PrintWeek is publishing a series of guides to promote practical and affordable methods of improving business performance. This week, we examine no-cost marketing opportunities
For the thousands of small businesses in the print industry, marketing has often been regarded as an unaffordable luxury. Even before the current economic struggles, buying advertising space in the local paper or engaging in a direct mail campaign was beyond the financial means of many. So they remained mute and opportunities were left untapped.
However, advertising does not have to cost you hard cash. For those with shallow pockets, there are many ways to get the name of your business out there without spending money. Hence, for its first ‘Top tips guide’, PrintWeek shows you three means of cost-free marketing.
While LinkedIn is another useful tool, here we are talking primarily about Twitter and Facebook. These sites may be burdened with a ‘social’ tag, but their business potential is increasingly being utilised.
Twitter Unless your company is a household name, corporate Twitter accounts don’t always work. A more personal approach is sometimes a more effective means of marketing a business. Hence, rather than the company name of ‘Joe Bloggs Printing’ as the Twitter handle, the user might be the owner, Joe Bloggs himself. As for content, establish an identity by linking to interesting print-related news stories, or great pieces of design; chat to fellow print professionals; chat to clients; give people an insight into your day job, tell them what you are up to and why. Twitter is not for hard sells.
Dos Tweet regularly (at least four or five times a day); link to things that interest you; engage with other users in conversation; give an insight into your work; realise that your description as print boss on your profile is enough, you don’t need to keep reminding people.
Don’ts Aggressively push your firm; be overly corporate; be rude/controversial (personality yes, but control it); fail to engage with others; have a long list of followers, but not follow anyone in return; tweet too often.
Facebook Setting up a Facebook page for your firm is easy and here the promotion can be much more at the forefront than on Twitter. The aim is to create a community feel of exclusivity that users will share with each other. So offer Facebook-only deals and sneak previews to current work. Offer insights into the business other people would not get (for example, how did you create that mirror effect?). Users will ‘like’ your page if you offer them some value for doing so. The more you post and the more pictures you put up, the more people will engage.
Dos Offer exclusive deals, post lots of pictures as these will be shared with other users; encourage comments on work and the page as these will show up in users’ newsfeeds and encourage more to like your page.
Don’ts Contact users too frequently; abuse your power by sending group messages to all your fans; fail to update your page frequently – you have to keep things interesting or the page will go dormant.
Even the mention of the word will have printers cringing. Yet successful networking can reap serious rewards.
Local events if you see a sign for a school fair, art market or a summer fête, then why not head down for an hour and show your face. Talk to people and help out; explain to people what you do; be an active part of your community.
Business forums Engage with your local British Chambers of Commerce or get a number of local business owners together once a month for a chat and a drink in the local pub and suddenly you have a network of potential clients who, in turn, will recommend you to others.
Trade shows Visit stands and get your face known; talk about what you do and how you do it. Emphasise what makes you special. These people will be talking to clients and printers all over the country and they can be your messengers.
Media events So that magazine you read is offering a webinar or a seminar – why not attend? There you will meet like-minded people and become familiar to others as someone who takes their business seriously.
Dos Talk to as many people as possible; attend every event you can; when chatting, ask as many questions as you answer; engage in debate and discussion; emphasise why your business is special and what you can do.
Don’ts Hide in a corner; mumble replies; bore people – ensure you know when attention is waning; get stuck talking to one person all night – it is okay to excuse yourself with a "It’s been nice chatting, let’s catch up again, I should just go and have a chat with…"
While you may not think that what you are doing is anything special, you might be surprised by what interests local newspapers. The local press is a great way of getting your business recognised by both business owners and local residents. Are you printing a local history book? Are you printing a card for someone’s 100th birthday or 50th wedding anniversary? Have you done a run of flyers for a local event? These are all things a local paper might run a story on and you can get your name into that story by sending the local paper a press release. Always ensure, though, that you secure the permission of the customer.
The basic framework for a press release is as follows:
Headline Get your story across immediately. For example, ‘Local man celebrates 100th birthday’.
Content Read the local newspaper and frame your release to match its style – what information does it include? What does it tell its readers in a news story? Find something with added value – did the 100-year-old man fight in the war? Has he lived in the area for all those 100 years? Remember to say you are printing the book/card and include a comment about what a special project it is for you and for the client, such as a 100th birthday commemorated with a stunning photobook.
Contacts Ensure you put your details on the release so that you are the point of contact for the journalist.
Pictures Take some pictures of the product and the client (but ensure you have the customer’s permission to do so) and make sure they are of a high enough resolution for print. Having pictures will increase your chances of being published.
Submission Send it at once. If you hear nothing after a week, follow up with a phone call. If it does not run, don’t be put off from trying again.
Dos Remember the trade press, after all it’s not just printers that read magazines like PrintWeek, many of our readers are print buyers. So if you’ve bought some new kit, expanded your product offering, won a new deal or have an opinion on an industry trend – get in touch (see our ‘flannel panel’ on page 3 for contact details).