If you’re like most print service providers, you are trying to grow your business. You want new customers while strengthening the loyalty of your current ones. Beyond those simple goals, you also want to expand your share of your customers’ print wallet by increasing order size, building order frequency, and cross-selling your capabilities portfolio.
Overall, we all know that global demand for print has steadily declined since 2008. We also know how the pandemic severely impacted, if not shuttered, many printing businesses in the last two years. Printing Impressions reports that 20% of printers had sales increases in 2021 (average gain of 21.3%), while 77.8% of printers realized year-over-year sales declines (average loss of -24.7%).
Among the mix of surviving and thriving print service providers in 2022, some are trying new things in marketing, while others continue to do the same old things and hope for different results.
There are literally thousands of print-related companies that are not marketing their businesses with meaningful value to the audiences wanting to buy printed graphics, documents, signs, mailers, brochures, books, and boxes.
This month in the US, how many people do you think are searching on Google with these queries?
— printer near me? About 301,000 searches
— printing company near me? About 14,800 searches
— printing companies? About 9,900 searches
Search engine results pages (SERPs) will produce varying results for each search, depending on the user’s location, search history, and other factors.
On average, among the users who click on a result, about 60% will select one of the top 3 results. About 95% will click on one of the top 10. Those printers not in the top 10 on page 1 will get virtually no clicks, calls, or form fills.
This does not mean that it’s impossible for the other printers to get inbound web inquiries. The best strategy for a local printing company is to go for long-tail keywords. These searches have lower volume but they are very specific.
For example, there are only 140 searches per month for “sign printing Albuquerque” but sign printers on page 1 should get a decent share of those clicks. A subset of those visits will turn into customers.
Listen, there is much more to effectively marketing your print business than optimizing your web pages for search engines. There are many other alternatives for getting new customers, through both inbound and outbound strategies. Some are faster and more expensive, some are slower and less expensive.
The key for printers “doing the same old thing” in marketing themselves is to open up the doors for new ideas. Combine the power of digital printing with that of digital marketing. Make a targeted connection to your ideal customer. Create multiple touchpoints through printed direct mail, signage, brochures, customer case studies, and guidebooks. Then complement those print materials with digital marketing tactics. Explore and experiment with pay-per-click advertising, social media, content marketing, and email marketing to augment your print campaign.
Not all print buyers research, discover and engage their print suppliers in the same way. Some are on TikTok, some still read the local newspaper. Some read their email, others read physical mailers. Marketing your print business today takes flexibility and creativity and thoughtful strategy. Don’t give up on marketing, because the market hasn’t given up on the power of print.
David Murphy is the founder and CEO of Nvent Marketing, a marketing agency specializing in digital marketing for the print industry. David has 30+ years of experience in the graphics and document print production industry. He has served as a board member and advisor to print organizations and associations including Sustainable Green Printing Partnership (SGP), Print Industries of America (PIA), Association for Print Technologies (APTECH), and Electronic Document Scholarship Foundation (EDSF). David was also awarded the Idealliance Soderstrom Society Award for Print Industry Leadership. David can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.