The following topics are over and done with in 2017:
Name Change Rage! Print is a five-letter word, treated by our industry like a four-letter word. You know what people search when they need a printer… print, printer, printing… not communications, not marketing services provider. If your company has expanded to offer more services beyond print, fantastic. Just beware you don’t move too far away from your core expertise and history with a fancy new company name.
The DAM Debate! You win fine citizens of the Printerverse. For many, many years I have attempted to convince you there is money and relationship reward for storing and managing digital assets for customers. Having set up a DAM system for a large international resort and hotel chain, I completely understand it can be a beast to implement and manage – yourself. However, before I never speak of it again please, investigate! Do your clients have asset management needs? Maybe they don’t REALIZE they do. Find a DAM partner to bring to the table and get in on the digital asset land grab. Someone is going to.
Click-On, Click-Off! That is the sound of mobile site visitors when they land on unresponsive websites. If your site isn’t device friendly by now you are slowly killing your business. Google is happy to help by showing relevant results that can be accessed through wireless devices BEFORE those that can’t. Help them help you, or step aside to watch the world pass your business by. Nothing left to say.
False Profits! Growing audience through automation on social media is not a bad thing when it’s done with intelligence, respect, and serves your audience. But bigger doesn’t mean better, nor guarantee you will generate sales. Some things just take time and effort if you want to attract quality connections. Be weary of “get rich quick” shortcuts and anyone selling them. No one wants to do business with a TOOL, literally and figuratively.
The Mission for 2017: Custom Customer Convenience and Communications
Even though more of your customers may be professional buyers vs. consumers, they are still making a purchase. They behave the same way you do when they consider working with a company, or trying a new product. Buyers want to know who they are working with. They will do research, ask people for input, and compare price and value.
The mission for 2017 centers on migrating your business model (online and offline) to the world we live in, establishing trust and credibility through your messaging, creating relevant and valuable customer communications, and offering a plethora of convenience-based services.
Here are 5 ways to start on the mission, quickly:
Who Are You? Whether it’s your site, company description on LinkedIn, or your personal bio there should be no question what you do, and whom you do it for, specifically. The cast a wide net thing is over. Customers want specialists who understand their business and their goals. They want to work with people and companies who add value from experience, and aren’t afraid to disclose all relevant service information out in the open vs demanding a human contact is made – through a form no less! Go find a few people under 35 and ask them to look at your site, tell you what you do, who you do it for, and how you help customers. This is the only litmus test that matters. Act accordingly from the feedback. A click is a terrible thing to waste.
Show, Don’t Tell! I said this at an event last year and it resonated: “If your competition doesn’t already know your equipment, customers and partners, they aren’t your competition.” Fight for client samples and testimonials to be prominently featured on your website. Share project details that make it simple to envision the experience of working with you. Don’t focus on capabilities. Put the focus on applications and results. Pitch success stories to industry pubs, and especially your press manufacturers and suppliers. They work in the same system and LOVE a good case study they can share… everywhere. (ps: I love them too, get in touch!)
Ditch The Pitch! The reason automated phone systems require you to provide information before you get to talk to a human, is to make sure you get the best human to help you. While that isn’t always the case and the process can sometimes be maddening (hello Comcast!), ultimately I don’t want to speak with someone about my cable package when my Internet is acting up. Take that model and do research so YOU can identify the best human to contact, and discuss how you can help them. If you haven’t already formulated that custom customer plan, don’t reach out until you do. This isn’t about information gathering, it’s about providing opportunities and solutions not already accounted for.
Squad Up! You don’t have to provide every print and marketing service known to man within your four walls, you only need to find trusted partners and bring them out into the open. The fears of “client snatching” have to die, contracts can address that. Your squad covers things you don’t do, and the right squad opens doors from all sides, not just the ones you are knocking on.
One Stop-Shopping! You have until 2020 (Millennial world-domination) to make your online ordering process as seamless as Vista Print, and present a variety of goods and services with your trusted partners. After that you will be on life-support.
Many print shops and companies I speak with are embracing societal, as well as industry change. The Gen-Xers are taking over leadership positions and understand more personally how technology intertwines with life, and business. In 2016 there was a noticeable increase of social media use and engagement, story-telling vs selling, and creation of unique print products that cannot be commoditized. This year will be even better, and I cannot wait for “COOL TO RULE” the industry!
The moment is now. Create your future.
Print Long and Prosper in 2017!
Deborah Corn is the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse at PrintMediaCentr, a Print Buyerologist™, Integrated Marketer, Industry Speaker and Blogger, Cultivator of the Print Production Professionals Group, the #1 Print Group on LinkedIn, and host of #PrintChat, a weekly industry gathering on Twitter every Wednesday at 4PM ET. She has more than 25 years experience working in advertising and marketing, and currently works behind the scenes with printers, suppliers and industry organizations helping them to achieve success with their social media marketing endeavors, and meaningful relationships with customers.