Archive for the ‘Marketing & Sales’ Category

It’s More Than Just Price: Webinar Review On How To Position Your Service Value

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

At the end of the day, price is the elephant in the room. On the business front, it traditionally carries the most weight in any Leadership Team’s decision-making process. We know the budget-savvy CEO will ask herself: why pay extra for a service when it’s offered half price elsewhere? This tends to be the case in many business transactions.

However, other points of value have increasingly entered the conversation: turnaround reliability, industry specific knowledge, creative innovation, etc. If a service provider is able to effectively communicate their multiple points of value, chances are that budget-savvy CEO will pay a little more for the higher quality service. The webinar “Transforming Price into Value for Your Service,” hosted by InfoTrends’ Barb Pellow and sponsored by Canon Solutions America, breaks down how service providers create meaningful conversations in order to achieve long term partnerships with clients. John Smilanich, National Sales Director at First Edge Solutions, expands on Pellow’s overview with concrete examples on how his company has solidified their position as a partner versus vendor. The webinar covers topics including: what buyers want, price versus value delivered, the evolving definition of ‘value’, and how to communicate that value.

Specifically, I found the section on the differences between ‘vendors’ and ‘partners’ to be quite helpful in understanding how to position one’s business goals to a client. As outlined, vendors promote or exchange goods and services for money; however, partners go a step further to participate in a relationship in which each member has equal status regarding a project. Vendors have customers; partners have clients. Vendors provide data, but partners take their provided data and interpret it, analyze it, and make recommendations. Vendors take orders and make sales, where as partners work to build mutually beneficial relationships and to determine why their clients want what they ask for.

Once the service provider has determined what role they want to play, i.e. vendor or partner, it is important to present additional components of value to the service already requested. Helping the client understand these additions in real dollar value can only strengthen the service provider’s position against a competitor’s. As Barb highlights: “Value is now associated with setting up the business model. You now help set up project data bases, manage campaigns, and help execute or market the campaign.” To accomplish this, John suggests to “make it as individual as possible.” By defining your buyers and by defining your niche, you create a knowledge base that down the road surpasses the weighted value of ‘price’.

Not only were Barb and John’s tips helpful in breaking down the price barrier, but their examples, case study references, and self-assessment questions offer tremendous insight on how to increase value proposition. If you’re looking to broaden your communication skills and positioning insight, this is a must see!

 

Transforming Price into Value for Your Services from Canon Solutions America on Vimeo.

Which Is at Fault? Lack of Education? Or Lack of Willingness?

Wednesday, August 20th, 2014

Why aren’t we seeing more 1:1 printing in the marketplace? Why isn’t “everyone doing it”? Is it because there is a lack of marketer education? Or is it a lack of willingness to do what it takes to make 1:1 printing work (i.e. willingness to continue to do things “the way we’ve always done” because it’s easier than investing in databases, profiling, and the like)?

Along these lines, here is a comment I received by email this morning. Do you agree with this assessment? Or do you see other reasons for why we aren’t seeing widespread adoption of 1:1 top to bottom?

there is a crying need to get the concept of MODERN variable data work to the printing public.  We continually find people exhibiting the mindset of 15 or 20 years ago.  The thought that every single page printed might be decidedly different is beyond comprehension to many.  Think of an advertising mail piece for say, insurance.  Each piece printed would be sensitive to gender, age, profession, city and state (re such things as disclaimers), family status and type(s) of insurance for which information may have been requested.  I could go on and on –  old age = larger font size for example, colors chosen by age, gender and nationality (think of color of flags).

From this person’s perspective, it remains a lack of education about the possibilities. What’s your perspective?

Just Call Me Poi . . . or Not

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

It’s happened again. A title has been converted into a name in data oblivion and sent as part of a personalized mailing.

This example is taken from a business mailing to my home addressed to “Poi LLC.” The assumption is that “Poi” stands for Person of Interest, converted into sentence case the same way my father-in-law’s suffix USMC has been converted to his last name: Mr. Usmc.

What’s odd is that this is a residential neighborhood, so you would assume that since the mailer is addressed to a business, the marketer knows that unlike my neighbors, I’m registered as a business. But if they know that, they should also know my business’s name isn’t Poi.

What’s unfortunate is that, like one of the last butchered direct mail campaigns I have received, it is coming from a company that ought to know better: American Express. It’s marketing gold cards. The last butchered mailings I’ve written about have come from Geico and Weis Markets, a large regional grocery store chain (that one was addressed to my husband’s ex-wife, who has never lived at that address . . . or even in the state).

We read the survey results, but when we look in our mailboxes, we see it in person. The state of data is often dreadful. Marketers ought to know better, and I suppose they do. But data cleanliness seems to be a luxury they don’t want to bother to afford. They’d rather trust in volume. Let the embarrassments slip as long as they do better than break even.

When your customers seem content to let volume override data errors, what do YOU do? How do you try to break through the malaise and get them to take their data management seriously? I’d like to hear your ideas.

More Cool Stuff to Do with Print

Friday, August 15th, 2014

Here’s another great use of print to do something digital technologies cannot do.

The product is called SwivelCard (view TechCrunch video), and while it’s not available commercially yet, it’s been  promoted by TechCrunch and is currently using crowdsourcing to improve back-end software to be more user-friendly.

SwivelCardThe card uses a combination of patented, digitally printed metallic ink onto a business card to create a paper-based USB. Add some strategic scoring and key portions of the business card can be folded to insert into a USB port and used as a USB card.

Each card can be individually programmed so each user is taken to a different webpage. Or they can be programmed all the same. Either way, the user will  be taken to a webpage of the marketer’s choosing, and like the back end of the QR Code experience, that page can be changed at any time, even after the card has been given out.

Detailed analytics on usage can be accessed so marketers know who is using their cards and where. While I haven’t used one of these cards, it appears to be something like Google Analytics.

This is another neat use of print that cannot be duplicated by electronic media. Business is often personal. You meet for lunch. You shake a hand. You attend a demonstration. There is something powerful about the personal connection of a business card that cannot be duplicated with, “I’ll send you a text this afternoon.” These cards provide the personal connection with the online / mobile interface and usage analytics.

I just love the continued innovation in the uses of print. Keep ‘em coming!

Car Dealership Almost Gets 1:1 Printing Right: Part 2

Tuesday, August 12th, 2014

A few days ago, I posted about my local car dealership and how, while they must be commended for regularly using their knowledge of my relationship with the dealership, along with their knowledge of the make and model of my SUV, they keep falling short of what they could be doing. I want to add several more observations to that post.Equinox

1. The dealership knows my name, the make, and model of the SUV. They used it in the body of the letter. Yet in the upper righthand corner in red, all-cap text — probably the most valuable real estate in the piece — it simply said, “We want to buy your Buick GMC Cadillac.”

That wording, placed in the most visible location in the letter, has no relevance to me whatsoever. I don’t think of my vehicle as a “Buick GMC Cadillac.” It’s a shame because they’ve already personalized the make and model of my vehicle in the body of the letter. Why didn’t they do it here?

2. In addition to the personalization in the body of the letter, the mailing does contain one additional element of personalization: It’s on the bottom left (very, very bottom) on the fourth panel of the 8 ½ x 17 letter. “Heidi, we are interested in buying your 2005 Chevrolet Equinox!” It’s completely out of sight. In black like the rest of the letter. Sentence case. Completely overlookable.

3. We recently moved, and they have my updated address, but they are using my old name from a previous marriage. Ouch!

Oh, and the “promotion ends 8/30/2014” is in incredibly small type — one size up from the disclaimer text at the bottom of the letter.

While printers are not necessarily responsible for the content of the marketing message, these are very simple, basic elements that anyone can check. Before the file is run, take a look at the layout. Look at the variable fields. Scan the copy. Look at the most important static and variable elements. Look at the call to action. Are there very obvious tweaks that the customer can make to improve the effectiveness of the piece?

This is the type of value that great marketing partners provide . . . even if they are not asked to do so.

 

Car Dealership Almost Gets 1:1 Right

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

One of the only places from which I get personalized direct mail is the auto dealership that occasionally services our SUV. I received another personalized piece this past week, and while I think they continue to do a better-than-static job of things, I continue to see omissions that could make the difference between us buying something and not.

In this most recent mailing, the dealership offered to buy our SUV. I assume they know that around this age of vehicle (nine years old), auto owners start looking to get out of something with higher mileage and into something new. We are, in fact, starting to actively look.

We want to acquire several 2005 Chevrolet Equinoxes this year to meet increasing market demand. There is value in your vehicle! Let’s discuss this.

It’s a good start. They know my name, the make, model, and year of my vehicle, and offered to buy it at around the right time. Unfortunately, that’s as far as it went.

Here’s where they missed the big opportunity and where you, as a service provider, can be looking to add value.

You don’t generally sell a vehicle without purchasing something else. The dealership missed the opportunity to layer on readily available demographic data that could have made a huge difference. By knowing my husband’s age and mine, and by knowing that we still have several children under the age of 18 in the home, they would have learned that we fit squarely into a key demographic group of consumers who are likely looking to trade the smaller compact SUV for something larger and more utilitarian. Knowing this, the dealership might have suggested that we trade in our vehicle for [make, model] of larger, specific, currently available SUVs and minivans they have on the lot right now.

The opportunity whoever handles the print work for this dealership is twofold:

  • creation of basic customer personas (young, unmarrieds; older marrieds without children; young marrieds with children; older marrieds with children; empty-nesters; retirees); and
  • data appends could help determine which persona our family (and other customers for whom they have a service history) fits into.

Gathering this information is not expensive. It just takes the time, commitment, and marketing savvy to do it. Are you helping your customers move into more relevant personalization?

Social Media Tipping Point

Thursday, August 7th, 2014

For years, industry experts have proclaimed that the time will come when social media marketing is as effective as traditional marketing. Some are suggesting that the release of a very successful new album using only social media may provide a blueprint of future marketing successes and act as a tipping point.

Late last year, Beyoncé released her latest album, Drunk in Love, not with a flood of radio and TV spots, but instead using social media. It was a complete surprise and an overwhelming success. According to Apple, Beyoncé’s surprise album was the fastest-selling album in iTunes history, reaching No. 1 in the sales rankings in 104 countries. The album sold 828,777 copies in first three days, including 617,213 in the United States.

Admittedly few advertising campaigns will generate the interest of a music superstar like Beyoncé, but the question becomes is this a tipping point and if it is how can you take advantage of this tipping point. Clearly, the first step is to understand who uses social media.

Here is a short primer on the demographics of users from businessto2community.com:

  • 72% of all Internet users are active social media visitors
  • 89% are between the ages of 18 and 29
  • 72% are between 30 and 49
  • 60% are between the ages of 50 and 60
  • 43% are 65 or older
  • 71% access social media from mobile devices

The second step is understanding the benefits of using specific sites for specific services. This information is from Technorati’s 2013 Digital Influence Report:

  • Facebook users tend to “like” brands to learn about products and services (56%), keep up with brand-related activities (52%), and for promos (48%); some 32% interact with brands to provide feedback.
  • Twitter users follow brands mostly to keep up with brand activities (57%) and learn about products and services (47%); some 27% do so to provide feedback.
  • YouTube users engage with brands mostly to learn about products and services (61%), keep up with brand-related activities (41%), and provide feedback (23%).
  • Pinterest users follow brands primarily to learn about products and services (56%), keep up with brand activities (35%), and for sweepstakes/promos (28%).
  • Instagram users follow brands to keep up with brand-related activities (41%), learn more about products and services (39%), and make purchases (27%).

What do you think? Is the success of one music superstar a tipping point or simply another channel that can be used for successful marketing?

Create Long Term Success with Web-to-Print

Wednesday, August 6th, 2014

Web-to-print is a valuable tool in your toolkit when it comes to creating long term success for your printing business. Web-to-print solutions offer your customers outstanding flexibility, cost effectiveness, and control over their end product, making you their go-to solution for their printing needs.

So, what are you doing wrong?

Although web-to-print poses a great opportunity for your print business, it is not a case of “if you offer the solutions, the customers will come.” The key to success with web-to-print is understanding how it meets your customers’ needs and making sure they know that.

How can you communicate the value of your web-to-print services to your customers and in turn, create a successful future for your print business? Download our article, Create Long Term Success with Web-to-Print, to learn how you can effectively market your solutions to your customers.

Please take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/W2PSuccess. Do you have any tips and best practices for marketing your web-to-print services? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

1:1 Printing Isn’t a Fix-All

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

Last week, I posted my nutshell summary of the state of 1:1 printing. My summary has solicited some reactions around the industry — some of them quite strong.

One printer represents many others when he writes,

Your summary of the past year may be valid in the digital info world in general, but absolutely off the mark regards the printing industry, 1:1, or any other voguish way you wish to call it. My experience, and those of all the printers I know, is that URL, VDP, and all this stuff about surveys and “long-term commitments,” is just so much fluff and smoke-and-mirrors. In the real, shrinking world of offset and digital print, what still counts are the traditional values of good design and cheap pricing. Case studies, white papers, etc., are all interesting to read, but far from the reality of what we do.

Reading through the lines, we hear that because they, XYZ Printing, can’t sell 1:1 printing, because their business is struggling and 1:1 printing has not proven to be the life raft to save them, it must be nothing but hype.

I hear lots of reasons my assessment of 1:1 printing is incorrect. Printers are losing business to in-house print shops. Their quick response and aggressive delivery no longer win clients. Their clients are returning to lowest cost bidder situations and they are losing business.

I don’t mean to be disrespectful, but what, exactly, does this have to do with the state of 1:1 printing?

Case studies tell us what printers and their clients are actually producing. By watching the types of campaigns that are actually being printed and mailed, we can watch this marketing approach evolve. By reading the market surveys and research studies on where marketers are spending their money, where they are placing their priorities, and how they are addressing their challenges (and what challenges they are addressing), we can watch the evolution of data-driven marketing, including print.

The state of 1:1 printing is exactly that — the state of 1:1 printing — not the state of the commercial printing industry in adopting 1:1 printing. “The state of” includes the types of campaigns produced, the level of complexity at which they are being produced, and the best practices being used by those who produce them. If an individual printer cannot print and sell 1:1 printing, even if they and every printer they know cannot sell 1:1 printing, this is not a reflection on “the state of” for those can and who can and do produce these campaigns on a regular basis.

1:1 printing isn’t the fix-all for the challenges facing the commercial printing industry. It’s just a solid, well-established marketing channel for those whose business models are set up to do so.

 

Survey: 23% of Retailers See 11% Cumulative Lift Using Personalization

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

If you want to know how your customers and prospects expect to be marketed to (what they set as their norms), look at retailing. To this end, the study “Personalization Comes of Age: 2014 Retailing and Consumer Insights” from the e-tailing group, is very enlightening.

According to the study, the top seven things on marketers’ “to do” lists are as follows:

  1. Mobile (including tablet)
  2. Marketing
  3. Personalization
  4.  Omni-channel
  5. Platform
  6. Conversion Optimization
  7. Analytics, Reporting, Big Data

So personalization comes in behind mobile and marketing. This isn’t any surprise since most of us expect (or even rely) on personalized product recommendations when we shop online. What may be a surprise is that retailers have actually quantified the reasons why.

Nearly one-quarter (23%) of retailers responding to the survey see a 11% cumulative lift using personalization. This is up from only 19% of retailers giving this answer one year ago.  More retailers are also seeing greater value in longer-term lifecycle personalization, up from 15% one year ago.

These are encouraging numbers. While there will be differences in retail that do not exist in print (such as focus on online activities such as shopping cart abandonment and real-time personalization online), people are still people. Done right, personalization isn’t going to be effective online and not in print. People’s internal wiring doesn’t work that way.

Personalization still has to be done right, but the increase in the percentage of retailers who see benefits from personalization, including long-term lifecycle personalization, suggests that as they get better at it, the benefits increase, too. Jumps in the numbers from 2013 -to 2014 mean that retailers are getting better at it — and your clients can too.

If retailers are improving their personalization efforts and reaping the benefits, your customers can do the same.

 

How to Utilize NFC for Print Marketing

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Near field communication, or more commonly referred to as NFC, is a current and fast-growing technology that can be extremely beneficial for marketing and in particular, print campaigns.

Are you looking for new ways to make your print materials more engaging? NFC poses a great opportunity for you.

Watch the video below to learn all about NFC – what it is, examples, and how you can use it to bring your print campaigns to life.

Have you tried out NFC yet or do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Survey: Data Collection on the Rise

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Don’t let your customers fool you — they may have more data than you think. According to polling conducted by Digiday and Neustar in June 2014, 76% of U.S. digital media and marketing professionals are collecting data on current and potential customers and 77% have increased their data collection over the past year.

The number one reason? To get a better understanding of their customers, with 57% giving this answer.  Marketers indicated that they are expanding the volume and type of data they are collecting — demographic, psychographic, location, and social.

Screen Shot 2014-07-16 at 2.31.34 PMThis is good news for 1:1 print providers, since data availability has been one of the Achilles heels of this process. But the challenges of data silos and data integration remain. In fact, according to the research, half of respondents say they are still unable to link data to create individual customer profiles.

Still, on the whole, this is good news. The more customers focus on data collection, integration, and profiling, the more natural the pathway to discussions about how you can help. So these data represent ongoing challenges, but they present opportunities, too.

 

5 Tips for Motivating Your Sales Team to Learn New Skills

Wednesday, July 9th, 2014

Having to learn a new way of doing things can be stressful. If your sales team is stuck in a rut of outdated selling techniques, try these tips to encourage them to update their skills.

  1. Make the Benefits Clear
  2. Involve the Team in Choosing Training Methods
  3. Set Clear Goals

To see these tips further explained, as well as additional tips to help your team, download, 5 Tips for Motivating Your Sales Team to Learn New Skills.

Please take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilink.me/5SalesTips. Do you have any other tips for keeping your sales team motivated? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Innovation Ennui: Hidebound by History. Is Print’s Prudence proof of Paralysis?

Monday, June 30th, 2014

Many years ago, when I was president of one of the first quick printing franchisor companies, a wise-man counseled me with this pearl — smart franchise companies know that almost allgood marketing ideas do not occur at franchise HQ, instead they happen on the front lines — in the franchised locations, as the result of franchisee and customer interactions.

Implementing the advice meant that I sought the counsel of some of our best and brightest franchised owners and one of them told me about “Ed.” Ed was the head of research and development for Lee Newspapers (now Lee Enterprises) a chain of community newspapers based in Davenport, Iowa. Ed’s job was to actuate the punch line in George Bernard Shaw quote made immortal by Teddy Kennedy’s eulogy for his brother Bobby. “…Others dream things that never were, and ask why not?”

Ed didn’t go to graphic arts industry trade shows; he went to the shows his newspaper ad space clients might attend. He wanted his skunk-works of innovation to be forward thinking, changing and ever willing to try things, even things that failed.

Dr. Joe Webb, renowned commentator on the printing industry has long cajoled us to do much as Ed once did — go to conferences of designers and ad buyers to learn what moves them, not what servo-drive moves the roller train in the Iron Horse press. I found this article posted by Dr. Joe in the Economics and Research section of WhatTheyThink to be amazing and worrisome in equal measure, because Dr. Joe’s research protocols are so stellar.

I administrator a Facebook Group page for people in the graphic arts around the world. Every day, I post items about new and exciting uses of print, oft-times centered on what I like to call smart, interactive print – print made more valuable to the customers of your customers, through response drivers like QR or NFC or AR or printed electronics and so forth. But there is another observation that makes one wonder — the articles that receive the most comments, and likes and shares and so on, are often about print’s past — XYZ Print Shoppe in Palooka-ville. No one values the 600 year-old patrimony of print more than me, but change happens. We change or we wither.

Seize the Day, or glissade gently into that long good night?

Back on February 2nd, 2012, John Newby of the Ottawa Times (Illinois) wrote a great blog about the potential of Augmented Reality and newspapers. His final line applies to every segment of the printing industry:

“It will be interesting to see how and if the print industry embraces such technology or if we squander yet another opportunity”.

If we look at Dr. Joe’s chart, it would seem that thus far, the amorous advances of AR have been largely rebuffed. Only 7.1% of the 209 surveyed participants offer AR.

In a very visual and interactive age, AR, QR, NFC and whatever comes next add value to print by making print more interactive and more visually dimensional. Yet we tarry – 93% seem to say, let’s hurry up, but then wait?

What’s past ain’t prologue Poindexter!

Exactly one day after Dr. Joe’s post went up on WhatTheyThink, Jennifer Matt wrote a fiercely disruptive piece on WhatTheyThink that should be taped to the bathroom mirror of every C-level print industry executive. Jen put this line in bold in her article:

The human resources in the print industry are predominately “experts” at yesterday

So accurate and so ‘hidebound by history.’

This week I happened to spot on someone’s LinkedIn profile a pic of Steve Jobs, the Apostle of Apple with one of his pithy epithets:

“You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back towards the technology, not the other way around.”

We print peeps are hard-wired to admire technology. In this change agent era, we might do well to re-consider.

Jim Daly, owner of Fine Arts Imagery, a giclée printing atelier in Asheville NC commented on the Jobs quote as follows:

“Isn’t it ironic that the most profitable companies speak in terms of customers, creating value and experience, while the others talk about efficiencies, share price, etc.? The former create the future while the latter seem satisfied to “optimize” that which has been successful in the past.”

Print has changed mightily over the centuries and yet, even now, there are aspects of everyday print production that could be easily intuited by Benjamin Franklin or even Johannes Gutenberg. Much of traditional print has moved to the evanescent stage of the Internet’s ether and it’s not coming back; ergo, print and perhaps especially smart, interactive print, presents ostensible opportunity to those who’s glass is slowly filling with optimism.

As the whirling dervish of change continues to upset the conventional and disrupt the traditional, some print segments wither while others flourish. There are massive people costs, (I wonder how many folks I know from print who are now in real estate, a dozen?) and the stresses on the owners and senior managers to try to get it right when embracing new strategies cannot be understated. But in the maelstrom we can be certain of the terrible beauty of this trifecta:

Innovation is crucial, Innovation is cruel, Innovation is cool.

Or, in a cornpone hat-tip to that certain beefcake TV commercial we posit:

“Print, it’s what’s for Winners.”

5 Tips for Handling Social Media Complaints

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Social media provides your business with a flexible way to get in touch with your customers and build a loyal relationship. But what happens when it provides customers with a public means to complain about your business? Follow these five steps to navigate complaints as painlessly as possible:

  1. Monitor your social media channels. If a complaint isn’t acknowledged and resolved quickly, your customer is likely to get more aggravated. Watch your social media channels so you are ready to step in when a problem arises.
  2. Mind your language. No matter how fraught the situation, be sure to remain polite, professional and courteous at all times. Remember to speak directly to your customer in humane language – corporate-speak and stock phrases can sound impersonal and dismissive.
  3. Apologize. Your customer is upset and they want to know that you are taking their concerns seriously. Start by apologizing for any distress or inconvenience caused. By taking responsibility, you’re showing that your business cares about its customers’ concerns.
  4. Acknowledge publicly, address privately. A public apology is a vital first step and shows the willingness to take responsibility. In order to hash out the details of resolving the problem, offer to get in touch by email, direct message or telephone, for a fuller discussion.
  5. Make it right. Analyze the issue, acknowledge your customer’s distress, and work out how you can make it right with them. Willingness to fix mistakes can actually boost your reputation, showing your customer service skills in a positive light.

Complaints are a part of business life, but having them aired publicly is a nerve-wracking experience. By having a plan in place for dealing with complaints and keeping a cool head, you can diffuse the situation and even turn complaints into a positive outcome for your business.

Do you have any experience with negativity on your social media platforms? How did you overcome the problem? I’d love to get a good chat started in the comments below!