One Printer’s Experience With Marketing

Even if you dismiss what marketers such as myself say about the need to market your print services, it’s hard to ignore what printers themselves are saying. The following is an email I just received:

“I wanted to share that I have had 2 separate experiences in the past week where I received unsolicited commentary on our marketing program. In both cases, the clients commented on how they enjoy receiving our literature and how they have learned from our marketing efforts. To me there is no higher compliment than to say they are “learning” from us. This is evidence that our marketing program is creating a strategic advantage over our competition. Just wanted everyone to know that the money spent on marketing is paying dividends!”

The key takeaway here is “strategic advantage”. It may be hard to measure, but how your brand is perceived, relative to your competitors, is the most critical influencer of determining which company gets the sale. People give their business to the company they trust the most. Promoting thought leadership is paramount to fostering this trust and credibility. Ignore at your own peril.

There’s no easy way or silver bullet. But marketing need not be an overwhelming task, either. Engage your clients, prospects and potential prospects by utilizing engaging, educational (80/20 rule), high value content that promotes your leadership position and also keeps you top-of-mind. Deliver these touch points utilizing a combination of direct mail, email, website content, LinkedIn published posts (like this one) and social media.

If you struggle with content creation and marketing execution, my company provides turnkey, comprehensive and area exclusive marketing solutions to printers and direct mailers. Reach out to me at pat@greatreachinc.com.

10 Marketing Ideas to Help Printers Prosper in 2015

Take the challenge and be the catalyst for change in 2015. 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 Hummingbird algorithm likes relevant fresh content. If you’re looking for new sources of leads, inbound web traffic represents a great opportunity. Make the content relevant to your audience and the SEO will happen organically. Once a week? Even a monthly update will generate results. Just as important as the SEO benefits, great website content promotes thought leadership which in turn, fosters trust and credibility. Make sure to share your blog out on social media as well. Email me discuss a highly effective LinkedIn idea regarding this.

4. Social media

Very simple—customers now expect this. They seek to work with tech savvy progressive companies rather than “old school” ones.  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

According to Forrester Research, todays buyers would have gone through up to 90% of their buying journey before they make the first contact with the vendor. Simply put, having up to date, relevant, engaging content (blog) gives you a competitive advantage over those that do not. 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. Post  content from company newsletters. Always share your new content out on social media.

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.

Wishing everyone a prosperous 2015!

Patrick Whelan
pat@greatreachinc.com

Now Is the Time to Be Marketing!

We’ve all done it. Summer slowdown arrives, and we join in. But perhaps when you consider the marketing benefits that summertime offers, you may want to reconsider. At the very least, you may want to maintain a steady marketing course and ease back on some of your other efforts.

  • Companies cutting back on their marketing in the summer are simply choosing to ignore their customers. This opens the door for competitors to get noticed. There is a wealth of client retention statistics to support this.
  • The Internet is up 24/7 and is practically everywhere. Customers still seek and see content. Don’t let your branding efforts take a step back just because it’s summer. The same goes for SEO. With algorithms constantly being updated, the consistent sharing of fresh content will pay big SEO dividends.
  • Take the tortoise and the hare approach. Client retention and acquisition as well as branding efforts require consistent engagement with your target audience. It’s all about creating multiple touchpoints.
  • Consumers are capable of recalling 3-5 brands per category. With companies cutting back, it makes it much easier for you to push out one of those brands and replace it with your own.
  • Science supports summertime marketing efforts. “More sun means more endorphins, which, aside from boosting spirits, also helps the brain remember more information.” [1]
  • Position your brand as the consistent thought leader. Paramount to fostering trust is consistency. “Sporadic posts on social media or your business blog will go ignored since consumers have no reason to follow sporadic content.”[2] The same can be said for your outbound marketing efforts such as print and email. Consistent delivery of quality content will absolutely set you apart from your competition.

Looking for an easy, effective, and inexpensive solution for your content marketing needs? We have been providing printers and mailers with customizable and area-exclusive solutions for 20 years. Our content will set you apart. www.greatreachinc.com

Inspiration and quotes [1, 2] taken from this great article:
https://contentequalsmoney.com/7-reasons-why-summer-is-the-best-time-to-invest-in-content-marketing/

Effective Content Marketing Grows Print Sales

At the end of the day, it’s all about trust. Most often, people will give the job to the company they feel has the greatest amount of competency and then come up with ways to justify not giving it to someone else.

The most effective way to influence your brand is to produce content that reflects your expertise. This means content that is better, more relevant and more sophisticated than any of your competitors.  Use this content for both inbound and outbound marketing efforts.

Your website content is critical but so is the need to utilize print to ensure you touch all of your customers and prospects at least every 90 days. Supplement both of these efforts with email and social media content. Try and produce at least 2 webinars per year. High quality content gives your company an edge over your competitors. It’s critical that printers support their sales staff with effective content marketing strategies.

Below are some stats regarding content marketing.

  • B2B companies that blog generate 67% more leads per month than those who don’t. (Social Media B2B)
  • 82% of consumers like reading content from brands when it’s relevant. (The CMA)
  • 62% of companies outsource their content marketing. (Mashable)
  • 79% of B2B marketers use content marketing to achieve brand awareness goals. (Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs)
  • Blogs give websites 97% more indexed links. (Content+)
  • 80% of business decision makers prefer to get company information in a series of articles versus an advertisement.

Summertime is a great time to get noticed and impact your brand’s perception. If you need help, we can assist you with all of these efforts at a fraction of the cost of producing in-house. If you would like a no obligation consultation, please reach out to me at pat@greatreachinc.com.

If I Were A Printer

Here are some things I would absolutely do.

  1. I would make sure that my website was better than any of my competitors. I’d obsess about this. Plan at least quarterly meetings to discuss and implement improvements. Make sure that new content was being added at least monthly and solicit feedback from clients and others outside company.
  1. I would send out a print newsletter at least every 90 days.
  1. I would send out an email newsletter at least every month.
  1. I would add short videos to my website focusing on recent projects, success stories and tutorials. All under 2 minutes.
  1. I would utilize Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ to engage my audience.
  1. I would learn about and develop a LinkedIn strategy. For my business, it’s the #1 source of traffic to my website. No reason it can’t be for yours, as well.
  1. I would have my website audited for SEO at least once a year by Marcia Morgan. Marcia has a great knowledge of both the print industry and SEO.
  1. I would host quarterly webinars. Short, 30 minute events on relevant topics.
  1. I would network. Joining groups and associations that harbor potential clients.
  1. I would host events, both educational and networking ones.
  1. I would always be learning, and I’d follow Print Firm‘s blog. Katherine Tattersfield is a tremendous source of knowledge.
  1. I would always have a live person answering phones and I would invest in training for this person. As Dave Thomas (Wendy’s founder) used to say, “the first bite and the last bite are what people remember most.”
  1. I would post a letter (Customer Bill of Rights?) from me (President) on the website and provide my contact info. This is very effective for fostering trust.
  1. I would send an email follow-up survey after every completed job.

I am not a printer. I’d like to hear your feedback and additions to this list. I’ll compile them and share with everyone who replies. You can reach me at pat@greatreachinc.com.

You can also download a free copy of my report, 10 Marketing Ideas to Help Printers Prosper in 2014.

Social Media: The Case For Print Providers to Embrace Google+

If you haven’t already, now is the time to set up a G+ page for your business. It’s not just about social media effectiveness it’s about SEO. As mentioned in several of my previous articles, SEO represents a great opportunity for print providers to extend their marketing reach and cultivate new business.

  • Google search plays favorites. Having a Google+ page will help with your SEO. Google+ is Google and Google is search. Search is what drives traffic to your site. For print providers, it’s about extending your reach and generating leads. Don’t miss this opportunity.
  • Marketing is the top category on Google+ (followed by education and non-profit). Google+ has responded by becoming more marketing oriented. Google+ now allows brands to email their followers without having access to their email address. Google now segregates the emails into Inbox, Social and Promotional. That’s a win for brands and followers.
  • Many companies restrict employee access to social media sites. They either ban it on the browser level or set policy that restricts it. That isn’t the case with Google+. That’s an additional 8 hours available for potential engagement that Google+ offers.
  • Using the Google+ circles, following or un-following a brand allows the Google+ user to control what content they wish to see. They get to create their own experience. This contrasts sharply with the Facebook experience whereby Facebook decides for you what content you will see. And with the latest algorithm change (December), unless you are paying Facebook for promoted posts, your reach rates are continuing to decline.

There are lots of other slick features that Google+ provides (Hangouts) but for now, the best plan of action is to set up an account and begin to utilize it.

I’m happy to discuss this or any other marketing needs or questions you may have. Feel free to reach me at pat@greatreachinc.com or on the web at greatreachinc.com.