In your opinion, who are some ex-printers who have successfully rebranded themselves in the new cross-media world?
In your opinion, who are some ex-printers who have successfully rebranded themselves in the new cross-media world?
By Ryan T. Sauers
Let’s face it…we use the word “brand” all of the time. We talk of the brands we like, as well as the ones we don’t. Successful organizations have established valuable brand equity and a strong brand name.
Think about people’s loyalty to Nike’s “Just Do It” campaign or Apple’s “There’s an APP for that” campaign. These campaigns are entirely centered on making the customer personally identify themselves with that brand. This is the future of marketing.
Building a strong, recognizable and consistent brand takes time, effort and commitment. This hard work pays off by creating something referred to as brand loyalty. Brand loyalty is one of the most valuable assets any organization can have.
A brand can be referred to as the sum total of key ideas, emotions, and perceptions that are communicated to your audience and associated with your organization’s work. A brand can then be called the “shorthand” for the identifying characteristics retained and recalled when an audience thinks about their experience with your organization.
To help simplify this subject, I have developed an acronym that can help you better understand and examine the subject of a brand.
A BRAND can be considered the Barometer reading of one’s Reputation, Attributes, Name, and Distinctiveness.
So the question is not if you have a brand or not, because all persons and organizations have a brand. Instead the question is: What do you do with your brand? In short, your brand is not defined by what you say it is but is characterized by what others say it is.
So here are 5 things to consider as “branding” relates to the printing Industry, graphics industry, MSP etc.
When pondering your brand, you must first determine what it is all about. So obtain feedback from those around you as a first step. Be sure to obtain this feedback from those close to you as well as those who are more removed from you.
Once you know what your brand is you can determine the ways you want to purposefully grow, change, re-frame, promote, and/or strengthen your current brand position. So, how do you define your brand? Remember – we all have one and there is no better time than now to address your brand. If you have questions on how to look at your company’s brand– we can help.
Ryan T. Sauers is President/CMO of Sauers Consulting Strategies. Before moving into full time consulting, Sauers spent nearly 20 years running the sales and marketing arm of several printed and visual communications companies (including Atlanta Web Printers, and The Sauers Group). He has a Masters degree in Organizational Leadership and is working on a Doctoral degree in Organizational Leadership. Ryan is a Certified Meyers Briggs Type Indicator Practitioner and a Certified Marketing Executive. He writes and speaks/trains on topics such as sales, marketing, communications, and leadership in a variety of media outlets and industry conferences across the US. Sauers helps bridge the world of new communications such as Social Media with more traditional communications such as printing. His www.ryansauersblog.com helps organizations best differentiate and position themselves to add value. Sauers is an adjunct college instructor and his book entitled Everyone Is in Sales is due out later this year and pre-sales and special offer will be at Integrated Print Forum for attendees. More info can be found at www.sauersconsulting.com
I recently moderated a panel discussion at a trade conference on what printers need to do to convert from a Print Service Provider (PSP) to a Marketing Service Provider (MSP); I walked away with three really significant nuggets of information I feel compelled to share. The conference gave 1.75 hours to this topic (1 hour for presentation and 45 minutes for Q & A). It was the first time I have seen a session with enough time to really get into the depth you need to have to understand the process and not a single person walked out early. There were three companies on the panel that have each successfully made the transition to an MSP.
First, although you might be able to fall into a quick sale by being in the right place at the right time, it really takes some time for a company to convert to an MSP. You have to develop a mindset throughout your company. Some might say that starts in your sales department, but I could argue that management must accept the concept and you have to build the infrastructure addressing software, hardware and new employee skills. Ultimately it has to be a shared developmental approach, all three of the companies on the panel validated this approach with their timeline for success in their conversion.
The second take away is that printers need to realize that it will not be a total conversion. Virtually every printer I have seen that has made this conversion still does typical printer service provider work. Some printers start a new division, some change the name of their company, some have dedicated sales reps that service the MSP customers and the rest still sell the typical PSP work. I have only seen one company that says they only work with the higher value-added MSP work, but when you look at the work they do (although it might still be on a digital press), there is some PSP work done to service the needs of the customer. They just do not market that part of their service.
The third point was changing the questions you ask the customer when first courting them for work. The talking points of what you offer change and the people you are trying to talk to change significantly. The PSP wants to talk about sheet size, quantity and things like spot colors. They are typically talking to purchasing agents or print buyers. The MSP has talking points that address the strategic needs of the customer and asks them about the purpose and goals of the campaign or project the customer is working on. They are talking to the project managers, marketing departments, CMO, CEOs, customer’s sales reps/manager, or the creative directors. They will figure out afterwards what they need to do to satisfy the customer’s needs. They are not going into the meeting with the idea of selling print, cross media or a web portal, they are going into the meeting selling creative solutions.
This conversion is not quick and simple, a 1.75 hours presentation is a positive start. It takes time and hard work for any company to convert. Looking at the agenda for the Integrated Print Forum, I believe there is a strong foundation for any company to build on as they return to the daily business of running a company. This event will help you determine your company’s strategy for moving forward with the PSP/MSP conversion.
John Leininger, Professor
1. Something gets posted you don’t want others to see.
Is it a corporate secret, comments of a disgruntled employee or an upset customer because of a lack of customer service? If you don’t already have one, a brief internal social media policy should cover what can and can’t be said along with how it could be said by those inside the organization. It should be flexible enough to encourage passion for customers and the brand but should also make sure the brand remains an asset. If the comments are from outside the organization they should be quickly judged to determine constructive criticism or inappropriate behavior and appropriate steps should be taken to deal with them in a timely manner.
2. You create a social presence but no one is participating.
Social media should start with a strategy and part of the strategy should include audience, content and appropriate channel(s). It takes time to grow a community. You may think you’re talking to yourself but really you can be honing your message to your customer while you also spend time listening to what is important to them and include it in your community content. The time you take working at establishing your social media standing can also be used as an ongoing case study to discuss what you’ve learned with your customers.
3. You’re trying to be social but the topic gets sidetracked or even hijacked.
Simply ask, “Why?” Perhaps there is something else more important you could or should be covering. One of the first rules of social media is that it’s not about you. Or perhaps you can suggest covering the new topic in next week’s discussions where you can research it further and get more input on it. The point of social media is that you don’t have direct control of the message but the more involved you are in social media and are aware of your business and customers, your ability to influence the message increases.
4. Some people don’t tolerate change.
As your social media community grows and expands its reach there is a possibility of alienating your core followers. You need to consider your core first before diluting your approach to please the masses you’re not currently connected to. Sometimes it’s unavoidable, but if you include the core in your growth and choices for growth it’s often easier for them to deal with change. Also remember, there are some people who just don’t want to change. If they are your target audience, what about creating a core group just for them? Consider the impact on you resources and the benefits of keeping them happy while still addressing a larger potential community.
5. Social media channels and content can open up breaches of security.
Viruses, malware, identity and brand theft can all occur with or without the use of social media. You should consider good IT practices to avoid the possibility of software and hardware security breaches. Some recommend being vague with content to avoid brand or identity theft. You need to consider the level of information you share and the possibility that information can be used against you. But if you participate in social media and all you do is listen without giving there is a high probability your community will wonder if it’s worth participating in your network.
6. Social media strategies that don’t include the whole organization.
In a small organization the worry is not enough resources to establish a social media strategy and be able to execute while in a larger organization it may mean a fight to control or influence the approach, the theme, the content, the budget and other resources. Not everyone needs to be directly involved but all should be aware of the social media benefits as part of the marketing and sales strategies of the organization.
7. Thinking social media is only for marketing.
Although many organizations believe social media should be managed from the marketing department to enable the acquisition and retention of customers; other companies use social media as a critical enabler to their customer service efforts, research and development initiatives, strategy planning and so much more. Social media enables conversation through on line communities. The conversations you start or participate in can lead to so many great possibilities.
8. Too much power wielded by an individual.
There is a risk if the social media “face” of the company is a particular individual and what if that individual leaves the organization or takes another role within the company? Their social media currency could leave with them. Consider the impact of an individual and consider spreading the currency around to include others. Not only will it help to balance the power, but it can also help balance the responsibility to create great content and manage the social media strategy.
9. Not having the ability to localize your message to a particular audience.
What happens if your social media presence expands to another country or a customer base outside your typical one? Monitoring your social media strategy and reviewing the needs of a particular audience can help you plan for the needs of your existing and future audiences. As you look to expand into a new audience you should evaluate tactics to localize your message to the audience. This could include translation services or evaluating the needs of a new layer of employees.
10. Someone wants to have a conversation but they get ignored.
With more and more communication channels available to us it’s very hard to keep up with it all. But a simple business principle plays here–ignore your customer and eventually they will go away. Take the time to develop a solid social media monitoring plan that not only listens to what people are saying about you or your organization but also hears the smallest request and makes sure it gets the attention any good customer deserves.