What does it take to be the first person your client calls when they plan their next print job? In today’s competitive commercial printing climate, it takes much more than just putting ink on paper. A go-to commercial printer spends time researching their clients’ needs, understanding their business goals and providing innovative solutions that help clients achieve their long-term goals.
Bringing added value to customers should be your number one priority, and that requires research, communicating effectively and getting involved early and often if you hope to build a strategic partnership with your client.
3 Tips to Become the Go-To Commercial Printer
1. Show that you know. Before you launch into any new client relationship, do your research. Get to know the company, its people and its brands — everything from what it stands for to what it wants to achieve. Really dig deep to find out what challenges the company is facing in the marketplace so that you can identify some cutting-edge solutions that will improve results — as well as which suggestions to avoid.
Adding value is all about building a connection that makes them more likely to want to work with you. One way to do this is to join national print or design associations and go to local meetings to demonstrate your interest in your client’s industry.
Consider other communication technologies that go hand-in-hand with print. Augmented and virtual reality, online content, mobile commerce, social media campaigns and other media can complement print and create a well-rounded campaign. The solutions you provide should address the goals that you’ve identified in your research.
Go beyond listing equipment types and discuss how your organization can help them achieve their goals. Print buyers want to hear what you, specifically, can do for them. Don’t just tell them you have mailing services; instead, tell them how mailing services are an integrated part of your process, which ensures a continuous dialogue among printing, fulfillment and mailing departments and results in a smoother project that stays on budget.
2. Show what you can do. Amplify what they’re already doing by offering advice on what appeals to different customer verticals or demographics.
Armed with a good personal relationship and in-depth knowledge of the client’s brand and projects, you’re ready to wow them. The commercial printers who are the most successful are the ones who can provide clients with innovative solutions and ideas.
Stay on top of what’s trending in their industry, and bring samples that will work well in their campaigns. Then show them how you can make a real impact in their communications strategy.
The goal is to differentiate your business by not only offering more services but also educating clients about what’s available to them and guiding them through the process of choosing the right services for their project.
3. Keep them coming back. Doing the research upfront to get to know the client and his or her business might help you win the first bid, but go-to commercial printers keep the conversation going during and after the job.
When a project’s in full swing, meet with your client regularly. Share proofs in person, and offer suggestions for next steps. When you attend a meeting, take notes and contribute to the conversation. Remind your customers why they asked you to be there in the first place, and show them that you’re on top of things. The more you communicate — about the project schedule, the deliverables, project plans, vendor updates, etc. — the less a client has to worry about a project.
If something goes wrong, then make sure the client hears it from you first. Be prepared to share and discuss recovery options. If something went wrong during the last project, then let the client know about the processes you’ve put in place to ensure it doesn’t happen again.
Also, don’t forget to say thanks. A handwritten note or a personal delivery of the finished project will go a long way toward showing that you appreciate their business. Coming around to say thanks after a job is also a great opportunity to continue to engage and build on the relationship. Remember, becoming a go-to commercial printer isn’t something that happens overnight. Start small, and focus on delivering great service and added value, one job at a time. With patience, thorough research and good communication, new clients will become repeat clients.