December 9th, 2013
Written by Derrick Doi
Vice President, Quick and Franchise Print Segment, Xerox Corporation
In today’s challenging print market, where digital color is the only technology showing consistent growth, it’s one thing for a print provider to continually grow the business. It’s quite another to grow by 36 percent annually over five years.
That’s the recent track record at PIP Printing and Marketing Services in Downey, Calif., southeast Los Angeles County, the birthplace to the Apollo space program, home to the oldest surviving McDonald’s restaurant, and hometown of musicians Karen and Richard Carpenter. Bruce Pansky, who owns the franchise with his wife Linda, recently discussed what’s behind his success with Insider, a publication for the PIP Network of Franchise Services Inc. (FSI)
Good fortune certainly plays a role. The Pansky’s bought the franchise from Bruce’s parents, Phil and Joni Pansky, who opened it in 1969. Bruce had recently graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in journalism, advertising and marketing, and married Linda, a bank vice president. Their backgrounds, seemingly unrelated to print, have actually played critical roles in the franchise’s success.
Bruce immediately applied his education to aggressively market the company, driving initial growth. Linda brought information technology skills and soon led the franchise’s ahead-of-the-curve march into computer-based services. More recently, Bruce applied his marketing background again, to lead the firm’s embrace of marketing services as a growth platform.
Here are the key tenets of the Pansky’s management philosophy and their comments on them:
- Approach investing with conservative aggression—“We don’t purchase equipment for potential business or make large capital investments for any single account. We get the business first.”
- Choose your customers—“We strive to work with companies that are doing well, that are aggressive and are working to grow. Our opportunity, then, is to partner with them in their growth.”
- Maintain your reputation—“From the day my parents opened until today, the challenge is the same: to establish and maintain our reputation. We count on our reputation, and we use it as a selling point. Referrals are a natural way for us to approach lead generation and new business.”
- Provide great customer service—“Customer service is even more important today than in the past because of the impersonal nature of online ordering. We make a point of staying personally in touch with our customers so that they regard us as part of their team, not just another vendor.”
- Nurture partnerships with clients—“To win partner status with a client, you have to make recommendations that will increase your value for their company and its bottom line. You have to know how to deliver what they need.”
- Nurture partnerships with vendors—“Xerox has been a strong partner—they support us with the technology we need to be competitive— especially when we entered into book and publication printing. Other vendors have worked with us to better meet our customers’ expanding business requirements and to be price competitive in our offerings.”
- Train your staff—“When new services are introduced, we train our staff using the FSI training modules. We recently had two employees “USPS Platinum Certified,” which helps to strengthen our position as a professional mailing company and gives us at an advantage over our competitors.”
- Keep selling—“You have to have the mindset of always selling, always marketing. Even with all of our gains, we can’t stop selling and trying to grow our company. If you are not growing, you are sliding. Keep selling!”
For more on the Pansky’s business success, you can read the Insider article in its entirety by clicking here.
What are you doing to grow your business? Is there anything in the Pansky’s management philosophy that you can apply?
November 13th, 2013
Most small business owners have a love/hate relationship with Google. They know they need web traffic to generate sales, but they’re fed up with the constant changes and conflicting information. But have no fear, fellow printers! While the latest algorithm update may mess with your website’s rankings, it also opened up a huge opportunity for you to grow your printing company.
Big Rewards for Content Marketers.
The new Hummingbird algorithm reflects changes in technology and user behavior. In the old days, Google couldn’t match long queries to very many results. The more words a user typed, the fewer listings they’d return. Google also struggled to connect queries that didn’t contain exact match keyword phrases. For example, a potential customer may search for brochures by typing, “where can I get pamphlets printed online?” If your website didn’t use the word pamphlets, then you wouldn’t appear in front of the user even though you offer the product.
Google recognized this as a flaw, and now they’re on a mission to truly understand user intent. In the example above, the user clearly wants to find a brochure printer; he or she just doesn’t use the word brochure in the search. So Google’s trying to focus on semantics as well as past behavior (aka the knowledge graph) and social media signals to improve the relevance of their results.
If you’re engaged in content marketing, then this is great news for your SEO. Hummingbird rewards sites that provide a quality user experience through good content, so there’s less emphasis on technical details i.e. keywords and backlinks. You can attract visitors by publishing regularly, answering questions for your customers on your blog, and starting conversations on social media instead of chasing inbound links all the time.
Actionable Tips: Get to know your users. Find out what problems they’re having, what they’re interested in, and give them a voice in your company.
The Data Drawback.
Unfortunately, Google made it harder to figure out what users are looking for unless you’re using AdWords for paid search traffic. You’ve probably noticed that the majority of your organic search data is “not provided” in Google Analytics anymore. That means you no longer have an easy place to find long tail searches, which often appear in the form of a question. These low volume searches allow you to capture highly targeted traffic, so don’t give up on these juicy marketing morsels. There are other ways to obtain this type of data, although none of them will be as easy or inexpensive.
Actionable Tips: Leverage data from suggested searches, Bing Webmaster tools, and third party providers, such as Wordstream or Wordtracker. Pump your customer service reps and sales team for information. Encourage all staff to write down the questions your customers ask for reference, and get suggestions from your social media communities.
Capitalize on Online Marketing Weaknesses.
You’re covered on the online marketing front, but what about your customers? Chances are the people who fit your target market aren’t as internet savvy or they’re so frustrated with poor results that they’re giving up on SEO. That’s where you come in to save the day with affordable offline advertising solutions that increase web traffic and sales. Turn their angst into selling points; position print as a way to create real-life brand awareness and stimulate online activities without search engines as gatekeepers. Low cost services, such as EDDM (Every Door Direct Mail), are the perfect alternative for brick and mortar businesses suffering from SEO woes. Recommend personalized direct mail for those with bigger budgets or as a follow up for an EDDM campaign. The key here is to help your prospects see that there’s lots of light outside, and it doesn’t come from computer screens.
Google didn’t intentionally revitalize the printing industry, but if we printers play our cards right, we’ll be able to reap the benefits of Hummingbird on all fronts.
Katherine is a professional copywriter and social media manager at PrintFirm.com. She fell into online marketing in 2010, and built her career around this dynamic field. She earned her B.A. in Political Science from California State University, Northridge (Summa). When she’s not writing, Katherine enjoys photography, skateboarding, graphic design, and chasing her dog around with her husband. Connect with her on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google Plus.
October 8th, 2013
Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker
Print Industry Analyst
One of the factors that has traditionally scared marketers away from any kind of database marketing, print or otherwise, is the database. How many marketers have great customer databases for use in 1:1 applications? For many, the very thought creates marketing paralysis.
But it doesn’t have to. All the talk about “big data” has created an unnecessary fear factor, especially with print, which involves hard production and mailing costs. But the truth is, even a little bit of data can create a significant lift and great ROI as long as it is used well.
Take the example of Panchero’s, a Mexican restaurant chain. This is one of my favorite case studies because it’s such a smart, effective use of limited data. It’s also one of my favorites because I discovered the personalized mailer taped to the doorway of my parents’ kitchen.
Panchero’s wanted to more aggressively promote the opening of its new stores, but it had nothing more than a rented list. Instead of settling for static mailers and mail merges (or being paralyzed by lack of big data), it used the information it had in a highly relevant way. It identified a target median income and geographic region (a certain radius around each new store) and qualified its list by these variables. Then it used a mapping program to identify each recipient’s exact distance from the new location, which it titled “the best burrito in [recipient’s city].” Recipients were invited to bring in a coupon and travel the 1.8 miles, .3 miles, or however many miles away they lived from the new location for a free sample.
Over the years, the nationwide response rates to the campaign have ranged from 6% to 12%, with larger cities having slightly lower redemption rates than smaller ones. On average, redemption rates hover close to 10%.
A multi-location childcare company in the Netherlands used a similar approach to boost enrollment within a specific radius of its childcare centers. It sent 1:1 direct mail pieces to families encouraging them to visit a personalized microsite via a general URL and passcode or through a personalized QR Code. It used personalized maps to show recipients how close they were to one of its locations. The campaign achieved an ROI of 2,200% based on new enrollments and an average childcare service length of four years.
This approach will not work for every marketer, of course, but for the right applications, mapping programs can turn even the most basic data into a highly effective marketing tool. A similar approach is to calculate driving times or create on-the-fly maps to a store or event.
Looking for an “in” to help your customers get started reaping the benefits of personalization? For the right campaigns, mapping might be just the solution you are looking for.
For more on 1:1 Campaigns, Xerox Premier Partner Global Network members may download a complimentary copy of my primer “QR Codes: What You Need to Know” from the XPPGN portal, at no charge. Another value of your membership! Interested in becoming a Premier Partner? Click here for more information.
September 26th, 2013
Written by Heidi Tolliver-Walker, Print Industry Analyst
For clients, one of the biggest challenges of 1:1 marketing isn’t the concern about whether or not the approach works. It’s databases. Unlike 1:1 online marketing, where the movements and habits of individuals can be tracked fairly easily using cookies, print marketing requires the purposeful, intentional creation of a database of customer and prospect demographics, purchasing patterns, preferences, and the like.
Even if marketers don’t have such a database, this doesn’t remove 1:1 print marketing from the equation. PSPs are becoming increasingly adept at helping customers maximize their existing data, purchase and append mailing lists, and build databases from scratch, even for smaller budgets. Despite all the talk of “big data,” it doesn’t take a 360-degree view of your customer to increase your response rates, per-order values, and bottom line.
Here are some examples of how marketers are getting around the “I don’t have enough data for personalization” problem:
- Mailing lists are increasingly affordable. For $25 or so per thousand, you can add demographic qualifications, such as income level, general interests, and age. This provides a great starting point for any 1:1 print marketing program.
- Even if all you have is an undifferentiated mailing list, you can still use specialized software like genderizing and mapping programs to create relevance. Mapping programs help to create relevant marketing pitches based on the recipient’s geographic location or distance from a location or event.
- Successful 1:1 printing is about creating relevance, including grabbing attention with the unexpected, and that can come even from the most unlikely sources. One PSP created its own algorithm for calculating recipients’ mortgage payments and how much they could save by refinancing, for example, all based on information in public records. Then it did a highly successful mailing for a mortgage broker that reaped millions.
- Customer profiling solutions are being developed even for small and mid-sized marketers. This software can expand even simple databases by creating a customer profile (or a “desired customer” profile) and appending the relevant demographics to that database.
- Customer loyalty programs are a very effective ways of building a database of customer preferences and spending habits, while at the same time allowing you to reward customer behavior. Many boxed solutions are available, simplifying the process.
- You can use personalized URLs to send recipients to their own, personalized micro-sites, where you can survey prospects, qualify them, and gather additional information to be used for future campaigns. This information can be automatically appended back into your database, taking a simple mailing list and turning it into a sophisticated tool for personalized marketing.
Developing a customer database sounds complicated and expensive, but cost-effective techniques with low barriers to entry are being refined all the time. This is by no means an exhaustive list of possibilities.
For more on 1:1 printing and marketing, XPPGN members can access “The State of 1:1 (Personalized) Printing,” an educational report available at no charge, through the XPPGN portal.
May 30th, 2013
Written by Bill Michael
eMarketing Manager, Xerox Corporation
Direct marketing provides enormous opportunities and potential for profitability, but there are challenges and considerations to take into account. We recently discussed ways to successfully implement direct marketing services for your customers, emphasizing the importance of data and the need to understand the way your customer’s end-users think.
Another critical aspect of venturing into direct marketing is having a sales team in place capable of selling these services.
During our Direct Marketing Thought Leadership Workshop, Katie Dunn, President and Founder of Digital Innovations Group, emphasized that becoming a strategic partner for your clients means more than just adding services and offerings. According to Katie, successfully selling direct marketing services is dependent upon 7 steps.
1. Understand the Market
Consumers of today receive information through many channels, including print, mail, email, social media, the web and mobile. Consumers are always on. It comes down to identifying which channel and how to get the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Easy stuff, right?
2. Understand what Prospects Need
It’s clear that targeted communications can help your customers of tomorrow better reach their end-users and drive revenue. So what do these prospects need in order to be swayed to your services? Like any organization, they need results! They need to know what your company can do for them. Results come in many forms, including increased market share, enhanced profitability, and capitalizing on new opportunities and markets.
In their book What Sticks, Rex Briggs and Greg Stuart note that “19% of marketing fails outright and 67% could achieve significant improvement that would require no additional spending.” So what needs to change? This is where your team can jump in. Significant results can be driven through messaging, the marketing mix and existence of supporting qualification processes.
3. Build a Plan
A clear business plan should help lead your sales staff by include goals, metrics, measurement criteria and processes. It should bring to life the services your company has to offer. These expectations and organization will help drive the sales team.
4. Use the Right Sales Process
Today’s purchasing decisions are more complicated than ever before. In the past 5 years, the average sales cycle has grown 22% longer and involves a greater number of decision makers than ever before. Today’s customers put significant value on a salesperson who makes them think outside the box, brings new ideas to the table, and finds creative and innovative ways to help their business.
5. Call the Right People
Your sales team should be reaching out to senior decision makers. These are the big idea people – not the folks actually executing the ideas. These individuals lead organizations, have demanding schedules and want results. Knowing what gets their attention is critical to the success of your sales team.
Senior decision makers crave information that they can’t get anywhere else such as trends, statistics and best practices. Having a deep understanding of their company, their competitors and the marketplace is critical to capturing their attention. Bringing innovative ideas and proposals to the table that can help their company become more competitive will surely have them listening with anticipation.
6. Say the Right things
A sales team trained to say the right things can really bring everything together. Relevancy is paramount. Quantitative results of a real-life example in a comparable industry can speak volumes (even if the success was a result of work done by a company other than your own). A good template to follow when reaching out to a potential prospect is to acknowledge an industry-specific pain-point (for example – gaining donor participation for non-profits), showcasing how a direct marketing campaign drove results (quantitative is always better), and inviting the prospect to learn more about how your company can help this prospect through your services.
7. Provide the Right Support
Finally, equipping your sales team with the necessary support will dictate their level of success. You can help by offering information on vertical markets and horizontal offerings, defining value propositions, as well as the availability of presentations with talking points. Regular best practice sharing and coaching sessions can also help improve the effectiveness of your sales team.
Do you have a better understanding of where the opportunities lay with respect to direct marketing services and your sales team? Did this create some thought-starters for you to start implementing today?
Check out these other related posts:
- Direct Marketing: Get Relevant, Get Results – Part I
- 10 Ways to Improve your Sales Efficiency
- Define Your Target Market as Tightly as Possible
- How do I Market Better and Offer Marketing Services?
Katie Dunn is a Business Development and Sales Coach for Digital Innovations Group. For inquiries on how to start selling direct marketing services today, she can be contacted: Katie.firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter: @digkatedunn, or via LinkedIn
April 15th, 2013
Written by Howard Fenton
Senior Technology Consultant, NAPL
As I’ve written about before, talking to a search engine optimization (SEO) consultant reminds me of talking to a voodoo witch doctor. Each has their own unique way to position their strange juju to get your page ranking higher on the Google search list. Ironically when you start to research the subject you learn that it’s not as magical as some would make you believe.
What is SEO and why is it important? The goal of SEO is to get your company or product, higher on the Google search page page rankings when customers are researching products. The two main strategies to get higher on the list are paid search, which means you’re paying for listings much like buying ads, and organic search which means the search engines list you higher based on your content, backlinks and webpage design.
As the name would suggest, internal page design refers to the coding behind your webpage such as your metatags, keywords, internal linking, and formatting. Backlinking refers to links from other sites and the popularity of those other sites. The link from a more popular page will carry more weight than the link from an obscure page. Content marketing includes writing blogs and pushing people to those blogs using Twitter and LinkedIn.
One way to increase effectiveness of content marketing is to push people to that content using sites like Twitter and LinkedIn. Expanding upon the voodoo witch doctor theme, to take advantage of your own juju, you want to create the illusion that you are a thought leader. That perception is created by blogging and recommending articles from other thought leaders.
How much should you write and how much should you recommend? I shoot for ratio of 3 or 4 to 1. In other words, for every blog I create, I recommend 3 or 4 articles written by others. Some experts recommend writing 5 blogs a week, but that is a huge time commitment and I have not seen significantly better results from 3 blogs a week. Other ways to increase interest is to include pictures or graphics, and some believe that video blogs are more interesting than the written blogs.
The goal here is to push people down a sales funnel. It might start with a mention and a link in Twitter or LinkedIn which pushes people to a blog, then an article and ultimately to a website where an offer is made. The whole time you’re engaging your audience by talking to them about a subject that interests them and increasing your SEO.
The bottom line is write about subjects that will help your customers in their business, push them to your blogs from other sources, encourage feedback and you will enhance your reputation as a thought leader, become easier to find on the web and create a lead generation tool to sell more products.
How are you going to increase your SEO and generate new sales leads?
Howie Fenton is a consultant and business advisor at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers and in-plants on benchmarking performance against industry leaders, increasing productivity through workflow management, adding and integrating new digital services, and adding value through customer research. He is a paid contributor to this blog.
April 11th, 2013
Written by Susan Weiss
Manager, Xerox Worldwide Customer Business Development
One of the best ways to gain an edge in today’s hyper-competitive graphic communications industry is by defining, pursuing and become experts in target markets.
That’s how Barb Pellow, group director, Infotrends, set the stage for our recent Business Development Series webinar on “Targeting the Right Markets,” which featured her and Robert Blakely, vice president, Business Development, Echo Communicate, a Baltimore, Md.-based graphic communications company.
In telling his company’s story, Blakely didn’t so much echo Pellow’s comments as amplify them. When targeting markets, he said, “Start with the tightest vertical focus possible. Find the company most like your initial win, and expand from there.”
That’s what Echo Communicate did after building a successful membership recruitment and retention business with US Lacrosse, that sport’s national governing body. Blakely initiated the business with a cold call about printing the Baltimore-based organization’s membership cards. The conversation quickly escalated to broader membership issues, leading US Lacrosse to give Echo access to its membership data. “We did something with their data that they hadn’t done yet,” Blakely said. “We quantified their pain.”
That helped give Echo the credibility to develop a highly automated, XMPie-software-based membership retention solution for US Lacrosse. In the first year, it boosted retention by 26 percent.
With that success, Echo began pursuing like organizations for its solution, focusing exclusively on national governing bodies of other sports. The tight definition optimized the expertise Echo was developing, and made collecting target information easy. “We had a list of national governing bodies in just a few minutes,” Blakely said.
Echo introduced the solution by using a multi-channel invitation with personalized sports imagery to invite prospects to a webinar featuring a US Lacrosse executive. Of 80 invitees, 40 attended. They heard a compelling message. “Nothing is more powerful than having our client tell their peers how wonderful it is to work with us,” Blakely said.
Several attendees are new customers. Because the solution is so automated and specialized, sales cycles and rollouts have been progressively easier and faster. And because the Echo team is now immersed in the vertical, its expertise has grown exponentially. In addition, margins are higher than in the traditional print business. In short, Blakely said, “It’s a winner.”
To hear a replay of the “Targeting the Right Markets” webinar, click here. And be sure to sign up for our upcoming 2013 Business Development Webinars, including “Targeting: Small and Medium-Sized Businesses…the Volume Aggregation Opportunity” on April 17 and “Targeting: Vertical Markets…The Enterprise Opportunity on June 12,” click here.
Have you experienced success by tightly defining a vertical and offering customized solutions? What drives your successes in targeting markets?
If you enjoyed this post, you may also be interested in:
- XMPie Cross-Media Campaign Boosts College Admissions for Maryland Institution
- Do you Encourage your Customers to Interact?
- Personalized Renewal Notices Boost Membership Rates for Football Club
- You Don’t Have to Become a Marketing Services Provider to Offer Marketing Services
Susan Weiss, manager, Xerox Worldwide Customer Business Development, is Xerox’s host for the 2013 Business Development Webinar Series