How Social Media Increased One Print Company’s Sales By 46%

Written by Matthew Parker
Print Industry Consultant
Impact of Social Media on Print Sales
There’s a buzz about social media in the print industry at the moment. Many people are saying that it’s a sales channel that you can’t afford to miss. Believers are happy to tweet and blog about how great social media is. But most of them seem a little short on real world success examples.
This Xerox blog is designed to help you with real, actionable advice that you can implement into your business, right away. Today, let’s take a look at WHY you should be spending time on social media.
Here’s a case study of how social media increased sales for one print company
I’d like to introduce you to Printfirm.
Printfirm is a printing company much like many others in the marketplace. They have a shop front. They produce a good amount of commercial business-to-business print. They also have a web portal where people can submit and order jobs online.
Printfirm sells in the same way as most of their competition. They carry out most traditional sales activities. Word of mouth is important to them. They have a company website and spend time optimizing it for search.
But here is what sets them apart from the competition
In 2013 they made the decision to hire an Online Marketing Director. Enter Katherine Tattersfield. Katherine describes her role as “a one-woman content production factory, filling 4 roles in the company:

  1. Strategy: I figure out what our clients want to discuss (both educational and for entertainment)
  2. Writing: I write all the content aside from guest posts, paying close attention to SEO and SMO implications (With Google’s latest algorithm update, content is more important than ever before. You can read a post I recently wrote on how you to take advantage of this new update)
  3. Design: I create graphics for our blog and social
  4. Social distribution: I share the finished product with our social communities to start conversations and pique their interest.“

Social media is now a vital part of the company sales strategy
However, it’s certainly not the only part.  Here are Katherine’s thoughts again:
“Social Media helps us acquire new customers and maintain relationships with existing clients. But I want to be clear: my role supports, but doesn’t replace, traditional sales activities such as our loyalty program. My role in social revolves around inbound marketing as opposed to outbound/direct marketing. I engage on online networks and our blog, which increases traffic to our site. Plus, social gives clients an easy way to communicate about their projects and even show off their print project publicly, which acts as another form of word of mouth advertising.”
That all sounds impressive. However, all this activity is pointless if it doesn’t help grow the business.
Does the social media activity actually get results?
PrintFirm Social Media Referral Traffic Yes, according to Katherine. She says: “we’ve seen conversions (sales) on our website from customers who found us through social media. We also get referral traffic to the e-commerce site from our blog, which means qualified leads. More than sales, though, we use social to increase brand awareness and get to know our customers better. Social is a big part of the discovery process in the sales cycle.”
In short, the social media activity at Printfirm produces direct sales, but it also enhances the traditional sales activity.  As a result, Printfirm has seen their year-over-year print sales increase by an impressive 46%.
Do you need to hire a full-time social media expert?
You might think that having a full-time social media employee is only required for larger companies. However, Printfirm actually only has ten full-time employees.
Still, this level of investment in social media is quite a commitment. Not all companies may be ready for this.
Here are action points to help you start getting results from social media

  1. Identify a social media champion – appoint someone at your company to promote social media activity.
  2. Make sure they have time – it is important that the champion is given space in their working day to carry out social media activity.
  3. Set goals – collaborate with the social media champion to understand what is important for your company to track. Some ideas include new followers, conversations with followers, hits on your company blog, conversions, etc. Set goals and work with your champion to create a strategy to achieve those goals

Lastly, look out for the next three articles I will be writing. I’m going to cover 3 important strategies to getting results from social media.
There may be a buzz around social media right now, but it’s a buzz that’s well worth taking notice of.
Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on effectively using social media to deliver results for your business:

Matthew Parker has been buying print for over 20 years. He’s had over 1,400 sales pitches from printers. Now he’s using that experience to help printing companies engage with their customers and sell print more profitably.  Find out more about Matthew on his site. Download his e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors And What To Do About Them” for free here

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  1. Deborah Camalo February 27, 2014 -

    Nice recap…….would of liked a little more detail as to which social media you saw the biggest growth in and what drove that number.

    • Katherine Tattersfield February 27, 2014 -

      Hello Deborah,

      Thanks for reading, great question! We’ve seen growth across all of our social platforms. When I joined the company, there were profiles on Facebook and Twitter only. Now we have communities on those sites as well as Google Plus, Pinterest, and our LinkedIn company page. Purely by the numbers, our Twitter following is likely the most impressive. We’ve gained over 1k followers and many of our other network interactions stem from Twitter conversations.

      As far as what drove the numbers, I would have to say our blog content, #PrintChat, original images, engaging with high profile users, such as Matthew Parker, guest posting on this site, strategic use of hashtags, and zero automation.

      I hope this gives you a better idea of how to achieve similar results for your business.

  2. Patrick Whelan February 27, 2014 -

    Katherine is simply the best! And a S/O to M. Parker on a great article!

    • Katherine Tattersfield February 27, 2014 -

      Thank you Patrick! It’s always nice to hear positive feedback from a well respected colleague such as yourself.

  3. Brian February 27, 2014 -

    Katherine, it’s awesome that you work for a company that really sees the value in the social space and is willing to devote resources to it, and they really benefit from your awesomeness as a result.

    • Katherine February 28, 2014 -

      Hey Brian,

      Thanks for being your awesome self! My day wouldn’t be as fun without you on Twitter and other networks. You’re doing a great job yourself—I love your humorous approach.

      I’m hoping this article will inspire other printers to get active with us. Let’s see how many more people join the #PrintLove movement!

  4. John Giles February 28, 2014 -

    Good review. Social media can be a powerful tool to increase a company’s presence a marketplace. My question (and my challenge) is how did they convert followers into customers? Did the customers order online or were they leads that were converted into a customers by a sales person? The sales increase is impressive.Did they find the increased outreach by social media create sales for specific products or services or was it an overall sales growth?

    Keep up the good work. You always have interesting information.

    • Katherine February 28, 2014 -

      Hi John,

      Thanks for reading! I welcome questions, especially of a challenging nature such as yours.

      We do not have a sales team, so I don’t think the closing issue applies to our situation in the traditional sense. We process most orders through our website, and sometimes over the phone with our customer service rep. Most of the growth can’t be attributed to social media directly, although a fair amount came directly from customers clicking on our website from a social network (I do have a graph that shows conversions from social referral traffic).

      As far as leads go, we do have a custom quote request system; the number of custom quotes increased along with direct orders, but I haven’t studied that specific page in depth to where I can give you more information on how those users landed on our site.

      I would say that that our blogging activities coupled with social media raised brand awareness, which boosted conversions overall. Yet I’m able to discuss specific products on our blog and social, which made our customers more familiar with our full product offerings. For example, I noticed a lot of interest in mini business cards from our social communities. Many remarked that they didn’t realize we offered this product until I blogged about it. The interest showed me we needed to promote this product more, and alerted me to a problem on our site (users not knowing the product existed). So we did see more sales of products I promoted on social and used that data to improve user experience. Of course, blogging about the products helps targeted users find us on search engines as well.

      I hope this answers your questions. Thanks again for commenting!

  5. Matthew Parker February 28, 2014 -

    It’s great to see so many positive comments here. I’m honoured by Patrick’s kind comments.

  6. Vladimir Gendelman February 28, 2014 -

    Katherine, you are a rock star!!! Nice job!
    I agree that social media is crucial nowadays to attract and most importantly keep clients. I don’t know if you have an actual example of a client doing business with you from social media encounter, but it would be very interesting to read about. I applaud you for sharing this story and hope that a lot of printers will get on a band wagon so that we can all challenge each other and grow our industry.

    • Katherine February 28, 2014 -

      Hi Vladimir, thanks so much for all of your support. You’ve given me some big shoes to fill, and inspired me countless times.

      I do have examples of clients who came from social media. In fact, I got a phone call last week from a client who I met on Facebook. She called to reorder business cards for her son. I don’t normally take orders, but I felt it would be best for me to be her point of contact because of the trust factor we achieved on social.

      • Vladimir Gendelman March 4, 2014 -

        Good call, I would have done the same. I love these stories when you can actual talk about real people instead of general words.

  7. Rob February 28, 2014 -

    Very happy to see Printfirm and Katherine featured here on the site!

    I can personally attest to how awesome Katherine is and I can also say that I would have never heard of their company if it wasn’t for Katherine’s work on social media (found them via Facebook).

    Keep up the good work and those impressive stats!

  8. Maria Waley June 23, 2014 -

    Social media have great impact on any business.I am new to print business. I am impressed and inspired by your great effort.I would love to follow your action plan hope this will assist me get success in business.

  9. Steve Reynolds November 10, 2014 -

    Great , tangible examples here Katherine. Looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

    • Bill Michael November 10, 2014 -

      Hi Steve – thanks for taking the time to comment. This was part one of a four-part series on effectively using social media. At the end of the article, you will find links to the other topics, including: ‘How To Create Warmer Prospects With Social Media’, ‘Why You Should Avoid Selling On Social Media’ and ‘How To Create Engaging Social Media Content’.


      -Bill (Xerox)

  10. NAEP Awards March 23, 2015 -

    hey Bill the content you provided was of great use ,but can you please provide with some more information about “how to market on social media even more efffectively” we want to focus on SMM to improve our bussiness,

    • Bill Michael March 23, 2015 -

      Hello there! Glad you found the content useful – and thank you for the feedback, it’s greatly appreciated! I’ll see what I can cook up for you in regards to SMM to positively impact your business…stay tuned!

  11. Lynne Gullo February 24, 2016 -

    Great job, Katherine! May I use you as an example when I talk about LinkedIn at the PIA President’s Conference?

    • Bill Michael March 3, 2016 -

      Hi Lynne –

      I’m not sure when your PIA President’s Conference is – but I can help track down Katherine if that helps. Let me know – thanks!

      Bill (Xerox)

  12. […] course we all want to increase profits; this here blog and social media upped our sales by 46% in one year! Yet hopefully you realize that your return on investment may take on other forms besides money. […]

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