This is the first entry in a new thINK blog series on best marketing practices for print service providers, which will offer suggestions on how to establish, refine, and perfect a comprehensive marketing plan as a way to grow your customers, pages, revenue and profit.
In the beloved baseball movie, “Field of Dreams,” simply building a baseball field in the middle of a cornfield might attract all sorts of interest—paraphrased as, “If you build it they will come.” That may be true in Hollywood, but for a business there’s still lots of work to do in order to get the word out on your products and services. For printing companies in particular, mastering the ins and outs of marketing is critical in today’s fast-changing world. You may have the best people, equipment, solutions and production quality in your shop, but establishing a strong brand and building a comprehensive marketing plan is crucial in growing your customers, pages, revenue and profit.
An important initial step toward building your brand and marketing plan is establishing your unique brand identity. Communicating effectively to your key markets, from social media to content marketing to campaigns, will greatly hinge on your brand identity.
To develop a strong brand identity, it can be useful to consider your Brand’s Value Proposition and Brand Vision.
What Is Your Brand’s Value Proposition?
You work in a unique business in a world that seems to be increasingly concerned with what’s happening online. But you know print offers unique advantages that online communication lacks, and that your company is equally unique in the value it brings to its customers. What you need to do is communicate both to the market.
The first step in developing a comprehensive marketing plan is to understand what your company is and what it means to your customers. What do you think your brand identity is (or could be) in your market? What is your “voice” out there? And does that voice offer the promise of a unique value proposition to customers?
Your company’s value proposition is simply its promise to customers and prospects on why they should come to you for their printing business. It’s a clear statement on how your services solve customer challenges or needs, details added benefits, and states your advantages over the competition.
As Investopedia has put it, “The ideal value proposition is concise and appeals to a customer's strongest decision-making drivers.”
Sales and marketing strategist Jill Konrath offers a particularly thorough take on what constitutes a powerful value proposition, and supplies the following example from an employee benefits company:
“We help large companies reduce costs … without impacting benefit levels. With the spiraling costs of healthcare today, this is a critical issue for most businesses. One of our recent clients, a large manufacturing company similar to yours, was struggling with how to reduce spending in this area. We saved them over $800,000 in just six months. Plus, they didn’t cut any services to their employees, nor did their employees have to pay more.”
Note how in this example the first sentence clearly states what the company does and for whom, and why its services are important. Then the company backs it up with a concrete example of how these qualities paid off for a client.
Consider how you, as a company with inkjet press capabilities, might craft your own compelling value proposition.
What Is Your Brand Vision?
Now that you’ve put into words the value you bring to your customers, shift your gaze upward to where and what you’d like your company to actually be for customers, employees, and even your community. This means crafting a brand vision statement to go along with your value proposition. This is such an important step that it’s an excellent idea—even a necessary one—to get brand stakeholders together to think seriously about what they think the vision of the company should be.
According to Business News Daily, your vision statement might try to answer the following questions:
- What ultimate impact do I want my brand to have on my community/industry/world?
- In what way will my brand ultimately interact with customers/clients?
- What will the culture of my business look like, and how will that play out for my employees and customers?
Consider the following vision statement examples:
AMAZON: Our vision is to be earth’s most customer-centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online.
CATERPILLAR: Our vision is a world in which all people’s basic needs — such as shelter, clean water, sanitation, food and reliable power — are fulfilled in an environmentally sustainable way, and a company that improves the quality of the environment and the communities where we live and work.
ZAPPOS: Our vision is delivering happiness to customers, employees and vendors.
Consider your brand identity and in forthcoming posts we’ll explore how it will drive your marketing planning and execution.
Christopher Hosford is a contributing editor with Target Marketing. He was editor-in-chief of Sales & Marketing Management magazine and East Coast bureau chief with Advertising Age’s BtoB magazine, and has covered all aspects of marketing, advertising and sales, including marketing automation, CRM, content marketing, analytics, search, lead generation, social media, and other cutting-edge marketing topics.