For large-format print providers, the days of being order takers – if they ever existed at all – are long gone. Marketing is a must, whether it is comes from highly visible, being proactive or offering the right mix of products and services to capture new opportunities.
Print professionals need to differentiate themselves, either through product, belief culture or cause do to ensure they are at the top of their game when it comes to promoting themselves, according to marketing expert Barbra Bannon of Evolution Consulting, Wolfeboro, NH.
Instead of leaving their sales potential to chance, proactive print businesses are taking positive steps forward and, in many cases, they are promoting themselves using the same intricate and effective marketing techniques that they offer to clients.
In many instances, effective marketing starts with having the right presence in the virtual marketplace, i.e. the Internet. While most printing companies have Web sites, the marketing-conscious entrepreneur will take the time to reevaluate his or her company’s online presence from time to time.
One of the key things to consider at the point of evaluation is whether or not it is easy for customers do to business with a printing company online. Web-to-print tools need to be intuitive and as simple as possible.
Einstein Printing, a printing company in the Dallas suburb of Carrollton, TX, revamped its existing web site with an offering from PrinterPresence and noticed the difference soon thereafter.
"In less than one year I gained numerous accounts due to the capabilities of my website,” explains Einstein Printing’s president, Keith Einstein. “Four [accounts] specifically elected to use us as their primary print supplier based on one factor—the online ordering utilities offered through our website. These four accounts average $100,000 in annual revenue.”
Lincoln, NE-based PrinterPresence’s websites offer content management, file transfer, PDF job preflight, customizable design online proofing, and many other features, including VersaDoc templating of commonly ordered items.
Beyond the website, many graphics professionals look proactive marketing activities with the goal of getting broader exposure, and better brand perception, among potential customers. And today, even for the most print-centric of businesses, that often means multimedia marketing using direct mail, QR Codes, personalized urls, online video, and social media channels such as LinkedIn and Facebook and the microblogging service Twitter.
Microblogging, in fact, is just one of the many methods in targeting a subset of loyal committed customers from the vast universe of potential clients. Marketing consultant Bannon, who is the former owner of an out-of-home advertising and graphics company, stresses that companies need to know their niche. But, she adds, being “niche” doesn’t necessarily mean being “small.” PSPs need to be prepared to address a full range of marketing possibilities within that particular niche.
“One of printing companies’ top mistakes is that they don't address where they fit in their client's overall marketing strategy,” says Bannon. “They talk small and that is why they get small business.”
How do you ensure your customers' campaigns are top quality? Following initial research most marketing activity, Bannon notes that campaigns follow roughly four phases: content creation; content distribution; data monitoring and analysis; and identifying bring spots and evolving strategy.
Evolution Consulting, notes Brannon, places particular emphasis on content creation. Other phases can be somewhat standardized using tools available on the market, leaving more time for focusing on “the content and campaigns that have been shown by the data to generate the most revenue.”
One of Bannon’s clients, Parent Media Group, uses Facebook advertising to increase fan engagement and drive increased sales from Facebook directly to Canvaspeople.com, a website where consumers can order canvas prints of personal photos.