Although many business owners recognise they need to think about moving away from more traditional print methods, there is still a significant number who have yet to acknowledge the imminent change occurring around them.


If the statistics are to be believed, the average person working in the print industry is between 45-55 years of age. In contrast, the average print buyer is around 28-35 years old, and is unlikely to come from a print background. You don’t need to be Einstein to see the disconnect between the consumer and the provider, and this is why you have to look at how you add value to your customers, if you want to survive.


Think about your own experiences, how many times have you been to see Customer X and asked yourself, “Really, this brochure, same as last year. Again?” If you are not asking yourself this question, your competitors are likely to be doing so, and may be looking at ways to suggest how the customer could do something different to get better results. 


This is why the use of personalised print used within marketing campaigns can be a great way to get a customer on board with your web2print services. After all, what is difficult about explaining to your customer how they can save time and money, avoid maverick spend, secure their brand, control what is printed and when or simply have a more positive effect on the environment moving to a web2print platform solution? 


The first thing to do is ask them lots of questions, and don’t blind the customer with science. They really don’t care about the ‘how’, they care more about the ‘why’. You can get to the part about personalised print in marketing campaigns in due course but in the first instance, ensure that your initial conversations with your customers are full of open questions so you can discover whether or not web2print and more expanded campaign services will fit. For example, what are they trying to achieve with their marketing or that of their customers? What is it they like or don’t like about traditional print methods? What issues do they experience on a daily basis? What gaps do they see? How are they faring against their competitors approach to marketing?



The next step is getting them on the right path with data and set up. Explain to your customer that web2print, or what some dress up as a ‘digital marketing communications portal’, is not as daunting as its sounds. Ask them if they have ever undertaken an exercise to sort out their customer data; maybe by gender, age, geographic location, services/items they buy regularly (and/or ad-hoc), or by any other segment which makes sense for their business. You’ll often find they don’t know as much as they make out and are often receptive to help; even if it has to be ‘off the record’. So, if your customer appears a little like a bit rabbit caught in the headlights, offer to help! Your knowledge and guidance is a value added service that they will come to acknowledge and appreciate. If (as suspected) their data is not already categorised, help them segment products and services into groups and work to identify obvious segmentations in their database, based on some of the above categories.


Help your customer create a simple document, which though generic in its main design, is personalised or variable based on the identified segmentation or the product/service being offered. Your customer may find all this new jargon a little brain-addling in the beginning, so keep it simple, explain clearly and offer to assist at all stages of this new approach to printing which will only bring you closer to them.


Now you have a mix of products and services that are segmented for specific customer interest and demographic, and a template that can handle all that variety of data fields. Your customer is now hopefully ready to get going with personalisation.


Now it’s time to move towards the longer term engagement. The chances are that your customers will still need some guidance to move forward and familiarise themselves with the new way of working, and you’ll need to ensure they keep using the system in order for you to make it easier for them to do business with you. Scary though it may seem, why not demystify everything and give them control? Using a web2print platform gives your customer access to their own collateral, to do with as they wish, when they wish. From here, your customer can vary print runs, personalise communications by directly accessing the data that has been previously segmented, and amend current designs en masse; all of which can be sent or printed immediately.


Once you’ve set the foundation for your customer to move to your web2print platform, you will find, off the back of this initial success, that you’ve set the scene to have wider conversations with them about print related marketing campaigns. The key here is to avoid confusion by continuing to talk about printing. They already know what it is you do; they are much more interested in hearing about how you can help them to overcome their problems. 


Adding this kind of value to your customers will elevate your conversations from price to partnership, and differentiate you further from the competition.