One thing I have noticed in print is how the conversation is changing. No longer does a printing company talk in terms of capabilities, and if they do so with prospective or current clients, that conversation ends quickly.
CAN WE TALK?
The conversation in print now is not about capabilities or equipment, but about complete campaigns and ancillary services that can enhance the client’s overall brand. A primary reason for this change in conversation is that many companies do not have dedicated print buyers, or persons knowledgeable in print working with the print services provider. Instead, you work with various team members or marketing personnel that are looking at the overall campaign. These people could care less about what presses you have.
SHOW THE RESULTS
These new print purchasers are searching for complete solutions to their needs, be it offset printing, digital print, large format graphics, cross-media campaigns, direct mail – anything that can be used to enhance their brand and increase their company’s revenue. Talk to them about the fancy press you have and they’ll yawn. Talk to them about your press’ capability to run special coatings or even UV, and they’ll listen. But more important than that is showing the results of how you as a printer came up with a solution that saved a client money, increased their market exposure, provided a cool look with coatings or dimensional packaging that made them stand out – these results will be far more interesting to the client than cold dry “we have a press than can do this”.
TELL A STORY
One thing I keep hearing is that when you talk to prospective and current clients is making sure you tell a story. For example, I had a client that needed to produce 48 different point-of-sale and menu pieces to ship to 63 California restaurants and needed to arrive by a specific date. Not only did I work to get the pieces there 4 days before they required them, but there was not a single issue in any of the shipments as far as packaging. Granted, the client would expect that, but when I mention that the previous print vendor ALWAYS had issues with the packing, with missed items or incorrect items to the stores, that makes for a good story.
WHO CHANGES THE CONVERSATION?
YOU DO! When a printer talks to both prospective and new clients, they need to talk about the stories, the results – not ask for a chance to quote on something or say “hey, we just got this new whizz-bang press that can produce 15,000 widgets an hour!” The printer needs to ask questions, find out the areas that the clients have issues with, and then come in with new ideas and solutions. Anyone can put ink on paper, and prospective and current clients know that. But if you come in with a new idea, a new type of paper, a new process that could help them achieve a goal – then YOU have changed the conversation and proven yourself to be more than just a printer looking for work. YOU have become a part of their team, working to build a relationship that is about the client’s success. And in the end, that will only increase yours and your company’s value.