Are you a wide-format printer, a digital marketer, or both? Within four years, marketers (including printing firms) will spend $77 billion on interactive marketing—as much as they do on TV advertising today—Forrester Research is forecasting. The combination of search marketing, display advertising, mobile marketing, email marketing, and social media is projected to grow to 35 percent of all advertising spend by 2017. Forrester also contends that mobile eventually will overtake both email and social. In the meantime, however, social media can be an important component of your company’s integrated marketing mix and a valuable tool for your business if you use it right. Socially savvy shops are using it today to enhance their brands and to increase their profits.
To communicate their respective messages to the masses, print needs Google, and Google needs print. To illustrate their truly reciprocal media relationship, I tweeted this to my Twitter followers (@MarkV_Chicago) after reading a Chicago Tribune article in mid-January about Internet censorship: “To alleviate privacy concerns, Google is again turning to print [advertising], namely magazines, newspapers, and billboards.” A few minutes later, @MyPrintResource repeated/retweeted (RT) to its online followers, followed by more RTs as the information sharing went viral, spreading further across the cyber universe. (Incidentally, Wide-Format Imaging has more than 2,400 followers on Twitter: twitter.com/wfi.)
Furthermore, when seekers of print industry-related knowledge come to the MyPrintResource.com (MPR) Web portal, hot-linked Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter logos appear near the top of the homepage, to the right, inviting people to “Follow Us.” The reason for this is search engine optimization (SEO). Does your firm “own” any keywords? After all, what benefit is having a great-looking, dynamic website if it is not optimized for Bing, Google, Microsoft (MSN), Yahoo, and other search engines? (See sidebar.) It’s like putting up a billboard in an alley, where few people see it.
But beware of those unsolicited email offers or telemarketers that guarantee organic placement on the first page of Google for an investment “of only $100 per month.” Like most things in business and in life, you get what you pay for—and $1,200 a year won’t get you a high page rank, despite the bill of goods the hucksters are trying to sell.
Strategic SEO works for printing firms, too, of course. Optimal search results happen by design, not by accident. Sometimes they’re bought, as with pay-per-click advertising such as Google AdWords, and always they’re paid for. Just ask Jill Rowen of Apple Visual Graphics in Long Island City, Queens, NY. “The Web crawlers look for these [logos and links], so you don’t want them to be ‘dead,’” explains Rowen, who coordinates Apple Visual’s sales and marketing efforts, including social media.
Across the country in Arizona, social media icons are prominent on bluemedia’s homepage, too, highlighting more than 1,550 Facebook fans who “like” the large-format printer. The same is true for PacBlue Printing in Canada, which boasts nearly 1,900 Twitter followers. Also in the Pacific Northwest, event/retail shop SuperGraphics is one of myriad printers to add a YouTube channel to its social media mix. Serving Seattle and Vancouver, the GM Nameplate division’s minute-long videos have generated nearly 500 views each—not Pazazz numbers (an amazing 237,000 views for the Montreal printer’s humorous “Printing’s Alive” video), but not bad either.