All posts by Caroline

print management

5 benefits of print management companies

Continuing my theme on outsourcing I thought I’d delve into why organisations can really come out on top when they choose to work with a print management company. print management

What is print management?

And, what can a print management company do for you?

In essence they manage the purchasing of any print, mail and marketing item you generate.

Print management companies can help you save time and money on all print related activities.

Outsourcing your print and mailing such as invoicing, statements, cheques or corporate stationery items will ensure continuity of brand management, cost reduction and give you unlimited access to expertise.

What are the 5 benefits of working with a print management company?

It’s not expensive

Print management does cost money because there will be set up costs at the outset of the contract or project but what you need to remember is that a print management company will be managing many procurement activities for different organisations and companies this gives them leverage because they are purchasing on volume which in turn is passed down to you the customer in cost savings.

These savings would not be be achieved if the buying is done by many different departments and is managed locally rather than centrally.

Outsourcing will increase efficiencies and eliminate random iStock_000013524456Smallpurchasing.

Guaranteed cost savings

Organisations with in-house sourcing will never achieve the level of savings a print manager can offer, the function is not core to their business and there is likely to be a lack of print knowledge making sourcing the right product at the best price difficult.

Investment in print management software

Print management companies take advantage of the latest print management software solutions.

Print procurement technology enhances the business process by streamlining quoting, improving the print job process and using digital asset management as a central repository for marketing assets and documents.

Organisations do not have the budget nor the infrastructure to implement a print management procurement program but print management companies specifically aim to improve and invest in the technology to ensure customers can place orders online and all print jobs are managed accurately and delivered on time.

Accountability

Outsourcing to a print manager ensures that they are accountable print managementby being able to show cost savings through metrics and reports that include KPI’s and SLA’s  to demonstrate effectiveness.

Innovation

All organisations want to make sure that their printed communications and marketing collateral is at the forefront of their competition. print management

Print management companies provide innovation and creativity because of their expertise in design and print and because of their knowledge of the market place.

They keep up to date with advancements in the print industry and pass these developments on to you the customer.

Above all else, a print management company is impartial they are not tied to anyone manufacturer or supplier.

They will have cultivated an extensive network of supplier relationships developed over many years, based on trust, excellence and expertise, which cannot be achieved in-house.

The next time you are reviewing your print strategy and want to know how your company can make savings think print management! 

outsourcing

Dispelling the myths of outsourcing

Digital Print Management has been a long term advocate of outsourcing.outsourcing

But, surprisingly very few companies experience the real benefits of outsourcing because of failure in communication.

All too often relationships along with the contracts fail to meet the expectations of the customer.

Digital Print Management have often succeeded in winning contract work because of failure by the last incumbent.

Great for us but not a good advertisement for the industry in general.

What do I mean?

The three main reasons outsourcing fails are:-

  1. The company wanting to outsource has no process for specifying the work to be done.
  2. Poor project management from the provider and the company outsourcing
  3. No metrics or KPI’s for measuring success

outsource Unless you can specify and understand what you want as the party wanting to outsource how can you possibly expect the supplier to deliver your expectations?

You don’t need a detailed document that reads like War and Peace to make outsourcing successful but you do need to know what you expect to receive from the outsourcing process.

The worse scenario is the company decides to outsource a process and hires consultants to do the work for them assuming they know better than the organisation what is required and wasting money in the process.

Tell us what you need.

outsourceWe can do anything, just tell us what you need.

I’ve sat in many meetings talking with clients understanding what they are looking and hoping for when they are considering outsourcing.

Start with a blank sheet of paper, if you could have anything you wanted what would it be?

Eh voila, there it is, all the information you need to put together a specification.

The responsibility is on the shoulders of the company looking to outsource the business process.

But, the most important and missing piece is how do YOU want your customers to feel when they experience the process you’ve outsourced.

In other words it is your customer or the end user who will have the real benefit, experience or engagement with the business process you’ve outsourced not solely the organisation.

Outsourcing fails because the agreement is not properly structured, doesn’t take advantage of the outsource providers best practices, creativity and innovation.

It does not define the scope and service levels that meet your needs and there is no communication.

When it is well planned, outsourcing relationships provide and deliver substantial benefits to an organisation and not solely cost savings.

Businesswoman using digital tablet with copyspace

Why smartphones lead the way for a multi channel service

In my last post I emphasised the importance of giving your customers the choice between choosing paper and viewing documents online or what I call a multi channel service.multichannel services

More than 42 years have passed since the first mobile phone call was made by a motorola employee, Martin Cooper in the USA.

Since then, the sale of smartphones has reached dizzying heights and has become the staple business tool for many of us.

Connecting and transacting business on a daily basis is now commonplace from emails, shopping, banking online; it would be hard to imagine a life without a smartphone.

72% of us own a smartphone.

Generation Y those aged between 25-30 are the most likely to own a mobile phone (89%) and Generation Z, 16-24 year olds follow closely with smartphone ownership at 85%.

This group are most happy to use apps for shopping online. 54% of 54-65 year olds own a smartphone.

Mobile websites and having the ability to interact and communicate important information to your customers via mobile is increasingly important.

Offering a multichannel service to deliver and communicate with your customers is key to customer retention.

Mobile technology is rapidly becoming the most popular channel for people to be able to access information and being able to adapt your delivery processes to ensure that customers have access to the information online, on mobile and in paper format is crucial to ensuring customer longevity.

By providing a seamless experience to the customer irrespective of the channel they choose – telephone, online, mobile phone, they are made to feel like they are dealing with one company.

How they receive and interact with the information is important for long term customer relationships.

Multichannel servicesIt is no longer about sending paper communications, customers need to have the choice how they interact with the information they receive from you and as the above statistics show mobile adaptation for businesses must be considered part of the marketing process.

Businesses need to embrace mobile technology and adapt their services to fit with the needs of their customers.

Presenting documents online can be costly and time consuming firstly there is the need for:-

  • a website
  • emails
  • developing an app(s)
  • web portal

They also need to be mobile responsive which means that the document needs to emulate the layout and content of the paper document and respond to the size of screen it is viewed on.

Multichannel communication is about presenting documents online so that customers can view information anytime and anywhere.

Part of the multichannel service experience is about driving up customer engagement and organisations need to understand how customers use mobile technology in their personal lives – for shopping, banking and connecting on social media driven to use their smartphones more readily to access their documents when they are on the move.

Viewing customer information is not solely for the smartphone, it needs to be viewable on PC’s, laptops, tablets and in paper format.

A multichannel service allows your customers to choose how they prefer to view the information you send them without forcing them to take up an option they are not happy with.

For more information about multichannel distribution of electronic documents and online viewing. Please feel free to call us here.

Multichannel services

Multichannel services. What is it and how can it add value?

Multichannel marketing is the ability to interact with potential customers on a number of different types of platforms. Multichannel services

Multichannel marketing is giving the customer the choice to make a purchase from whatever mechanism is available whether it is a print ad, retail location, website, PURL and so on.

Multichannel services work on a very similar principle allowing customers to simultaneously access their invoices, statements, payslips and any other customer communication document anytime, anywhere from multiple devices. Multichannel services

As consumers are using more mobile devices it is important to be able to deliver both a paper and digital version of a document.

According to Google we have become a world of multi-screeners with 90 per cent of consumers media interactions done on a computer, smartphone, tablet or TV.

The device used to make purchases is driven by the context in which we find ourselves – where we are, what we are doing and how much time we have.

If data can be supplied for printing purposes the very same data can be used to provide electronic or digital equivalent of the exact same document.

Enabling customers or employees to view those documents at a time that best suits them.

Whilst it is tempting to cut off all remaining relationships with print and dispense with paper communications altogether, print still has it’s place in our digital world.Multichannel services

Here’s why

The explosion of technology and digital devices has enabled customers to view anything online.

But when it comes to certain financial documents not everyone feels comfortable with online accessibility.

Driving pure online statements or electronic documents is a surefire way to disengage customers particularly if they only want to and have been use to receiving paper statements. Multichannel services

Whilst the transition to an online system can make business processes more streamlined by cutting costs and making accessibility easier, it may not be in the best interests of the customer particularly if they lack the necessary online skills.

From an organisation point of view any consideration for moving toward an online and paperless environment  without engaging and educating the customer the reasons why your organisation wishes to adopt paperless could end up costing more in time and money responding to queries by phone and letter. Multichannel services

Enforcing customers to move to online viewing of documents and expecting them to behave in a specific way is not conducive to positive long term customer relationships.

That is where multichannel services come into its own – by being able to deliver a printed version and online statement, payslip or any document type this encourages the customer to get use to online viewing and accessing an online web portal so that when the time is right for them they can switch off paper bills if they want to.

It’s about choice

Consumers don’t want to be pushed into making a choice they aren’t ready for.

Giving the customer choice ensures a successful relationship.

Take away choice and the customers is dissatisfied and are likely to voice their opinion on social media.

People take time to embrace change in spite of the technology revolution and although smartphone users are transacting more online, the need for paper documents still affords the comfort factor engaging customers and allowing the customer to check details.

According to the ONS (Office of National Statistics) four out of five people are more likely to read statements that are available both online and in a paper format.

Multichannel services deliver choice your customer can choose to receive a paper and digital version, when the time is right for them they can then choose when to switch to paperless billing.

What do you think?

Empty asphalt road towards cloud and signs symbolizing success a

What is print management NOW

The inspiration for this post came largely from a prospective  When?customer who wanted to understand how Digital Print Management deliver the services they offer and what is print management all about.

Ha, that’s a blog post just waiting to be written I thought.

Print management has evolved over the years from print farmers, print brokers to print consultants and latterly multi-channel service providers of which Digital Print Management is one.

Although the final output is paper – printed payslip, invoice, cheque, remittance, statement.

Mobile devicesThere is also the requirement for the multi-channel distribution of documents this includes a print version and an electronic version of the same document.

Whilst the print management umbrella incorporates a little of what we do it doesn’t tell the whole story.

Print is part of the whole, but, the key element is how your documents are then distributed.

A traditional print management company provides total management of a company’s print inventory – from business print, marketing print, direct mail, financial print, to promotional gifts and clothing.

If it needs printing, more often than not it needs to be managed properly.

Stacked MailHistorically this is where print management companies come into their own by being able to provide expert advice and consultancy on a whole genre of print projects.

Good print management companies will provide clients with the expertise to take a print project from an idea and make it reality.

With access to an array of suppliers, customers can be sure they are getting the best products at the best price.

But we manage this in house – I hear you say

All companies at sometime or other will spend money on ‘print’. I use the term loosely to cover all aspects of ‘print’.

Maybe this is consigned to one person but with increasingly limited resources and budget cuts print buying is commonly split between a number of departments, with more than one person or department buying their print.

Print management companies have skilled and highly trained people who were born into the world of print.

They’ve learn’t their craft through being able to sell a variety of different products and services either as a manufacturer or as a print broker.

Print management companies aren’t tied to one specific supplier or manufacture which is great news for the customer, because you are partnering with a print company that is impartial and unbiased.

Print management companies deliver as part of their service offering print consultancy – understanding how, what and why you print in-house, production and project management so your project is delivered on time.

iStock_000018976177XSmallThe overriding factor for partnering with a print management company is their access to a supplier network that they’ve developed and nurtured determined by:-

  • what the customer wants
  • what market forces are driving in the way of new products and services. This then determines the suppliers print management companies elect to work with and effectively up sell their unique products/services.

Great importance is placed on nurturing and developing long term supplier relationships, the print management company ultimately providing the sales element of the partnership acting as the reseller, and the supplier delivering/manufacturing the product/service.

Their sole aim is to ensure customer satisfaction which in turn means a returning customer.

The most experienced print management companies come from print backgrounds either having worked for a manufacturer or gained experience as a print broker.

Empty asphalt road towards cloud and signs symbolizing success aMarket forces coupled with knowledgable and innovative suppliers, have enabled print management companies to diversify and specialise in specific areas of business print and fulfilment like payroll and multi-channel services.

Being able to carve out a niche often sets them above the parapet.

Not every organisation has the desire to source a company to print/distribute their annual P60s or weekly/monthly payslips.

And that is where we come in.

Print management companies care about print and work closely with their suppliers to achieve a common goal – customer satisfaction and the assurances that the organisation is being looked after by the print management company.

As well as identifying savings in print and distribution costs, the end user is gaining expert advice and knowledge from a trusted print management company.

And that is where print management really is NOW.

In my next blog: Multi-channel services. What is it and how can it add value to my business?

 

 

 

 

How does print management fit into our digital world?

I’m a big advocate of print as part of your marketing strategy, I CMYK printing conceptbelieve it’s a great way to engage with your customers in the first instance and a great place to start their buying journey.

When it comes to marketing material, print arouses the senses notably sight and touch unlike its digital counterpart, print gives customers something physical to hold, to browse through and is easier to refer back to when needed.

The print industry embraced the digital world back in the early 90’s.

Think digital printing – short run in any number of variations and types, highly personalised and customised.

print word in letterpress typePrint was the leader in optimising personalisation and customisation in the online world.

Where do you think the big brands got their ideas to drive customer engagement with personalized messages and customised landing pages?

Print of course!

Does print management still fit into our social media and digital world?

I believe it does.

In the past, companies had no idea what their print spend was, senior executives had no idea about the number of print devices in use, the cost of paper and supplies, let alone the cost of the overall print bill, excluding corporate stationery and items.

Times have changed and although social media marketing has in some respects taken the lead, print is now one very important part of the content marketing process.

Print marketing has benefited from changes in our industry making it more cost effective for organisations to send out highly personalised marketing information and then following this up with social media campaigns so the customer can follow the brand, company or purchase.

Some may think that print management is finished and that print based marketing is no longer needed in an ever changing social and digital world.

But they are wrong. Think business cards, leaflets, brochures, packaging, posters and invitations.

With the rise of cross media marketing which includes but is not limited to variable data print, personalised URLs (PURL), podcasts/webinars, email and social media, physical print marketing plays an active role.

For example variable data print which includes direct mail, posters, brochures and giveaways – anything that can be printed with the customer’s name, company or a content specific message.

In my last post I talked about how to add value to your print through the use of AR and QR codes.

Similarly adding a PURL enables you to capture a prospect at the point of interest.

When?Optimising a personalised web address means that you now have a way of measuring their interest and the technology to evaluate where they are in the buying journey using analytics which can report the landing pages they have arrived at.

Cross media communications are designed to move the prospect across the different media using “calls to action” with each touch point teasing the buyer to take further action and move onto the next platform.

Where does print management fit in?

Simple. Print management companies are experts in the total management of a company’s print marketing requirements – marketing print, financial print and more.

Print management means accessibility to the latest innovations not just in print but in design, new technologies like AR that can all add value to your marketing initiatives.

Being able to work with an outsourcing partner that can manage and integrate the various channels of communication makes it a very effective way of maximising business efficiencies and savings.

Empty asphalt road towards cloud and signs symbolizing success aThe marketing officer gains expertise, consultation, access to a variety of multi-channel distribution networks, brand consistency and major cost benefits

 

 

 

iStock_000025176791Small

How to use print interactively. Augmented Reality and QR codes

At a recent customer meeting I was held to task by a statement print word in letterpress typemade by one of the marketing officers, ‘print is not as effective as digital’.

I considered my response carefully and suggested that this is a generalisation, misused to criticise print and keep marketing and advertising budgets lower, as if using print would escalate costs. But, I went onto suggest that whilst the statement is true it is also untrue. iStock_000023887471Small

Digital lends itself to short, trivial messages which can be effective and cheaper than print because distribution and receipt of the message is instant.

For more complex information or understanding of a product or service than print affords high resolution, better typography, colour, composition, special effects and beautiful fulfillment which cannot be delivered by digital media, yet.

The effectiveness of print largely depends on the message you want to convey to your audience, what kind of response you want to get and what your ultimate objective is.

The marketing officer went on to say even if you design and deliver a fantastic piece of physical marketing it really is just a bit of paper isn’t it?

And then I showed him how to incorporate QR codes and Augmented reality into his physical print media and guess what he had an epiphany.

‘I didn’t realise that print could do all that’. Scanning QR code with mobile phone

How do I use a QR code with my marketing collateral?

QR codes create a link between print and the digital world making your marketing work twice as hard because it is measurable.

QR codes make it simpler for your customers to purchase by shortening their purchasing journey. At the same time you can collect information about their buying behaviour for future offers and discounts.

QR codes can be printed on all printed material from advertisements, direct mail, letterheads, business cards, magazines, brochures, sales and marketing material.

Each code contains information that sends the customer straight to a specific PURL/landing page that’s been designed with a marketing objective in mind, a digital newsletter, video or social media site like a facebook page.

Using a smartphone with a QR code scanner the customer scans the code and is taken to a specific site that might be an invitation to buy or sign up for a newsletter or subscription.

Once the QR code is scanned, information can be saved about where the customer is located, at what time of day purchases are made and how the customer responds to your marketing.

QR codes improve your customer interaction by creating opportunities to generate dialogue with customers and statistics can be measured for future marketing objectives.

QR codes can also be personalised using information supplied via a CRM and then printed directly onto any printed marketing material.

QR codes are used to connect print with digital communication but they can contain any kind of information you want which makes them limitless in how you choose to use them.

For example you can link an advert or an invoice to a special offer on your website or re-direct them to a specific landing page.

The QR code can be added to any type of printed collateral and the customer can claim a discount right away.

A QR code is also a great way of rewarding loyal customers by connecting with them on social media and having a specific landing page that enables them to collect points or gain discounts.

How can I use Augmented Reality with my print marketing?

Augmented reality is adding a new dimension to the world of physical print because it is turning printed media into multimedia.

Why send readers to a website to watch a video when then can watch it on a page?

Marketing is about engaging with your audience by making content interesting, interactive and informative.

AR is an effective way of engaging your audience by placing advertisements so that your target audience is moved to want to make a purchase. iStock_000025176791Small

By viewing printed materials through an augmented reality app’s viewfinder a world of interactive digital content is available.

The advertisement or message comes alive with computer generated video, sound or games accessed through a smartphone or tablet.

AR can be used to show how a product works or allow readers access to other content. It is another way of making print or text interactive making the consumer experience fun and hopefully leads then down the path to purchasing.

AR is interactive and has the potential to increase audience engagement by reaching your target audiences in new ways using mobile devices.

What makes AR even more appealing is its ability to deliver targeted advertising messages to the people who request them because they are reading an article or feature they are genuinely interested in.

By scanning a code or pointing their device at an image on a sign, a printed page in a magazine or brochure or on a billboard, content becomes dynamic and engaging increasing the likelihood of the consumer to move along the purchasing journey.

Marketing and strategy

How do I make my content marketing fit with print and social media

Although I do not profess to be either a marketing or social media content marketing strategyexpert I’m often asked by our customers, how do we tailor our content marketing or proposition so it is suitable for print and online?

Whilst I know a thing or two about the importance of personalisation and the part it plays in the customer experience; ensuring your content marketing fits into the physical and digital world are two very different disciplines. iStock_000001004704Small

Personalisation isn’t about adding a customer name at the top of an email message.

Marketing automation coupled with CRM has enabled companies to collect large amounts of data about their customers, which means marketing can deliver customised preferences that match the customer’s requirements.

That’s all well and good if you can afford the marketing software tools and a comprehensive CRM system but if you are an SME it’s not quite so easy.

Whilst the large familiar brands want to convey the idea they are smaller and more personable so they can win more customers; the SME is wanting to achieve the opposite effect.

There is a link between businesses that are successful with branding multichannel marketingthat represents the success of the company, I call it familiarity. But this takes time to build a following and an identity.

Simply adding your logo on to all your printed stationery and social media channels does not make your business stand out anymore than the next.

Pushing the same post or content marketing message out to all your social media channels is not the same as customising the message to suit each of the social media channels.

Customers will use different channels to view your marketing from the physical direct mail piece to being able to view content on social channels, on different devices or a combination of all and will want to see and read different, but, familiar messages. Marketing and strategyEach social media channel has different characteristics and whilst consistently posting good content is important it doesn’t mean it should be identical on all channels.

So how do you go about building the buzz about your business?

Here are some key points to consider.

  1. What does your company stand for? Where do you fit in? Can you define who your audience is and where to find them? Ask yourself and your customers why do they choose you, what makes you stand out? What is the identity of your company?
  2. What products and services do you offer and why does your current customer base choose you for these products and services?

By being able to answer the above questions will help you choose where and what social platforms you should be on to be seen and heard.

3. What drives your business? What are the company values? Are your employees also buying into the company ethos and its mission?

If the people that work in the business perceive that the company lives and breathes by what it stands for then they in turn are loyal, trust the company they work for and are genuinely more heart-felt in the way they deliver to the customers.

This becomes evident when customers talk to your employees.

The best compliment an employee can say is “this is a great place to work” in turn this makes the customer feel comfortable knowing they are working with the right supplier.

4. Understand the customers experience – look at the company through your customers eyes and ask, what are their expectations, how do you think you deliver overall?

If an issue occurs all the customer remembers is the problem they had with your company, late delivery, the support person who was unhelpful. How well you resolve the customer issue shows your true company values and sets you apart from the rest.

5. Your content should be consistent with the same tone throughout, that way your customers identify and recognise that it’s your company –  from the marketing piece delivered to their door through to the social media channels. Keep your messages different and entertaining.

6. Make an impression and be distinctive – carve out your own identity it might be fun and light hearted or serious and measured but above all keep the tone and message consistent with the company profile.

That way customers don’t get confused and think it’s another company.

7. Change content marketing across channels –  it’s easier to post the same message to every social media channel but even harder to know which one works best.

Understanding how each of the platforms work and what they can do is a step forward in establishing if you are likely to find your customer there. For example we use twitter to promote posts, ideas, quotes and industry news.

8. Choose the right channels for customer contact – twitter might be great for sharing news and reviews about your products and services and other content but, YouTube might be ideal for you to demonstrate a product. Pinterest is a great place to organise boards that showcase your imagery – photos, blogs, interests.

9. Think about how you communicate your brand – You might have a product or service that is not mainstream in other words not something you’d talk about over breakfast but by getting creative and promoting a story about how your product/service helped an organisation save time/money etc is a fun way of showcasing how your product works. print word in letterpress type10. Make your printed marketing piece the first customer touch point. Customise and personalise it according to the customer and relate it to the product/service you are promoting. Use context (reasonably) imagery, and give them a reason to follow you on social media sites by making your print more interactive using QR codes and AR. (Augmented Reality)

Customising content across social channels for better response takes time and doesn’t happen overnight.

Consistency is important for an integrated marketing campaign right through from print to social.

Being able to deliver useful marketing messages consistently that delivers on its values and promises, guarantees to win customers, but there is a warning, it doesn’t happen overnight.

What do you do to get noticed?

How do you market your products and services and how well does it work for you?

Share with us what has worked and what hasn’t.

Next time: In my next post how to use print more effectively?

Customer service concept

Why passion delivers great customer service

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January madness that’s what we call it, the start of the new year heralds a run on prospective companies who feel compelled to test and benchmark their current supplier/vendor against customer service and price.

Speaking with a prospective customer about a payroll project, I didn’t hold back when I said what is it about UK companies and the month of January that compels them to undertake a review of their current supplier? Is it poor customer service?

AngerGoing to the marketplace, collecting proposals and quotes, wasting their valuable time, resources and the suppliers time not to mention time spent in gathering, collating often extensive detailed costings, background company and fiscal information.

I had to ask, ‘presumably your current supplier is coming up short on customer service, or is it something else, perhaps you’d be kind enough to elaborate for me’.

Er no, not quite it’s just that we are two years into a three year contractual relationship and we wanted to see if there is anything better or something we are not getting.

I sighed and thought, you’re kidding me right?

If the process had been documented and specified by the incumbent company in the first place the company would be secure in the knowledge that the market place had been thoroughly researched, the list had been narrowed down to a short-list of of potential providers, let’s say three.

Each one would have been invited for a discussion or even visited if the service warranted it.

The specification would have been agreed internally by the stakeholders prior to looking for suppliers so that costs submitted were accurate.

All KPI’s and deliverables would have been laid out at the point of specification making the final choice easier for the company to make comparisons with the others.

Leaving you safe in the knowledge that your final choice was the right one to deliver the service or solution for your company.

I know I’ve simplified what can often be a more detailed process into a couple of paragraphs but if the job has been done why do companies want to test what they have?

Customer service concept

What really matters to customers is customer service or is there more?

The web makes doing business transparent, companies that are in the market for a new product, service or solution are likely to have visited your website and found the information they need about your company, quality and customer service.

They may have even made some tentative inquiries in regard to the service they are looking for.

This forms part of their list of potential suppliers.

Going back to the above interaction do companies really believe they can get something better for less?

That by somehow going out and benchmarking their existing supplier they will be able to get the same service for a lot less.

What do we all want and rarely get? Great customer service.

Why, because if your decision is based solely on price and price alone then you are dead in the water except where you are restricted by a budget in which case, the price is the prevailing factor on which your decision has to be based.

If you are confident in your current supplier and know you are getting the best service then surely this cost exercise is a waste of everyone’s time.

It’s a conundrum and one that I question when I’m talking to prospective customers.

What do they think is missing?

What do they believe they aren’t getting?

Do they think they can better the service they have already assuming they’ve done their research right?

iStock_000018668499SmallDoes this imply that they may of missed a stage during the selection process or they are insecure in the knowledge that really they don’t know what they are doing or what to look out for?

As a current supplier, if you know you are delivering the best service is there any reason why you think your customer is evaluating the marketplace?

The analogy is a bit like buying a house, you may not be thinking of moving but if something gorgeous pops up on your radar and suddenly it becomes your dream home, then your perspective changes and you find yourself wanting to move.

If your company provides solutions or services then surely one of the primary objectives is to consistently deliver the best you can and seek to improve the service offering after all it’s the job of the company to make the customer aware of new innovations, updates and upgrades.

But I wonder if the reason many companies look elsewhere aside of the new year and new budgets is not because of poor customer service,  or that the solution or product is the problem but good old fashioned business to business relationships based on human interaction is actually missing.

In an age of social online interactivity it is easy for companies to hide behind customer support and use social media as the way of helping the customer by answering complaints rather than good old fashioned face to face conversation.

By contributing to the customer directly whether on the phone or in person you are making them feel more important and valued and that you genuinely care about them.

The digital world can’t provide the human touch element.

So my question to those companies wanting to benchmark their current service or solution is ‘are you wanting to change simply because you are not being loved enough or aren’t there any incentives to continue with the service?’

Aside of poor execution and delivery.

In which case ask what it is you want or are looking for so that next time when you review your current service or solution you can ask the prospective supplier can you do this for me/can you deliver this for me?

iStock_000020192818SmallOne final point it is as much the responsibility of the customer to communicate with its supplier as it is for the supplier to work with the customer, it is a two way process.

That way you ensure you are getting the best out of the relationship.

As for the aforementioned customer who contacted us wanting a detailed proposal when I asked what they weren’t getting from their current supplier, the response was we just want to make sure we are getting the right service at the right price.

I rest my case.

 

 

Happy New Year Hanging Baubles Blue Bokeh Beautiful 3D

From content personalisation to cross media marketing.

I know, I know.

This post is late by my standards and should have been published back on the 29th December. No I haven’t been caught dog napping.English Bulldog

But without boring you with the details, I’ve decided to post now, better late than never.

As has been customary for the last two years my final post of the year has always been an overview or resource tool for you or the ‘best of’ what I’ve written during the year.

By the best of I mean the posts I’ve enjoyed writing and more importantly generated feedback and good responses. But above all else I hope it provides a useful ‘go to’ for future reference.

So how did 2014 start?

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It seems so long ago now doesn’t it but January came in with a flourish and I talked about the importance of document security and how to manage information especially when you are on the move.

With the use of tablets and smartphones it is so much easier to read, respond and write on the move.

But how careful do you need to be?

February and March as is customary in our business focussed on P60’s every payroll department’s worse nightmare and a cumbersome task that still needs to be managed. But outsourcing the process can save time and money. Here’s how.

content marketing strategyAnd then there was no stopping me I was off onto the importance of content personalisation and customisation in just about every working document from payslips to marketing content.

Why? Simple. Because content personalisation has everything to do with print and the physical world as it has in the digital and social world.

iStock_000023869795SmallContent personalisation is key for any direct mail or content marketing piece.

Take a look at your payslip, an invoice, social media messages.

The whole point is to make your message personalised whether it’s a message for an employee or for a customer, make it personalised and relevant and get the the message across in the right way.

March covered hybrid mail – a great way to mail out a few to several thousand letters at less than the cost of a 2nd class stamp and a service which more and more people are climbing on board because there’s no set up costs and no on-going charges. Best of all you can do it all from your desktop.

It was also the time when ‘big data’ was being talked about.

It seems like an enigma but it reality it’s simply a case of having loads of complex data sets but not understanding what to do with it.

That will be the challenge certainly for the bigger organisations in 2015.

April was the month where I really drove home the view of why print needs to be part of your content media and marketing strategy and leveraging the power of print.

Why should print be part of the cross media marketing mix when it comes to marketers planning a re-brand or delivering an important message?print word in letterpress type

May continued the theme of cross media marketing and suggested ways that a print management company can help you with planning your cross media marketing strategy.

Part of that is understanding what your customer really wants.

Mobile devicesAt the start of June I was surprised at just how many of us didn’t know what BYOD meant and how many of us are now working on our own devices at work.

This has a number of ramifications for businesses not least security but how do you legislate how employees use their own devices in the workplace.

I had a lot of fun with this blog post and it really did happen to me. How easy it is for personalisation to go horribly wrong.

What does your content marketing say about you?

Social media conceptHow do we engage with customers when there are so many social media platforms and moreover where do we find our audience?

Having achieved that how do you then get your message read or heard?

I’m regularly asked, Caroline, how can we save money on our print, not just the customary business print but the processing of print like printing and mailing invoices, statements, customer letters, so I wrote a post about it.

The ice bucket challenge was a worldwide phenomenon in August, just about everyone rose to the challenge and had a bucket of ice cold water thrown over them, I was one of them.

Why did it go viral and what did the ice bucket challenge have in common with content marketing? 

Fisheye Man Getting Ice Bucket Dumped On HeadIt’s social and online which is why it went viral and the challenge for marketers is understanding how multi-channel marketing matters in a digital world and how to be successful at delivering it time and time again.

One of my favourite posts was written in November where I talked about going digital completely and giving up the use or need for paper.

People talk about the demise of print and paper but I believe whilst it’s need has changed it still forms an important part of any marketing campaign if used intelligently with QR codes and augmented reality.

My last blog post in December argued the case for businesses needing social media.

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Since writing that article I’ve read at least three that have argued the demise of social media, or rather we’ve become fatigued by it.

That it has probably gone as far as it can go and millenials want more instantaneous ways of receiving their content with instant gratification.

What now for 2015?

I’m starting on the NCTJ (national council of training journalists) to develop my career and skills in writing because I enjoy researching and writing on subjects that I’m interested in.

I will continue to do my very best to serve up interesting articles throughout this year and any noteworthy industry news.

Happy New Year Hanging Baubles Blue Bokeh Beautiful 3D

Until next time.

Have a very happy new year and thank you for turning up and reading.