Tell Us Your Story …

By | September 5, 2013

Attending the annual Bridge to Integrated Marketing two weeks ago, I had a frank conversation with a printer I’ve know for years.

He sells for a mid-size shop that’s been in business a long time. About a year ago, his shop was asked to bid on a sizable job. The shop got out pencils and calculators and ended up bidding a competitive price that was low, but left a small profit in place. They won the bid and got the contract for a year.

A few weeks ago, the contract came back up for bid. When the bids shook out, my friend’s shop remained the top contender … except for one very large and quickly growing printing enterprise. These folks not only beat my friend’s bid, they came in 20% lower. Twenty percent! “There’s no way they aren’t losing money on that bid,” he said. “But there was no way for us to compete.”

It’s just business, you say? Maybe.
But as competition evaporates, we all know that prices will go up.

Corporate Visions polled more than 800 respondents to better understand how marketers and salespeople use technology and techniques to influence sales opportunities. Key takeaways from the Corporate Visions survey include:
• Price pressure is on the rise, with 89 percent of respondents citing a three-year trend of prospective customers asking sellers to “cut the price.”
• About half the time, getting the business also means giving away profit.

Maybe nobody can fight against a 20% lower price quote. That’s just wicked. But if the customer has enough information to understand what a smooth printer/client relationship looks like, it helps. Maybe that’s where story-telling comes in.

It would be great to spread the word on “Why Price Isn’t Everything.”
We already know part of that story, at least in a macro sense. When price goes down, people lose their jobs, real service gets replaced by tele-reps, work gets outsourced, options shrink. Etc.

But what about the authentic, every-day examples of all the important considerations in choosing a printer?

What if we could point to some stellar examples of our real-life customer service in the printing industry ..
• of press professionals or quality control folks who save the day …
• of shops that run the extra mile (or a marathon) for customers …
• of industry pros who know of and connect their clients to the right people …
• of recommendations on paper or production that save a bundle …
• of shops who teach their customers all the little ways to save on production and mailing …
• of the mailing geeks who manage to keep up with the U.S. Postal Service ..
• of the geniuses who make personalization and variable data printing actually come out right at the end …
• of the printers who write customer-centric blogs and newsletters to help clients learn from one another …
• of the important role printers play in communities …

Do you think your customers would care? Is it worth it to share these stories of “Why Price Isn’t Everything”?

I’m sure listening …

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3 thoughts on “Tell Us Your Story …

  1. Kostagh

    Sorry to disappoint… Our customers STILL believe price IS everything. We’ve even had one who, after more than 5 years of printing his magazine in our plant, has left us for a diminishing of less than 1% of the total value of his monthly order. That was somewhere in the vicinity of 20-30 USD per month…

  2. Ralph Irwin

    There is still value to be communicated. I made the hard decision to stop bidding on government work at the end of 2011 and what did it force me to do? Communicate the value we can bring to our customers and their business. After learning and still learning to do that we have secured two large corporate wide clients that have more than filled in the GPO work. A recent communication from one of the customers is below. Enjoy and be encouraged, not everyone sees price only. This email came back to me after pricing a large order and trying to stay within my customer’s budget but maximizing his mailing.

    Ok let’s do that but only if you are ok with the .22 if I need to pay .23 I am ok with that also. I want to be fare. You do a great job for me and I am not going to haggle you on prices.

    Send me an invoice and yes its ok to print

    Also could you summarize zip codes and count so I can keep it in my notebook


  3. Nancy Scott

    Thanks for this uplifting story, Ralph. If you get a chance, could you tell us a little more about HOW you “communicate the value” … what you emphasize, how you demonstrate differences, what shop capabilities you bring into the conversation beyond price, how you stay connected to customers w/o being obnoxious, what YOU see as the “customer service” must-dos… etc.

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