Over the last few months, I have presented several tactics to help make the offering of print services more relevant to today’s marketer. I want to spend a few moments talking about the other side of the service offering coin; the service provider. Yes, let’s talk about you!
As the person responsible for synching your company’s offering with more value-based selling, how has your approach to your client changed? A good litmus test to answer this is to ask yourself, does your customer perceive you to be the same person you were before you went out and bought expensive digital printing equipment and even more expensive software to properly run those devices? Another one is, when I call up my customer, has the conversation changed at all? Are they asking me about what they should do on their next campaign or are they asking how many “up” can the new press handle and how much cheaper is it per thousand?
These are very hard questions and, quite frankly, the answer is even harder to deal with.
Two Crucial Issues
After drinking the value added sales Kool-Aid (on which I am often drunk), the two frustrating and overwhelming trends in our industry are:
1. Talking to the wrong person
2. Talking to right person about
How to change the first one is straightforward, but the second is more complicated. For instance, it could be that you have a good relationship with a director of marketing, who you consider a prospect for a value added relationship. However, your conversation for the past several years probably has been about the price of output, and he or she is unwilling or uncomfortable talking strategy with you. This is where it gets tough.
As we all know habits are hard to break. If you have tried to discuss strategy with the client, but they are unwilling to talk strategy to you as the output partner, it might not be worth pursing that relationship for anything more than what it is; an output relationship.
You can still grow that book of business using your digital/variable output capability, but will need to seek out relationships that perceive you as a strategic marketing resource; not only a dependable production resource.
Another key question to ask is how are you promoting through reference? For example, the dairy farmers got together in the early 1990s to do the very successful Got Milk? campaign. An implicit benefit was that it allowed each dairy farmer to refer to the campaign, which provided interesting statistics, a sense of levity, and beautiful branding—all which kept the conversation going about the importance of milk—when they called up their customers.
Well, we finally have a Got Milk? type of resource in our industry! Although it was not a collective effort it does help all of us. It is called Print is Big! and it was just launched by a Web-to-print company called Keen. (Disclosure: I have no business relationship with Keen).
You can check it out at Printisbig.com or @PrintisBig on Twitter. The campaign does a fantastic job talking about the sheer size of our industry—which is an enormous $640 billion per year—making it bigger than the auto industry or the entire market cap of Apple Corporation. The campaign also does a great job of debunking myths about sustainability of print and providing hard, fun facts that prove real marketing success with print.
The end goal is to influence your customer to think of you when they start thinking about their next campaign, not when it is ready for production.
Until next month, keep printing, my friends…
Sudhir Ravi is a serial entrepreneur who runs a variable data print practice within TVP Graphics in Streamwood, IL. Do you want to continue the conversation? Contact him email@example.com or 312-772-3191. Connect via Twitter @ThinkVariable.