Tips for Becoming the Best Marketing Services Provider: Part II
Welcome back Printing Impressions’ readers! In my last post, I discussed three tips to help you become the best marketing services provider possible. In this post, I will outline my last two tricks to help your business seal the deal. As a marketing services provider, you want your clients to rave about you and your services. You want them to refer you new business. You want the satisfaction of clients who thank you profusely after a really awesome marketing campaign. Marketing services providers who can make this happen are not only getting kudos from their customers for making a difference in their bottom line, but they are also seeing significant bottom line benefits of their own—and growth, even in a tough, changing industry.
In order to reach this stage, it is important to build the right types of activities into your business and your own personal business day to ensure that you can provide top notch services on an ongoing basis and keep them coming back for more. Follow these tips, as well as my other suggestions from Part I, to be on your way to becoming the best marketing services provider possible.
Clients will begin to expect certain services and support from you as a marketing services provider. You can’t just offer personalized URLs and think you’re set for the foreseeable future. You need to prepare yourself to offer a full range of multichannel marketing services and to add new channels at the drop of a hat, as they become viable or of interest to your client base. You must have the solutions in place that will allow you to support the work that your clients will be tapping you for (or want to). You need to prepare for the day when you truly become a one-stop marketing services shop. Being prepared from the get-go will set your business up for a successful future.
One way to be prepared for opportunities is to diversify by adding services that you know your customers are using from other sources, or that they have been asking you for. If one customer is looking to you for a particular service, it is likely that others will as well.
Diversification of your business can make you stronger and more attractive to customers. Consider diversifying your business to be better prepared to meet emerging customer needs by:
• Vertically integrating: This refers to integrating your business along the value chain, both upstream and downstream, so that each link in the value chain efficiently feeds the others. By making the decision to become a marketing services provider, you are already going down this path, extending your reach upstream and downstream in the marketing value chain.
Perhaps adding creative services is an opportunity for you in this new realm of marketing services. This is an area where you can start small and grow. It is a great opportunity to bring in graphic design or hire a new graduate.
What about mailing or fulfillment? How much of what you produce today goes to a fulfillment or mailing house? That’s an opportunity right there. You can be sure that mailing and fulfillment houses are looking to add printing...why not the other way around?
• Horizontal diversification: Move into new or related industries. This could mean adding promotional items, logo’d apparel, video services, or access to other products and services tangentially related to what you do today. If you have a robust online storefront, you can easily link to other providers of these services, taking a cut of each sale without the need to make a big investment.
• Geographic diversification: The beauty of the Internet is that it levels the playing field and removes geographic barriers. While once you may have been a local or regional printer, as you move into the realm of marketing services, take the opportunity to expand your geographic reach. This may be by supporting regional offices of locally-headquartered companies you are already serving. Or you may choose to focus on particular vertical markets, such as banks or retail, expanding your reach to companies in these industries located in different geographies.
Being prepared is being ready for anything. Are you ready for anything?
Walk the Talk
Talking will only take you so far. You need to back up what you say with actions. At the end of the day, even the smoothest salesperson still needs to be able to implement the stuff his company is selling. In order to be a top-notch marketing services provider, you must use your own solutions to create self-promotional marketing campaigns. This allows you to reach your prospects with the same tools you will be trying to sell to them. Pretty ingenious, while at the same time, quite basic. It requires an agency mindset, a marketer’s mindset. Can you offer these services? Can you effectively use them to promote your own business?
Walking the talk is a must-do for your success in the marketing services business. Your business and marketing plans should lay out how you will be doing this, the resources that are required, and the metrics against which you will measure your success. These are exactly the services you are proposing to offer your customers as a marketing services provider. If you can’t use them for your own business purposes, what basis will you have to convince customers they can be used effectively for theirs? If you are recommending integrated marketing campaigns to your customers, your own case studies can be a great starting place. If you plan to help customers with social media or search engine optimization (SEO), how do your efforts stack up? These are all important questions you must ask—and answer—as you start this journey.
I hope these tips were helpful as you make the move into a smooth transformation. Are you still feeling overwhelmed with the thought of becoming a marketing services provider? I’d love to help! Contact me at JohnF@interlinkONE.com.
John Foley Jr. is the CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially. John and his team help printers get on a strong path to marketing success. Their approach includes software solutions, consulting, Website development, marketing audits, and strategic marketing plans. interlinkONE’s software solutions for the print industry include their marketing automation platform, MAX, and ilinkONE V8. Learn more about MAX: Marketing Automation. Executed. by visiting MarketWithMAX.com, John at JohnFoleyJr.com, and his companies at interlinkONE.com and GrowSocially.com.