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Spring 2014: Best of GreensheetBIZ by Aaron Kiel

HE BIG 4 WILL HELP YOU DO MORE

HERE’S SOME SAVVY SALES, MARKETING AND ONLINE ADVICE

BY AARON KIEL

GreensheetBIZ, a division of the OutputLinks Communications Group, has maintained a 46-year tradition of business-enhancing information excellence for graphic arts professionals and senior executives in the printing, publishing and converting industries, as well as educators and suppliers to these fields.

Here are four tips from GreensheetBIZ contributors—all top specialists in the printing industry: 

1. AVOID BEING PIGEONHOLED

“Imagine a client who only buys one particular product or service from you while going to your competitors for the rest. Meanwhile, you offer those other products and services,” ponders GreensheetBIZ contributor Paul Castain of Castain Training Systems. “Congratulations. You’ve been pigeonholed, and, unfortunately, you probably didn’t have to imagine this scenario, because it happens to printers every day.”

How can printers avoid being pigeonholed? “One way is to generate a ‘Findings and Solutions’ report for your clients,” says Castain. “A Findings and Solutions report is a fancy way of saying, ‘Here are some things we noticed, and here are some cool things we do that can help you.’ You can create this report as a discussion piece for your client check-ups. You can review things that you, as the awesome professional that you are, have observed or found along with ideas—like additional products and services—to help.”

Castain says to keep the Findings and Solutions report fair and less sales-y, as not every “solution” has to be a paid solution. “When I create this type of report for my clients, I like to review each item and create a discussion around it,” he says. “This way it’s conversational. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been thanked for being proactive like this, and, as a bonus, I’ve written extra business.”

Also: Utilize the auto signature in emails. “It’s easy enough,” Castain says. “Rather than putting yet another sustainability logo or motivational quote under your auto signature, put a handy dandy P.S. in there to let the world know about other awesome products/services your printing company offers.” He also stresses client check-ups. “When was the last time you gave your client a good, thorough needs analysis?” he asks. “The answer to that question is typically ‘When I was first talking with them about doing business with us.’ Meanwhile, things have most probably changed. Homework: As soon as you finish reading this, get on the phone and schedule a check-up with your top clients. Now, during those check-ups, ask ‘start’ questions. A start question goes something like this: ‘Is there anything you’d really like us to start offering that would be of value to you?’”
 

2. Center on Vertical Market Opportunities
Steven Schnoll, Principal of Schnoll Media Consulting, recently gave a presentation on vertical market niches at Cal Poly’s Graphic Communication Institute. These are some of his tips:

  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Identify the vertical(s) your organization feels most comfortable servicing, and do some intense research. “It could be the local retail marketplace, higher education, travel and leisure, non-profits, finance, politics and so many more,” explains Schnoll. “They are right in front of you. Some of your existing customers may already be in some of these spaces. Pick two or three verticals, and learn everything you can about those spaces.”
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Join some of the associations serving these markets, and become active. “Don’t just show up at some events—join the board, become a vital member,” advises Schnoll. “If the association has a trade show, sponsor it. Get a booth—even if it’s a tabletop event. People go to trade shows looking for new ideas and vendors. There is no better way to meet new potential customers who are actually interested in talking with you.”

3. Know How Google Affects Web-to-Print
Mark Thompson
 and Lisa Thompson are partners at In Cart Marketing, which blends e-Commerce development, online marketing and web-to-print innovations. The two experts encourage printers with web-to-print sites to understand Google and the changes or “rules” it creates for its search engine.

“The difference between banner or bummer search results for many printers’ sites hinges on how well their sites are aligned with the subtle but game-changing updates that Google culminated in 2013,” say the Thompsons in a recent GreensheetBIZ report. 

According to these experts, printers should know that Google updates its search engine algorithms several times each year. These updates are named after animals, like “Panda” and “Penguin.” “Algorithms are the computer programs that look for ‘clues’ to provide search results based on what a print buyer types into their search box,” they explain. “Hummingbird” is the most recent update.

“So what’s the big deal about losing a few ranking positions?” ask the Thompsons. It’s huge, they say, noting that many print sites have lost significant revenue by doing the right things the wrong way, breaking many of Google’s 200 rules. “We won’t single out who is losing ground, but sites that are going backward in search rankings are typically optimized for pre-Hummingbird rules, use ‘keyword stuffing’ techniques, have poor internal site navigation, don’t think locally and don’t think socially, and have very poor, even blacklisted linking partners.”

4. BOOST CAMPAIGNS WITH PURLS
Judy Berlin, Vice President of Worldwide Marketing for XMPie, reminds us that PURLs (personalized URLs) are an excellent way to increase response rates and return on marketing investment. “Any marketer looking to engage and build a long-term relationship with their customers should consider PURLs,” says Berlin. These are her suggestions:

  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Use Clean Data – Target prospects either by using a robust current customer database or by buying qualified data that matches your target market.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Focus on Relevance – Offer your prospects products or services that are personally relevant to them.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Create a Simple-Format Display – PURLs should not be too long or complicated.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Make It Mobile Friendly – PURLs must be responsively designed for access from any device.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Limit Data Display – Don’t creep out your prospects by displaying too much personal data or asking prospects to provide unnecessary details. Limit display and requirement fields.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Have a Strong Call to Action – This must be worth the customer’s time; special offers or discounts are ideal.
  • http://americanprinter.com/site/templates/images/ld_kranglist.gif); background-position: 0px 4px; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;">Think about Other Options – Remember that not everyone will harness the power of their PURL. Don’t forget to include other response options, such as call centers, general web landing pages, email addresses or social media.

Aaron Kiel is the senior editor of the OutputLinks and GreensheetBIZ divisions of the OutputLinks Communications Group. Thoughts? Talk to Aaron at B2Me.me/DC6

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Binding & FinishingCtpDigital PressesEnvironmentHow ToInkjet Wide FormatIn-PlantPaper InkSheetfedSmall Commercial PrintersWeb PressesWork Flow
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Corporate Headquarters
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2100 West Loop South, Suite 900
Houston, Texas 77027-3515
Phone: +1 713-300-0674
Admin@OutputLinksCG.com