Printing companies: please stop selling print

What am I buying when I purchase business cards?

It’s interesting seeing the reaction on the faces of print sales people when I ask them this question! Some people suggest that I am buying 4/4 print on 400gsm silk board, 85 x 55mm. But that’s not what I’m buying. That’s what the printing company is supplying.

I buy business cards to achieve a purpose. I give them to people that I meet and I hope that they will transfer my details into the address book. Then, if they ever need help with selling or marketing print all with training their sales teams, they know how to get in touch with me. If my business cards didn’t achieve this purpose there would be no point in me buying them.

These days, business cards aren’t always effective

Many people can’t be bothered to put the details into the address books. That’s why I put a QR code on my business cards. I actively encourage people to try out the technology. They scan the code and my details are suddenly in their contact list.

Suddenly, I’m getting better results from my business cards.

Have you noticed an interesting fact about this story?

Printers and customers often have different ideas about business cards...

Printers and customers often have different ideas about business cards…

I haven’t talked about printing at all. If I’m honest, I’m not even sure if my cards were produced digitally or litho. It really doesn’t matter! I’m interested in how to achieve my purpose, not in the technical details of print.

However, many printing companies are caught up in their own world. They talk to their customers about the technical details of a job. They mentioned presses and finishing equipment. They produce complicated job specifications.

The average customer isn’t interested in this. They just want to know how to achieve their business aim. Most customers would be very happy to have a conversation about how they can achieve these aims more effectively.

Printing companies that focus on the customer’s world will create better relationships

Their clients will see them as partners who can help their business. Both client and supplier have a better chance of achieving better results from the relationship.

Printing companies that just focus on the world print will struggle to achieve the same relationship. Their customers are more likely to treat them as commodity suppliers. The conversation is more likely to focus on price rather than results.

So what should you be talking to your prospects and customers about?

Here are just some of the conversations that your clients will be interested in having:

  • Increasing sales
  • Reducing costs (and that doesn’t mean reducing prices!)
  • Improving brand identity
  • Reducing stockholding
  • Increasing customer footfall
  • Standing out from the competition

Most printing companies offer solutions to these problems. It makes a far more interesting conversation for both print and customer than “Do you want some (cheap) print?”

What do you achieve for your customers?

If you are just a print provider then you probably have some difficult conversations coming up! Your customers will probably focus around price reduction.

Now is the time to start talking to your customers. Find out what they have achieved as a result of using your services. Find out what their business goals are. Start developing some solutions around these.

Next time one of your customers want some business cards, give them more than a quote and a job specification!
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