Survey Says: Green Still Packs a Punch

The printing industry seems to be weary of green topics these days, but here’s a point you don’t want to miss: consumers aren’t. In fact, individual printers’ and distributors’ disinterest in green may actually be hurting them financially. Why?

A recent Capstrat-Public Policy Polling survey found:

  • 59% of consumers consider products’ environmental sustainability to be very important in their buying decisions.
  • 56% noted they would pay “a little” to “significantly” more for a product that was environmentally friendly.

Yet in spite of these numbers . . .

  • Nearly half of respondents (47%) said sustainability and environmental friendliness are “rarely” or “never” mentioned in their employers’ communications.

That’s a pretty big donut hole!

Customers want companies to tell their green story, so why aren’t companies telling it? What a missed opportunity! Green increases customer loyalty. It decreases price sensitivity. Green is good business.

Tell Your Story

Get your green message out there.  Your efforts don’t have to be sensational to be significant. For example:

  • Do you have an office recycling program?
  • Do you participation in a printing waste recovery program?
  • Do you offer FSC- and SFI- (or other) certified papers?
  • Do you buy carbon offsets?
  • Did you recently invest in newer, more energy-efficient equipment?
  • Did you recently change out traditional light bulbs for fluorescents?
  • Do you encourage employee carpooling to work?

Everybody has a green story. So don’t let it go to waste. Your customers want to hear it.

Things to Consider When Planning For 2011

  • Sales force effectiveness increases by as much as 40% when supported by an effective marketing campaign.
  • The most popular way to lose a customer is to lose touch with him or her. Industry-specific data indicates that 60% of customer loss is due to lack of communication.
  • Every client and prospect should hear from your company at least once every 90 days. Successful marketers shorten this to every 30 days.
  • On average, it now takes nine touch points of communication to build a sales relationship. Most salespeople give up after three.
  • Dollar for dollar, investments in customer retention are five times more profitable than investments in customer acquisition.
  • Direct mail as part of an ongoing customer relationship campaign can reinforce your brand values again and again. Mail builds brands.
  • Social media need not be a time sink and when executed properly can be very effective.
  • Readers find newsletters to be more credible than promotional materials. In addition to helping build relationships, they also promote your brand and set your company apart from the competition. Useful, educational, non-sales-focused content is key.
  • Good communications, not pricing, is often the key determinant of
    a sale.

On behalf of myself and everyone here at Great Reach Communications, I’d like to take this moment to wish all of our clients and readers a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and a Prosperous 2011!

How Are You Communicating QR Codes to Your Customers?

We’ve talked about QR codes a lot in Marketing Briefs lately — and for good reason. Done right, QR codes can breathe new life into static print projects. They do this by connecting print to the Web through the viewer’s cellphone. Seminars. Blogs. Webinars. Trade magazine articles. LinkedIn discussions. Industry listserves. Discussion about QR codes is everywhere.

These discussions are important. This is how we learn. But equally important, how are we communicating this information to our customers? No matter how much potential QR codes might hold, if you cannot communicate this value to your customers, what’s the point?

How do you do this?
First and foremost, you use QR codes yourself. Design your own self-promotion campaigns around them. Add them to your own marketing materials. Put them on your business cards.

If you cannot make QR codes work for you, you cannot make them work for your customers.

Once you have your own comfort level with QR codes, it’s time to actively start promoting them to your customers. I’ve seen some highly effective blogs for this purpose. Articles in newsletters. Customer emails.

If you don’t want to generate your own content, Great Reach Communications has begun integrating QRC content into its quarterly newsletters and e-Grams. It has also developed a QR code primer you can send out as an educational tool to your customers. You can even brand it and send out under your own name.

Whatever you do, use QR codes on your own first. Then get out there and talk about them.

Find New Prospects With LinkedIn Groups

Clients have been asking me about ways to use LinkedIn to extend their marketing reach. For me, LinkedIn Groups offers an easy and effective way to promote your brand and start dialogues with potential customers.

LinkedIn has created thousands of different and diverse networked groups. Seek out those that potential customers might belong to. Not sure which ones? Try looking up some of your current customer connections. See which groups they belong to and join the appropriate ones.

Once you’ve become a member of one or more groups, participate! By posting helpful information and responding to posts, you elevate your visibility and begin to generate interest in who you are and what you do. It’s an easy (and free!) way to promote your services to people who may never have known about you. Make sure your profile contains relevant info about you and your company, since this is the first place people will visit once you’ve gotten their attention. Any activity you initiate also has the effect of making your profile visible to your own LinkedIn connections when they log in.

Maintaining a high profile for you and your brand, creating trust and credibility and building relationships are all critical to sales success. LinkedIn offers a great way to achieve this.

QR Code in My Mailbox

This morning I was cleaning some mail off my kitchen table and I stopped short. One of the pieces had a QR code on it. Have I mentioned that they’re beginning to show up everywhere?

The mailer was from Samaritan’s Purse, a ministry that provides tens of thousands of Christmas gift packages to needy children all over the world. The QR code was on the front of the envelope right by my mailing address.

Even though I write about QR codes all the time, it was the first time one had landed in my mailbox. Suddenly I wasn’t considering it as an analyst – I was looking at it as a consumer. Frankly, the code implementation was done so well that I wanted to take out my phone and snap it immediately. Here’s why:

1. The code was easy to read. It wasn’t overly complicated and was surrounded by lots of white space that made it easy to scan.

2. There was a giant arrow pointing from the code to a picture of a smartphone. On the screen was an image of a smiling child opening a Christmas box. At a glance this told me why I wanted to scan the code. For people unfamiliar with QR codes, these simple graphics would help them understand what it was.

3. There was text below the code giving instructions for use (“Scan this QR code to watch a video about Operation Christmas Child”). It even included a URL for downloading a reader if the user didn’t have one already.

This one mailer exemplifies everything good about QR codes. It also reinforces that using QR codes doesn’t have to be complicated and difficult. It’s just about understanding how to use them well.

In the next few weeks, Great Reach Communications will be releasing a white paper that you can brand to your company and use to educate your customers on how to leverage QR codes in their marketing. Watch for it!

QR Codes: The Opportunities for Printers

Patrick Whelan contact info

Patrick Whelan's business card

Quick Response (QR) codes continue to generate a lot of buzz in our industry. In talking with printers over the last few months I’ve come to the conclusion that in our excitement to make use of their marketing potential, many straightforward QR code opportunities are being overlooked. Here are some that come to mind:

  • QR codes are the bridge that links the printed piece to the Internet. That capability alone is an easy way to get clients thinking about redoing existing sell sheets, marketing collateral, corporate brochures, etc. There’s a lot of low-hanging fruit out there. Start picking!
  • QR codes can contain static and dynamic URLs; launch YouTube videos (think product demos); include contact info (think business cards); highlight event dates; and even deliver text messages.
  • QR codes are simple to explain, have a “wow!” element, and require no significant expense. Those attributes are the perfect ingredients for a great in-person sales call.
  • QR codes give printers an opportunity to show how they’re staying abreast of the latest trends and technologies. Customers seek that assurance. That combination makes them a powerful branding opportunity.
  • QR codes are a highly effective way to increase direct marketing results and are rapidly gaining exposure. A national furniture chain had one in its flyer last week. If you’re the first to talk about them with clients, you’ll be seen as a leader.
  • QR codes offer a reason for a sales call, a customer education event, webinar, etc.

These ideas are just scratching the surface. But at a time when print sales are harder to come by, QR codes offer the opportunity for sales people to CREATE low-hanging fruit and foster their brand at the same time. I’m happy to discuss this with anyone.