How Should Printers Market Themselves?

This past week, I had the distinct pleasure of sitting with a few of my peers at Print 13 to discuss how printers should be marketing themselves. It was a great panel. I was honored to be sitting with such intelligent people in the industry. This roundtable event was sponsored by the LinkedIn Group “Market Your Printing Company,” Mary Beth Smith, and Print Media Center. 

The session has been archived and can still be viewed online. It is well worth your time. I promise. Give it a watch, and comment below as to your thoughts and suggestions.

Roundtable

Are You Surprising Your Print Customers?

Researchers have found that our brains like surprises. Especially happy ones. What are you doing right now that will “wow” your customers and get them talking about you?
Everyone has seen or heard news reports of celebrity gossip that has “gone viral.” The trick for your printing firm is to say something or offer something that’s so compelling people want to share it with others they know.
To get viral exposure (a/k/a word of mouth) going for your printing company,  think first about what you share with others. Are you saying something new, different, or valuable? Chances are people will talk about what makes you stand apart, not your core offering.
Example: Sorrento Mesa Printing in San Diego talks about, “A 3D Printed Future: 10 Surprising Things We Could See Printed Soon.” That’s what people buzz about.
Another good example is from a doctor who gives well-behaved children a token good for a free ice cream cone at the Baskin-Robbins next door. That’s what people talk about – not his credentials.
It is the surprise or surprisingly unique quality that people will share with others. So do what Bonnie Raitt says: “Give ’em something to talk about!”
What are some creative ideas you have that people can talk about?

How can an actor’s audition help your print sales?

Julie Hansen, in  her article “ACT Like a Sales Pro,” points out 4 key concepts that can help you on your next print sales call.

Your best role as a seller is yourself. Be authentic and be genuine. Buyers will see through an “act.”

But there is a way you are like an actor: You often must audition to convince the buyer that you are right for the part. Here’s how actors do it:

• Warm up. A professional actor never goes on stage – or into an audition – without physically and vocally warming up. Print sales pros should do the same. Get your head into the game before the curtain rises.

• Embrace obstacles. Overcoming obstacles is a critical element of any drama. It keeps the audience engaged. Share obstacles you’ve overcome with other customers, in a dramatic way. Ditto for objections. Your “audience” will be on the edge of their seats waiting to see how you’ll address them.

• Don’t sweat mistakes. When stage actors drop a line or mishandle a prop, it shows their humanity. More important is whether you recover gracefully. Humor helps.

• Practice your improv skills. You don’t know how your audience will react, so you have to be quick on your feet. Practice beforehand with colleagues or friends, and invite them to throw you curve balls.

What other skills have you learned to help on a print sales call?

Three reasons your emails are being ignored

In a perfect world, every e-mail we send to a potential print client would be read and get a response right immediately. The unfortunate part is that most potential clients are too busy to even look at all their e-mails, much less act on them.

With some simple tweaks, eliciting a response in 20 seconds is possible. Just remember the three biggest reason prospects ignore e-mails:

1. They never got your e-mail in the first place. Spam filters are becoming more and more aggressive. Messages with attachments (especially large ones), lots of links, graphics and other gimmicks are likely to get blocked. Keep your e-mails simple and image free, even in your e-mail signature. They’ll have a lot easier time getting past spam traps and filters.

2. You didn’t give prospects a strong enough call-to-action. No one cares about your company’s long track record of success. Prospects are too focused on their own problems and issues. Use your e-mail message to emphasize common issues and triggering events you can solve. Make them want to engage with you! Give them a strong call-to-action that tells them what the next step is with you. That will help start the sales conversation.

3. It seemed like too much to deal with at the moment. Your goal is to make your e-mail sound not just compelling, but also easy to act on. If your e-mail seems like something that’s going to take recipients away from what they were thinking about, the chances are good they aren’t going to bother. Give them a clear specific call to action that you’d like them to take after they read your e-mail. Do not litter the email with many messages or links. Tell them what you want them to do using a simple sentence. Then make sure that what you’ve asked them to do doesn’t take more than a moment or two.

Even following these steps, you will never achieve a 100% response rate on your prospecting e-mail campaigns. If you can take the time to incorporate these tips into what you do, however, you’ll see an enormous improvement.

Are you using your email signature for marketing? Why not? [INFOGRAPHIC]

Back in May of this year, Ilya Pozin of Forbes magazine published an infographic on email signatures. As I was reading through some past blog articles, I was reminded of it again. Below are some very interesting stats on email signatures. When is the last time you looked at your signature? Do you have best practices in place to effectively market you and your printing company? What are your thoughts for best practices in the printing industry?

Six Common Print Marketing Myths Debunked

I spent last weekend attending the ICED Franchise Conference. I was invited to be a guest speaker and they are a very valued client of ours. The topic for the weekend was Marketing in the printing industry. I walked away after meeting some wonderful people energized and excited about printing. Not that I wasn’t in the past. I did exclaim during my presentation, at the top of my lungs, “I LOVE PRINT!” What the weekend did was remind me how much I love print.

So riding that high, I opened up my RSS feeds this morning only to find another great article about printing. I LOVE PRINT! I wanted to take a few moments and share with you the article so that you may also remember that print is not dead. Give it a read and comment below on your thoughts.

Have a great day, oh, and if I did not tell you enough yet, “I LOVE PRINT!”

Read the Article: Six Common Print Marketing Myths Debunked

Can you sell more printing thinking outside the box?

A little over a month ago I wrote a blog article called “By Becoming the “Go-To” Resource, You Will Sell More Printing.” I also posted a link to the article on LinkedIn. Since that day I have sat back and observed the sometimes heated discussion on the validity of this concept as related to printing sales. There have been some very valuable comments on each side. Below is a sampling of some of the comments received.

  • I have been hearing advice like this for 2 decades, and it is now less relevant than ever.Considering the state of our industry, a print rep is the last person a savvy buyer will turn to for advice on business, innovation, or anything else, except ink-on-paper.
  • You need to provide solutions for your customers and be a source of information for items you may or may not produce for them. If you do this you will truly be a partner in their business.
  • A true partner gets to know his customers and their business to help them be successful and in turn they will be successful as well.
  • I have been the “Go-To” resource for over 35 years now….It’s a NO brainer you have to be a problem solver and provide solutions, how else can you sell print successfully?
  • Printing companies that offer solutions and not just products win awards, inspire their staff and customers and are passionate about what they do.
  • Being from print sales and print manufacturing myself, now a print buying manager, I’m always looking for solutions to boost sales and I rely on print vendors that constantly think outside the box to help in that goal.
  • I am proud to offer ink on paper when the client requires it but I also understand the industry has changed and more is required of us than ever before. It is interesting that so many printing companies are redefining themselves as everything but printing.
  • “Re-definitions” are the mark of sheer desperation, and they don’t fool smart customers for long. Just what percentage of printers who consider themselves now as “identity designers” or “strategic planners” will still be around in 5 years?
  • If you are not reinventing yourself and or company every day, you will become old news quickly,
    Is that a bad? Maybe not, but its not good for future growth that is for sure.

So the debate goes on. Maybe both sides are right. Maybe both sides are wrong.

I believe that each printer, print service provider, marketing service provider and solution provider is doing what it takes to be profitable in their markets. Some have success, and some fail. What we as printers should try to remember is that innovation and change in any form can be good (or bad). We just need to be careful. Try something new. Chart your success and failures. Improve where you can. Also, a very old and sometime over-used adage comes to mind. It is very fitting right now and I want you all to say this out loud as you read it. Yes, say it out loud. Let everyone in the shop/office hear you.

If we don’t take care of our customers…someone else will.

What are your thoughts?

[Webinar] When you are at the FORK in the road: Which way should your organization go?

Join us: When you are at the FORK in the road, which way should your organization go?

Monday, June 17, 201311am Eastern • 10am Central • 9am Mountain • 8am Pacific

Space is limited.
Reserve your Webinar seat now at:
https://www2.gotomeeting.com/register/242936266

Like Alice in Wonderland’s choice of staying in Wonderland or heading home, i.e., which road should you take, there are a number of different directions that you can take in growing the front end of your printing business.

Do I hire more sales reps?
Do I engage in Social Media?
Do I buy another company?
Do I buy outsourced services that I do not manufacture?
Do I do a talent assessment to see who fits in my organization now, three years from now and five years from now?

This roundtable session will allow print service providers to engage in communications (note communications with an “s” = two way dialogue) with other thought leaders in the industry to discuss which road to take in 2013 and beyond. Printing Industry experts Ryan Sauers, from Sauers Consulting Strategies, and Joe Kern and Melissa Sienicki from PagePath Technologies, Inc. will help guide attendees down the right road to sales and organizational growth and success.

This session is an excellent resource for Owners, Executives, Sales Managers as well as Sales Representatives.

Registration is free and open to any print professional.
PLEASE COME PREPARED TO SHARE, DISCUSS AND HELP!

By Becoming the “Go-To” Resource, You Will Sell More Printing

We talk to a lot of Print and Marketing Service Providers. By far the greatest challenge that faces the industry is lack of strong sales. More and more it is becoming critically important to be able to set yourself a part from the competition so that your services don’t just become commodities.

Here are a few ways you can become a “go-to” resource with your prospects and clients so that you will be of value to them beyond your standard services.

  • Dig Deeper.  Many times when a customer asks us for a quote or proposal, we take the time to give them what they want. Prices. But what if you were to dig a little deeper and give them what they need?
    Consider what would happen if you presented your proposal, and then said: “I did some more research, to make sure that what I am giving you is the perfect solution for you. Here is what I also suggest.” Find ways to be me cost effective. Propose better or additional services that go beyond their original goal or project. It tells them you are thinking about them and their success
  • Become a thought leader. Businesses are always looking for ways to improve the bottom line.  Help them to do that. Create and post blog articles that address their businesses challenges. Publish tips and tricks on your website. Send out newsletters and emails that are fun, but also have content that is designed to better their business. Send out a direct mail or postcard campaign with a simple message, “We are here to help you. Let us know how we can be of assistance.” We people come to you because they need your expertise, it gives you a chance to connect them with the services you offer.
  • Walk in their shoes. Find out how prospects and customers are competitive in their own markets. Perhaps they are stuck. The more you learn about what they’re up against, the better you will be at aligning your offerings to get them out of their gridlock. Your solutions become strategic, and you are transformed into a “go-to” resource.