This article was first published in the July 2021 issue of Australian Printer, authored by Deborah Corn
As we move further away from illness and lockdowns, it’s apparent that the print industry is ready to jump back into action and resume business as it was conducted in 2019.
BAD IDEA. Really, really, bad idea.
Like it or not, the world has changed for the immediate future and until we create the ‘next normal’ with our business partners and customers, it’s best to approach every relationship as a unique set of circumstances. ‘One pitch fits all’ is no longer a strategy for sales or marketing.
Granted there is a significant difference between the US, Australia, and New Zealand as far as pandemic response. We are just getting/trying to get back to business in the US, and that is the perspective this post comes from. If you are too, here are three ways to plan for the rest of 2021 and get in the best position with your customers and prospects in 2022.
Before you reach out to anyone, consider if you should by doing research and understanding to the best of your ability where this business is at as far as recovery, and where they are personally. From losing family members to losing their jobs, this is not the moment for awkward and ill-informed customer phone calls and check-ins. If the first time your loyal customers are hearing from you after 1.5 years is for a sale, prepare for how that may be received.
We often think of collaboration in a creative sense. Getting printers involved during the conception of a project has many advantages all around. For now, think of collaboration more in business terms – what are the immediate, short-term, and long-term business goals of your clients, and how can your services help achieve them? Schedule strategic planning meetings versus sales calls, and keep your clients extremely informed on all supply chain issues you may be experiencing that affect your business and servicing customers, as well as rising paper prices and paper availability that may affect their projects. Transparency is collaboration.
There are obstacles to overcome and hoops to jump through on the road to the next normal, but there is also some good news on the horizon. Digital marketing as a trend is on the outs! Now, you have fashion brands and luxury brands, for example, planning for print.
They want to get back into our mailboxes and into our homes. They want to tell long-form stories and share who they are with consumers. The bigger fashion brands will create FOMO in their verticals and the smaller brands will follow. It will then spread to luxury brands in other verticals, and from there everyone will follow. It’s how advertising works – the brands set and then follow trends to the end, reset and repeat.
Once the mailbox is in play, just being in there won’t be enough. Standing out will be critical especially if you are working with or pitching a luxury brand. Don’t be cheap, don’t think cheap and don’t talk cheap. Come up with the most expensive concepts you can for standard, dimensional and premium mailers (may have a gift included). You can always pull back. The exercise here is letting these customers know what you can do and letting them choose options.
Now, I know everyone doesn’t have access to Gucci, but knowing that this is Gucci’s marketing strategy is how you pitch the Gucci of florists or car dealers or lawyers in your community. Share the trend, follow it, watch for variants, adjust along the way, and prepare your customers to ride the next one to success – with you.
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