Source: Printing News
Author: John Giles
The pandemic has turned life upside down, but it hasn’t been the end of the world for some in the printing industry. Some printing companies saw growth during the past year. Others saw a drop in gross sales, but still had an increase in profitability. Common characteristics among the successful printers were keeping accurate financial information about their company, knowing their customers and maintaining selling activities during the changing business climate.
Printers with up-to-date financial information fared well. They quickly adjusted their operating budgets for the expected drop in sales and continued to make a profit on lower sales. They adjusted wages, cut unnecessary costs and delayed major purchases. Since they knew their company’s financial position, they were able to ride out crisis. Printers with a strong current ratio and cash in the bank before the pandemic had flexibility to change quickly.
The profitable printers also had another shared characteristic. They were proactive in selling and didn’t wait for customers to come to them. They increased their direct mail and customer contacts so their brand would be top of mind when the customer was ready to order. They made marketing a habit and part of the everyday culture of the company. Their habits included:
Monthly Direct Mail
A direct mail piece was sent to existing customers and prospects each month. The mailing included some type of call for action, but its consistency is the key. If you don’t put your name in front of customers, your competitors will. When printing companies closed during the pandemic, buyers knew who to turn to.
Consistently Updated Mailing Lists
Mailings can become expensive, especially if they are going to the wrong person or to a business that has closed. Calls are regularly made to customer to verify contact information to made sure the message was getting to the right people. This is particularly important as more people worked remotely. A telephone call allowed the printer to find out where and how the customer or prospect wanted to be contacted. Just the act of talking to a customer over the phone helped reinforce the brand and build a relationship for when the customer was ready to buy.
Targeting Specific Customers
The successful printers put their energy into learning what businesses bought what they printed and would pay their price. Successful printers define who their customers are and which customer they want. Trying to sell everything to everyone is costly and not profitable.
Targeting a Top Customer’s Competitor
For most printers, their top 25 customers represent 50 percent of their total sales. You’re already an expert in what your top 25 customers need in the way of print services, so their competitors would probably need and order the same things. Finding out who our top customers’ competitors are could lead to more business.
Rejuvenating Old Accounts
Calling customers who haven’t bought from you in the past six months is a way to remind the buyer you are their printer. Buyers may have changed, businesses may have moved, or some other reason has caused the customer to forget about you. This is especially true because of the pandemic. You will want to reintroduce yourself and get the business back on track.
Coordinating the Content Message
Monitor the message so it is the same in all channels. If the content distributed doesn’t have anything to do with what the printer sells or does, it turns off the reader. Greater response is garnered when your audience knows why you are sharing the information.
The good news is that good marketing habits can start immediately. Marketing will play an important part in the success of all businesses as the economy reawakens, and print will play a major role. Printers should lead by example and demonstrate to others how to use print to let customers know they are still there.
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