Don’t Practice on Me!

By | December 28, 2010

One of the challenges facing commercial printers trying to reinvent themselves as marketing services providers is how to avoid sounding like an amateur while they are honing their skills. I received a prospecting email today from a print-related company that made me shake my head. It was presented as a personal email, but once I’d read it, it was clear that this person knew nothing about me or my business.

The condensed version goes something like this:

Hello! [Notice that my name was not used]

For the past weeks I’ve been looking around the web for printing related sites and fortunately I stumbled upon yours. You really have great materials [note the generic “materials”] and I was totally impressed. I was fascinated that we are sharing the same field of interests [My coverage of his field is minimal at best].

My name is [his name and company here]. We produce the finest quality [products]. We are experts in providing [a list of products that are largely outside my field of interest].

I was wondering if you would like to work something out with us since the material on your site blends perfectly with ours [his content has little, if anything, to do with mine], let’s say a link exchange [there is not a single link exchange on my site], or we can write an article for your blog [I don’t have my own blog] and we can link our site to it – whatever works for you.

By the way, I have a team of writers available that can write articles, web pages, blogs, etc… [Really? Does he realize that, as an industry analyst, I write for a living?] We’re also open to collaborating on other projects so just let me know if you are interested. Feel free to ask if you have questions.

Now that he mentioned it, I did have a question. “Have you even BEEN to my website?”

This contact illustrates the importance of not simply trying to be a marketing provider. You actually have to be a marketing provider. This means you have to understand marketing and have the skills to develop and execute effective marketing campaigns that your clients are willing to pay for.

This starts with your own self-promotion efforts. Your clients and prospects will judge your expertise and your value as a service provider by the quality of your self-promotion. If your own self-promotion is amateurish and filled with data blunders, why would they trust you with theirs?

Your  mistakes don’t just hurt your prospecting efforts. They impact the credibility of an entire industry that is trying to reinvent itself. When you butcher a contact like this (especially when it’s on a mass scale), it is not only your company’s image and credibility you are hurting.

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5 thoughts on “Don’t Practice on Me!

  1. Marty Thomas

    I come from a contracting background. Reminds me of the old motto “Measure Twice, Cut Once.” Meaning that once a cut is made, the results are irreversible. So make sure the cut is right!

    For reasons you illustrate… this is why I’m always so nervous to push that send button on mass marketing campaigns. Although I haven’t made any huge mistakes, I often find minor things I wish I would have been different. I should probably change my motto to “Measure 20 times, Cut Once.”

  2. Elizabeth Gooding

    Marty – great comment. If more people took the motto “measure twice, cut once” instead of “Ready! Fire! Aim!” most marketing would be significantly more effective.

    In the example that Heidi gave in her post, the sender probably could have gotten better results through sending 10 well researched and personal emails rather than a random blast to 1,000. They are lucky she was kind enough to withhold the name of the sender! In many cases – recipients will broadcast ill-received marketing campaigns causing a great deal of negative publicity.

  3. Joe Manos

    Heidi – great post and long over due.

    From our experience helping PSP’s make the transformation to a MSP there are several requirements for the journey.

    -Training on the best practices for success.
    -Tools that enable the company to easily create campaigns that impact the recipient positively.
    -The first campaign a new customer conducts is a self-promotion campaign that has already been designed and created for them using best practices for success
    -Finally our team reviews the first three campaigns prior to being released to insure that they are positioned for success versus failure.

    The results from the process have been that our customers achieve excellent results and impact their prospects and customers with a highly professional marketing touch that they remember for all of the right reasons.

    Great topic – thanks!

  4. Alin Jacobs

    Your post is the proof positive that it takes more than a name change (adding the word marketing) for a printer to become a marketing solutions provider.

  5. Andrew

    Heidi, from a one2one perspective it screams mass marketing. MSP’s, or PSP’s in transition absolutely have to demonstrate their capability through their own campaigns. It is a evolution not a revolution so just one campaign is not enough.

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