Print's Role in the Customer Journey and Experience - Getting Diligent!
Sometimes I wonder why I even need to point out the need for print providers to get diligent about understanding the short- and long-term business needs of their prospects, customers, and client base.
Being diligent means many things, and perhaps the most important are to know your market, know your market’s needs, and know how to talk to your market.
Talking to your market does not mean talking in your terms and basing the conversation upon your own content and context; it is talking to your market in their language about their content and their context — an important difference. Two important terms for a brand to define and understand are The Customer Journey and The Customer Experience. Let’s start by defining both of these important terms.
The Customer Journey
What is your customer’s journey, and what is the customer journey that your clients’ customers and prospects are attempting to undertake?
Many brands see the customer journey as an online process only. That is wrong. The customer journey is an integrated process that correctly links the online experience with more traditional and proven legacy processes for making a sale. The customer journey is often defined as the sum of experiences that a customer will go through when interacting with your brand. It is the full experience of being your brand’s customer.
The Customer Experience
The Customer Experience (CX) is also a critical part of the process and is generally defined as the product of interaction between a brand and a customer over the duration of their relationship. Often CX involves both direct and indirect contact with the brand.
What do you know about your customers’ journey and experience? What do you know of their customers’ journey and experience? For a diligent printer, this knowledge is of major and very profitable importance.
Do you have a map of your customers’ CX?
Print and the Customer Experience
Recently, I spent some time at a Marriott property and was very impressed with a piece of the customer journey and customer experience that was exhibited over the five days I stayed at the property.
What impressed me most were the tools, the printed tools, that had been used to enhance many of my interactions. A key interaction was eating on the run, and for that Marriott offered an integrated (print-based) meal take out/room service program entitled Fresh Bites.
Fresh Bites is, as mentioned, is a print-based offering that projected an attractively designed “look.” This customer-support effort included a visually attractive, classy, high-quality, finely printed, mini shopping bag that supported my placing an order via a branded in-room printed menu.
Within the shopping bag was a small-dimensioned printed package that held the tools of the meal — a fork, spoon, and knife; salt, pepper, some other condiments; as well as napkins and other needed on-the-run meal tools.
Not only was the “kit” attractive, it was fully functional. If there was a negative, it was that the beverage carrier (a simple cardboard drink holder) was not branded and, though very functional, did not seem to be part of the integrated design — it should have been.
Marriott – Fresh Bites
The program began with an in-room branded menu. Items included with the delivery to the room were also mostly branded. In the shopping bag was a printed customer satisfaction card. By analyzing and responding to customer input on the card, Marriott staff would be able not only to enhance the customer experience and journey, but to measure it, deploy it, distribute, and track this unique marketing effort.
Getting Diligent starts with your understanding the customer journey and experience.
Where, how, when, and why does and should your printing-based business model fit within the customer journey or the customer experience of your customers and their customers?
Why Should Customers Pick You?
First, your messaging needs to cover not only how you can meet customers’ print needs, but also make a clear statement about 1) your understanding of what Marketing/Communications is and how you can make it work to your clients’ advantage using your business model; 2) your recognizing that being creative is not a single step but a process that goes beyond great ideas and designs — being creative also means integrating multiple ideas, media, and concepts into a workable, profitable formula; 3) your ability to incorporate the future or fusion of print, which I call mutant print — print that looks to the defined interaction between print, digital, new media, and related marketing tools such as AR, VR, IR, holography, mobile gaming, and more.
Here are the key elements of my chain of communications. I use these items as a checklist when developing a new business effort for a print-based business. You DO NOT need to offer every item listed, just offer the ones that your clients, customers, and prospects need. Yes, you can develop partnerships to expand your service skill set and offer more! (Psst, a secret: I have acted as the Integrated Marketing Director for four regional printers; my card says I work for them.)
The Chain of Communications
Let’s take a look at what I call the chain of communications and the many places that being diligent and understanding the ENTIRE process of marketing and your clients’ needs can directly or indirectly apply.
The Get Diligent Chain of Communications Checklist:
The services that you provide via printing and/or print production should check off most or all of the following: Pre-media, Content and Context, Data Management, Digital Asset Management, Advertising Support (Sales Promotion Awareness), Distribution, Social Media Integration (not social media development), E-mail Enhancement, Media Convergence, Enhanced Print Production, Emerging Technologies, Metrics, Tracking, and Measurement.
Considering the negative news regarding advertising and media agencies over the past few weeks, brands will be seeking new or trusted advisors, partners that can shorten the process of communications, reduce costs, and offer a look into the future. I am not telling you to become a marketing agency, but be advised: opportunity knocks in strange ways. I can see, feel and hear the knock coming — sooner than later. *
Get Diligent – Be Certified
In my many roles within this industry, developing certification programs has been one of my keystone achievements. In fact I would wager that nearly 80% of you reading this article have been touched by a marketing effort my firm created, developed, installed, instituted, tracked, or managed. Some of those touched may be legacy certification programs, digital certification programs, user groups, and equipment clubs.
What I see as the needed next step is for you to determine if you are certified in the needs of your prospects, clients, and customers; certified to talk their language; and certified to offer, based on the Chain of Communications checklist, the tools they will need to do what you hope to do yourself: expand their business, increase the number of qualified leads, and add profit while reducing cost.
Are You Certifiable? Some say I have been for years!
Need to know if you are certifiable, call me without obligation (I promise) at (917) 597-1891 and we can talk, or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thad Kubis is an unconventional storyteller, offering a confused marketplace a series of proven, valid, integrated marketing/communication solutions. He designs B2B or B2C experiential stories founded on Omni-Channel applications, featuring demographic/target audience relevance, integration, interaction, and performance analytics and program metrics.