What’s next matters more than what’s now: Deborah Corn

This article was first published in the July 2020 issue of AP. The digital version of the magazine is available here.

I have always prided myself on being able to ‘see the forest through the trees’ when it comes to problem solving. It gives me an edge for project management and getting from point A to point B and beyond with the least resistance.

Over the past few months, I had to adjust my thinking to be able to ‘react’ with every Corona news report and be super present in the realm of now, making sure my messaging and communications were also hyper-current. I focused on the only thing I knew for sure – people who needed print’s help were in a crisis, and one day the world would reopen.

Now, we are reopening. Living in the present means you’re late, and looking too far ahead can be dangerous for your bottom line. Here’s how to plan for both at the same time.

Communication – phase 1

As your print customers and community businesses come back, give them a moment to breathe. Let them assess their state of being before you pounce on them for sales. Start by letting everyone know you are open, let them know of any changes to processes or procedures for working with you, and let them know you will be circling back to schedule a strategic planning meeting. This is a business discussion about their business, not yours.

At the meeting, whether live or online, find out their short- and long-term marketing needs, and what are the business results they need to achieve to keep their business open. Don’t pitch them at this meeting, but listen. Even if you know exactly what they need, walk away. Prepare a formal document that recaps your discussion and presents all or any that apply: a marketing plan with costs, a menu of appropriate print items to help achieve their goals, options for packages that bundles applications and/or services together for cost savings.

The best way to present your offerings is in person, but if that can’t happen create a sample kit that includes everything you are suggesting they need, any relevant stats and case studies that may apply, and information about your company including the bio of the salesperson, key personnel, and press operators. Put your people in your pitch! Also include anything your company has done to help the world pre-Corona, and what you are intending to do moving forward.

Capitalise on your vertical market success

Not everything is opening at once, so you have a chance to test the waters and see what you excel at based on the business results you helped to achieve for your customers. You may find that you have the most community success with shoe stores, and the most B2B success with customers who require direct mail. Now create a prospect list focusing on those two things.

As you, and the world move along, you may find more successes with other verticals and B2B print applications. Keep updating your prospect list and sharing your customer stories, especially on your website. Give visitors plenty to read and research when they look you up, and they will.

Get trending

I am currently obsessed with watching television commercials for the foreshadowing of marketing campaigns to come, and as the indication of what is appropriate to talk about and sell. The brands spend the most money on broadcast, it sets the tone for who they are and what will follow in our mailboxes, magazines, shelves and streets.

How does this translate to an opportunity for a print shop? National advertising starts a conversation that you now have permission to bring to a local level.

No idea is off the table to keep your print shop, printing. Look around and see what is happening, see the messages brands are spending millions to deliver, and translate that into a way to help a business achieve a positive result. That is how you will keep customers coming back for more in 2020, and how you can stay in front of what is needed, next.

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