Client Retention: The Case for Customer Engagement

Commercial printing has always had a sales-focused culture. When it comes to growing their businesses, printers have always invested heavily in sales training focused on prospecting and closing techniques. While these skills are important, the ability to retain existing clients has a much greater impact on your ability to grow sales.

All growth begins with client retention.  As former Allegra Chairman Carl Gerhardt noted, printers need to avoid wasting time and money on complex marketing plans until they have a solid customer-retention plan in place.

Studies show that most print providers need to add 25% new customers every year just to maintain current sales levels. No wonder growth can be so difficult. It’s hard to move the boat forward when it’s leaking out the sides! If you are not proactive about customer retention, most acquisition efforts will help you tread water, but not actually grow your sales.

Here are some additional statistics to ponder:

  • Acquiring new clients costs 5x more than retaining existing ones.
  • 68% of customers leave because they think you are indifferent to them.
  • A 5% increase in customer retention can increase profits by 75%. (1)
  • Repeat customers spend 33% more than new customers. (2)
  • 80% of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience, but only 8% of their customers agree. (3)

When customers leave, so does your reputation. Satisfied customers refer business. Former customers rarely do.

Existing customers need to know they are working with a stable, trustworthy business that understands their needs. Unfortunately, printers are often so busy pursuing new customers that they forget about their existing ones. As a result, their customers become restless and the competition is happy to pick them off. Don’t let this happen.

Here are 7 ideas for retaining your customers and building customer loyalty:

  1. Stay engaged, whether you are actively selling them something or not.

Maintain contact electronically, in print, and in person. The most effective way to lose customers is to lose touch with them. Communicate, communicate, communicate!

  1. Deliver content that provides real value to them.

Identify their pain points and offer solutions. Provide helpful, thought leadership. Not only will this strengthen your relationship and promote you as a trusted resource, but it will also differentiate you from your competition—most of which is not communicating with high-value content.

  1. Be multichannel.

Use print, email, website, social media.  Content is king. It’s what you will be judged on relative to what your competitors are doing.

A note on website content: 67% of potential customers seek product and services information online first, and 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. (4) Your website isn’t the only one they’ll visit. Potential customers will visit another three to five sites beyond yours.  Your website content (blog, resources, company info) has to be great. It must stand head and shoulders above the competition.

  1. Be willing to admit mistakes.

Providing a great product and services does not guarantee that customers will stick around. It merely fulfills the customers’ minimum expectations—one which the competition also promises them. But delivering a bad customer experience doesn’t guarantee customer defection, either. If you resolve a complaint quickly, 9 out of 10 customers will do business with you again.

Almost 50% of people are less inhibited about complaining once they get online, so consider using email and landing pages for customer satisfaction follow-ups after every job. Everybody messes up once in awhile, but being caring and proactive can help turn a negative customer experience into an opportunity to build an even stronger customer relationship.

  1. Don’t forget the truly personal side of engagement, too.

Face-to-face interaction can’t be beat.  Consider adding on- or off-site educational events, quick “lunch and learns” in group settings or even one-on-one, and customer appreciation events. If you can’t coordinate everything in-house, consider using outside help.

  1. Send letters and thank you notes.

Everyone sends a holiday card, so reach out on birthdays, special events, and anniversaries (including those of major achievements).

  1. Connect on LinkedIn and leverage updates and published posts to promote thought leadership and stay top of mind.

In the end, it all boils down to this: Are you doing things that other providers are not? If they are, are you doing them better? Does your direct mail (newsletters, postcards) provide more value? Does the design stand out rather than looking canned? Is it easy to reach you, particularly from a mobile device?  Do you make it easy to do business with you, such as providing contact information on email signatures, responsive website design, and online resources such as available envelope sizes, conversion charts, postal information? What materials do you leave behind when you visit a client or prospect? We inherently don’t trust sales literature—Millennials in particular—so utilize customer-focused communications.

It cannot be said enough. Utilize the time in between delivering jobs to communicate. You will effectively stand apart from your competitors and strengthen your position as a trusted provider of the services you offer.

 

(1)www.bain.com  (2) Laura Lake, (3) Bain & Company from Harvard Management Update. (4) 2016 Marketing Think./ Deborah Corn.

Growing Print Sales in 2018

Happy New Year! We are almost ten days into the new year. What changes have you instituted to increase sales effectiveness and grow your business?

  • Companies that had double-digit growth in the last year supported their sales staff with printed and digital communications. (InfoTrends Reports)
  • Consistency is king with marketing initiatives. Brand exposure plus brand positioning equals competitive advantage.
  • All growth begins with retention. Data indicates that 60% of customer loss is due to lack of communications.

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

If you would like info regarding our turn-key, exclusive marketing solutions for printers and mailers, please reply to this email or visit us on the web. We make marketing easy, affordable and highly effective.

Patrick T. Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com
Office 978-332-5555 Cell 617-513-2067

P.S. Check out my latest featured article in Printing News: http://www.printingnews.com/article/12382492/marketing-matters-10-marketing-ideas-for-printers

3 Marketing Ideas for the Fall Season

1. Sell your customers on the role print plays in an effective marketing strategy. This article in Forbes will help: “The Art Of The Leave-Behind.”

2. Print companies that had double-digit growth last year supported their sales efforts with marketing collateral (Infotrends). Content is king. Educational, engaging, thought leadership promotes credibility and sticks around. Sales literature does neither.

3. Sell client retention programs. Why?

  • They o­ffer a truly unique selling proposition.
  • Program selling rather than job selling
  • A wealth of content to support retention over acquisition spend.
  • Scalable program regarding frequency, channels, and media.
  • No learning curve for sales staff.

It’s easier to sell a retention program than other traditional marketing programs. More details in this September Printing News article. I also offer a program to help with this. Happy to provide a free consultation.

4 Quick Marketing Tips to Grow Sales

I want to tell you about four quick tips I recently shared with my clients. The first is a key take away from research produced by InfoTrends (Lisa Cross and Kate Dunn) that identified best practices from print providers that experienced double-digit sales growth in the past 12 months.

“While engaging potential customers in person is essential, it is also important to support those efforts with printed and digital communications to create a productive sales force.” (Source link)

Here are some interesting statistics regarding website content:

– Blog content has a life expectancy of 2 years, which is a longer shelf life than all other forms of virtual content. YouTube and LinkedIn are 20 days and 24 hours, respectively.

– 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. (Source: 2016 Marketing Think)

– 67% of prospective customers check you out online first. Does your site promote you as a thought leader and as a credible resource for your services?

Let’s talk about how blog content can help you gain and retain customers!

Patrick Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555

5 Things to Consider Halfway Through 2017

Here are 5 things to consider halfway through 2017. Summer is a great time to plan for growth!

• Millennials love direct mail, as do others. Are you using it as part of your marketing communications?

• Existing customers cost less (retention vs. acquisition) and spend more. A 5% increase in retention can lead to a 75% increase in profitability. Communicate often and effectively.

• When customers leave, so does your reputation. Think about referred business. How many come from existing customers compared to former ones?

• Promotional materials need to be replaced with problem-solving, goal oriented, and trust building communications. It’s how you stand out from other service providers.

• Website content matters! Thank you, Deborah Corn, for sharing the following statistic: 81% of B2B decision makers use online communities and blogs to help make purchasing decisions. (Source: 2016 Marketing Think).

We offer turn-key, exclusive marketing communications programs for printers and direct mail companies. Contact me if you would like some info and samples of how we can help you grow.

Patrick Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555

Tips for Improving Your Customer Communications

My colleague, Matt Hunt, recently attended the Email Innovations Summit. It featured a number of dynamic speakers from well known companies to small startups talking about their experiences with email marketing and customer communications. Email marketing can be a powerful sales tools but only if done right.

He put together a short list of top takeaways, which includes tips on personalization, data sources, relevance, and automation. A few simple adjustments to your campaigns might be the ticket to getting more responses and providing relevant communications and information to your customers.

If you would like to receive this free, quick read report, simply send me an email I will be happy to send it to you.

Patrick T. Whelan, President
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555

3 Quick Thoughts on Marketing Print and Direct Mail Services

I wanted to share a few thoughts on marketing your print and direct mail services:

1. “See Me, Trust Me, Like Me” is your marketing objective. Outbound marketing to stay top of mind, inbound (website) to promote trust, and social media to foster “likeability”.

2. “The customer’s perception is your reality.” 80% of the buying process is complete before a prospect makes contact with you. 67% of the buying process is done online. Do your marketing efforts promote trust and credibility?

3. “What is the biggest opportunity for brands? Website content. Relevant, useful, and complete content serves many important purposes beyond transactions.” -Loyalty360

When it comes to growing sales, these things matter. If you would like to see samples of our area exclusive turn-key solutions that address these needs, simply reply to this email or visit our website. I will also send a copy of our Customer Retention Quick Plan.

Patrick T. Whelan, President
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555

What is Your Customer Retention Strategy?

Happy New Year!

A very simple and extremely important message for the start of 2017!

• Develop a customer retention strategy and execute it. All growth begins with retention. Retention programs produce a higher ROI than new customer acquisition efforts.

• Deliver value by helping your clients develop customer retention programs as well. It’s much easier than it sounds.

• The #1 reason customers defect is lack of communication. A cross media (don’t skimp on print) communication program is an easy and effective way to strengthen and protect existing customer relationships. In the process, you will also help cultivate new ones.

I’m happy to share my step by step roadmap for developing an effective customer retention strategy. Send me an email or give me a call, anytime!

Patrick T. Whelan, President
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555

3 Marketing Ideas for December

Printer Marketing PublicationsHere are the three best things you can do in December to help grow your print and mail business in 2017:

  1. Embrace and become highly proficient with LinkedIn (LI). With almost 500 million users, LI is today’s professional network and the best place to expand your reach, promote your personal brand, stay top of mind and generate traffic to your company website. Think you already have it down? What about LI Showcase or LI Sales Navigator? There are so many tools and strategies to explore. I just did a webinar for PIA on this topic. Reach out if you would like to discuss this.
  2. Develop a customer retention program. All sales growth begins with retention. It’s less costly to keep an existing client than to cultivate a new one. Follow the 90 day rule. Use a multi-channel strategy to engage each of your customers at least 4 times per year (good marketers shorten this to 30 days) in a non-selling manner. A company newsletter or magazine, customer education events such as a webinar or lunch and learn, brief email notifications that present useful, customer focused content, customer appreciation events, etc.
  3. Learn marketing. It’s no longer about learning to be a great closer or prospector. The most important trait a salesperson can have today is to be a good marketer. Smart marketing increases sales reach and effectiveness. Join marketing associations and LI marketing groups. Sign up for various marketing newsletters- there is a wealth of highly relevant information right at your fingertips! Being a smart marketer will also allow you to provide greater value to your customers and prospects.

Thanks to PIA for the opportunity to present to their members and thank you to my many loyal clients who utilize my company’s marketing services. If anyone would like information on our turn-key marketing solutions, please visit us on the web and submit a sample request. Cheers to a safe and joyous holiday season!

5 Thoughts on Marketing Your Print and Mail Services

Be current
Make sure to utilize current trends and technologies. Are your website and email efforts optimized for mobile? Employ a multichannel strategy to engage your target audience including, but not limited to, print, email, website and social media. Ignoring even one of these can hurt your credibility and create a competitive disadvantage. Don’t allow that.

Be conversant
View your website as a conversation, not a presentation. Marketing is about engaging your audience. Avoid generic or keyword stuffed content. Google’s “Hummingbird” algorithm likes fresh, genuine, conversational content.

Be a leader
Promoting thought leadership for both your company and personal brands is the best way to differentiate, establish credibility and foster trust. Customers seek that assurance. Be seen as a leader and engage your customers with top tier, helpful content. You are what your content says you are.

Be consistent
You need to consistently execute your marketing plan. Most print and direct mail companies I see these days have a plan in place yet too many do a poor job executing. Treat your marketing with the same importance you would treat your production workflow.

Be frequent
Touch your target audience at least every 90 days. Smart marketers shorten this to 30 days. At the very least, make sure that you communicate with your customers as often as your competitors do. In the end, it will come down to who’s better at establishing trust and credibility.

If you would like a 5-minute demo of our turn-key, area-exclusive marketing programs, please email me to set up a time.

Patrick Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com
978-332-5555