Topic: Strategy

Marketing Ideas For Print Shop

Posted by hotbuttons on 250 Points
Hi all!

After spending 9 years within the general insurance industry I recently made a career change to frolick in the wonderful world of printing. Have teamed up with a midsize company in a sales and marketing role however am a little stumped as to where to begin.

From a sales perspective I would personally like to target the corporate market and those who have print budgets in excess of 100K per year. Looking for unique ideas/strategies to help me get my foot in the door. The old adage of quality, service and price is rather redundant and is not going to do the trick until I have had the opportunity to build up rapport.

The marketing role here on the other hand is whatever I turn it into as they currently relay on referral/repeat business. My marketing experience is limited yet I do have a strong interest none the less and would like to play a big part in building the organization as a whole.

Your thoughts are much appreciated!

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  • Posted by Jim Brown on Member
    T -

    You have just entered one of the most cut throat businesses there is. You will have to hustle quite regularly to get work. You will then have to stay on top of your game to ensure your prices are the best. Clients will leave you in a heartbeat to save $50.

    I work with rep who's target market is "Large corporations with a huge print budget." Thats all fine and dandy. If you want to do that I would reccommend joining Business Network International and asking to meet specifically with the manger of corporate communications at whatever company you are going for.

    A couple of ideas from experience - there are companies out there who do a TON of direct mail. We were doing nearly 1MM/month for one of our clients... and you would have never known where to find them because they are NOT a large corporation. If you see a lot of the big offices who have LOTS of companies in them... target them... you never know what you will find.

    Secondily - ad agencies, and graphic designers are ALWAYS in need of GOOD printers. Make friends with them, and make sure you thank them for thier business.

    Jim Brown
  • Posted on Member
    What makes you different, better & relevant?

    If you can't answer those 3 questions, the business will die a dusty death. Yes, the printing business is cut throat - but, not unlike many other industries, that's because most of the companies have not done a good job of innovating and defining their brand to stand apart from / ahead of the crowd. Integral to any sales or marketing program is a thorough understanding of your customer (and more importantly, your customer's customer), your competition and ultimately your brand.

    I can say as a "customer" that I NEVER gave my business to printers because they were the cheapest. I gave my business to companies that I KNEW would offer me total peace of mind and who had innovative technologies that would give my clients the edge over their competition.

    I remained loyal to businesses because of relationships.

    In regards to your sales strategy, I'd be curious to know why you'd want to target high budget companies (yes, I know the budget part seems a bit obvious, but this may actually be a highly saturated market that you may find hard to compete in). You may have a better "niche" opportunity - but this is hard to say without knowing a lot more about your business.

    I hope I've given some good food for thought.

    Best of luck! Keep posting questions / responses.
  • Posted by hotbuttons on Author
    Thanks for the feedback so far. To answer the last question honestly I suppose that I am aiming high. I know it will take time to build a client base for myself however if I am going to put in an effort I might as well try and sell 50,000 postcards as opposed to 500 biz cards no?

    The ideal of a niche is great, I just don't know where to start. My deep rooted interests lay in marketing and advertising - thus my choice to leave insurance - I'm a pretty "visual" individual and so my thoughts were to learn the ins and outs of the printing industry before working my way back into a self employed role. Right now I'm not sure whether that will be in print brokering or not.

    I was successful in insurance because I knew it inside and out. Still on a learning curve here and quite honestly a little impatient - ha ha! I wanna play with the big boys even though I am a small fry :)-

    So again, any unique suggestions as to how to get my foot in the door? My service speaks for itself once I have gained the client - often go beyond the call of duty- yet I now also have to rely on others to help me attain this. (Estimator, pressman, etc, etc). I really do like the culture at the office as it is really all about the client yet every company will profess to that fact. I need an angle that few have taken.

    I live in Calgary (Canada) and there were at last count over 250 companies listed in the phone book.

  • Posted on Member
    Please better define "midsize company". Basics would be helpful to answer your questions more accurately. Sheet fed, web, 4-color, 2-color, special bindery capabilities, digital, variable data? You may be going after a market that your company is not really equipped to handle efficiently.

    What is the printer equipped to do best? Every printer usually has at least one thing they do better than anything else.
  • Posted by hotbuttons on Author
    Company does everything in house but embossing and no web press. They have both a large format 4 color and 2 color press. 2 digital beasts and a wide range of people doing things back there that I have no idea of. When I asked what our specialty was I was met with a "we can print anything" answer.

  • Posted on Member
    OK. Sounds like you have well rounded capabilities for just about anything such a client may throw at you. It is very important that you learn what those people are doing back there. Your bindery capabilities are just as important as your printing capabilities. Knowing what you can and cannot do is vital. There is nothing worse for a print buyer than hesitation or a blank stare. The most important rule for any salesperson is know your product line inside and out.

    Your biggest problem is the bidding process. No matter who you impress in the marketing department (though it doesn't hurt), you will still need to impress the purchasing department. Often the purchasing department determines who gets to bid. Start by getting on the bid list of every company you want to get in the door of.

    When we first get on a bid list we will low ball the price to help get in the door. We do this with a "first time buyer discount" noted on the bid. The buyer doesn't care that it's not your regular price, they are looking at the bottom line for the job. If we get the bid, we dazzle them with service and a great product. Most buyers have the option of moving up one bid (sometimes two)based on ability to perform. This means that if someone comes in just below you in price but has no experience (or bad experience) with the company, the buyer may move up to your bid based on your proved ability to meet quality and deadline. We win many bids because of this. We don't claim to be the cheapest, but we challenge them to find better value and service.
  • Posted by Frank Hurtte on Member
    This is the same as anything.. figure out what niche you can play in.....

    Time is one... how fast can you turn around

    Don't play in the price pool... you will drownd
  • Posted by hotbuttons on Author
    Sorry for the late response. Been busy schmoozing and at the same time feeling sorry for myself as I am used to being a wealth of knowledge. :)-

    Thanks so very much for all of your input guys. I'd like to stay longer however got the reminder email that I have over 10 posts and to pick an answer already. A strong hint to get off of here. Ha ha!

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