Have you ever lost the will to live during a presentation?

That’s what happened to me when I received my first presentation about personalization. I was shown a lot of complicated flow charts that meant nothing to me. I was given a full-on software demonstration. By the end of the presentation, had I remained awake, I would have learned a lot about the whole process.

But I wasn’t told why I should consider using personalization in the first place! It was assumed that I would be impressed by the technology and want to try it out. Sometimes it seems that this is what happens to printing companies. They are selling personalization because it is the latest “shiny object”. They are not selling a business advantage to their customers.

Why should customers care about personalization?

Many people, print experts included, struggle to define what personalization actually is. That’s because it can be applied in a number of ways according to different scenarios.

We can apply the term to individually addressed pieces of direct mail. Or it may be that every piece has a slightly different message according to the recipient. Alternatively, we could talk about one-off pieces from user-generated content, as in the photoproducts industry. Equally, the packaging industry may regard short-run versions of different cartons as being personalized.

Whichever sector of print you operate in, personalization can have a big impact on your customers’ businesses. It can mean that your clients receive much better engagement from their marketing. It can mean that users are able to create their own items, either from a commercial or a marketing point of view. It can mean that companies can test out different packaging or offers.

Any of these opportunities means that printing companies have the chance to move away from selling commodity-priced print. They have the opportunity to sell a value added service at a higher price. To do this effectively, it is important to remember some ground rules.

Keep personalization simple!

Most people don’t want to know the full details about how to create a personalized product. They do not care about how your software and presses work. They only wish to understand how it can help them with their business priorities.

When we sell personalization, it is important to focus on the customer’s world rather than our world. The key message should be focused on what results personalization can achieve for a business. That’s where the next ground rule comes in.

Sell with case studies

In most cases, personalization costs a lot more than regular print. Prospects and customers need to justify spending this extra money. The best way for them to do this is by understanding how it actually works for businesses in real life. How has it helped other companies improve their business results?

The easiest way to achieve this is by showing how a similar company has benefitted from a personalization project. A good case study will show how a company used to do things, how they changed by introducing personalization and how this improved their business results. It will demonstrate the improved ROI from using a personalization solution.

So what happens if you don’t have a suitable case study? Remember that many suitable case studies are available for download. Additionally, why not prove your own abilities by running a suitable campaign for your prospects?

If you want to engage your customers, there is one other ground rule to remember.

Productize

Most personalization workflows offer a huge amount of different options. It is possible to create a very bespoke campaign. It can be very tempting to offer all these options to your customers. In reality, most customers are not ready to create such bespoke campaigns. Actually, many printing companies are not ready for this either!

Too much choice confuses customers. It makes it more difficult for them to make a purchasing decision. Most of your clients will be carrying out their first personalization projects. They will want to be guided by you. It is usually far easier to tell a customer exactly how they should create their campaign and not offer any alternative options. It makes the estimating, selling and production processes much easier as well!

Some printing companies make life difficult for themselves

They create a highly complicated sales process. It confuses their customers. It frustrates their sales efforts. It means that they are less likely to sell personalization.

Keep to these ground rules and make sure that you make life easy for everyone. That way, your customers are less likely to lose the will to live.

PS If you’d like more practical ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” right now at http://profitableprintrelationships.com/e-book/ You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.