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

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.

Marketing for Printers: Avoid These Pitfalls

I’ve spent the last 21 years providing marketing tools to printers and mailers. In that time, I’ve been able to witness the common issues that seem to derail even the best-intentioned marketing efforts. Here are a few of the most common reasons why they fail:

Treating your marketing efforts as something to be done “when you have time”.  Marketing needs to be planned and executed with the same commitment as other critical areas of your business such as estimating, production, billing, etc.  Schedule your print marketing as you would schedule a customer job. It’s critical.

Taking a committee approach. This is a sure recipe for failure. This will eat up a lot of collective time and effort and produce little, if not zero results. As the saying goes,  “the camel was a horse designed by committee”.  A single person needs to be in charge of your marketing committee and there needs to be accountability. For that reason, the person should not be the president, owner or CEO.

Trying to craft the perfect piece/message is often the reason for doing nothing. As a seasoned print executive once told me, “the act of communicating is sometimes more important than the communication itself”.  Not to say you should produce poor materials but keep this in mind.

Failure to differentiate between sales and marketing. They are two very different things and often someone in our industry has both of these in their title. Baloney! You can’t effectively do both. The end result is that they treat marketing efforts as a sales effort. They execute and measure them wrong. Someone told them years ago, “if you can’t measure it, you shouldn’t do it” so they give up after a short time. More baloney! In reality, just because they don’t have the ability to measure it doesn’t mean it can’t be measured. Large corporations understand this. Particularly with regards to their branding (trust) efforts.

Trying to cut costs by forgoing print and relying on online efforts. You need to do both: inbound and outbound, print and digital. Print has staying power. It’s tangible, and since most companies don’t consistently use it, it’s more effective at setting you apart from your competitors. Keep in mind that just about every print provider has a capabilities brochure but they are merely part of the marketing noise. Engaging customer communication pieces are very uncommon and therefore a much more effective tool.

Google’s 4/21 Deadline and 4 Other Quick Marketing Tips

1. Less than two years ago, Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm shook the SEO world. As usual, there was no advance notice. The next big event will be 4/21. This time, Google has given notice. If your company website is not mobile friendly by this date, it will have an adverse effect on your search rankings.

Not sure if your site is mobile friendly? Google provides this simple tool to let you know if it meets their mobile-friendly standards. Don’t wait. Try it now here. 2. Adobe Slate. It’s free and can be a powerful sales tool. Especially for those trying to sell more complex solutions rather than jobs. Here’s the review from CNET.

3. Google likes fresh, authentic, high-value content. Is your content closely aligned with the benefits you offer your customers? Newsfeeds and sharing stories found online will not help your rankings. They also won’t help your brand stand out as a thought leader.

4. It is perfectly within best practices to share the same content on multiple channels. (I’m asked about this often!) Blog content on your website can also be pushed out as an email newsletter, utilized as a published post on LinkedIn, and shared out to your other social media sites.

5. Don’t discount print. Yes, it takes time and money to create and distribute print communications. Most companies lack the willingness to commit. This makes print communications all that more effective. It’s easier to stand out. My newsletter clients often note that their print newsletters are a very effective “leave behind” for sales calls. How many other printers show that level of commitment to their customers? Very few. Print is tangible. Sales speak is not.

Forget Sales & Marketing: Think Customer Experience

Brand differentiation starts with an understanding of the customer journey from the customer’s point of view, not the printer’s. It’s all about the customer experience.

  • Do customers really want to see more advertisements and promotions in their inboxes?  Focus more on holistic engagement than individual marketing campaigns.
  • Do customers want to “Visit us on the web” just see the same boilerplate website content that they see on a competitor’s? Customize your site as much as possible.
  • Are customers impressed with generic business articles on a printer’s web site that address topics such as fall fashion and interview skills?
  • Are customers hungry for the jokes, recipes, and word find games that get sent to them under the guise of helpful company newsletters?
  • Are customers motivated enough to call a printer just to find out if they are still in business because their website and social media content has not been updated in two years? People prefer to gather info from the Internet than to make a call.
  • How does a customer feel about your company when they visit your site and see that the latest blog / news article update was several years back? Timely, relevant, engaging content promotes thought leadership.
  • How does a customer feel when they have to search a website just to find the mailing address? Have that information on the bottom of every page.
  • How does a customer feel when they have to search to find a phone number because your employees don’t include it as part of their email signatures?

If you are looking for ways to improve your customer’s experience, please reach out to me. I’m happy to schedule a short call to discuss this with you.

How 4 Printers are Growing Their Businesses

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve witnessed and spoken with printers who are reporting fantastic results. Here is a summary of what four of them have done.

Printer in PA hosted an open house featuring educational sessions. They promoted it vigorously using multiple channels and generated lots of attention, noise, and excitement in their marketplace. The payoff was great exposure, brand elevation, and incredible in-person interaction with clients and prospects. The sales staff gets incredibly pumped up by these efforts and exposure.

Printer in IA generated a number of top-level appointments by taking a strategic (segmented) approach to distributing their recent newsletter. They have gotten their salespeople on board with these efforts, and their salespeople feel upbeat about having back-end marketing support.

Printer in CA is generating lots of interaction with clients by adding great content to their website and social media on a consistent basis. Not generic articles or news about themselves, but engaging, thought-leading content specific to the services they offer. They also use the content for their outbound marketing efforts via their email newsletter. They are driving traffic to their website and positioning their brand above their competitors.

Printer in IL has successfully transitioned to selling more programs than jobs. They now have monthly revenues that they can count on in advance. They are having success because they are sincere about advocating for what is best for their clients, helping them grow, and addressing their pain points. They support this approach with customer education efforts such as print and email newsletters, blogs, and social media. They are “practicing what they preach,” and it’s catching on with clients and prospects.

I’m happy to discuss your marketing challenges any time. Just email me to set up a free 20-minute consultation.