The Giant Social Media Sucking Sound

Some of you probably don’t remember Ross Perot. Long ago, when Presidential debates were still fairly dignified, Perot ran as an independent candidate against Democrat Bill Clinton and Republican George H.W. Bush. Perot had been a corporate executive prior to running for President in 1992, the founder of Electronic Data Systems (EDS), which later sold to GM for $2.4 billion. As a political candidate, Perot was refreshingly direct. He was also a colorfully distinctive speaker, with a high nasal Texas twang that provided comedic substance for SNL’s Dana Carvey long before Tina Fey ever ran for Vice President. Expressing his opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) in the debate with Bush and Clinton, Perot warned that reducing the trade barriers with Mexico would produce “a giant sucking sound going South.”     You may or may not agree that Perot’s prophecy came true, but his Texas phraseology certainly caught the public’s attention. This week’s idea isn’t about politics, though. It’s about another “giant sucking sound” – the imaginary noise made as all of the time wasted on social media goes down the drain.   True Confession: Wasting Time with Social Media I have blown an enormous amount of time with social media. Like most small business marketers, I’ve capitulated to the latest and greatest wisdom from the sages, and I’ve added a bunch of detritus to the floor of the social media forest. There’s a DP Marketing Google+ page that’s been abandoned property since 2014 and a LinkedIn page that to my knowledge has never been visited by anyone . . . including me. I should have been more skeptical, but I ignored the giant sucking sound. Because I was convinced that a social media presence was an important part of my marketing mix, I contributed steadily to the blighted landscape of boarded up social media properties. I’m not the only one though. Chances are good that you own a few decaying social media relics of your own. Forget social media presence. Think social media strategy. Social media presence is the vortex that makes the noise. It’s not necessary, practical, or even possible to have an active presence on every social media channel. You’ll get nowhere fast if you try to be everywhere at once. A passive presence certainly isn’t any better – people who do stumble into your blighted properties think your business is also...
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Digital Marketing for Printers (Part 3)

Part 1 of this series about digital marketing for printers looked at the benefits of understanding the current vernacular of marketing. Marketing-related projects make up over 60% of the work in most print companies. Developing an understanding of the integration of print and digital channels can gain you a seat at the planning table with your customers. Part 2 of the series considered good reasons to develop digital capabilities and the kinds of capabilities that could be included in a basic marketing services strategy. Small and Medium Sized businesses need help with implementation of marketing tactics. Printers are generally good at details – they may already have some of the skills in place to manage marketing services and other capabilities can be added gradually.  In Part 3, we look at the most practical way to get started with marketing services – use them in your own marketing efforts. Champagne is much better than dog food. Champagne is good. It’s bright and bubbly and optimistic. Drinking your own champagne sounds much more hopeful than eating your own dogfood, another phrase that conveys a similar meaning. For this article, we’ll stick with champagne, applied in moderation to prevent a hangover on the morning after. The last two posts have discussed the reasons why printers need to understand digital marketing and some basic considerations for entering into the realm of “marketing services.” Champagning, applying your newly acquired marketing skills and capabilities in your own marketing efforts, is the best way to demonstrate their effectiveness to potential clients. It also affords the opportunity to learn as you go, gaining from practical experience and by measuring the results of your efforts. Health Benefits of Champagne? There’s another sound reason to drink your own champagne. In this case, it’s good for you. A solid marketing program will help your business reach it’s goals. That’s an incentive, but there’s also a commitment involved. When you add a new piece of equipment in your shop, it must be used consistently to produce a return on investment. Your marketing program works the same way – it must be implemented consistently to produce positive results. That means a commitment of time, money, and priority. Keeping the commitment requires a plan. Printers fail at marketing because they don’t assign priority to their own efforts. Despite great intentions, marketing frequently falls to the bottom of the project list. A marketing plan...
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Digital Marketing for Printers (Part 2)

Part 1 of this series examined how understanding the language of digital marketing can allow printers to play a larger role with their clients. Marketing-related projects make up over 60% of the work in most companies take on. Understanding the integration of print and digital channels increases the value you can provide to your customers. It can gain you a seat at the marketing table. Todays article looks at the next step – providing expanded services that help your clients implement their marketing strategies. It’s not cannibalism. The printer on the other end of the phone connection was skeptical. “Why should I get into digital marketing? It’s like cannibalism . . . all of my clients going digital is what caused the problems in the first place.” Some printing company owners still think that the addition of digital marketing capability is like consorting with the enemy. Getting into digital marketing will damage the existing print business. Here’s the fact: some of your business has already been cannibalized – it’s been consumed by headhunters from other tribes. Many of your customers are using digital marketing channels – they have already migrated to digital media away from print, but there’s an opportunity. They need help with implementation. Adding new digital capabilities isn’t cannibalism, it’s a way to regain lost revenue and to grow in a new direction. Small and Medium Sized Businesses Need Help Infusionsoft and LeadPages surveyed 1000 small and medium sized businesses for their 2016 Small Business Marketing Trends Report. Here are just a few of their findings: 71.6% of businesses surveyed have a website, but less than half of them are doing any online marketing beyond that. Only 25% of respondents use landing pages. Only 58% of businesses surveyed are using social media to market. In 46.8% of the businesses surveyed, the owner implements all of the marketing efforts. Tracking and measurement is a big problem. Less than 25% use a CRM. Only 42% actively manage an email list. 48.5% of respondents don’t know if their marketing efforts are effective. 13.9% are convinced that their efforts aren’t effective The stats prove the opportunity, but how do you take advantage of it? If you subscribe to the  prevailing print industry thinking, you simply add a dose of “marketing services” into your mix and relabel your business as a Marketing Service Provider (MSP). What does MSP really mean? To quote...
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Looking for a Marketing Panacea?

Marketing Psychoanalysis All small business owners are at least a little bit bipolar. It’s a categorical generalization, but it’s mostly true. Business cycles go through natural, mostly inexplicable, peaks and valleys. We get excited when our businesses are trending upward and occasionally desperate when we hit a trough. When revenue is coming in and everyone’s busy, we’re convinced that we’re brilliant. The formula is working and we’ll continue to succeed forevermore. At least until the next downturn, when we try to figure out just what it was that we did wrong. Looking for a Panacea The phone call came in early August. The very nice lady on the other end of the call was eager to talk. She introduced herself as Connie, and said that she was depressed. “All of my customers have disappeared and I don’t know where they’ve gone,” she sighed. The clients weren’t returning calls and her year-to-year revenue was way down. “What are you doing to let them know you’re there?” I asked. “Not much. We’ve never really had to market our business.” Connie was hoping that marketing might be a panacea, a simple cure for all of her business woes. I was encouraging, but realistic. “There’s no magic pixie dust that can turn your business around overnight. For marketing to work, it requires a long term commitment.” It was an honest statement, but perhaps a strategic mistake on my part. We discussed the value of a continual communications effort, how a consistent marketing program could help her company stay top of mind, and how she could use a combination of tactics to stay in touch with her existing clients and generate leads for new business. She was interested, even a little excited, but she needed to discuss the ideas with her partner. We would talk again. We scheduled a time for another conversation a week later. When I called, Connie wasn’t ready to talk. “Call me back in two weeks,” she said. “That’s a bad sign,” I thought. Predictably, she wasn’t available for the next scheduled call. I sent a friendly, short email, but received no response. On a whim, I decided to try again this morning. This time Connie took the call. It was a very short conversation that went like this: Connie: “Our business has picked up and our customers seem to be coming back. I think everything’s going to be great,...
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Digital Marketing for Printers (Part I)

Why Printers Should Understand (Digital) Marketing Let’s start with an easy question. What percentage of the work that goes through your printing company every week is marketing-related?  Think about what runs through your shop all the time – postcards, direct mailers, posters, brochures, fundraising campaigns – it’s all marketing stuff.  Look at the open project file and get a round number. Chances are good that projects related to marketing represent 60% or more of the work you do every day. Marketing stuff is bread and butter work for printers. Naturally, you love the projects, but do you know what’s driving them? Here are a couple more questions to think about: Do you understand your customers’ marketing strategies? Are you involved in their plans? For many of the small and medium-sized printers that I work with, the answer is “not really.” You can make some inferences from your conversations with clients and from the nature of the projects you see, but you probably don’t have the whole picture. You may be boxed in. Your customers come to you for input to a small portion of the program – production recommendations and print estimates. How do you get out of the box? It’s easy to see how an invitation to sit in on the planning phase of a marketing campaign or an entire program could cement a relationship with a key customer. To get out of the box, you must bring something more to the table. Here’s the key question: Does your participation provide a benefit to your clients? Digital Darwinism The language and practice of marketing is evolving rapidly. Author Brian Solis has aptly coined the term Digital Darwinism to describe the idea that innovation continually spawns new iterations of technology. This process is certainly driving the practice of marketing, but Solis goes much further. He asserts that technological change is driving societal evolution. As evidence, Solis cites the disruption in the travel industry caused by Air BnB. Can you think of another disrupted industry? Print was among the first industries to be discombobulated by the digital revolution. You have experienced the changes first hand: Fewer professional print buyers Young designers who aren’t schooled in print Marketers who don’t identify print as a critical tactic Embedded in the concept of Digital Darwinism is the prospect of extinction. To survive and stay relevant, it’s necessary to understand and adapt to  the...
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