launching new business ideas

The summer is approaching and that typically means a little slow down for most print businesses, but honestly who knows anymore. We will collect metrics as we live through it and reflect on this and past years, like most situations since Covid kicked off. So, I’ll adjust.

If you find yourself with a little extra time for product development and prospecting this summer, I have a few ideas for you to consider.

HOST A DESIGN CLASS

That’s right. Hire a design instructor to come to your office or a space you rent to teach a class for invited VIP guests aka current customers and potential ones. It’s good to have a mix. The best salespeople for print businesses are your print customers.

The class needs to be a balance of fun for them and beneficial to you. I would focus on tips and tricks for using funky finishing, popping off the page with specialty inks, and for designing digital décor.

I think those three are very topical. Adjust the concept to your capabilities and your benefit remains in any scenario.

You are educating attendees about your capabilities. They also learn how to create better files for your equipment in the process.

You can generate more work and/or increase your profit from customers who will want to use their new skills.

The prospects have a front-row seat to your operation and your customer relationships, and you establish your shop as a collaborative partner at your first meeting.

SEND A ‘QR CODE’ EMAIL

Last year I challenged #JamieThePrinter aka Jamie McLennan, Creative Print Strategist at DMR Graphics and co-host of the #PrinterChat series on Podcasts from the Printerverse to send a NY Times article about the QR Code trend to 10 customers who hadn’t used them in their materials but could.

The email was positioned as an FYI… “Saw this and thought of you and how you could be using QR Codes in your materials. Give me a call if you want to discuss it.”

The NY Times gave the QR Codes credibility, sharing the article without any summary or sales pitch made them read it and get educated on the benefits of QR Codes and the process before they reached out to hear Jamie’s ideas, and even if no one responded the email was a friendly reminder that Jamie was thinking about their business.

However, 8 of the 10 customers responded, and 4 out of 10 generated new projects that incorporated QR codes – including a restaurant company with 3 different brands and 8 locations – and that led to more projects that incorporated QR Codes.

Listen to Jamie tell his story and the verticals he targeted in this episode of The Print Report series co-hosted by Pat McGrew on Podcasts From The Printerverse.

The one-piece missing from this story is data reporting for QR scans and what happens after. I strongly suggest you investigate getting that technology so you can offer MORE than just a QR code to your customers. Data can help generate more printed materials used as follow-ups, offers, customer loyalty, reward programs, SWAG, and so on.

Do a search, there are plenty of QR Code reporting options. DO NOT use any free systems. Anyone can make a QR code in Adobe now, but more than likely they are not collecting and using scan data to inform their marketing endeavors effectively and efficiently.

DEVELOP A PRODUCT

This is on more of an advanced level, but if you have some time it could be worth it.

I have written previously about creating subscription programs for printed materials that cover customer needs for long stretches of time. Think about targeting businesses with predictable holiday and seasonal sale needs and businesses that rely on a consistent communication cadence (local restaurants) as examples. That subscription program is a product if you name it and sell it as a comprehensive package.

There are others out there who may have more targeted needs. What can you offer – and I mean everything you can offer – around new employee remote-working kits for example that contain company SWAG and company materials, a QR code to scan or a thumb drive with digital assets including an official company zoom background, and a branded shirt to wear on customer video calls.

Moving to consumer products, don’t forget your customers are also humans. With the appropriate storefront and workflow in place, why can’t you offer T-shirts for a family reunion as well as a company picnic? Their kids and pets on mugs and other items. Invitations for events and celebrations and all the print that may surround it. That is low-hanging fruit. You already have the relationships. I would almost guarantee your print customers are going to websites and other print businesses to buy all that stuff, why not yours?

I am not suggesting you just launch a consumer store. I am suggesting you use some of your time this summer to talk to current customers and see what they print during the year for personal use, ask them where they get it, do the math and see if you can make the numbers work.

The last thing on consumers, I am seeing more apps pop up that allow people to send their photos to a company that provides a printed product.

a photo of a woman hanging a photo in a frame from keepsake frames

A few nights ago, I saw a commercial for keepsakeframes.com. You pick a photo, you pick a frame, order it, pay for it, and a framed photo arrives at your house. This process is a master class in customer convenience. As long as the photos and the frames are of the quality the customer expects or can live with, repeat purchases are practically a given – especially if they continue communicating with customers in between purchases and/or incentivize new orders with offers.

Fractured prints photos on glass, wall art on glass, and offers a package they call ‘storyboard’ which is a series of pictures that show the progress of a relationship from meeting to marriage, kids growing up, and things of that nature that can be documented chronologically. It’s a genius upsell wrapped in a very easy-to-understand and creative idea.

Marketing your storyboard sales before graduation and wedding season could be very lucrative, and don’t forget about the guests! Throw in a promo code for them to order a photo they took from the wedding (or some other occasion) with a discount courtesy of the happy couple. Guests dress up, families are together, and groups of friends. Lots of opportunities!

Photo and design printing on canvas for wall art is popular too. Do a search, find some local framers, have meetings, and see what you can come up with. They are offering your product; you are offering theirs. Could be a lucrative future for all as the business develops, evolves, and grows.

DON’T FORGET THE SUNSCREEN!

Flying too close to the sun didn’t work out for Icarus. Be methodical in your research and with the development of your programs and products before you launch. You don’t want to stop and start or prematurely launch a storefront without a tested backend process. You don’t want to invite designers to an event and cancel or reschedule it.

Test ideas with current customers and family members, and adjust processes as you go along to figure out what works best. That will help to ensure the products you put out can provide profits, and the programs can increase your wallet share with current customers and help you secure new ones.

PRINT LONG AND PROSPER!

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See Deborah’s featured post: https://printmediacentr.com/isa-sign-expo-delivers-thrills-and-stills

See all posts by Deborah


DeborahCorn-PrintMediaCentrDeborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse™ at Print Media Centr, a Print Buyerologist™, industry speaker and blogger, host of Podcasts from The Printerverse, the cultivator of Print Production Professionals the #1 print group on LinkedIn, Girl #1 at GirlsWhoPrint, host of #PrintChat every Wednesday, the founder of International Print Day and the founder of #ProjectPeacock.

Deborah has 25+ years of experience working in advertising as a Print Producer. She currently provides printspiration and resources to print and marketing professionals through PMC and works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers, and industry organizations helping them create meaningful relationships with customers, and achieve success with their sales, social media, and content marketing endeavors.

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