Sell Service Not Print

Printers start selling value added services will create a new type of relationship with their clients

Matthew Parker ,

Do you remember vinyl?  What about cassettes?

I spent many happy days in my youth building up my record collection.  And I enjoyed making compilation tapes too.

All of this is now a distant memory.

My vinyl was sold off long ago (although with many regrets).  My cassettes are now more.  DAT has been and gone.  Even CDs are falling by the wayside in the era of the MP3.

The music industry has evolved.

Printers need to evolve too

They need to accept that good profit margins are now very difficult to make simply by selling ink on paper.  Printers need to start selling a more involved service to clients.  They need to start selling extra services that can have a higher profit margin than print.  I call these value added services.

Printers that change and start selling value added services will create a new type of relationship with their clients.  Customers will be prepared to place work at higher margins with these suppliers.  These print companies will be in better control of their profit margins.  They will be better placed to achieve the right results that they need.

Print companies that keep selling print and nothing else will fail to form good customer partnerships.  They will simply be regarded as commodity printers.  They will have little control over their profit margins.  And they will struggle to make the right results or even to stay in business.

Here are three ways in which these services change the way in which the buyer treats the printer.

Print companies are no longer seen as commodity suppliers

Instead they are seen as service providers.  They are seen as business partners that help their clients achieve their business goals.  They help their clients carry out their business more efficiently or more cost effectively.

These companies can also set themselves apart from the competition more easily.

Buyers are willing to pay more for better skill sets

The type of sale changes when printers offer value added services.  Most buyers assume that a printer will offer good service and good quality.  So they choose on price.

However, if a printer is offering a value added service such as data management or design, the situation changes.  The buyer sees the skill levels at the printers as making a real difference.  This is because they are looking at a service where they will measure by return on investment.  Before, they were thinking in terms of commodity manufacturing.

Suddenly it is a lot easier for a printer to stand out from the competition.  But they do need to sell their skills better.  This also changes the buyer’s purchasing process.

It is more difficult to beat companies up on price

Price will always be an important decision in the purchasing process.  However, in terms of print manufacture the buyer can simply compare a like for like specification.  When looking at services a buyer can be encouraged to consider return on investment rather than just looking at cheapest price.

Offering value added services can make a real difference to a printer.

So does this mean that all printers should become Marketing Services Providers?

Not at all.  There are a wide range of value added services that can be offered.  Many printers will already have some in house, such as design or postal services.

Marketing Services is certainly one strategy, but it is not the only one.  Let’s focus on the magazine sector.

Here’s how one printer put this strategy into practice

In the UK, one printer looked at the challenges that were facing many of its publishing clients.  And the challenges lay not in print, but in how to tackle producing digital editions.

So they developed their own software which allows their clients to create digital editions easily.  Publishers can make a single file upload for print and digital editions.  This has allowed sales conversations to move away from price matching.  Many clients are now interested in having an easy digital solution from a print supplier.  So the lowest print price is no longer the most important factor.

However, you need your own action plan to create value added services.

Here are three action points that you need to be scheduling right now

  1. Ask your customers what challenges they face
  2. Create a service offering which addresses these issues
  3. Develop a new sales message which focusses on the services you offer, rather than just putting ink on paper



Download "Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them" (worth £19/$29) absolutely free and receive practical articles as well.


Matthew Parker

Matthew Parker

Founding director of Profitable Print Relationships

Matthew Parker
Runs www.profitableprintrelationships.com After many years of print buying (when he received over 1,400 sales pitches from print companies) he is now sharing the buyer’s point of view with the print industry.
Matthew is training the sales and customer service staff of many leading printers.
He also speaks at many print industry events.
Download his free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” now at:  profitableprintrelationships.com/e-book/

matthew.parker@printandprocure | www.profitableprintrelationships.com


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