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Commentary & Analysis

Chapter VII – Conditioning Your Mind

By Harvey Hirsch As digital printing sales people are going up against a superior force (

By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: August 30, 2004

By Harvey Hirsch As digital printing sales people are going up against a superior force (large established offset printers), we must know how and where to apply our technology to turn the battle for a sale into a victory. August 30, 2004 -- In 480 B.C. 300 Spartan "Samurai" held off a force of over 250,000 Persians led by King Xerxes at the battle of Thermopylae, in Greece. The Spartans were a deterrent force when faced up close with swords. What did them in was technology--archers raining down thousands of arrows until not one Spartan was standing. Even though each Spartan lost his life, they bought time for their navy to rally and destroy the Persian navy and avoid becoming another Persian state. More importantly, the Spartan soldier, just like the Japanese Samurai was conditioned over years of physical and mental training to fight up close and, if need be, to sacrifice himself for the society he had served. It has been stated that the term Samurai translates into "To Serve." If we, as digital printing sales people are going up against a superior force (large established offset printers), we must know how and where to apply our technology to turn the battle for a sale into a victory. To accomplish this, we must understand from a marketing communications standpoint the value of each type of printing, the cost factors of each and the best ways to apply each. As a marketing person, I'm always looking for ways to approach my prospect in unique, dynamic and cost-efficient ways. To accomplish this I prefer one-to-one marketing. One-to-one tactics allow me to initiate a personal relationship with a potential buyer immediately. I can customize a mailer with visuals and copy relevant to my prospect and personalize it with their name and their company's logo placed several times in the mailer, in lots of one. In effect, letting them know I know a little about what they do--and how I can help them do it better. The major advantage of digital is variable data placement and instant printing. In today's message saturated marketplace, a static (offset) pitch is inflexible and can lead to a quick death. In today's message saturated marketplace, a static (offset) pitch is inflexible and can lead to a quick death. It's a "one size fits all" approach and in most cases leads to disaster. I state this because if the national average response rate is only about half of 1%, and if the average cost of a mailer in lots of 10,000 is $1.47, your cost of generating a lead is around $300. If you are really interested in helping your client, at least offer to test their pitch digitally, where it can be tweaked, refined and modified on the fly before you run the entire print campaign with a single pitch. In Vitro Applications for Digital I was recently hired by a paper distributor to help generate appointments for their sales people. Faced with fewer printers because of industry attrition and commoditized products, they needed to increase sales by around 20% just to maintain their previous years' billing. One of the first things I did was develop a unique selling proposition. I differentiated them from the rest of the paper distributors, positioning them not as a supplier, but as paper specialists aware of the growing use of digital printing and the various paper solutions available to help companies print more efficiently. The next task was developing a list of target companies currently using large amounts of digital papers and preparing a pitch tailored to their particular needs. Determining there were several types of companies (large law firms, accounting firms, insurance companies, financial services firms, etc.), I wrote several variations of this pitch, all containing jargon from each industry and including the prospect's name and company name. OK, you've doubtless figured out I was going to use digital printing and data merging to accomplish this task, but there's a difference. Experienced direct marketers understand the need for personalizing mailers to get the message opened in greater numbers and they also know that "lumpy mail" gets opened more than flat mail so I created a personalized lumpy mailer, designed to (a) get opened by the decision maker's screener (the gate keeper) and (b) be dynamic enough to be passed along to the decision maker, my true target. The entire function of this mailer was to build a positive emotional reaction, imbed a premise, and burn in the client's name so when the salesperson made their follow-up phone call, a high percentage would get on the phone and set an appointment for a free paper consultation. In setting up a sales cycle, I wanted to create an attention getting, emotionally charged and personalized product that a sales person could effectively follow to do what they do best: sell. When the sales person generates their appointment, we create a personalized leave behind kit emphasizing personal attention in a dynamic way. We personalized a 9x12 envelope, a pocket folder and a brochure with the prospect's name, the name of their company and their company logo. Cost is always a factor Design a program based on the needs of the client and not the print medium. Many will argue that the cost of creating these products is much higher per piece than traditional offset products. True. But since they are only created and produced as needed, the overall cost was much lower than a minimum run of even 500 units. This program cost a fraction of what a normal offset project would have cost and gave my client the flexibility to test several pitches and offers, all of which gave them a considerable edge. Here's where conditioning enters the scene. I understand the limitations and advantages of the many forms of print communications and can make informed decisions based on the needs of each particular project. This knowledge enables me to design a program based on the needs of the client and not the print medium. As sales people, we need to be adept at understanding all of the opportunities afforded by each of the print forms and then offer the right mix to solve a client's communications problem. Ultimately, each form of printing offers potential and should be explored and available. Knowing them all will help you close more business. Zenbu Shimasu

 

 

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