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