How much time do you devote to print shop business development each week? Probably not as much as you should - particularly when your business gets swamped with orders or production crises.
Some people equate business development with sales or marketing. But business development is more than that. Whereas sales focuses on generating revenues and marketing involves attracting qualified leads, business development concentrates on longer-term business growth. Print shop business development is about finding ways to take your business to the next level.
Business development activities help you discover opportunities for new sources of revenues. This can mean expanding into new markets, building new relationships, or forming strategic partnerships. Here are six techniques for developing new business.
Look for opportunities to sell additional services to existing customers.
One of the best sources of growth can be your existing customers. If some of your best customers are growing quickly, you can grow too if you pay close attention to their changing needs for marketing services and support.
For instance, if they will be adding new products and services, can you help them with photography? graphic design? online marketing? packaging? product fulfillment? Installation logistics? Don’t think the only service you can offer is printing
Pursue additional high-margin customers.
Over the past few years, which customers have generated the most high-margin work with the least amount of effort? Would it be possible for find more customers like your best customers? If so, where can you go to meet them? Do they go to certain trade shows? Belong to specific associations or community organizations? How can you start building a relationship with someone who might be involved in making purchasing decisions?
If your shop routinely serves small-to-medium-size businesses in a certain field, perhaps it’s time to start marketing to bigger customers in the same field.
Develop alliances with other companies that can send new clients your way.
Perhaps you can team up with printing firms in other regions who have a different set of services than you offer. Or get involved with incubators that fund and train start-up companies. Start-up businesses often need a lot of printing and marketing communications support to build brand awareness and sell products and services. Some will recommend your services to other newly funded entrepreneurs.
Open an online storefront.
An online storefront backed by an active automated marketing campaign enables you to get orders from thousands of customers you might never have been able to identify or reach any other way.
You may need an in-house team to build, manage, and market the storefront as well as some dedicated printing and finishing equipment to quickly turnaround incoming orders for specialized products (e.g. T-shirts, photo prints, or promotional products).
Host, sponsor, or attend events.
Face-to-face events continue to be one of the best ways to initiate new relationships. Informal conversations with people at events often lead to unexpected opportunities for partnerships or referrals. Plus, people who routinely screen out incoming sales calls are often willing to accept follow-up phone calls, emails, or invitations to connect on social media from people they met at a trade show, conference, or fundraising event.
Learn about challenges affecting targeted businesses.
Instead of constantly being in a sales mode, reach out to share news or ideas that might help your prospective customers grow their business — even if it doesn’t directly involve your shop’s services.
For example, if you want to expand into decor, learn more about current issues in the architecture and interior design business. How do they operate? What types of business challenges keep them awake at night? You can find this type of information through relevant news feeds or online news releases. Or, check out what educational topics are being presented at their upcoming association conferences.
When you offer a flow of useful, relevant ideas to your targeted customers, they will be more likely to listen when offer solutions that involve your print services.
Business development is a long-term process that requires research, focus, and consist effort. Companies with good print-shop management programs can devote more time to business development because they aren’t dealing with everyday crises related overlooked jobs or production errors. The sales and profitability data that can be gathered with a print-shop management information can provides insights into growth-focused customers and services.
If your print-shop management program includes a customer-relationship-management system, use it to keep detailed notes about conversations with each prospect, influencer, and customer. Then, you can periodically send personalized emails or messages to each person you want to build relationships with.
Setting up a print-shop management program doesn’t have to be a long, drawn-out process. With an easy-to-use, cloud-based program such as Ordant, you can be up and running quickly. And, as your business-development efforts start to pay off, you can scale up and customize Ordant software to meet the changing needs of your business. To schedule a demonstration, visit ordant.com.