Archives for December 2013

2014: The Outlook and Opportunities for Print Providers

This is a copy of the end-of-year letter I recently sent to all of my clients at Great Reach Communications. I wanted to share this with everyone because I think it contains valuable, actionable advice that can be utilized regardless of whether you are a client or not.

Business growth in the next year won’t come from an improving economy, and it won’t come from finding the next great salesperson.

Client Retention: Overcapacity continues to define the industry. Too many providers and too little work means the competition is trying harder than ever to win over your accounts. Engage your customers frequently. Your newsletter program is perfect for this. If getting it printed is a challenge, talk to us about an e-newsletter.

Lead Generation: New sources for generating prospects are needed. Leverage online marketing and SEO to attract and cultivate prospects previously beyond reach. Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm makes this easier than ever. Add a G+ page, utilize our new blog content, and watch your page rankings improve. We went from page 5 to page 1 in just two weeks. This requires no work on your part. Talk to me about how this works.

Content marketing. Content marketing has exploded in popularity. Marketing is now more about creating conversations than campaigns. The company with the best content wins! Engage your clients a minimum of every 90 days. Ideally, every 30 days.

Social media. Social media is now expected. If you are not fully utilizing it, you are at a disadvantage and your brand’s perception will suffer. If you are struggling with this, have us do it for you.

Thought leadership. Keep promoting your company as a thought leader. Your brand’s perception plays a big role in determining who gets the job.

All this takes is a plan. Let’s talk and create one, then communicate regularly to monitor and keep things on track.

10 Marketing Ideas to Help Printers Prosper in ’14

white-paper-downloadTake the challenge and be the catalyst for change in 2014. Try at least four of these ideas for six months and see what happens. I’d love to hear your results and get your feedback. We can help you implement several of these if you choose.

1. Print newsletter
Your ability to retain customers has the greatest impact on growing sales. An informative company newsletter is one of the best ways to make that happen. It’s long been proven: Skip print, results go down. Use print, results go up. Print is taken seriously and breaks through even where e-media do not. That’s why a company newsletter is critical for customer retention. It is also effective at creating demand for your services through education and, perhaps most importantly, promoting your brand as a thought leader. Content is king. Produce and distribute one at least every 90 days.

2. Email newsletter
If producing a print newsletter isn’t achievable, produce an email version. Opt for less content (375 words max) and follow best practices. Use a third-party secured sender. Add a sign up on your website and post the content to your site as well as social media. Monthly or bi-monthly should be your target distribution frequency. Be mindful, however, that with spam filtering, not all of your emails will reach their intended targets. That’s why print should be part of the mix.

3. Start a blog
Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm is a game changer. Good, fresh content will generate strong SEO for your company website. If you’re looking for new sources of leads, inbound web traffic represents a great opportunity. Blog content doesn’t have to be long, and it doesn’t have to be loaded with key words. Make it relevant to your audience and the SEO will happen organically. Once a week? Perhaps every two weeks? Even a monthly update will generate results. Aside from SEO benefits, good website content has a very positive effect on your brand. Make sure to share your blog out on social media as well.

4. Social media
Very simple—customers now expect this. If you’re not utilizing social media or not updating it consistently, your brand looks bad and you create a competitive disadvantage for your company. Social media allows you to connect with your audience in a more personable manner. This helps foster trust. Your social activities now affect your SEO as well. Don’t ignore this. In addition to the big three (Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn), make sure you also have a Google + page for your business. It’s a fact that Google plays favorites. It’s easy to set up.

5. Direct mail
Create a direct mail campaign and distribute it to a targeted list. Use a list source so that you’re reaching out beyond just your in-house lists. Consider rolling this out on a weekly or monthly basis. I have a client that is targeting 200 names per week for two months. The offer is a half-hour lunchtime review of the recipient’s current marketing activities and challenges. The mail package includes a menu from a popular restaurant from which the recipient can select their lunch. A follow-up report is delivered a week later. The company is creating face-to-face interactions with companies and persons they have never had previous contact with. By rolling this out, they have the opportunity to gauge results and refine the offer (A/B testing).

6. Webinars
This is a great way to way to project your company as an expert and thought leader. If you’re talking about it, it is assumed you know about it! Even non-signups will be influenced by the invite and promotion. Limit these to just 30 minutes. They are easier to produce and more enticing to the recipients than longer Webinars. A quarterly basis would be a great interval. Even twice per year. Subject matter is easy to come up with and develop. Stick to ways you can help them grow or manage their business. Promote to your in-house list via social media and consider an outside list source. It’s a great way to help create demand for many of the marketing services that you may offer.

7. Write a letter
Yes, it’s old school and you don’t see this often, which is one reason why you should do it. The other reason is that it’s an easy and personable way to help foster trust and credibility. Talk about recent success stories (mini case studies), community and charitable involvement, and other information that is relevant to the recipient such as USPS rate increases or new regulations.

8. Website resources
Just like I’m doing here, create content that people can either download or request from your website. The key is to collect data. Having the information reside on your site will also help with SEO. The content can be short. One page is just as effective as three. Create short case studies or mini white papers. Consider using content from company newsletters or getting employees involved in helping with content creation. This strategy will drive web traffic, allow you to collect data, and promote thought leadership.

9. Use Twitter
It’s a powerful tool for marketing. It requires little content and it’s very easy to reach a large targeted audience. It can be an effective way to start conversations and is yet another way to reach people you had no access to in the past. #printchat every Wednesday at 4PM ET is a great source of knowledge for this.

10. Have a Plan
Planning is critical. If you want successful results, you will need to create a plan and commit to executing it. I’m happy to discuss any of this. My company also provides some of the above-mentioned tools on an area-exclusive and cost-effective basis. Daily, I see companies doing some or most of these initiatives. Don’t allow your company to be out-marketed.

Regards for a safe and wonderful Holiday Season!

Patrick Whelan

Newsletters for Printers

5 Easy Ways to Differentiate Yourself From Your Competitors

The most important thing you can do to grow your sales is to differentiate yourself from your competitors. Differentiation isn’t just about what you deliver as a product or service. It starts before that and involves positioning your brand as a thought leader and trusted resource. Foster the perception that your company has the most skill and knowledge regarding the products and services you offer.

A few quick things that can help you achieve this:

• Communicate often. Utilize a series of high-value content related to the services you provide and that is directly attributed to your company. Every 90 days minimum. Every 30 days ideal. As Rio Longacre says, “It’s selling without really selling.”

• Be unique. Sending out the same materials or having websites that are similar to your competitors helps to commoditize your services. You’ll end up selling on price.

• Avoid the “old school” image. Talk about and offer services that are perceived as being leading edge. Assure your clients that you are staying abreast of the latest trends and technologies (mobile, personalization, drip and trigger campaigns) .

• Embrace social media. Regardless of what you think about it, utilizing social media properly has a huge impact on how your company is perceived. It also allows you to connect with your audience in a more personable manner. It humanizes your company. Don’t discount that.

• Keep you website up to date. Having old, dated content on your website is a brand killer. It’s the first place prospects go to gather information about your company. First impressions are critical. Updating your website content on a consistent, established basis should be a company policy. If you take the approach of “I’ll get to it when I can get to it”, you will get left behind in 2014 with Googles new algorithms.

If your looking to grow in 2014, contact me directly to discuss what you can do differently to generate new revenues.

Patrick Whelan