Printers have the power to save the community

For anyone who has met Deborah Corn or heard her speak, it will come as no surprise that this intergalactic ambassador to the printerverse at the Print Media Centr sees the printing industry as crucial for the survival of business in a post-coronavirus world.

In the second Rebuild Together webinar from The Real Media Collective, Corn has given some useful tips on how print businesses can help communities and businesses recover and re-build as the shutdowns begin to lift.

Her key message was that printers should essentially be there to help their customers formulate a marketing and communications plan so these businesses maintain their visibility with clear messaging about what services they offer.

“It is not the brands who need help. It is the children’s clothing store in your neighbourhood, it is the barbershop, the butcher, the nail salon, the restaurants and the bars,” Corn said live from the United States on the webinar.

“So in order to really become relevant in recovery, I truly believe that it has become the printer’s job to save the community and to re-tool your services and opportunities to become essential in the recovery of your neighbourhoods and communities which essentially keeps your business alive.”

Corn, who  says the biggest lessons learnt from the pandemic is that wide format, packaging, labels and to an extent direct mail are pandemic proof.

The other key takeout has been that E-Commerce is here to stay, as exemplified through the meteoric rise of online retail, or etail, as consumers who never would have considered buying shoes and other clothing and household items online rush to do so.

The best way forward for printers in a post-coronavirus world, Corn says, is for them to be out there proactively offering solutions and “help” that give businesses of all sizes the tools to move forward.

“Every business is in a crisis. They are only interested in being helped and they are not interested in being sold to,” Corn said.

“We are not printers anymore. We are in the crisis management business.”

Corn outlined a number of ideas around packaged solutions that could be offered and easily tailored to any business to help them get back into operation, and also highlighted the value of having an in-house designer ready to handle creative design issues.

In this new world, applying this business model across to new customers could also be mutually beneficial, she said.

If a print business does not have a wide format capability, Corn recommended partnering with a printer that does do this.

It is also crucial to have the right sales team, ones that are ready and willing to work in both the printed and digital space.

“This is a really great opportunity to get rid of people that you know you need to get rid of but you haven’t gotten rid of them for whatever reason,” she said.

“I’ve spoken to a lot of print shop owners in the United States and it seems like there are at least one or two sales people in every print shop that have some legacy relationship that keeps them from being shown the door.

“They haven’t gotten onboard with new ways of doing things but the owners think its worse to get rid of them than not to, well this is your moment because quite frankly at the moment there are no legacy relationships.

“Everything has changed. This means that this is the moment to actually turn even your current customers into new collaborative customers by creating new relationships with them by sending new people to talk to them about how you can help.”

Steven Gamble from Man Anchor is the next guest in the Rebuild Together series next Wednesday 20 May at 11am.

Click here to register.

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