Marketing is a year-round activity. To keep your presses humming, you need a print business marketing strategy to keep your company’s name in front of prospects throughout the year — not just when the incoming orders in your pipeline start to dry up.
It’s also important to show customers that you know about the latest marketing trends and technologies. It’s hard to convince clients that your shop can help them succeed with their marketing programs if you don’t make it a priority to market your own business.
Some print shops rely on outside consultants or agencies to help execute their monthly marketing activities. But before you can hire the right people, you need a clear vision of your priorities and the types of activities you want to execute.
Here are five suggestions that can help you build a stronger foundation for marketing success:
Re-evaluate your brand and vision. Is there a gap between how you would like your company to be perceived and how customers actually perceive you? It’s possible. Even if you promise first-class service, some disgruntled customers might be posting negative online reviews about your company. To be known for first-class service, you must actually deliver it. It must be more than words on your website.
From your company’s name or tagline, do your customers know you offer more than printing or signmaking? Some companies that originated as commercial printing firms or sign shops now describe themselves as marketing-service providers or visual-communications companies. They recognize that many customers are seeking more than printed materials.
Ask your best customers to describe your business in three words. Their answers might surprise you. For example, if your customers describe your firm as innovative, tech-savvy, and problem-solvers, use those words in your marketing materials to attract customers who care about more than rock-bottom prices.
Clarify priorities. Do you want to focus more on new customer acquisition? Or should your marketing activities focus on customer retention? Both activities are important to long-term growth and stability. But it can cost far more to acquire a new customer than it costs to keep an existing one. Also clarify which vertical markets you are best positioned to target.
Study your customers’ business challenges and language. Visit the association websites of groups you are targeting. What types of articles are being published on association websites? What topics are featured at educational events? Look for “Top 10 Trends” blog posts related to your clients’ businesses. In order to pick up some of the correct vocabulary, study the types of advice your clients get about how to market their businesses.
If you hire an outside marketing firm, look for a team that has experience communicating with your target markets.
Segment your contact lists. You should already have your internal mailing lists divided by prospects and customers. Within each of these groups you can create segments based on their industry and/or level of interest. For example, you can have segmented lists of your best customers in the interior design business or your hottest prospects among healthcare organizations.
When you develop marketing materials for smaller groups with common interests, your team can write copy that talks specifically about how your printing and marketing services can help them. You can use vocabulary that demonstrates you understand their business and show photos relevant to the type of prints they might buy from you.
A clean, segmented list of contacts enables you to use new automated marketing programs that make it easy to schedule targeted messages to different groups of prospects and customers.
Publish useful content. Develop content such as blog posts, newsletters, white papers, and production guidelines that will be useful to your targeted prospects and customers. If you publish good content regularly, your will have a valid reason to send your contacts email regularly. If all marketing communications are sales-focused, your customers will stop opening emails or unsubscribe from your lists.
Ideally, your marketing efforts will generate a steady flow of orders or requests for estimates.
So, before ramping up your marketing efforts, it’s smart to have a good print-shop management program in place. If time-intensive activities such as estimating, order management, job-status tracking, and proof approvals aren’t streamlined and well-organized, you won’t have time to focus on marketing. Nor will you be able to deliver the type of fast, error-free service customers now expect.
With an easy-to-use print-shop management such as Ordant, you can take control of your order management processes. Our customer-relationship management module helps you record the types of notes that can help your segment your mailing lists. Plus, the reports you can generate with Ordant can help you monitor year-to-year changes in your customer base so you can further refine your marketing. For a demonstration of Ordant software, visit www.ordant.com