How printers can make their customers feel special (without it costing the earth)

Posted by Matthew Parker

I want to tell you about a time I felt really special.  I was going to pick up my new car.  And the show room had really gone the extra mile for me.

The car was parked specially out at the front by a red carpet.  There was someone giving the car a final polish.  There were flowers on the back seat for my wife and a teddy bear on the dashboard for my daughter.  The salesman had set aside an hour to guide me through all the controls.  It made me feel that I couldn’t have picked a better company to purchase my car from.

This incident has stayed in my mind – even though I purchased the car nearly three years ago.

There is a lesson for print sales people here

It’s not often that I recommend printers to learn from car show rooms – but I do in this piece. Find out why.

Print companies who make their customers feel special will create better partnerships.  Their customers will want to come back for more.  And that means these printers will be more in control of their sales pipeline.  They’ll have a better chance of achieving their sales targets.

Print companies who don’t go the extra mile to make customers feel special will find it harder to achieve their sales targets.  Their customers won’t feel that they have a true relationship with the printer.  The printer won’t have the same level of control over these customers.  Their customers will be more likely to go elsewhere.

So here are three ideas to stop your customers moving to the competition.

Send your customer a letter

These days we tend to communicate when we want something.  So a letter to say thank you for a job will make you stand out.  You could just send an e-mail, but a letter makes it much more personal.  You could even print your own thank you cards.

And you don’t even have to wait for a job to thank a customer.  You can thank them for their time at a meeting.  Or for a tip or an introduction they gave you.  Or even just for being a great customer to deal with.

Telling someone that they are special in this way will make you stand out.  But there’s another low cost way to make you even more memorable.

Send your customer a present

The idea of a present conjures up something large and costly.  But this doesn’t have to be the case at all.  You could send your customer a piece of cake on a Friday afternoon.  Or a box of chocolates on their birthday.  I have even received a bunch of flowers from a printer.  My wife thought this was a lovely touch.

Just make sure that your presents are something that your customer will value.  So avoid sending them cake if they are on a weight loss programme.  And avoid looking like you are marketing by sending branded mouse mat or mug.

However, you can make your thought even more personal.

Take your customer out for a meeting

Most meetings are held in dull offices.  Why not see if your customer can spare the time to go out to their favourite coffee shop.  Or take them to an attraction near their offices:  a museum, a park (if the weather is nice) or even the zoo.

Most customers will enjoy the attention.  And you’ll be surprised how a change of venue can affect the meeting.  You may well do some much more creative brainstorming.

So there are three easy ways to make your customer feel special.  But there is one other element to making these ideas work.

Remember to tell your customer why they are special

Make your customer realise that you do value them.  And make sure that you have a reason for this.  The customer will feel even more appreciated if they know that they are one of the nicest or most efficient clients to deal with.  Or that they produce stunning visuals that the press minders love printing.  Or that they have a great way of working that you have learned from.

For some sales people these are just pointless words.

Being nice doesn’t drive sales

Sometimes it’s not all about new sales.  You need to value the customers that you have.  Customers are easily tempted by the competition, especially if they feel that their current customer doesn’t care.  Making your clients feel special does keep them with you.  Remember that it costs seven to twelve times more to gain a new customer than to upsell an existing one.

A little while ago I approached a new prospect with some ways in which they could handle their print more efficiently.  In the end they decided not to work with me.  And that’s because they valued the relationship that they had with their current printer.  They felt that they had an excellent relationship with them.

I really respected that point of view.  And I learned from it.

Here are three action points to make sure that your customers have a similar attitude

  1. Pick your top five customers
  2. Decide for each one whether you will send them a card, give them a small present or take them out for their next meeting
  3. Tell them why they are special

You’ll soon have customers who wouldn’t dream of going anywhere else

I’m a customer like that:  when I buy my next car I am going straight back to the show room where I bought my last one.

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P.S.  Find out more about how to make your print customers feel special:  subscribe to the Profitable Print Relationships newsletter.  You’ll also receive our free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them”.  Sign up straight away.

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Print 3.0 - Helsinki, Finland, November 19