All organizations in the Printing Industry need a Marketing Strategy to be successful.
Marketing is the process of planning and executing the development, pricing, promotion and distribution of products and services to targeted customers. Using this standard everyone in your organization is ultimately involved in marketing in some way, not just some narrowly defined “marketing department.”
Marketing-oriented organizations focus like a laser beam on customer needs and wants. They anticipate demand. They enlarge demand through promotions and advertising. Then they satisfy that demand.
Unfortunately, too many companies either do not understand this basic principle or lack the resolve to see their strategies through to completion. In fact, many businesses start thinking about marketing campaigns only after sales have begun to sag.
Other reasons why marketing plans fail:
- No sense of the future. Successful marketing is an `investment` in your organization’s future. Be creative. Focus on new opportunities. Always think of new ways to enhance exposure for your product.
- No measurement of results. Like any other initiative, marketing projects must be tested and measured. To measure results, assign someone to capture sales and customer information and give them access to all revenue and expense data. Once results are measured, analyse them and share them throughout the organisation. Then spend money on what generates the best return.
- Too much interference. Some CEOs approve a marketing plan, then insist on constantly making adjustments. Sometimes, the best approach is to wait until marketing efforts can be suitably measured and then fine-tune the plan. Constant meddling only distorts results and demoralises the people in charge of driving the campaign.
For some printing industry organizations, maintaining a full-blown marketing department may be too costly and impractical to justify itself. One option in these circumstances is hiring a `professional` marketing consultant to ensure that your product meets customer demands the way it should.
We suggest the following to ensure getting the most out of a marketing consultant:
- Start with clear goals. Define what you want from him or her, and `do not` hold things back. Keep in mind that no one understands your company’s culture or history as thoroughly as you do. Offer all the details you can so the consultant has more to work with.
- Do not leave the consultant dangling. The marketing consultant you hire is a technical expert; he or she uses specialized tools to solve the problems you know intimately from your day-to-day business dealings. If you take the time to work together, you’ll see better results than if the consultant is left trying to figure out everything on his or her own.
Effective marketing doesn’t come naturally to most businesses.
When reaching out to customers, many companies describe what the product/service is, explain their product better, and then explain to the customer why they should buy it. This is also how most salespeople make sales presentations. All too often, however, they leave out the part about how the product benefits the customer. But the only time the customer is ever interested is when you tell him how the product will improve his life.
Of course, it’s impossible to highlight your product’s/service benefits if you do not know what your customers want. That’s where market research comes in.
Step one in market research is determining what you genuinely need to find out. Are you considering entering a new market? A new market area? A new product line mix? The kind of information you’re after will influence the type of research you want to do.
Other key questions:
- What’s the current size of the market?
- How fast is it growing?
- How can we hope to reach it?
- Can the market be segmented into targeted customer groups?
- What makes our product distinctive among others in the marketplace?
- What types of people buy our product or service?
- What’s most important to buyers when choosing a product (price, quality, delivery time, etc.)?
- What do customers like about our competitor’s products that we’re not offering?
To think like your print-buying customers, your company must encourage a customer-oriented culture. Your decision-making process should include a mechanism for collecting and understanding customer input. Before you design, test and sell your product/service, make sure you’ve gathered, interpreted and synthesised all the customer information you can find. That way, you’re not making the product in a vacuum, but backed up instead by solid data.
Where does this information come from? Below are several fundamental sources:
- Customer complaints. Look at complaints your business has received over the past few weeks and months. Does your management team seriously examine what’s behind these complaints? Does the team offer solutions to reduce the number of complaints?
- Customer surveys. This is still considered among the most effective methods for collecting reliable, objective data about your customers.
- Industry trends. Study patterns in your industry. Read trade publications. Monitor new trends and approaches to customer care. Especially in the printing industry is this vital.
- Face to face contact. Do you know — really know — how your customers buy your products and exactly what they do with them? Nothing beats getting out of the office and meeting with customers directly.
Market research offers crucial information about customers’ buying habits, needs, preferences and opinions. Below are five basic methods used by most businesses:
- Survey. With a well-designed questionnaire, you can evaluate a sample group that represents your target market. (The greater the sample, the more trustworthy are the results.) One-to-one surveys — usually conducted in high-traffic areas like shopping malls — offer an opportunity to distribute samples of your product and gather immediate feedback.
- Focus groups. In this format, a trained facilitator uses a scripted series of questions to lead a discussion among a group of selected individuals. These sessions are held in a “neutral” location (often at a place with videotaping equipment and an observation room with one-way mirrors).
- Personal interviews. This method is more concentrated than surveys, and while the results aren’t statistically reliable, they can yield valuable insights into customer buying habits. They also unearth unexpected concerns that may lead to improvements in customer service or product design and distribution.
- Field trials. In this situation, the company places a new product in selected outlets to test customer response under authentic selling conditions. It’s a valuable opportunity to modify product or packaging before final rollout.
The best customer benefit is worth more than all of your product’s features combined. Do you know how your product/service benefits your customers? This should always be the focus for your marketing campaigns.
To keep that goal in sharp focus, We suggest asking these questions:
- How do our customers profit from using our product?
- How much money does it save for our customers?
- How much money can it earn for our customers?
- Does our product have built-in intangible benefits? Is there a way to quantify these intangibles?
“Identify the benefits your customers get from your product/service and then make those the centerpiece of your company’s message.”
For more information or to implement your own company, just contact us.