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Oct 1, 2012 12:00 AM
MENY HOFFMAN’S OFFICIAL TITLE IS PRESIDENT AND CEO OF PTEX, A BROOKLYN-BASED MARKETING AND BUSINESS FIRM. BUT HE’S ALSO AN ENTREPRENEUR, SPEAKER, AUTHOR AND CONSULTANT, NOT TO MENTION A DEVOTED HUSBAND AND A DOTING FATHER TO FIVE CHILDREN.
How does he find time to do all of these things? Hoffman is also a CRM expert. He’s been an Infusionsoft power user practically since the software company was launched in 2004. “Data is king,” says Hoffman, explaining that leads are tracked, maintained and nurtured across Ptex’s four divisions: Design & Print, Branding & Marketing, Office & Call Center and Web Development.
A POWERFUL AND MEANINGFUL CONNECTION
Infusionsoft’s all-in-one sales and marketing software combines CRM, email marketing, e-commerce and marketing automation. Typical users are small businesses like the 27-employee Ptex. Hoffman credits much of the company’s triple-digit growth to automating the client acquisition and follow-up process. But, as Hoffman explains, the company’s goal exceeds mere productivity. The real quest is “to establish a powerful and meaningful connection with every customer.”
“No matter how high-tech our world gets, nothing will ever replace the human interaction of everyday business,” Hoffman says. “From day one, we’ve always been very client oriented. People would tell us we weren’t the cheapest [option]. But because we were so aggressive in following up to make sure deadlines were met, even if a client was late sending a file, we established a niche.”
Ptex’s philosophy can be summarized in four points:
MOVING BEYOND PRINT
Ptex’s first service was printing. “My partner, Wolf Eisenbach, was working for his father-in-law’s printing company, which did one- and two-color jobs,” Hoffman explains. “We saw the opportunity for four-color printing.”
The company outsourced color work, but it was apparent it couldn’t remain competitive as a print-only operation. Ptex added design services. As that business grew, it expanded its marketing services. Next came a call center, an idea that grew out of a brochure Ptex designed and printed for a struggling furniture designer.
CALL ME MENY
After consulting with Hoffman, the furniture client identified an untapped and potentially profitable niche, and he signed up with Ptex to have sales brochures designed and printed. But when the print job was ready, it took the company numerous tries to reach the client and when they finally did, the call got cut off because the designer was onboard a train. “That’s no way to run a business,” said Meny. “What if a client was trying to reach him? I suggested that as part of our services, someone could pick up his calls. For urgent matters we’d call his cell phone, otherwise we’d take a message. He thought that was a great idea.”
As the Internet matured, Hoffman saw that it would be essential for most clients to have a web presence. So Ptex added web-development services, too. Hoffman cites a seasonal catalog customer as a good example of how Ptex’s services can overlap. “We do the photography, design, print and mailing,” says Hoffman. “We also create websites for these catalogs and actually pick up the phone for web orders, and even capture [the names of] people requesting catalogs on a week-to-week basis.”
CRM: READY WHEN THEY ARE
In the early days of the call center’s existence, Hoffman saw the need for a CRM system. “We started getting a lot of leads as people realized our capabilities,” Hoffman recalled. “But sometimes these customers were just in the early stages of gathering information. We needed a follow-up system that would remind them of our services when they were ready to act.”
After reviewing many CRMs, Hoffman determined Infusionsoft was the best fit. “We created an amazing map,” he says. “It’s helping our customers—reminding them of what we can do—and our own salespeople use the system to keep themselves on track. We’ve seen not only the dollar amount but lifetime values of each client really explode.”
For print jobs, a customer’s inquiry automatically generates an email to Ptex’s estimating department. Using an Infusionsoft template, the estimator plugs in the prices and the message goes back to the customer. Infusionsoft then tracks and acts upon different stages of sales opportunities. If the estimator is slow to respond, for example, a message is sent to a Ptex manager. InfusionSoft also manages thank-you and follow-up messages.
Hoffman and his team use InfusionSoft to monitor the pulse of the business. “Do [we] need to hire, fire, or change [our] system?” says Hoffman. “As leads come in, we get an email [and can quickly assess the situation].”
KEEPING IN TOUCH
While Infusionsoft provides Ptex with unprecedented efficiencies and a wealth of useful information, automation doesn't trump good old-fashioned human communication. Hoffman believes in the personal touch. He frequently calls customers and prospects, and, in his blog “Let’s Talk Business," he always invites people to contact him directly. “It’s no longer enough to just offer a basic product or service,” he says. “You’ve now got to add a living, breathing human element to your brand for it to truly stand out and develop a loyal following.”