Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Printers Should Let Light Shine Socially

Keeping up with social media is tough. Between onsite visits to help printing companies prosper and use the new technology, researching how to use all the new tools, and writing about them, I try to keep up with my blogs, twitter posts, LinkedIn discussions, and Facebook visits. If you are sticking your toe into the social media pool, then you know what I mean when I say that “it is hard.”

My problem is time, but for most printers I talk to, their problem is content. Printers continually tell me they don’t know what to post on the various social media vehicles. A number of printers think that just posting on social media will make them look “needy” and like they are “begging” for work. They cannot separate sales messages from valuable information.

I tell them to keep it simple. What would you want to say to your customers if you were face to face? What information would you want to put in a customer’s hand that would make print buying easier for them? What would you want to train a customer to do correctly to make production easier?

I think any printer who can come up with answers to those questions will have hundreds of topics. Got a link that tells the difference between CMYK and RGB? Have a link that tells a person how to get the best photo from their digital camera? Have a source for online training for Publisher or InDesign that you would like to share? Any of these topics would be of interest to customer s and make you look like the printing expert you are if you would only share them through social media.

But too many printers hide their light under a basket. They don’t realize that sharing information will create a bond with customers that will lead to more sales. They think that offering unsolicited advice is too much like asking for a sale. They rather customers come to them and ask questions.

Customers aren’t going to buy from you unless you ask for the order. Customers won’t order unless they feel comfortable that they are dealing with a professional. You can become the local expert by using social media tools and your website properly.

If you can’t come up with content, it is because you are not out talking to customers. Once you find out what customers need by making a sales calls, you will have enough content to keep your blogs, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts active for months.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Printers Need To Raise Prices

It is amazing the pricing strategies that some printing companies use to gain new business. One strategy that has been around for ages is to offer discounts for first time buyers to show prospects the quality and service they can receive if they were to become a regular customer. The discount might get the job the first time, but it doesn’t guarantee you will get the next job at the higher price. You just trained your customer that you are willing to give lower prices.

I suggest another tactic you can use with a new customer, especially if creative design is involved, is to raise your regular price 10 to 15 percent. This allows you to test your pricing structure and make sure you aren’t leaving money on the table. Printers create custom work. In the case of most custom manufacturing, the price goes up when the customer selects a manufacturer that provides better service and quality.

The primary reason that most printers are attracted to discounts and low price selling is that it replaces the best way to sell printing. The best way to sell is to get in front of the customer and ask for an order. The reason aso many printers are failing is that they hope that customers will call, ask for a price, and then buy because it is the lowest price they have found. There is too much competition to just sit back and wait for customers to call and then hope a low price will attract them to buy.
The only printers being really successful with that strategy are the low cost producers who maintain their margins by using production efficiencies and keeping sales costs low by selling over the Internet. The typical printer is still a job shop that custom produces every order to the customer’s specifications. Producing custom work has a higher cost and has to be sold at a higher price.

If printers are contacting customers, making sales calls, finding out what customers need, and asking for the order, they won’t have to use discounting and low prices to build sales. Printing customers, especially those who need creative services, are willing to pay to get the high quality and service that only a profitable printer can provide.

So when the next new customer asks for a price, take your regular price and raise it. You may find that the only one really concerned about low prices is you.