Tuesday, November 15, 2011

When Did You Make Your Last Sales Call?

You notice a pattern when you ask successful printers why they are having success in this down economy. Almost every one of them attributes their success to making sales calls. They get out from behind their front counter and go out and see customers on a daily basis.

In most cases, the owner is the sales person and he or she is the one who is visiting their top 25 customers and top prospects. They may have sales people working for them, but they have those sales people doing the same sales activities.

Why are successful printers out selling? It is because they know they will eventually lose some of their top customers so they are always working to replace them. Sure they call on their top customers to keep that business, but the majority of the successful printer’s efforts is in calling on prospects. They are looking for prospects who can become significant customers providing them with at least $1,000 a month in sales.

Some not so successful owners complain they don’t have time to get outside the shop and sell because they are too busy producing the work for customers who walk in the door. Where would time be better served? Producing a $50 copier order or making a sales call on a prospect with $50,000 in printing per year?

CPrint President Todd Nuckols always says that most printers don’t have a sales problem. He says they have a production problem. They haven’t organized to get the work out so they are stuck doing production rather than selling.

The first step in correcting this problem is putting someone in charge of production and getting out and making sales calls. An owner should be spending the majority of his or her day telling customers about the benefits of using them and then asking for the sale.

The industry has changed. If you aren’t out asking for the business you won’t survive. People don’t walk into print shops any more with big accounts. You have to go where the printing is and that is at the customer’s office.

If you are a print owner, you need to stop what you are doing in the shop and turn it over to one of your employees and go make a call on a potential customer. It could be the first step in insuring you have a future in this industry.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

CPrint Affiliates Beating National Sales Growth Averages

CPrint International affiliates’ 2011 sales growth over 2010 is beating the national average when compared to the latest NAPL report.. According to Todd Nuckols, president of CPrint, 64% of CPrinters in the national board program are turning in an average sales gain of 16% this year. Previously NAPL reported that sales for quick and small commercial printers overall are expected to be relatively flat (-0.3%) for all of 2011.

“CPrint affiliates are affected by the downturn in the economy,” said Nuckols, “but they are adding new services and increasing sales activities to drive more sales. Many have shifted their sales efforts from commodity-type printing to marketing and printing and have integrated web services to increase their sales of collateral printing.

Because of CPrint’s emphasis on current financial information, the affiliates can manage their financial strength to take advantage of new opportunities. The sales growth is tied to the company’s overall profitability. We are not only seeing increases in sales numbers, but increases in company profits.”

According to the NAPL report, less than 40% of those quick and small commercial printers surveyed now expect their business to grow this year, still higher than the 31.6% who expect sales to decline, but down sharply from a few months ago.

“We’re seeing optimism within CPrint,” said Nuckols. “By keeping a close eye on the financial situation, CPrint affiliates are better prepared to deal with the outside influences that affect costs. This allows them to concentrate on learning about new products and services to sell and getting in front of customers and selling.
“By no means has 2011 been an easy year for our affiliates,” said Nuckols. “The affiliates have the same pressures of direct material, payroll and overhead costs others have, but they are actively managing these areas. The combination of financial management and selling activities are the main reason for having growth while competitors falter.”

If you are a printer and want to find out more about joining the CPrint organization, visit www.cprint.com.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

QR Codes Do Work

There are a number of discussions online among printers that QR codes don’t work. Some say they are just a fad. Among the reasons these printers believe QR “fail” give are, “None of my customers know what QR codes are” and “My customer used it once and they didn’t get any additional business.” Another argument for QR failing is, “My customers have never asked for them.”

I can only conclude that the printers who are promoting the failure of QR codes have never made a sales call to explain QR codes to their customers and they are ignoring the QR codes popping up all around them. Pick up any national magazine or paper and you see QR codes. Go to the local grocery story, restaurant chain or national home repair store such as Home Depot and look at the QR codes scattered throughout. It is hard to believe that some printers don’t think QR codes are gaining traction in the marketplace.

QR code projects do fail because the person using the code used it incorrectly. QR codes need to send viewers to web sites where the customer can be interactive with the customer. Just sending a person to a desktop site that is reduced down to 2 point type on a smartphone isn’t going to lead to a good buying experience. QR codes need to send viewers to videos that educate and inform. The viewers need to go to sites where they can get coupons, directions, or easily make contact with the QR code creators. There are infinite uses. It is up to the printer to explain those uses to a customer so they will be used correctly.

But that requires the printer getting out from behind their counter and making a sales call. It requires a printer to have a smartphone and demonstrate the different ways QR codes can be used. It also requires a printer to understand mobile sites and be able to provide the technical support needed for a customer to have a mobile presence.

QR codes are successful. The QR codes don’t fail to take a viewer to a site. The failure is that the QR code creator sends the viewer to the wrong site where there isn’t any value for the user. 

Want to increase your sales? Make a sales call and tell your customers about QR codes. This gives the print buyer the reason to reprint their marketing print collateral with QR codes today. Think of how many leads the customer might be losing without the QR code sending the viewer to additional information to help turn the prospect into a customer.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Printers Need To Evolve

There are a lot of printers going out of business or about to go out of business because they can’t change their business model. Customers no longer walk in and ask for something to be duplicated. The day of commodity printing is over. People no longer need forms to collect information. It is now done on a computer. What print customers now need is help in finding the best way to communicate their message with their customer. The answer isn’t always ink on paper.

A recent report by John Stewart for the National Association of Quick Printers found that the average age of a print shop owner was in the mid-50s. They opened their business when making a copy required expensive equipment. Today, everyone has a copier attached to their home and business computer. The print services people are buying have changed. Those services aren’t best served by having a walk-in location in a high traffic area.

Printers need to add new services that take advantage of the Internet. One area would be content development for electronic media. Adobe and Quark have released new software will help printers and designers turn their InDesign and Quark files into documents and apps that can be read on iPads, tablets and smartphones. If the major page layout software developers are taking their businesses into a new electronic direction, printers might want to follow. Adobe has also introduced a line of apps to create content on tablets including a Photoshop type of app. If printers are going to survive and compete they must now learn how to create content that will work in environments other than on paper.

Website development, mobile marketing, QR codes and other Internet related products can be integrated with print to make a message stronger. Printers will have to learn about and provide these services in some way if they expect to compete in the new electronic communications world.

Printers don’t have to go out of business. They need to evolve their business. That evolution needs to begin today.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Printer Need To Change The Discussion

The most powerful selling tool for printers is still face-to-face contact with the customer. Mailings and social media are need to soften the customer and turn a cold call into a warm sales call. They help build a relationship with the customer so he is more open to discussing moving his business. The technology tools are used to build a relationship. The personal call is used to discuss specific benefits of using the printer and close the deal.

To be successful, a printer must change the face-to-face discussion from being about the cost of the printing to being about the value of the printing’s results to the customer. Printers can learn a lot about a customer’s needs if they just start  having a conversation about the customer’s business. 

The real issue in the relationship between the printer and the customer isn’t how cheap then printer can sell the customer a product. It is about how much revenue can the customer gain from using the right communication tools. Printers must get the discussion away from pennies per impression to dollars gained in sales from using the printed material. If a new customer means thousands of dollars additional revenue to the printing buyer that price of the printing becomes less of an objection. Printers have to focus on the results of the printing rather than the costs.

When printers start having a conversation about a customer's sales needs, they can uncover hundreds of print and communication opportunities. Does a customer have the print collateral to support the web site? Are QR codes used to drive customers to the Internet? Is mobile marketing available? Is mailing being done to push customers to the web? Each of those questions should lead to answers that include print solutions. A customer doesn't know what he needs until the printer explains the possibilities.

The benefit a printer offers a prospect shouldn't be how much money the prospect will save. It should be that the printed material and distribution will help a customer get more leads that can result in additional sales. Talk to your customers about how they get their leads and how they are attempting to increase sales and you will find a number of products and services they need to buy from you.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Email and Text Replacing Telephones

The way people communicate in business is changing and one big change is how people react to email. In today’s business world, people are responding faster to email inquiries as opposed to telephone voice messages. Printers need to review how they are communicating with their current customers and prospects and whether or not they need to change their procedures.

Several LinkedIn discussion groups have discussed how email is changing how the sales people are reaching customers. You may want to consider email as part of your approach to gaining leads and follow ups on estimates and quotes. Because of email, customers are expecting estimates in hours. Printers should be following up on estimates within hours since decisions are now being made faster because of email.

One procedure every printer should practice is getting the customer’s email address when getting contact information. Not only will you want email addresses to contact customers about their orders, but you will also want the address so you can start emailing newsletters and other important information. Email newsletters should complement the printed newsletter because different customers will want the information in different ways. You will want to make sure that you have permission to use a customer’s email address for your newsletter and other marketing material.

Texting is fast becoming a common way to reach customers. Experts predict businesses can soon expect the majority of contact with customers be via text messaging. Younger customers already response quicker to a text message than an email or a telephone call. Printers will have to start learning more about Short Message Service (SMS). SMS is a text messaging service component of phone, web, or mobile communication systems that allow the exchange of short text messages between fixed line or mobile phone devices. You can text message from your phone or from a computer.

You may want to start asking customers what is the best way to reach them: telephone, email or text message. It will be cumbersome in the beginning, but as more younger print buyers start using your services, you will need to be able to easily contact them.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

QR Codes and Wide Format

If you are a printer doing wide format and signs, you might want to think about the different ways businesses are using QR codes. I have seen a number of point-of-purchase displays featuring QR codes to direct customers to online information. It could be a money maker for you.

Not sure what the value is for this type of service? You will want to visit http://www.Mobilinkpro.com. The online service creates signs with QR codes for customers. One of their major markets is real estate. The website offers a set of three generic real estate rider sign for $39 for a set and a set of 10 for $99. It also offers generic window cling signs for the same price. For an additional price, a person can order relinkable QR codes.

Just think about the number of businesses that need a QR code to send customers to sign up to follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Teach Customers About QR Codes

If you are having trouble explaining the power of QR codes to your customers, you will want to add this video to your presentation and your YouTube site.

This video shows the big growth in QR code use and why it is important in today’s culture. You will want to promote the video on your website, Facebook page as well as tweet about it to your followers. To view the video, click here.

Friday, August 19, 2011

PDF Editing Help Online

Ever have a questions about how to do something with a PDF file? A new web-based resource from Planet PDF will answer specific question about using PDF files.

The website provides answers about how to perform certain tasks, how to fix annoying problems or even which tools your peers recommend for your PDF-related projects. According to the creators, the primary goal behind the Planet PDF Q&A platform is to get the best possible answers to every answerable PDF question out there.

The prepress department in your shop will want to bookmark http://qa.planetpdf.com/.

Monday, August 15, 2011

The Cure For Summertime Blues

Is the summer a bad time for printers? Over the years I have heard that July and December were down months. Printers could expect to see their sales plummet twice a year as print buyers took vacation or enjoyed the holidays.

That sounds logical, but the more printers I meet the more I begin to think this is just an urban myth. I am finding there are printers have smoothed out the roller coaster sales ride by constantly working on increasing sales. They don’t stop their sales activities when they get busy with printing. They keep making sales calls. They use the same tools and technology they are selling to customers to improve their own sales.

The new products and services driving successful print companies relate to helping customers get more leads. QR codes, websites, variable data printing, mobile marketing, mailing, Personal URLs, ebroadcasts, and social media are tools that help send a targeted message meant to improve a brand and create interest in a company. The successful printers use these tools to get more of their own leads and to demonstrate how the tools can help their customers.
Buying doesn’t stop in the summer and neither should selling activities. Most printing customers don’t shut their businesses down in the summer. The reality is that it isn’t customers who stop buying in the summer. The printer stops selling. Vacations, longer days and warm weather can change a company’s focus and lazy summer days become lazy selling days.

Print companies must continue their selling activities every day. They need to be touching customers in some way constantly so they will be the first printer a customer thinks about when they want to order something.

For a print shop to be successful, they have to develop a sales funnel to keep touching the customers. With websites, e-newsletters, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., printers can easily keep an ongoing dialog with their customers year round. They just got to do it.
No printer should be slow in the summer. They should be busy touching customers, making sales calls and asking for the order.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Mobile Web Site Opportunities

Ever use your smartphone to visit and website and find it is difficult to read and navigate? That is because the site is optimized for a computer screen and not a smartphone. If you have a website or sell websites, you will want to make sure you are selling the additional service of creating a mobile site that is easily read online.

One service you might want to check out is http://iflymobi.com/. It allows you to build and launch mobile-optimized web pages quickly. The site says that you don’t need HML knowledge to create a site. It allows you to upload a logo, create pages, enter text and setup links.
There is a monthly fee. The company has a 14-day free trial so you may want to download it and try it out. It could be another web-based service to add your arsenal.

If you are selling QR codes, you will also want to make sure that your customer’s website is optimized for smartphones. Mobile marketing projects that link QR codes to specific web pages have opportunity to generate a lot of collateral printing.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Don't Forget QR Codes

If you are a printer, one of the first questions you should ask your customer when he gives you a job is if they need a QR code on the printed piece. Quick Response (QR) codes are becoming very common in the U.S. to drive prospects to mobile websites. With the growth of smartphone use, more people can quickly access

CNN reports a February survey of U.S. smartphone users by MGH, a Baltimore social-media marketing company, said 32% of respondents said they have scanned a QR code. Of those, 53% said they used the code to get a coupon or discount. And 72% said they were more likely to remember an advertisement with a QR code.

Another big bump will be for QR code use is coming from the US Postal Service. They are running a discount promotion if you use QR codes in the mailing. Visibility will also be increased when Valpak, the advertising envelope starts putting QR codes on the outside of the envelope and on individual inserts. Over the next two months Valpak will mail more than 80 million households with the QR Codes resolving to mobile pages  providing additional information and sweepstake entry.

People now know what QR codes are. The smartphone is the most popular phone in the US now and the tool you need to read them. Printers should be jumping on this opportunity to get people to throw away their old marketing material and reprint new ones with QR codes include. And when a customer asks why should they throw away the old material, just ask them how many leads are they missing because they don’t have the QR code on their material now? The value is that high.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Don’t Ignore the Web

As printers search for new revenue, selling and supporting websites is becoming an exciting new product to sell. Websites integrate easily with printing companies since many printers are already working closely with customers to manage their message.

But there are some printers who do not want to get into web services. Printes don’t have to sell web services, but they must realize that it is important to understand the web if they want to continue printing for a company. Printers will have to become “web experts” because they need to help customers integrate their print collateral with the current web site information even if they don’t maintain the websites.

Combining the power of the web with print is proving to be a powerful vehicle for getting out a message. Any response generated by the web needs some sort of printed information. It might be in the form of brochures mailed to the customer. It could be leave-behinds from a personal sales call. Print is still an important part of the communication process.

Customers need help making sure the printed material matches the web-based material. Is information available both in print and online? Do the logos and colors match helping build the brand? Do the messages from both mediums match? In the rush of business, many customers haven’t really looked at how they have integrated their message and need help. Printers can help the customer be assured that the look and feel of the web and printed material are the same and the customer’s “brand” is protected.

At the same time, printers can be looking at the web to see what mobile marketing and QR code opportunities are available. Has the customer added QR codes to their printed material to drive customers to websites? Does the customer have online video that can use more clicks?

If print owners ignore the web, they are just putting another nail in their coffin. Printing and the web play well together. Neither can be as powerful separately as they can be together. No sales call should be done without a review of the customer’s current website. Printers must understand how a customer is using their web site and what they want to accomplish with it so they can provide the printing support that is needed.