Participants in the NAPL State of the Industry (SOI) survey were asked what they’ve done to make 2012 better than 2011. More than 50 initiatives were listed, ranging from streamlining workflow to “firing” unprofitable clients. The top initiative, cited by 82.9%, was taking a new approach to marketing. For 38.3%, that approach includes greater use of social media.
“More companies of all sizes are recognizing the benefits of marketing, branding, and promoting, and trying to distinguish themselves from the competition,” says Andrew D. Paparozzi, NAPL Senior Vice President and Chief Economist. “That’s very significant. We haven’t seen that in the past. Beyond that, there are more companies of all sizes who see social media as an effective way to market, promote, and brand.”
That said, there are a number of important determinants to success when engaging in social marketing, Paparozzi says. First, SOI participants are taking an integrated approach. “It’s not ‘social media or’ but ‘social media and,’” he reports. “It’s social media with a more effective website, email marketing with landing pages and PURLs, more targeted and personalized direct mail with timely follow-up, open houses, seminars, and greater community involvement.”
The other key is that this is a totally new skill, and not something in which to simply dabble. “You have to get help with social media,” Paparozzi says. “You have to be hiring experts.”
Make a commitment
Margie Dana, founder of Print Buyers International, feels a key is defining strategy. “You must have a strategy, because you have too many options,” she says. “You’re not standing in a boutique truffles shop. You’re standing in a super supermarket with opportunities aplenty. Do you jump on Pinterest? How will you use Facebook? When will you use YouTube?”
Working with a social media advisor, PSPs must choose the smartest mix that will bring the desired outcome. That requires educating yourself about the opportunities, and where your prospects or customers congregate, she says.
Those initiating a social media campaign must be in it for the long haul, she adds. Once they decide on whether it’s one channel, two, or five, they have to decide who’s going to research it, write it, distribute it, and monitor it.
Because social media endeavors are likely to engender comments, it’s also key to determine who will handle the feedback. Social media sites need to be fed, and once PSPs are present there, they have to be committed to it.
Finally, the posts must be creative and interesting enough that targets want to click on the link, go to your site, and perhaps download a whitepaper. “You want to make an impression that creates new business,” she says.
Bill Farquharson agrees. The president of Aspire For, Inc. sends out regular sales tips and 10-minute webinars on YouTube, which build his business as a sales trainer for the printing industry.
“I’m an example of how you can use social media, not just to augment selling, but to replace selling,” Farquharson says. “The trick is quality content. That‘s what everyone is looking for. There are enough delivery mechanisms out there. But what really stands out is good content—content that can build sales, revenues and profits.”
Paparozzi best sums up social media‘s impact. Not long ago, taking new approaches to marketing would have been an afterthought in a discussion of how to make this year better than last. “That it now leads the discussion is compelling evidence of how profoundly our industry is changing,” he says.