Selling print to marketers and brand owners has never been so difficult. Sales reps need to convince a new generation of communications decision makers – made up of digital natives who can choose from more communications options beyond print, who expect content that engages audiences, and who need to justify expenses – on the merits and value of the print.
Winning print sales in today’s competitive market begins with identifying and understanding the requirements and expectations for communicating with customers. A recent NAPCO Research survey of more than 200 marketers and brand owners, sponsored by Canon USA, offers essential insights into how this group selects print suppliers and what they expect from them .
The study found that marketers and brand owners – key print buyers and influencers – expect their print sales reps to understand their unique needs, provide exceptional customer service, have technical knowledge to solve problems and demonstrate the best way to use printing 1).
Print salespeople are essential to developing strong relationships with customers. Organizations that invest in the business development, sales, and technical skills of their sales staff ensure that customers have good experiences that translate into long-term relationships.
In addition to identifying what marketers and brand owners want from their print sales reps, the survey revealed the following trends and tips that print service providers can apply to better meet customer needs. requirements of marketers and brand owners, support the efforts of sales representatives, sell and improve the customer experience.
1. Buyers are familiar with printing processes and equipment, and they are key decision factors when selecting suppliers. Over two-thirds (67%) of print buyers responding to the survey said they are very familiar with the printing processes used to print their documents. Additionally, 86% of respondents indicated that they specify printing processes and / or brands of printing devices used to produce their print jobs.
In addition, 70% of respondents indicated that the brand of equipment used to print jobs is a key factor in choosing a supplier. Print vendors often wonder if their sales and marketing efforts should include the brands of printing equipment used in their operations.
This survey response highlights the value of brand promotion of used printing equipment. While at one time, many printing suppliers widely shared information about the brands of equipment they use, the practice declined. Now may be the time for print vendors to rethink the marketing of their equipment arsenals in sales and marketing efforts, and to include equipment listings on their websites.
Although survey respondents emphasized the importance of sharing printing equipment brands with potential customers, keep in mind that this is part of a larger marketing strategy that should demonstrate the benefits that an organization offers to customers.
2. Quality, price and creativity are the three main criteria for selecting print suppliers. Respondents from marketers and brand owners were asked to choose their top three criteria when selecting print suppliers. While the top two responses of better quality and price are not surprising, other important criteria include innovation, excellent customer service, a wide range of services, and strong technical capabilities (Figure 2).
This research result underscores the importance for print suppliers to be creative and innovative; improving customer service; technical capacity building; expansion of services; and continually focus on improving products, services and customer interactions.
3. Color matching and consistency is a high priority. Survey respondents indicate that color matching and consistency are high priority considerations when selecting and retaining print suppliers. More than two-thirds of marketers and brand owners prefer to work with G7 certified print suppliers. This finding underscores the importance for print vendors to have processes in place to deliver consistent color across their various products and platforms.
Respondents identified color quality as the main source of dissatisfaction with their print suppliers. Just under a third of respondents cite inconsistency of colors throughout the run and final prints not matching proofs as the main reasons for not being satisfied with a final job.
4. Accreditations and certifications are important. There are many printing accreditations and certifications available to improve internal processes and meet customer requirements. The survey asked respondents to rank the importance of key quality and regulatory compliance designations.
The top three respondents to operational certifications / designations deemed absolutely essential in their selection of printing suppliers are Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) compliance, G7 color certification, and ISO 9000 certifications. In addition, more half of survey respondents rated sustainability certifications and designations as very important when selecting a print supplier.
5. Job submission is a critical point of interaction with the client. Making it easier for print customers to order jobs, monitor job status, control branding and better manage expenses alleviates customer anxiety and improves their work experience. with a supplier.
According to the survey, 81% of print buyers prefer to work with a print service provider that offers an online ordering tool. This type of online resource helps marketers and brand owners better manage their print spend and brand standards.
6. Customer education is a win-win. Providing educational tools to clients not only differentiates themselves from the competition and build loyalty, but it can also improve productivity as clients submit better work files.
Respondents indicated that they are eager to deepen their understanding of the print production process. When asked which areas of print production they wanted to learn more about, the top choices of survey respondents were digital printing technology and improving color quality and consistency. Other areas of interest include preparing print job files, substrates, digital enhancements, and combining printing with other media.
Educating customers on these key production areas can improve customer relationships while increasing the production efficiency and operational productivity of a print supplier.
7. Marketers and brand owners use multiple sources to learn and stay on top of printing and technology trends. The main resources for survey respondents to learn about printing are websites, social media, and online publications (Figure 3). Given this importance, print providers should focus their resources on keeping their online presence up-to-date through continuous website / social media updates, posting of press releases, and participation in articles in the publications their clients read.
Print salespeople are also key sources of information for customers. Since salespeople in the printing industry are an important resource for keeping marketers and brand owners up to date with emerging trends and technologies, continuing to invest in their knowledge base is essential.
Print customers rely on salespeople to deliver information and ideas that they can’t find on their own. Before the internet, buyers relied on their sales reps to educate them on pricing, features, trends, and capabilities. Since customers can do their own buying research, they turn to sales reps to show them ways to improve their productivity and communication results.
8. A strong online marketing presence is essential to attracting prospects. Survey respondents report finding print suppliers from a variety of sources, including online outreach, in-person events, and print marketing materials (Figure 4). The two main ways respondents used to find suppliers are Internet research and online advertising.
This result, along with just over a quarter of respondents finding suppliers on social media, underscores the importance of an online presence for print suppliers. Potential print customers often use digital channels to research potential print suppliers to learn about their offerings and organizations.
Other ways that survey respondents found their print suppliers include referrals from other people, industry associations, sales calls, and direct mail.
Asking satisfied customers to provide referrals to other companies or presentations to other units in their organization that use printing can also open up sales opportunities. Additionally, joining the same industry associations that clients or prospects participate in is a way to gain referrals and establish your business as an expert who understands the unique requirements of a client’s industry.
Marketers and brand owners have many options when it comes to selecting print vendors and media formats. Print providers who understand the expectations and requirements of customers and prospects are in the best position to increase their revenues, strengthen their relationships, and develop outreach efforts that bring new work.
Use these research results to guide decisions and investments to meet customer demands, improve the customer experience, and create sales and marketing efforts that get results.
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