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Building Your Business in the Age of Google

Are you interrupting a lot of people to find the few who are in need of your products and services? Or are you working very hard to be found by the customers that are actively seeking out your services?

By Jennifer Matt
Published: October 4, 2017

When you ask printers how they intend to grow their business; most still say they are going to invest in more sales people. Sales people are paid to proactively go find prospects that are in need of the products and services the printer offers. How many prospects can a single sales person reach each day? No matter what your answer – the number is limited, especially if your sales team insists on the traditional methods of phone, email, and personal visits.

Is this the best way to think about building your business in the age of Google?

Scale is no longer limited to hours in the day. Scale is no longer limited to number of sales resources you employ. Scaling your business is now about getting found by the prospects who are pre-qualifying themselves by searching online.

Search puts customer’s in the driver’s seat. When a customer is in need of services they turn to one place – google.com and type in the words and phrases that make sense to them in order to find services that match their needs. Your print business’ first impression is online. You are not there, your sales resources are not there, your customer service team is not there. If all the knowledge and know-how of your business is locked in your human resources and not represented online; your first impression is a poor one.

I’ve talked to hundreds of printers over the years, each one of them is interesting to me. Yet, when I go to their websites, their online presence is far from interesting. There is nothing human about it. In a world of anonymous online companies; the worst thing you can do is be an anonymous business. The best thing you can do it be as human as possible. It frustrates me when long-term, community businesses, most of which are family owned ignore the age of Google at their peril. They leave the door wide open to anonymous online businesses who simply focus only on their online presence and appear to be ‘better’ than established businesses that have been successfully servicing their communities for decades.

Online businesses focus first and foremost on getting found. Everything they do online is about improving their search engine optimization (SEO), getting found online. Once they get found, their website is optimized to provide the optimal user experience. Their focus is their online presence because that is the only presence they have (since most of them don’t provide a phone number) or when they do; its nearly impossible to reach anyone.

Google has changed the language of business, it is now being defined by the customer. The language you use on your website and in your social media channels dictates your success on search. If you aren’t thinking about how your customer talks about your products and services, then you aren’t playing by the rules of internet search. Does your customer call your product labels or stickers? It really doesn’t matter what you think or even what is accurate. It matters what your customer uses when they search online and if you are using those terms in the marketing of your business.

Do you know what makes this so powerful? Businesses used to define the language of business – you had to know what category to look in under the yellow pages to find services. Businesses defined what they called their products and asked customers to learn that language. Today the customer is in control and we are forced to learn about the customer. This change in the language of business should impact all our thinking about how we look to grow our business.

In the age of Google: we have to get found rather than seek.

In the age of Google: we need to speak in the language of the customer.

In the age of Google: we need to think about marketing as a path to scale vs. sales resources.

In the age of Google: we need to understand that first impressions will be online.

In the age of Google: our value and story has to be told online.

In the age of Google: the way we’ve always done it won’t cut it anymore.

Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.

 

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