As the New Year looms closer, printers who are still open should pat themselves on the back. The economy has played havoc on many small businesses, and quick and small commercial printers who have survived the last few years have accomplished something just by staying open. Experts are already saying that 2012 will be another hard year, but there are bright spots in the printing industry.
The printers who are really benefiting from the shrinking number of print shops are the ones who are actively searching for new business every day. These are the printers who are mailing to prospective customers every month and follow up the mailing with telephone calls to ask for their business. They are the printers the customers turn to when their existing printer goes out of business.
Technology makes it easier for printers to reach out to new customers. An email newsletter can be integrated with a printed newsletter to increase the touches to a prospect. LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter make keeping in contact with the customers easier. Information can be scheduled so customers are constantly being reminded that the printer is there to help.
The printers who are still here are expanding their offerings to take advantage of the new ways people are communicating. Some services are as simple as adding a QR code to a printed marketing or informational piece. QR codes allow users to integrate a Web message with their print message, or they can drive traffic to a website, video, or social media site. For instance, a QR code can direct a viewer to a YouTube video that demonstrates the benefit of a product or customer testimonials. It can direct a viewer to a mobile site that will allow them to do such things as purchase a product, get a discount coupon, make a donation, provide contact information, or get in immediate contact with someone. If a viewer has an immediate reaction to a message on a printed piece, then he can immediately respond.
Offer New Services
Other new revenue sources for printers are website and mobile website development and support. Most companies need to maintain the same message both in print and online. Who better to help present the message online than the printer who is helping coordinate the message in print? Web development is easy enough for customers to do their own, but printers can add the expertise to make the message stronger. And many businesses don’t have time to keep a site updated properly. They will pay for that service.
Selling mobile website support is also logical since printers are selling QR codes. If a QR code goes to a website designed for a desktop computer rather than a mobile phone, the viewer may find it difficult to read the information. A printer can easily create and maintain his customers’ mobile sites so the printer’s customers can interact more effectively with their customers.
Successful printers realize that customer websites can provide additional printing opportunities. You have heard of Web2print; now printers are doing “print4Web.” Many companies need printed collateral to support the information on their websites to ensure their branding is maintained. When customers are contacted by their prospects for additional information over the Internet, someone usually puts printed information into an envelope and sends it to the prospect. Printers should be reviewing their customer’s websites and making sure that the customer has the print collateral that matches the online message.
The ways businesses communicate with their customers is changing. Print isn’t the only solution available, but printers are still an important component. The printers who learn to provide Internet-based communication services will find that the new year will offer more opportunities to prosper than ever before.