Now that we’re off and running into the 2020’s, it’s a good time to review, reflect and plan for the Brave New World of envelopes, print and paper and how best to approach and execute our marketing efforts.
The 2010’s saw the growth of in-bound marketing techniques which have become ubiquitous in businesses large and small. One of the great innovators was HubSpot, a Boston-based company started in 2005 by a couple of MIT grads. By refining search engine optimization (SEO) techniques, HubSpot built a platform that enabled businesses (like Elite Envelope) to attract potential customers who might be searching the internet for products that fit.
One of the main tools was the use of blog articles which contain “key-words” and phrases that match what large numbers of people are searching for in that category. While this technique certainly has value and utility, it can also lead to nothing more than an obvious repetition of certain phrases ad nauseum for the sole purpose of boosting a company’s search profile. And ultimately, who cares about that? Google’s algorithms have become very sophisticated and blogs with repetitive content can receive lower rankings. So, if you’re going to write a regular blog, try to make it interesting and useful to the reader beyond what you’re trying to sell.
Here are some other recommendations for jump-starting your marketing and closing more deals in the new decade:
- Utilize in-bound marketing to the maximum extent but tailored to your business model. If you’re a small, neighborhood printer, it would pay to have a presence on Yelp. However, if you’re a large, commercial printer, you’re probably not going to get much benefit there other than the generalized advantage of a broad social media presence. A Facebook Page is always a good choice; easy to set up, no cost to maintain and targeted ads are very inexpensive and at the very least can help with name recognition.
- Don’t neglect the traditional “out-bound” marketing. I just checked and saw that our website showed up in nearly 3,800 Google searches in the past 28 days. That’s pretty good for a company our size with primarily a regional customer base and limited marketing resources. And it’s easy to look at that and ask, “why should I waste time reaching out when all these folks are reaching toward us?”. Well, the answer to that question is you’re kidding yourself if you think that you can just rely on inbound leads for sales growth. Most prospects will turn into customers only after being courted in the traditional ways. You need to have a program set up which continuously sends pertinent information and offers to potential customers. You need to meet people whenever possible. And you need to follow up. And “rinse and repeat.”
- Identify your target customers carefully. When I started in envelope sales in 1988, pretty much any mid to large company was a potential target. Everyone used lots of envelopes and printed forms as a regular part of corporate communications and operations. In 2020, that is no longer the case. Many companies have gone virtually paperless. And many industries like banking which were always fat targets for printing companies have cut back significantly in this regard. There’s still plenty of business out there, but you must be very precise in going after the ones with the greatest potential consistent with your particular product line.
- Figure out who you are as a company and where you fit in the market. Differentiation is key to marketing success. Where are your competitive advantages? What is your competition doing and how are you different and (hopefully) better? What type of orders are best for you; i.e. ones on which you are most competitive yet profitable? What kind of business do you not want? All these questions need to be answered and considered when developing a marketing strategy.
- Don’t be afraid to be unconventional. The default for most businesses is to “stick with what works” by which they really mean “what has worked in the past”. There’s wisdom in this of course. If something has always worked and continues to yield results, there’s no point in changing just for the sake of it. But in a changing market, especially a declining market like envelopes, printing and paper, new approaches, products, services and promotions need to be considered and tested. The digital world brings about change at exponential speed. The next great innovation or product for your business might be something completely different than what you’ve done in the past.
The renowned management scholar author Peter Drucker said, “the purpose of business is to create a customer”. This was later modified by Harvard Business School marketing professor Theodore Levitt as “the purpose of a business is to create and keep a customer”. May you create and keep many customers in the next decade!