About Patrick Whelan

Patrick Whelan is President of Great Reach Communications Inc, the leading provider of high quality customer engagement newsletter programs for the printing industry. Patrick has spent the last 17 years providing marketing programs and advice to over 400 print providers throughout North America.

Focus on Marketing and Branding Instead of Selling

Today, as in the past, there are too many service providers chasing too few jobs. Many still believe that the answer to survival is finding a new salesperson who promises a large book of business or perhaps a better motivated and skilled sales staff that excels at prospecting, time management, and closing. The answer, however, lies elsewhere. Today’s providers can generate greater revenues by focusing more on marketing and less on selling.

Companies need to support their sales staff with effective marketing tools. Branding is at the heart of these activities. Last year, an InfoTrends report (Lisa Cross and Kate Dunn) identified best practices utilized by print providers that had experienced double-digit sales growth in the prior 12 months. “While engaging potential customers in person is essential,” the team writes, “it is also important to support those efforts with printed and digital communications to create a productive sales force.”

If you want to have a competitive edge, you need to differentiate your brand. Well-perceived brands have a tremendous advantage over those perceived as just being average. From the customer’s perspective, promising great product, price, and service is the minimum. It’s average. Grow your sales effectiveness by establishing your brand as a recognized leader.  “Your brand is a promise and your work is delivering on it” – Seth Godin.

According to a LinkedIn study “The State of Sales 2018” (download here https://bit.ly/2Pnlicz), your brand’s awareness and perception account for more than half of your sales engagements. For 52% of buyers, the top factor for engaging a vendor is whether the salesperson represents a well-known company with a strong professional brand. Stand out. Be top of mind. Be the company that your prospect remembers.

When it comes to being remembered, don’t take this for granted. There are lots of brands out there, but in each category, the average person recalls only three to five of them. In order to get in their heads, you have to push another brand out. Once you get there, you need to stay there. This requires repetitive engagement with quality, thought leadership, and relevant, helpful content.

Your brand is what your customers and prospects perceive it to be—not what you claim it to be. Eighty percent of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. (1) When you consider that as much as 80% of the buying process is complete before the prospect initiates contact with you, you gain a greater understanding of the role branding plays in sales performance.

For 67% of prospects, the first place they go is to your website. You are what your website content says you are. This is where most sales are being won or lost. People now expect you to have a blog. In fact, 81% of B2B decision makers reported using online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions (2). A blog should be up to date and contain useful, thought leadership information.

Set your website address as your default page when you go online. Constantly looking at it makes it easier to make incremental, ongoing improvements and updates to your site. View your site as a one-on-one conversation with your best customer. How your site compares to the other three to five sites the prospect will evaluate will likely determine what the prospect will do next.  Your site needs to foster trust and credibility. At the end of the day, most people will give the job to the company they trust the most. Price is often the excuse.

Content is king. Take a multichannel approach. With the customer now controlling the sales process, being in the right channel, at the right time, with the right message is critical. This is easier than it sounds.

Generate great, useful content, then push it out via print and email and share it out via your website and social media. This is a simple but effective push, pull, inbound, outbound marketing strategy. It’s not hard, and it doesn’t require a lot of resources. What it requires is a commitment to execution. Start with a 90-day plan. I am happy to advise on this at no fee.

(1) Bain & Company from Harvard Management Update.
(2) 2016 Marketing Think. / Deborah Corn.

Carve Out Your Competitive Advantage in 2019

In every field, extraordinary benefits go to those seen as being in the top five percent.      (Seth Godin)

Create a competitive advantage for your sales staff by taking a proactive approach to branding and marketing. Your brand is what the customer perceives it to be.

  • Be an early adopter. Informed Delivery from USPS offers marketers some great opportunities. Be among the first to educate clients and prospects about it.
  • Marketing today is about providing value as opposed to asking for something.
  • 67% of prospective customers check you out online first. Lack of any content is bad enough, but lack of updated content is even worse.
  • Blog content has a life expectancy of 2 years. YouTube and LinkedIn are 20 days and 24 hours, respectively.
  • Know MeTrust MeLike Me. Top of mind and great content will take care of the first two, but you need a social media presence to cover the third.

An updated “10 Marketing Ideas for 2019” is now available! Just send me an email and I’ll forward you a copy. pat@greatreachinc.com

3 Simple Ways to Grow Print Sales in 2019

Commit to growth in 2019! In many cases, this also requires a commitment to being a change agent. The following are three things to consider as you plan for a successful 2019:

  1. Have a marketing plan. Your brand needs to be in the right channel, at the right time, with the right message. A 90-day quick plan is easy to create, execute, and evaluate. Get through Q1 and then evaluate. Your plan should include at least three of the ten ideas in my report. Click here to receive the full report. 
  2. Embrace new services and opportunities. Many print and mail providers are standing out by offering enhanced marketing services that tie direct mail with digital marketing in one seamless workflow. There are many solutions available that are nearly turn-key at a low cost. DirectMail2.0 and Snailworks are just two that come to mind. Even services like USPS Informed Delivery offer an opportunity to stand out with enhanced services.
  3. Retain customers. All growth begins with retention. Not only do you need to have a customer retention plan for your own business, but you should be offering retention solutions to your customers. It differentiates your brand and provides a unique sales proposition. The good news is that this plan can be incorporated into your 90-day marketing plan. If you would like a copy of my Customer Retention Plan for Printers, please click here.

“We started with Great Reach a year ago and the response from our customers and prospects has been overwhelming. One customer called and wanted to know about drip marketing that was in a newsletter 3 months ago. Great Reach is our marketing department.”

From all of us at Great Reach, have a wonderful holiday season!

The Opportunities for Print Providers

Don’t rely on business growth to come from an improving economy or from finding the next great salesperson. Print providers need to be the catalysts for growth. They need to utilize marketing to differentiate themselves and give their sales staff a competitive advantage.

Client Retention:
Overcapacity continues to define the industry. Engage your customers frequently. Customers seek reassurance of appreciation. Utilize a multichannel approach. Engage your clients a minimum of every 90 days. Ideally, every 30 days.

Lead Generation:
New sources for generating prospects are needed. LinkedIn is the second biggest source of incoming traffic to our website. Traffic = requests. Support your sales staff with content for LinkedIn and watch your sales grow.

Content marketing:
Marketing is more about creating conversations than campaigns. But if your content isn’t relevant and engaging, you risk just being part of the marketing noise. Dynamic, engaging content goes a long way to helping foster trust and credibility.

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. Be perceived as being progressive and tech-savvy.

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


Where Most Print Sales Are Lost

Credibility and trust begin at your website. Your website is the first place that 67% of prospects visit. Even existing customers are influenced by your site. Many sales are lost there. Conversely, having an active website will give you an advantage over many of your competitors.

I just went to a printer’s website, and this was on the landing page:

Sent by Great Reach Communications

2014? Really? Are you even still in business? (They are.) Why would a prospect entertain doing business with this company? It’s too easy to move on to the other 3-5 brands in their recall.

And if you utilize one of the popular “in the can” websites for printers, then there is a great need to stand out and differentiate with some custom content.

Content builds trust and trust grows sales. Take a simple, yet practical approach to marketing. Post relevant, thought leadership content to your website and share it out via social media. Blast it out with email, too. Ideally, push it out with print, as well (it makes a big difference). If you can’t commit to doing this yourself, then invest a small amount of money and have a company like ours do it for you. In the 24 years I’ve been working with printers, the need for content has never been more critical.

For a limited time, I am offering a free 5-point review of your website through the end of March- simply contact me today!

Patrick Whelan

5 (More) Marketing Ideas for Printers in 2018

A new year ushers in new opportunity. Be the catalyst for growth. Embrace, refine and rejuvenate your sales and marketing efforts.

1. Write a letter

These days, a personable, hand-addressed letter is marketing gold. Yes, it’s old school, and you don’t see this often, which is one reason why you should do it. Identify and mail to 5 prospects per day.

2. Company newsletter

Your ability to retain customers has the most significant impact on growing sales. An informative company newsletter is one of the best ways to make that happen. It also provides critical top of mind awareness for your brand. Both print and email should be utilized.

3. Website resources and a blog

The first place prospects visit to form an opinion of your company. Their perception is your reality and having up to date and relevant, content gives you a competitive advantage over those that do not. Make sure to share your blog out on social media and push it out via email.

4. Social media

Very simple—customers now expect this. It’s no longer enough for people to trust you. These days, they also need to like you. Social media can help facilitate this.

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. I’ve seen clients using solutions such as Mind Fire and Direct Mail 2.0 (and others) for some pretty slick and effective marketing.

If you don’t have the resources (time or financial) to execute a consistent, effective marketing strategy, then consider outsourcing. We offer cost-effective, turn-key, exclusive marketing solutions to the print and direct mail industry. Click here to request samples and a free consultation.

“We started with Great Reach a year ago, and the response from our customers and prospects has been overwhelming. Great Reach is our marketing department.”