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.
The company’s campaign includes regularly promotional images on its Canvas People landing page (a St. Patrick’s Day-themed “Go Green, Get Lucky” image, for example in March), as well as updates on new promotions, contest and tips on buying canvas prints.
Canvas People’s Facebook ads focus on promoting prints to commemorate life moments, such as having a child or getting engaged. Asking questions on the ads, e.g., “Love Art?” grabs viewers’ attention and helps to drive sales.
Canvas People’s Facebook strategy also includes a Photo Contest tab on its Facebook site, as well as a Sweepstakes tab that gives people the option to sign up and win gifts, like a free canvas. To reach a broader audience, the company runs a “Like us and get a deal” promotion on Facebook, which allows customers to create a canvas and apply a discount offer with a single click.
The campaign’s impressive results include nearly 4,000 transactions, 180,000 Facebook likes and, overall a 1.5x return on the company’s investment.
Multimedia has a lot of benefits. Not only can it be used for finding new business, graphics businesses can use it to re-position themselves. For many, it represents the ultimate chance a re-branding from the old school printing days of the past. One stalwart business taking up this opportunity, Hiawatha, Iowa-based commercial printing firm Cedar Graphics, took to aggressive marketing as a means to combat commoditization of commercial printing. The company successfully re-branded itself as a multichannel marketing solutions provider. Its digitally printed, high-response re-branding campaign got a marketing edge with web-based solutions from interlinkONE, Wilmington, Mass.
Utilizing its digital printing operations, Cedar Graphics’ marketing logistics operation planned, executed and measured its re-branding campaign. The result? Better market position in a crowded marketplace.
“InterlinkONE gives us strong campaign management and integrated capabilities to build, execute and measure marketing initiatives,” according to Cedar Graphics Owner Hassan Igram. “We create corporate websites for customers from which they can order static and personalized print online, track inventory numbers and locations, and measure campaign response rates in real time. Our combination of conventional offset and digital capabilities enables us to provide customers with a comprehensive range of print services.”
With so much of the print industry, especially large-format printing, tied to marketing industry, developing a sound marketing strategy is a case of a business taking a dose of its own medicine. And for businesses like Cedar Graphics and Canvas People, it is a very effective cure.
“We believe in it because we do it for ourselves and have excellent results,” explains Cedar Graphics’ Igram. “It just shows what customers can achieve too.”
Ed. Note: Wide-Format Imaging readers can get a free copy of Barbra Bannon’s e-book, “How To Be An Online Marketing Rockstar,” by visiting http://hub.am/VWcdTz.