Part IX: Keeping Up with the Future
By John Foley on September 7th, 2011
Note: This is Part 9 of a 9-Part series based on the book “Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry”
Since I first started writing the book Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry, things sure have changed a bit in the worlds of marketing, communications, and technology.
For one thing, social networks such as Google+ have come into play and quickly added tens of millions of users. Apps such as Instagram and Postagram have arisen and are given new life to photos taken with mobile phones and to postcards, accordingly. Also, we’ve seen a tremendous increase in the amount of people that are carrying around smartphones and tablets.
No matter what your role in business might be — as an owner, sales rep, marketer, IT personnel, consultant, etc. — shifts in communications and technology can be intimidating. But if you are in the printing or marketing industries, these shifts should also be seen as something else: as opportunities.
Service providers have opportunities to help businesses maximize their presence on new channels. Many companies today face the same challenges: how to get more people to their website; how to build up their following on social networks; how to measure what’s working. Service providers can help their clients to identify solutions to those problems. But along with simply providing the consulting services, many print, mail, and fulfillment service providers are in the position to do more than that! Many have the resources to actually build, manage, execute, and measure the marketing initiatives that their clients need. This may include print, email, landing pages, mobile, and more. Yes, many now have the opportunity to truly offer full marketing services.
But as the worlds of communications and technology continue to change, how can you keep up? Here are a few suggestions:
- Be a Practitioner: The easiest way to learn how a marketing channel or tool could help one of your clients is to use it yourself. The same applies to keeping an eye on new trends. If you are committed to doing whatever you can to promote your business, then you will take steps to devote time and energy to find out what’s next. The only way that we can keep up is to make it a priority. And when we have a stake in keeping up for ourselves, it will be a lot easier to do so.
- Invest in Technology: As a printer, we may certainly become frustrated if a potential prospect turns down our solutions to go with an online-only solution (i.e. rather than print the book, they tell you that they’re simply going to offer a version for eReaders) . However, rather than simply become frustrated at those moments, we should find ways to put ourselves in their shoes.
One way to do that is to invest in the same technology that they may be using. If you don’t have a smartphone, you need one! If possible, acquire a tablet as well. Take the time to experience what it is like to browse, search, find, and consume information on those devices. For one, you may start to realize some of the benefits those devices provide. But it may also help you to identify possible solutions that you can offer to your clients the merge the online and offline worlds together! For example, perhaps you can encourage a client to use QR Codes to make their brochure interactive. By adding QR Codes, the client may be pleased that they get to incorporate their online content “into” their printed materials. Also, this may give you as the service provider the opportunity to demonstrate the effectiveness of the items that they do continue to print.
Of course, there are other ways that we can stay on top of emerging trends. We can subscribe to the right eNewsletters. We can join Groups in LinkedIn that have forward-thinkers. We can start following people and brands in the worlds of marketing and technology that are freely sharing information on social networks. And of course, we can attend offline events, conferences, and meetings that are covering topics that we want to learn more about.
No matter what our preferred method might be, the bottom line is that we will need to be committed to keeping up! Yes, some of these trends may fizzle out before they have the chance to mature. But if we are willing to invest the time to see how new technologies and trends can help our business, we will find ways to grow faster than some of our competitors.
This is the final installment of my summary series regarding my book, Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry. I hope that you enjoyed it and found the information helpful!
If you have any questions or would like to learn more about the book, please visit http://NewPathToProfit.com.