Keeping your customers from your competitors

This article was first published in the May 2021 issue of Australian Printer

As your Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse, my vantage point is unique. I am a connection point and information hub for more than 200,000 global industry members across all my communication channels. I am also on the receiving end of a myriad of daily requests for help and information from around the world.

With this active supply of print business and print customer data straight from the source, I can pretty accurately formulate a picture of current and evolving needs and trends.

Since last month I have seen a pattern developing. Printers are focusing on customer retention, and print customers are focusing on finding new partners. That means now is the moment to secure your customers, and find new ones looking for a change. Here are three ideas to get you started.

Did you know?

I have said this before but it’s worth hammering home – your current customers are more than likely unaware of all that you can do, they only know what they do with you.

Circle back with everyone you have ever worked with and send them an appropriate update on your services that falls under a friendly ‘Did You Know?’ and not hard sales – Did you know we can print wide format with texture? Did you know we can print directly on fabric? Did you know we can print with white ink? Did you know we can print twice as fast as the last time we worked together?

When you get responses, find out everything the customer prints without you – not where, only what. Don’t cross a relationship line. Circle back with information about those items and develop a ‘Try Us’ promotion to get some of that work into your shop or funneled to your partners.

Take your campaign to social media and tag it with #DYK (Did You Know) and supporting hashtags, especially on Instagram and Facebook where designers are looking for new friends.

Getting back to business

Vaccinations are on the rise and some form of returning to the office is on the horizon for many companies. Look at your current customers and assess what their needs may be when they reopen or bring their at-home workers back.

Are there new hours? New procedures? Does the building, office park, or property management have new rules?

Develop a ‘return to work’ promotion that includes everything customers need for their office and include a menu of items for an employee welcome back kit that can include branded masks and hand sanitiser, printed info on new processes, a company t-shirt everyone can wear on their first day back for a company pic and things of that nature.

Go a little further and anticipate what workers may need to feel safe. Maybe a lunchbox so they can bring their food, or a branded water bottle or personalised coffee mug.

Every company may have different needs, make sure your pitch is hyper-personalised for each company you reach out to. We are talking about customer retention. Make them feel special and not one of a 100 on your pitch list.

Data for decisions

I have this phrase on auto-repeat since last year. It’s critical to provide some form of ‘proof’ that there is ROI for the marketing spend when many businesses are running on fumes. In this instance, it’s also how you can keep customers and find new ones with the same information, customised for your targeted recipient.

Do internal research first. Interview customers that did work with you last year and get some fresh and topical customer testimonials. For the bigger wins, create case studies you can share that show doing business with you and through print – works!

Do industry research. Many of the manufacturers and suppliers have been pumping out white papers and other forms of research that can help you provide data for decisions. I’ve seen a plethora of articles in trade pub newsletters about the direct mail moment, power of personalisation, standing out with paper and substrates, and incorporating QR codes into printed materials. Use them as examples to show customers how print can provide a bang, for their bucks.

Survival of the fittest

My final advice here may seem a bit out of place, but I think it’s super important to share. Do not, under any circumstance, discount your products or services. As a matter of fact, raise your pricing – right now before the world enters the next ‘normal’ and needs to market again.

Back to that vantage point, I have spoken to many printers and industry suppliers over the last two months and the supply chain is still very fickle with paper pricing and availability driving a lot of that – at least here in the US. You cannot be left without any margin or profit so plan ahead and make sure you buffer costs for supply chain items and things you can’t control.

Keep your focus on adding value to every order, to every customer, to every potential customer, and to every interaction along the way. With print customers currently playing musical chairs with printers, you don’t want to be left standing alone when the music stops.

Comment below to have your say on this story.

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