All the industry predictions and sound strategy advice offered this time of year won’t make a bit of difference if you have no customers or prospects to work with. Since I am on the receiving end of your sales calls, emails and the occasional package of printed materials, I am going to dedicate this post to helping you understand my people, the professional print customers, and create meaningful relationships with them in 2016.
The mission for Print has been set in the 2016 CMYK Manifesto with the key takeaway being relevancy. Perhaps the most significant area to be relevant in, and continue to strengthen, is the relationship with your customers. However, we need to start a little further back to address the real moment relevance is determined, and more often than not, you aren’t around for it.
Here are three ways to attract and keep print customers, and keep them happy in 2016:
Your Website. I am probably as tired saying this as you are reading it, so let’s agree 2016 will be the year we address websites, and put it behind us. Here is a quick test… look up your site on as many devices you can get hold of. On each of those devices, are what you do, what you offer and how to connect clear, and clearly found? Are all your links working? Do you have a nice gallery of images and videos for people to see? Try the same test by asking non-relations to have a look, and then ask a few simple questions such as: What is our specialty? How do we help customers? What topics are important to us, and how are we communicating them? If those three questions are no-brainers to answer, great job and move on! If not, this is when your relevancy is determined. You can proactively contribute to the outcome, or let visitors decide for themselves what you do, or don’t.
Your Communications. I used to feel guilty, but at this point I spend some time each day opting out of emails, educational opportunities and promotional offers that simply have nothing to do with me as a print customer. The issues in my inbox are more with industry suppliers than printers, but printers rarely WOW me with anything that comes through. A cold-call inbox coupon for 10% off holiday cards will not make me a loyal customer, or establish you as relevant in my world. PLEASE only communicate when there is a really good reason, and when it has to do specifically with ME, not YOU. That will make you stand out more than you ever know.
One-Stop Shopping. The trail of people, paperwork and processes left in the wake of establishing a new supplier as a vendor in most companies, especially if they are publically traded, is tsunami-sized. In some cases after signing the affidavit that we, the customer, have no family or personal ties to the supplier, we also have to prove that the new supplier is providing something our current ones aren’t. Quite frankly, it is so much easier for us to buy as much as possible from one place, with one PO. It makes the CFO and the auditors happy, and it’s easier to manage projects with less external touch points and people involved. Take the time now to gather your resources, and then take the lead from pop culture regarding celebrity crews and FORM YOUR SQUAD! These are the people that support your efforts, that you don’t go anywhere without. If you have the print covered, your squad may need paper or finishing experts. No squad should be without a data geek, and someone who understands the opportunities with mail and can navigate the USPS promotions and regulations in a proactive way. Your squad is a reflection of relevancy, and can and should be adjusted customer-by-customer, and project-by-project. I didn’t say establishing relevancy came easy, and it shouldn’t. This is the point. Only the relevant will break though the noise, and survive.
When 2016 winds down I believe the trend most talked about in regard to print customers will be consolidation of services, and from the printer side optimizing what they currently have vs. seeking out new products and services from the industry suppliers. Both of these present huge opportunities to create relevancy, establish and strengthen relations with your customers, establish relevancy and desire to connect with prospects, and more than anything else, opportunities to share relevant information and education about the awesomeness of print media!
BE RELEVANT AND PROSPER!
PS: Speaking of relevant… these topics and more will be addressed in detail at “The Ultimate Marketing Workshop for Printers” in Orlando April 4th. I’m also presenting at Jetcomm and Dscoop with Matthew Parker in San Antonio. Our session will review recent survey results from “What do print buyers care about?” and highlight three major-takeaways. We will share our print buying experience and perspective to offer actionable advice designed to help you strengthen your 2016 customer relationships, and ultimately increase sales success. Hope to see you there!
Deborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, a Print Buyerologist™, Integrated Marketer, Industry Speaker and Blogger, Cultivator of the Print Production Professionals Group, the #1 Print Group on LinkedIn, and host of the weekly industry #PrintChat on Twitter. She has more than 25 years experience working in advertising and marketing, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them to achieve success with their cross media and social media marketing endeavors.