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Founder, Print Buyers International (PBI)

Margie's Buyer Insights

By Margie Dana

About Margie

Margie Dana, a former print buyer, is the founder of Print Buyers International (PBI) and its member-based organization, Boston Print Buyers. These professional organizations cater to print customers worldwide through education, an annual buyers conference, Print Buyer Boot Camps, and networking opportunities.

Margie's perhaps best known for her weekly enewsletter, Margie's Print Tips, which she's published weekly since 1999 in an effort to build bridges in the industry. For years, Margie has been a popular speaker at industry events here and abroad. Her clients include print company executives who rely on her to help steer their marketing campaigns and make their online efforts more customer friendly.


How to Give a Virtual Site Tour

So much has been written about knowing your prospects before that first communication with them. Before you call, send an e-mail, or post a letter (How old fashioned does that sound?) your homework.

The same goes for giving a virtual tour of your company to someone over the Web. I’m thinking about e-commerce sites in particular.

In-plant tours can be personal, whether you’re guiding one prospect or a bus load. Small talk is easier to make. You can read body language. You can see facial expressions of confusion or delight—or, God forbid, boredom.

Virtual tours are tougher. Sure, they’re convenient, but I find it awkward and impersonal to chat (voice or electronic) for anywhere between 20 to 60 minutes with someone I’ve never met and can’t visualize. [Conference calls, for me, are worse. I never know which person is speaking. It’s a distinct disadvantage.]

Before you give a virtual tour of your e-commerce printing site to a stranger, at the very least, you need to visit that person’s website. It will tell you what business he or she is in, which of your products and services seem to line up with what this person’s interested in, and if you should steer your conversation—and services tour—in a particular direction.

For example, if I owned an online printing company and was giving a tour to a head of a national association, I’d think about what kinds of materials this individual typically buys for the association. Then, I’d make the virtual tour more relevant, more personal, by focusing on products I thought that association might need.

Here’s another tip: ask a few key questions before you launch into your tour/script. How does this sound:

“Hi, Margie! Before I start your tour of our site today, I have a few quick questions.
  1. How pressed are you for time?
  2. Is there anything in particular you want me to show you today?
  3. Have you ever been to our site—or already purchased from us—before?
  4. [If the answer is “no” to both parts of #3.] Have you ever purchased print or promotional materials from any e-commerce site?

That’s all. Three or four easy questions will tell you how much time you have, what to focus on, and whether you’re talking to a current/former customer or maybe someone’s who totally new to this business model.

Let your guest (prospect) be your guide. Don’t hog the microphone and keep talking so he or she can’t get a word in edgewise. Pause every now and then and ask if your guest has any questions.

It shouldn’t be a race to the finish of your prepackaged tour. By inviting your guest to participate with comments and questions, you’ll cover the ground he or she wants to know about—and learn what’s important to this individual.

Take notes. Listen. Respond. A minute before you’re about to finish giving your virtual tour, ask if there’s anything else your guest would like to know or see.

Know your audience. Target your message. Make it relevant.

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