When a print business starts out on its Web to Print journey I am often asked to go along and help prepare a business and marketing plan. Many companies prefer to stay in the safe and familiar waters of Business to Business sales which makes perfect sense if they already have a sales and marketing structure to support this route i.e. a sales team or some form of sales and marketing effort. Often this may just be the owner or partners within a small print business. Having made the decision to start with B2B one of my first questions is usually “what is your specialism”? This is often met with a blank or quizzical look. For a general commercial colour printer this may be regarded as a rather strange question. “Print is my specialism“ or “we don’t have one”, are other common responses. After some discussion and possibly a tour of the factory we will typically find some form of specialism to explore as a marketing opportunity. We very often find this by simply looking at the pallets of work on the factory floor or during a tour of the finished goods area. Very often this is not a product, but rather experience in a particular vertical market (e.g. retail, financial services, recruitment, automotive, etc) and a deeper understanding of the needs of clients in this sector of business.
Focusing your early Web to Print marketing on a single vertical market is a great way to start to understand the solution selling concept. I find that making this shift to a 'what will it solve' mindset, is often the major challenge to any print business starting out their web to print journey. They are often hoping that simply selling the broader benefits and features of a Web to Print system will be enough for success. The truth is that this will rarely be enough to convince a new client to commit to a long term partnership. The client will need the printer to demonstrate a much more compelling argument that produces an outcome for their own specific business need. They want to know “how will this help me? How will this help my business to reduce costs, increase revenues, grow market share, reduce administration, reduce time to market?” The printer needs to bring much more to the table than just a Web to Print system. Their new online offering is simply the glue that binds together the solution and provides the portal for the client to access all the range of products or services the printer is going to offer.
The simplest and easiest way to grasp this change in thinking is to focus the initial marketing on a sector of business that the printer understands very well. This helps the transition from selling a commodity to selling a solution. It can be a major shift in mindset for a print sales person previously tasked to bring in the next print job to feed the press. By using their experience in dealing with a particular type of client, they can not only convert their first client more easily but they will now have a great case study and client testimonial for future use. They may not feel entirely confident with web to print technology quite yet, but if they develop experience and confidence in a particular vertical market, they will quickly and easily understand the client’s needs and how to construct a winning solution. They would be more than comfortable talking to any client in this sector as they would no doubt have similar needs and similar issues.
So now we can focus our marketing for Web to Print sales and really talk our customer’s language. We can construct some marketing materials that speak directly about their business and how we can help them succeed.
For me that is the power of specialisation and it can be a useful tool for early confidence and success in Web to Print sales.