Digital Marketing for Printers (Part 2)

Masthead for Digital Marketing Cannibalism post

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.

Group of CannibalsThe 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:

  1. 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.
  2. Only 58% of businesses surveyed are using social media to market.
  3. In 46.8% of the businesses surveyed, the owner implements all of the marketing efforts.
  4. Tracking and measurement is a big problem. Less than 25% use a CRM. Only 42% actively manage an email list.
  5. 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 the Bard, “there’s the rub.” Many printing companies have framed themselves as MSPs without really understanding the implications. They’re define the acronym in print-related terms. The ability to add PURLs or a QR code to a direct mail project doesn’t make you a marketing service provider. There’s more to it.

Colorful GearsThe transition to MSP really requires a change in perspective. Printers tend to think in terms of production, but the addition of digital services doesn’t involve gears and cylinders and charge coretrons. That’s good, because the capital investment required for entry-level digital marketing capability is low. You won’t be sinking $800,000 into a Heidelberg DI press that will be obsolete long before the note is paid off. Instead, the investment is in software, education, and perhaps a few new team members who are digital natives.

Of more importance, the transition to MSP requires a transition from a production mentality to customer focus. Workflows still come into play, but the key determinant is market based. There’s a question you should ask about the digital marketing services you add:

How do digital marketing services solve my customers’ problems?

Do they really add value? You may think that PURLs and QRs are value-added services, but how many clients actually value them? They’re not struggling with PURLs, but it’s very likely that they are having difficulties with lead generation or even the relatively simple task of growing and segmenting an email list.

Basic Marketing Services Strategy – What Do Your Clients Need?

The most expedient way to find out what your clients need is to ask. The first step involved in developing a marketing services strategy is to identify areas where your current customers are struggling. Where are they spending time that they’d prefer to use on other tasks? What would they like to implement that just never gets done (or never gets done correctly)?

If the Infusionsoft/Lead Pages report is an indicator, there’s plenty of low hanging fruit:

  • Content – copy writing, art, and video
  • Websites and landing pages
  • Managing Data and segmenting lists
  • Social Media
  • PPC Advertising

Pick the low hanging fruit as you formulate your strategy. Some of the skills you’ll need may already reside in your design department. The entry path for many other digital services isn’t difficult.

For example:

  1. Email – Mailchimp and Constant Contact are intuitive. A good designer can learn these platforms in a matter of hours. GetResponse is an inexpensive platform that offers basic marketing automation capability.
  2. Small business websites – Wix and Weebly are drag and drop and provide hundreds of templates to create basic small business sites. WordPress is more complex, but the amazing availability of functional plug-ins can expand your web development capability to larger businesses and organizations.
  3. Content Creation – even if you don’t have a writer in-house, there are freelancers in your area that would be happy to have another steady client. Advertise on Craigslist or post on CloudPeeps for a contract writer (or call me, I do a lot of freelance writing for print folks).

Obviously, you’ll also want to integrate print with the services you offer. Direct mail shoud be a component of every client’s marketing program. If you have a Fiery and can produce a .pdf/vt, ppml, or vps file, you have basic mailing capability. The investment in basic mailing software (if you don’t have it already) will pay off quickly when you combine direct mail with your digital services.

A word about pricing

Printers are used to cost-based pricing, but there’s a different model for digital services. You’ll need to use a value-based approach that prices at a multiple of your time investment.Dollar Sign A very basic WordPress website will incur 20 hours of time, plus around $200 in hard costs (plugins, themes, stock art). Your actual costs will be less than $1000, but a local agency would charge $3,500 for the project. There’s plenty of room for profit.

Frequently, your customers will assess value at the cost of their time. You’ll frequently hear the argument, “I can do that myself for less.” In reality, they can, but they won’t. Part of the value that you provide is professional design and consistent and dependable implementation. Printers are good at that.

Finally, “project creep” will inevitably occur. You’ll want to take the time to provide estimates that tightly define the scope of your activities. Keep a time log and be sure to charge for additional work that is outside of the scope of the original estimate.

Strategy in Place. How do I get started with digital marketing services?

That’s the topic for Part 3 of this series. The best way to get started with digital marketing is to “drink your own champagne,” using your new capabilities in your own marketing program. I hope you’ll check in again for the last segment of this series. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have questions or if you need help to get your digital marketing services program off to a good start.



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