Print Shop Marketing: Profiling Your Ideal Customer

With the versatility of today’s digital printing equipment, you could print a huge range of printed products for clients in hundreds of different industries. But that wouldn’t be very efficient. And it might also be unprofitable. To maximize the return on investment in your digital printing equipment, it’s best to have a steady flow of profitable print jobs from great customers who value your work. That’s why your print-shop marketing strategy should include profiles of your ideal customer(s).

Profiling your idea customers can help your marketing and sales team focus their efforts on the prospects most likely to generate the greatest business results for your print shop. Without a shared vision of an “ideal customer,” your marketing team may be crafting sales messages and collateral for an entirely different group of people than your sales team is actually talking to.

It’s Different Than a Buyer Persona

In business-to-business marketing, an ideal customer profile is different than a buyer persona. The ideal customer profiles describe the types and sizes of businesses you want to develop long-term business relationships with. Buyer personas represent the different types of decision influencers within the targeted organization.

For example, some print-service providers focus on selling to local restaurants and hotels, whereas others might specialize in selling printing to churches and non-profits. Each of these groups have different budgets, buying practices, and printing requirements.

The types of customers you can realistically serve will depend on factors such as: your current production and customer-service capabilities and your short-term and longer-term revenue requirements. You may also prefer to work with customers who share your values or appreciate some of the specific value-added services your print shop provides.

With a clear vision of what types of companies you want to attract, it’s much easier to plan effective marketing strategies to reach the influencers and decision-makers within the corporation. For example, a company’s CMO will be more interested in your ability to coordinate with digital marketing campaigns and match brand colors across all types of printed materials.

Before a big purchase is finalized, the CFO may want details about financial benefits, contract pricing, and payment options.

What Should a Profile Include?

One way to develop a profile is to identify your most profitable current customers and why you like working them. For example:

In what type of industry do they work?

How big are your best customers in terms of employees, revenues, or size of their marketing budgets?

How do your best customers differ from your least profitable customers? Do they pay their bills promptly? Do they submit print-ready files and approve proofs within the agreed-upon deadlines? Do they understand the printing process and how to supply the specs you need to provide the most accurate quote?

How do your best customers measure and define success? Are they clear about their expectations from the start and how results will be measured?

Once you have drafted an ideal customer profile, ask your sales team whether any of their current prospects match that profile.

Which prospects are actively seeking solutions that your print shop could help them address?

Who are the key influencers within each target company? What associations do they belong to? What social networks do they use? What trade-shows do they attend? How do they choose a print-service provider? What keywords do they use to search for print vendors?

As you learn more about your ideal customers, you can revise the content of your website, blogs, online advertising, and social media posts to make it clear that you understand the specific types of challenges they face and types of printed material they use more often.

Writing effective marketing copy and developing sales presentations becomes much easier when you are only trying to communicate to your “ideal customers” instead of masses of customers for all types and sizes of businesses.

Keep in mind that you may need to update your ideal customer profiles over time. If your sales and marketing strategies aren’t bringing in the types of accounts you want, you may need to rethink them.

A Good Print Shop Management Program Helps

Having a good estimating and print-shop management program can help you acquire some of the customer data you need to identify your most profitable customers and how they behave over time.

With Ordant software, you don’t have to spend hours every week creating complex custom estimates for multiple customers. When you streamline the day-to-day processing of estimates and orders, you can focus more attention on targeted marketing to ideal customers. To schedule a demonstration of our easy-to-use, easy-to-customize software, visit

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