(Read Part 1 of this series here.)

This is a great time to evaluate your go-to-market plan and see if it needs some augmentation or modification, if not a re-write, as we face a changing market. In the last episode, the focus was the marketing plan and what changes it might need to adapt to the current market situation. For those of you with existing web-to-print portals, these can be a way to alert your clients of new options, new products, or changes in availability of existing products based on your supply chain. If you have been able to add new direct mail options or the ability to produce distance markers for physical distancing, or products related to personal protection, alerts on your web-to-print portal can start the engagement. That is the low-hanging fruit. But there is more to do.

If you are one of the many print shops that do not have either customer-facing portals or consumer-facing portals, let’s start with some definitions. A customer-facing web-portal is designed to capture orders from existing customers. It is may be a re-order portal most of the time, but it may have options for defining a new job specification. In many cases, the types of products and other details are defined by a negotiated agreement and a limited number of buyers are permitted to engage. A consumer-facing portal accepts orders from either existing customer or, in some cases, the general public. Some are limited to specific products and templates; others are more free form and can accept any type of job. This is a great time to look at what is out there and see what can work for you. Look at competitors’ sites, talk to your current software suppliers, and consider your options. Some of web-to-print sites are very easy to set up. If you have an ecommerce site, you may find that it has a plug-in to give you a past path. Some of the well-known suppliers have easy-to-use APIs to get you on your way.

With or without a web-to-print option, you will want to market! Marketing and selling are not the same thing, so, let’s look at some basic marketing options to help you stay in business!

  1. Find out what your current customers need and build an offer. It may be different than what they usually buy from you. It may be new direct mail to send to their customers. It may be employee communication. It may be distancing markers. There are myriad opportunities, but be sensitive as you build your reach-out plan. Restaurants may not be buying anything now unless they have been able to convert to take-out or are in an area where they are still permitted to be open. But they may be interested in a DM campaign to stay visible to their customers. Try to find different price points to attract even the most reluctant customers.
  2. Use direct mail to stay visible. This is the time to build a campaign, stay in touch, and remind your customers of what you can do. If you have variable data capabilities, consider spotlighting the last big job you did for each client as part of the program.
  3. Search out your local business and community newsletters and newspapers. There is a business journal or community newsletter in virtually every community. Some are produced by the local chamber of commerce or economic development council, while others are commercial endeavors. If you are not involved with these groups, this is the time to get involved and buy a sponsorship or some ad space to get visible in your local community.
  4. Find the trade magazines and websites that inform your clients.Every market segment has its magazines, newsletter, and websites. They may be online, in print, or both. If you serve the insurance industry, for example, look at Insurance & Technology. If you serve retail, look for the retail trade publications that fit the markets your customer serves. Find out if you can buy space on their website, post a blog, or find some other path to visibility.

The take-away is to use this time to keep promoting your products and services. It’s the most important thing you can do! If you have great ideas to share, let me know! Send your stories to me at [email protected]