Dana on Marketing Messages: A-Marketing We Will Go
Hats off to the folks at Printing Impressions, especially to Editor-in-Chief Mark Michelson. He listened when I said I was expanding my interests beyond print buying. Truth is, I've been increasingly fascinated by the importance of strategic marketing, especially as it relates to printers and equipment manufacturers who want to reach the end user—that is, the print and media buyer.
So, beginning with this column, I'll be writing about specific ways that companies in our industry can market their services to people who need them. Mostly, I'll focus on corporate end users: the buyers, designers and marketers who have a hand in choosing print along with other media to promote their businesses. Marketing to consumers is, as they say, a whole different kettle of fish.
I've dealt with hundreds of corporate and agency print customers for many years through my PBI events and weekly Print Tips e-newsletter. It's clear that they're looking for certain kinds of information from the printing community to help them make sourcing decisions (including what kinds of print campaigns to recommend to their colleagues).
It's also absolutely clear to me that much of the time, they're not getting what they need, at least not quickly enough or in the manner in which they need it.
What does this have to do with printers and marketing? Simply this: If you can publish the sorts of things you do that print customers are looking for, you'll be marketing your company strategically and effectively. Getting the word out in the right channels at the right time for the right audience is good marketing. It's easy to do once you break it down into segments and get in the groove. (Think of it as eating a pie one slice at a time over a week, rather than cramming the whole thing into your mouth at once.) It can be done easily, and you'll be comfortable doing it at this pace.
I know what print and media customers are looking for, and I know how printers can market themselves accordingly. It takes a commitment on your part, and someone dedicated to getting it done.
Before I kick off my PI columns during 2013 about how printers should be marketing themselves, there are four important things you must keep in mind:
1. Print customers are changing. Much like the print manufacturing side of the industry, the print buying side is shrinking. In some companies, print buyers have been laid off. Guess who's left in charge of sourcing print for their companies? It's often the designers/creatives. Sometimes the function is outsourced to print management firms or print brokers. And sometimes the work is shifted to marketers, who may or may not have any print background. Stop and think what this means for your marketing efforts.
2. New print customers and senior-level print customers are not related to one another. Even vaguely. Designers and especially marketers who pick up the print buying roles from those who have left (willingly or not) have no idea how to work with the industry. They also have no idea what you can do. They likely don't want to "get into" it up to their elbows—they just want to know the possibilities (think of these as your capabilities) and what's involved.
Contrast this new audience with the senior-level print buying pros I have come to know and admire. They typically have 15 years or more in the business. They are very sophisticated, follow the industry, know about presses and other equipment, have a decent network of peers, and are not afraid to negotiate and search to get exactly what they want.
I just described two completely different audiences. Stop and think what this means for your marketing efforts.
3. Social media keeps growing in popularity. Stop believing that sites like Facebook and Twitter and YouTube are insignificant. The current statistics, as reported by Digital Marketing Ramblings, are mind blowing. Right now, Facebook has 1.06 billion active monthly users. YouTube has 800 million users and more than 4 billion views daily. Twitter has more than 500 million total users, over 200 million of which are active users. LinkedIn has more than 200 million members, with the top five largest industries using this site being IT, financial services, higher education, computer software and telecommunications, in that order. Stop and think what this means for your marketing efforts.
4. Consider Generation C. You probably know about the people known as Generation Y, a.k.a. the "Millennials." They follow Generation X, and there's not a clear consensus as to what date marks their beginning. I have read that Gen Y typically dates from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. Well, forget about them. It's time to focus on Generation C: those born after 1995. These folks have grown up—and are growing up—constantly connected to one another by technology. I've read that "C" stands for Connected, in fact.
According to Nielsen and NM Incite's U.S. Digital Consumer Report, "they consume media, socialize and share experiences through devices more than other age groups." They're already in the workforce or soon will be. Stop and think what this means for your marketing efforts.
I believe these four salient points have to be considered as printers and equipment manufacturers plan their marketing strategy from this moment on. Regardless of any vertical markets, any geographical location, or pretty much any specific print product or service you offer, these facts should guide your marketing efforts beginning today.
In my next column, I want to focus on your Website. When you realize that your home page is the first place an interested person will visit when hearing your company's name, it's important to have the information they're looking for right there on that landing page. Knowing that the visitor could be a brand-new marketer or a savvy, senior buyer—or someone who's barely out of college—should help shape how your Website looks and feels, and what content it holds.
A look at do's and don'ts for a printer's Website sounds like just the ticket. I look forward to sharing those tips with you next time. After all, your Website is your primary marketing tool. Let's make it a great one. PI
About the Author
Margie Dana is the founder of Print Buyers International (www.printbuyersinternational.com), which offers educational and networking opportunities to those who work with the printing industry. She produces an annual print buyers conference (www.printbuyersconference.com) and has written her popular e-column, "Margie's Print Tips," since 1999. Dana speaks regularly at trade events and offers consulting services as a print buyer specialist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.