How to Execute a Market Plan Using Email, Direct Mail and Social Channels
If your idea of marketing your printing company is still only word of mouth then, sadly, you’re stuck in the past and need to join the real world of multichannel marketing.
Finding new customers takes a plan and is more effective if you combine a few channels to reach and interact with your audience. Keeping in touch on a regular basis is as critical as choosing the best channels and publishing excellent content.
Here’s an easy-to-follow plan for marketing to your contacts using a combination of email, direct mail and social channels.
1. Create an email newsletter. Every graphic arts provider should email customers a monthly communication. Coming up with a mere 12 topics a year is a snap. Many printers assume it’s a major investment of time and money, but it’s not. Your enewsletter can be just one article, and just 400 or 500 words. At most, that’s only 1½ pages of copy.
Use a professional email management tool or service provider for your newsletter. Create a simple, attractive HTML template that reflects your brand ID. Make sure your template includes social icons for sharing, your contact information, logo, and a means by which the reader can forward it to friends and also comment.
Work on your email list ahead of time to ensure it’s clean and up to date. Every customer, including multiple individuals from the same organization, should be on your list. Over time, this list will become extremely valuable. Think of the ways in which you can use this data.
Your enewsletter must provide relevant and valuable information. Email management tools are terrific for measuring the success of each issue. Use them to see who opened each one (and how many times), who forwarded it, who subscribed and who unsubscribed.
Plus, every time a print rep makes a new connection, he or she should follow up with an invitation to join the company email list. A sign-up invitation should also be included in email signatures.
Always post the enewsletter content on your site for several reasons. It refreshes your site with new content. It helps showcase your expertise. When it’s on your site, it’s available to people not on your email list. You can then link to this content in other online channels going forward. And once people are on your site and looking at your newsletter, you can attract them to other pages that offer more information about your products and services.
2. Find (at least) one social network and work it. Active participation in one or more social channels signifies that yours is a contemporary company. And since printing companies are visual by nature, every printer has access to a wealth of images for sharing on a company Facebook page, or on Twitter or LinkedIn.
Don’t approach social media activity as a way to increase sales. Think of it as a way to keep in contact with your market and to broaden your reach. If you’re new to social media, start following some of your competitors who are active there to get a sense of what they share.
Small companies don’t have marketing staff, let alone social media experts. If you can’t assign one of your employees to be responsible for social media, hire a college student as your social intern. Students are a natural fit.
While you send out an enewsletter on a monthly schedule, you should post to social channels multiple times a week. You have more of a license to be casual in social networks. Include a lot of visuals (product photos, employee photos and videos). Stage contests, celebrate holidays and cite your company’s community involvement and industry awards.
Use an online tool such as Hootsuite to schedule your shares. This makes it incredibly convenient. You can preschedule a whole week’s worth of posts via Hootsuite in just a half hour. Think about that: you could set up a month’s worth of social shares by investing about two hours of time each month (or your intern could).
3. Develop a direct mail campaign. It’s fitting that commercial printers send direct mail as a marketing tool. Letters, brochures, dimensional mail or even an attractive postcard will be effective.
Several times a year I get oversized postcards from a local printer. I’m also on the company’s email list. (I wonder if they’re using a martech tool to synchronize their marketing campaigns?) Every mailing makes one point. Each postcard relates to a particular product or service, making the message simple and direct. But a printer could easily produce a series of postcards that have a theme, then a new theme the following year.
Your direct mail campaign can also be integrated with a social and/or email newsletter campaign, and it can help drive your audience to your website or your Facebook page. Use PURLs or QR codes to increase the level of engagement.
Marketing campaigns should be synchronized for maximum ROI. This is challenging. Successful multichannel marketing requires a dedicated and consolidated team of experts. It also requires sophisticated technology for the execution of all phases of a campaign, as well as a method for measuring and evaluating a campaign’s effectiveness.
Regardless of these challenges, multichannel marketing is an important goal for graphic arts providers. Even absent the use of the latest martech software, printing establishments can craft marketing campaigns that regularly “reach out to touch” their audiences using a combination of the three methods that I’ve outlined here.
If you establish an ongoing, multichannel marketing effort, you’ll keep your company’s name in front of your target audience. And the most important word in that last sentence was “ongoing.” Because if you stop actively communicating with your audience, or you do so randomly, they’re less likely to think of you when the time comes to do business. PI
Long regarded as a print buyer expert and trade writer, Margie Dana launched a new business as a marketing communications strategist with a specialty in printing and print buying. She is as comfortable working in social media as she is in traditional media, and now she’s on a mission to help clients build customer communities through carefully crafted content. Dana was the producer of the annual Print & Media Conference.
Although she has exited the event business, Dana is still publishing her Print Tips newsletter each week. For more details and to sign up for her newsletter and marketing blog, visit www.margiedana.com