Why Multi-Channel Printers Should Learn About Productization

Have you ever tried to buy a computer online?
I have found it to be a very painful process.  The problem is that I don’t really know how to specify a computer.  However, most computer companies assume that I know enough to make all the right decisions.
So I have to work out what screen resolution I want.  I need to understand RAM and video cards.  I find myself calculating potential storage requirements for the next few years.
Sometimes it’s easier to stick with what you have than to make a complicated purchasing decision
It’s the same when it comes to buying a multi-touch marketing campaign.  Sometimes print sales people make it a very complicated process.
I have seen potential buyers being asked to make a lot of decisions about a campaign, without really understanding how the system works.  They are being expected to know exactly which channels they want to use to reach their customers.  They are expected to know lots about personalized landing sites.
Sometimes it’s easier for them to walk away from the deal than to risk making a bad decision and seeing everything go wrong.
That’s where productisation can help
Customers will often react better to a yes-no decision.  So, if you are selling complicated technology, consider selling pre-specified solutions. Rather than the customer being allowed to choose exactly what they want, you recommend the right solution for them.
One company I know sells a standard campaign.  It sets up the same process for all of its customers.  Prospects and customers do not need to worry about if they are making the right campaign planning decisions.  It makes the buying process easier. (It also makes managing the work easier for the printing company!)
However, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t allow a customer to make occasional decisions.
Remember to include an upsell opportunity
I have previously written about the power of the upsell. Selling productized technology solutions is an ideal opportunity to put this strategy into practice.
When it comes to multi-touch marketing, you can easily add on extra social media or mobile capability.  Or you could offer extra reporting functionality.  These are all options that a customer is likely to be happy to spend extra on.
Here are three important steps in the product planning process     

  • Create a product from your technology. Ensure it has an upsell option.
  • Create a case study around the product.
  • Make sure that this is the starting point for a customer journey. I’ll be talking more about this in my next article.

Productisation made it easier for me to buy my last computer
I recently bought an Apple.  There aren’t nearly so many complicated decisions to be made. Most things are decided for you. Computer experts may not like the lack of choice but, for the average buyer, it makes the purchasing process much quicker, easier, and most importantly – pain free.

Editor’s Note: This post is part of a larger series on how to sell cross-media solutions:

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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