Over the last several weeks we’ve explored many ways to market a printing company, from both print methods like collateral material and stationary, to online methods like blogging and social media. While some printers – primarily large ones that have the capital to have a marketing person or small department – can adapt all of the strategies I’ve written about, many printers do not. So, how do you implement this? What would be the priorities? Let’s take a look at this in three stages.
STAGE 1 – NICE ‘N’ SIMPLE
In my opinion, the first and simplest and still VERY important thing to do is have branded stationary and some simple collateral material. As a printer, you can print this all yourself, and you may have someone on staff in your pre-press department who can design if for you. Perhaps you might wish to spend the funds and have a marketing firm work on the design. The most important thing is to have SOMETHING that identifies you, and your brand. Have a unique presentation folder that holds some of your brand materials like your Mission Statement, or equipment list, and then samples. The goal is to have something that your sales team can leave behind, that is unique, and that contains your brand and your brand message.
STAGE 2 – GET IT OUT THERE
Once you have your brand set, get ready to change it, and come up with some of the other printed collateral materials that, again, your sales team can leave behind. Have PDF files of everything that can be emailed out. Stage 2 is where you work on the case studies, or develop your educational materials. At this point, you might start looking at a more established online presence, such as a website and social media. Perhaps have your reps that are more social media inclined establish their own LinkedIn accounts, Twitter, or use their Facebook accounts to get their feet wet in social media. Stage 2 in a nutshell is to have as much printed collateral and electronic collateral to leave with both clients and prospective clients.
STAGE 3 – GO SOCIAL
I am sure many printers will develop a website before they will have printed collateral. Printers who take that step early in the development of their print marketing may find the results aren’t as good as they could be, if there were other non-digital forms of marketing material that could be used in conjunction with online print marketing. This is the point where you may wish to either bring a person on staff – either from within or from outside – to handle the website and social media. Other options would be to have an intern from a local college or university, or have an outside service that you contract out to do the work. The expense of that final option might make some printers hesitant to do it, and since you cannot track the ROI of specific jobs to this person, it becomes hard to justify the expense. The VALUE of doing this is what owners have to take into account. A perfect solution is to have someone that is already an employee, that writes well, and understands print. They then can also learn social media skills, and eventually how to build and manage websites. Having someone with print experience is vital to the position, since they need to not only be able to write about print, but be able to communicate it effectively.
WHEN IT WORKS – IT WORKS
I won’t say that I have firm hard data that proves what I’ve written about works. I will say that from a sales standpoint, having these materials, and these kinds of tools – both in print and online – make it easier to open up the conversation with prospective clients, AND keep the conversation going with existing clients. If you have clients that are engaged on LinkedIn or Twitter, having the capability to share information on those two platforms allows your clients or prospective clients to see it, and to respond to it, and (more importantly) recognize your company and your sales team as experts. That is a value that you cannot tie a dollar sign to.
I hope that this series has inspired you to think about creative ways to establish and maintain a viable print marketing strategy. If you have more questions, hit me up on Twitter @protheropress, and I will respond.