Print providers always seem to be looking for new revenue sources as traditional printing shrinks. To some, this has meant reinventing themselves into marketing service providers to help customers get their messages to prospects using more options than just print. They have added such services as website development, personal URL programs, search engine optimization (SEO), and personalization. They have expanded their prepress design services to include content creation. Many feel they have to provide marketing services and do more than just putting ink on paper.
Smaller printers have trouble making the transition because of the high cost of skilled staff. Web designers, content creators, and marketing experts don’t come cheap and to train someone from within the organization can be costly. It is easy to buy the equipment and software needed to offer marketing provider services, but hard to find the staff to make it work.
Use Print to Close Sales
A simple answer for smaller printing companies that want to take advantage of the new marketing trends is to fall back on what they are good at: print. In the world of integrated marketing services, print is often the overlooked component that separates success from failure in marketing a product or service. Not everything can be communicated on the Internet, so while the Internet can help a company get leads, print still has an important role in closing the sale.
For instance, SEO is a current hot button. Companies are paying to get their websites on the first page of an Internet search. Many consumers go to the Internet first when searching for a product or service, so getting to the top of a page is well worth it. A businesses can get new leads and introduce itself to new prospects at its website.
But what happens after the consumer finds a company on the Internet? Does that business have a process for closing the sale? In most cases, the process includes printed sales collateral. If printers want to increase their print volume, they need to talk to their customers about the communication process after they get the lead.
Printers must change the conversation from “What printing do you need?” to “What are you doing to get leads and close the sale?” Customers need brochures, sales sheets, presentation folders, catalogs, information sheets, and more as they close the sale. Printers need to ask questions such as: “What do you send the customer after they contact you online?”, “What information does your salesperson leave behind after the sales call?”, and “What print materials do you use to continue a customer’s relationship after the contact or after the sale?”
Prove the Viability of Print
Printers must also be able to show what print collateral they use to promote their own businesses. How can a printer profess to be a marketing “expert” and tell customers to use printing in their marketing and sales programs if he doesn’t use it himself?
What print collateral are you using to market and sell your products and services? Do you have an information packet or brochure that goes to companies after they contact you? Do you have a number of different brochures outlining the benefits of using your various products and services? Do you have a business card? Do you have a printed newsletter that goes out to customers? Do you have mailing materials that you send to customers to attempt to get new leads?
You need to be able to show examples and state, “Here is what we use to do this, and here are the results we get when we use it.” Your message is more powerful when you can demonstrate that print is successful.
Printers have long been market service providers; they just didn’t know it. Print has always played an important role in marketing and sales. You don’t have to provide all of the new technology for marketing, but you now have a reason to talk to customers to explain that you can provide the print collateral support they need to sustain their ongoing marketing efforts.