My Top 7 Takeaways from the Pitney Bowes Innovation Summit
I was fortunate to be invited by Pitney Bowes to attend their annual Innovation Summit, at which over 100 of their clients attend to share experiences, discuss best practices, and get to see and experience new technologies, products and services — all in one day. I always jump at the chance to participate in events like this for several reasons. First, any opportunity to rub elbows with fellow graphic arts enthusiasts is always good for me, my business and my general feelings about the future of our industry.
Secondly, I ALWAYS meet someone new who turns out to be a very valuable contact. This year, it was Brian Moran, but I’ll save that story for another day. And finally, I always learn tons of new stuff about technology, equipment, and if I’m lucky, I get to operate some machinery that is way outside of my comfort zone. Joyously, this day did not disappoint on any of those fronts. So here, in no particular order, are some of the many things I learned on this great day in Danbury, Conn.
- Talk to your vendors — Good vendors should be as important to you as your customers. They are a resource, and educational opportunity, and a field trip all rolled into one. If your biggest vendors are not asking you how they can help you, call them up and ask them how they can help you. I guarantee you there is stuff they do that you don’t know about, and you cannot afford this kind of disconnect any longer. Call them. Become friends. It’s worth it.
- Acknowledge your customers — I can guarantee you that PB spent a ton of money on this event. It had catered breakfast and lunch, a cocktail reception, and a client dinner the night before. I can ALSO guarantee you that any PB team member would tell you that no matter what they spent, it was worth every penny in good will, strengthened relationships, and valuable quality time. Whether you do a lunch and learn, a small dinner gathering, or a full blown open house, spend some time, energy and money on your customers. Make the content and subject matter valuable to them. Make it worth their time to attend. You will not be sorry. They also had an awards ceremony at which they gave out several different awards to clients all over the globe. To get some ideas as to how you might award YOUR loyal customers, check out this link.
- Communicate creatively — For this event, PB created an APP. They hosted The Printerverse’s weekly Print Chat in advance of the event. They utilized social media big time, including a unique hashtag for the event and lots of chatter on Twitter and Facebook in advance.
- Engage with influencers — PB’s social team had a pretty good idea of who out there on the interwebs had a lot of followers and would participate in discussions and represent them well, and they invited them to be a part of the day. They chose a variety of people from a variety of industries to engage and communicate the day as it was happening. Ultimately the day reached millions of timelines on Twitter and word of the event spread all over the world.
- Be unexpected — the most memorable stop on the floor tour was a woman who chose to tell us about her particular offering using a fairy tale. I found it way easier to listen to and connect to the story and the particulars of what she was saying because I could visualize what she was saying based on the structure of her story. It has stayed with me to this day.
- Be where people want to communicate — The keynote address was delivered by Jim Cochrane, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer of the USPS. He talked a lot about mobile strategy and aligning your efforts to reach people. The most compelling takeaway was this: “We exist (meaning the USPS) to help you grow your business.” Remember — there are a lot of organizations out there that are rooting for you to succeed, because your success means their success. Click here to watch the Keynote by James Cochrane at the Pitney Bowes Innovation Summit 2017
- Technology and new products are coming out every day — Whether it is the Intellijet 20HD for transactional printers, or the Epic Inserting Systems for letters and flats, you NEED to know what is available to your company to solve YOUR client’s problems and help you be where they need you to be. Companies like Pitney Bowes talk to and listen to their customers all the time, so they engineer their products and services to offer our industry what it needs to stay relevant and valuable today. Educate yourself constantly. Learn as much as you can. Go to those trade shows. Meet those vendors. Ask lots of questions. Put your ego aside and make sure that you know as much as possible, and when you don’t know, ask. The more you know the more you can do for your customers. The more you can do for your customers, the more you will sell and the more valuable you will become to them. And you don’t need to have all this equipment yourself; but you need to know who does have it so you can strike strategic alliances and give your customers as much as you can.
You don’t have to be a multibillion-dollar company to give your clients and prospects a special VIP experience. You can start with something small and work your way up. Whatever size you are or whatever you are trying to accomplish, dedicating time, talent and financial resources to educating and socializing with your clients, prospects, colleagues and vendors is worth the effort and will be a game changer without question.
Blogger, author, consultant, coach and all around evangelist for the graphic arts industry, Kelly sold digital printing for 15 years so she understands the challenges, frustrations and pitfalls of building a successful sales practice. Her mission is to help printers of all sizes sell more stuff. Kelly's areas of focus include sales and marketing coaching, enabling clients to find engagement strategies that work for them and mentoring the next generation of sales superstars.
Kelly graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in Political Science and, among other notable accomplishments, co-founded the Windy City Rollers, a professional women's roller derby league. She is also the mother of two sets of twins under the age of ten, so she fears nothing.