is surprising how many printers either don’t have websites or have sites that only post their name, address, and telephone number. My best guess estimate is that slightly more than half of printers have functional websites.
Having a website is a requirement for being in business today. Most customers no longer use the Yellow Pages. They go to Google and the other search engines for business information. Successful printers know they better have a professional looking website if they want to be taken seriously by prospective customers. If you don’t have a website, no one is ever going to find you. You don’t want someone to look for you online only to have them click through to your competitor.
In fact, more savvy printers are adding website development to the list of products they sell. Buying print and Web services from a single source allows the customer to better control the look and feel of his communication. Customers concerned with branding like the idea of the same vendor making sure everything matches.
The printing companies I work with that sell websites always point out that the Web efforts are driving their printing sales. Successful websites need print collateral. Companies need mailings to promote their sites. They need brochures to send to customers who want more information, which is on their website. I expect that Web services will become common communication services offered by forward thinking printing companies.