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For the past few years printers have been looking for ways to provide additional services to bolster their bottom lines. A number of them have moved toward becoming marketing services providers including offering website services. Those who have done it successfully have certain characteristics in common that are key to launching a new venture profitably. If you have been considering getting into the web services business, here are three tips to help you do it successfully.
1. Invest the time.
Though there are many similarities to printing. Web terminologies are different. You don’t need to have all the answers, however, you will need to have a solid understanding of the capabilities of the solutions you offer. Most clients will not need, nor care exactly how you will be creating the site but you will need to be able to answer some basic questions on functionality of the solutions. In order to adequately provide answers, a member of your team will need to have some hands on experience with the solution you sell on a regular basis.
Frequently I am asked: “How long it takes to come up to speed on this web stuff” and I don’t have a black and white answer. Some people pick it up quickly while others struggle. The big difference for those who succeed and those who don’t is the willingness to dedicate time to learn. Watching video tutorials, reading manuals, and time spent with applications are all part of the learning process. As technology advances, user-interfaces change and updates are made, the learning process is ongoing. A continual investment of time is a big differentiator between successful and unsuccessful attempts at adding web solutions to your business.
2. Source the right partners.
Consider partnering with someone who has the capability to do any and all parts of the project with direct client interfacing. Running any small company means wearing many hats with no predictable flow to the work coming in. Schedules can and do get pushed back and delayed. When projects come in at times when there are no extra hours available, rather than not being able to accept the job, ensure that your partners can help you with projects when you are short-handed or have little time for additional projects. You may end up giving up a bit of margin in this partnership, but the client will get the products and attention they deserve and you remain a trusted vendor in your client’s eyes.
Remember, the vendors and products you choose to work with are going to be an extension of the brand you have already built. If something goes wrong, you have to know that you can rely on the providers to work quickly to resolve the problem.
3. Have a plan.
When adding any new product or service, you need to have a sales plan. If your plan is that you will wait until you are asked about it, you will never make any money. Selling web solutions is no different than any other kind of new product. You will need to start including it in your elevator pitch, on hold music, business cards, website, signage, etc. Sending direct mail and email marketing pieces with an offer of a free website evaluation or other promotion is also a good way to build interest in your new services.
Regular social media announcements and press releases can also be beneficial. I know printers who post an announcement to Facebook and send a tweet to their followers each time they launch a site. Others send press releases that contain what work they completed for the client along with the URL and a testimonial from the client to local magazines and newspapers. This not only gets their name out in front of an audience, but also helps provide their clients with some visibility which elevates the value of the printer’s services.
Relevant consistent communication to your target audience about your products and services (whether new or old), will help keep your company top of mind and make purchasing from you and referring you easier for your clients. When adding any new product or service to your company, make sure you have a clear and defined sales and marketing plan.
Understanding the applications you are selling and knowing and taking advantage of the services your vendors can provide will pay big dividends if you have a strong sales pipeline.
In our next article, we will look at how you can make money selling web solutions.