By Terry Nagi April 6, 2006 -- The reality is that traditional ways of promoting a printing company are not cutting through the morass and volumes of printed matter crossing a buyer's desk. They have seen it all. In fact, it is estimated that a printer's brochure either mailed or turned over to the print buyer by a sales representative is viewed less than 19 seconds. Such brochures may establish credibility, but they certainly are not reviewed for information on a printer's capabilities. There simply has to be new ways of reaching buyers in our ever-changing world of electronic prepress moving towards digital printing and multimedia outputs. The Training Session One of the most successful methods of communicating a printer's concern for a print buyer's need to convert information into printing and helping assure timeliness of delivery of print products is the educational client seminar. These come in various sizes and shapes. Educational events can be citywide, target specific types of companies or even individual customers. First is the citywide event concentrating on a current electronic prepress process, such as the latest software and its inter-relationship with print. This is a place where the printer's clients and prospects can learn how to best use the software to assure timely output of electronic files to proofs, film, plates, and digital printing. In most communities, local resources can be found to teach these programs, or a printer's own desktop technician can provide the instruction, either through their own course programming or by using suppliers of the software of hardware utilized by the digital printer (for example – Adobe, Heidelberg, XMPie, Xerox, etc.) A second series of educational events could be targeted for specific clients and consist of holding sessions with individual clients either at their location or the printer's headquarters. The main objective is to concentrate on the specific needs and operations of the client and work towards the best system for preparing documentation for output/printing. A third series of individualized educational opportunities would be to track client problems by client and offer to "loan your electronic prepress instructor" to help overcome these problems. This is a another one-on-one educational opportunity. Educational Newsletters The need for information on the latest technology, what it does and doesn't do, where it applies, how to use it effectively, etc. was formerly confined to desktop publishing. A regular newsletter (monthly, bi-monthly, or quarterly) on desktop issues and how to effectively prepare electronic files for timely, cost efficient output are still important. But the world of print and media is changing and further opportunities exist for a printer to create a regular newsletter on the latest applications in digital input, printing and output, case studies, things to be considered, and how print users might best evaluate and use new processes and media. Make your newsletter relevant to the print buyer so they can see how your company can make them look good. Resources for these educational newsletters are unlimited. There are external providers that prepare newsletter articles or the entire newsletter. Local writers can be found in most cities. One's own desktop and digital technician could well create this newsletter. Downloads of information from the Web sites of Adobe, Xerox, Kodak, Quark, and leading computer magazines provide more than enough information to create a monthly newsletter. All you need to be sure to do is ask for reprint rights. Most vendors will provide the content free of charge, and some Web sites (such as ODJ) routinely make their content available to print providers. Make your newsletter relevant to the print buyer so they can see how your company can make them look good. A sample 2-page newsletter, with limited or no graphics could include columns on: * What is new that will help us all do our jobs better (software and hardware). * Q & A (Questions we have recently answered which have helped our clients prepare their files better or use our latest services.) * Tips for preparing files better. (Potentially using resources like Gracol.) * Recent applications by our clients, which could be of interest. * Introducing something new we are doing which may be of value. I suggest the first two newsletters be created at the same time. Mail them one month apart. Call and get feedback on their value. Then decide frequency. Your Own URL Printers simply must have a Web site. It does not have to be elaborate or many pages. If you are going to be in the digital world of tomorrow, it indicates at least your entry and participation. Printers simply must have a Web site. If you are going to be in the digital world of tomorrow, it indicates at least your entry and participation. Web sites are not difficult to build anymore. There are as many Web site developers in most geographic area as there are designers. In fact, some are perfectly capable of doing both, so just as a designer works on a brochure, have them work on a Web site. Get it up and running. Post a newsletter on it. Announce educational seminars on it. Update your equipment list regularly on it. Provide jump sites to informational resources useful to a majority of buyer types. Download it into color copies the digital sales representatives can take with them to show clients who do not have Web access. Have them carry it as a download on their laptops. An ever increasing amount of sales representatives are carrying laptops and what a wonderful way to indicate the computer savvy of the sales force plus the printer's multimedia orientation via a Web site downloaded onto the sales persons computer. Laptop Presentation Even if it's for the digital sales representatives who is computer savvy, have the printer's desktop technician or a friendly designer create a personalized CD presentation with information about the client to whom the presentation is being made. Information such as downloads from the client's own Web site could be imported into this presentation. The printer's presentation could include a virtual plant tour, testimonials from prime clients, demonstrations of enhanced workflow to handle client materials faster, updated equipment lists, lists of prime clients, samples of the cover or entire contents of best print products produced for best clients, etc. The search function of a CD provides an opportunity for a sales representative to tailor a presentation to individual clients. This target approach is what one-to-one marketing is all about. Tell Them What's Happening This could have been included in the educational seminar section, but it is worthwhile to place it separate. It is less an education than information. It involves preparing a 30 to 40 presentation on latest trends in the printing industry, and projections for the future. These can be obtained (normally year-end) in one of the major print trade magazines such as Graphic Arts Monthly, Printing Impressions, High Volume Printer, or American Printer. The objective is to offer this presentation to clubs, organizations, non-profits, etc. where buyers may be in the audience. Almost all of these organizations seek informative presentations and the future of the printing industry is an issue important to many. Outline the presentation from the reports and the trade magazines. Bullet it. Prepare 20 to 30 slides or overheads, which can guide the presentation. Better yet, prepare for a computer presentation, again, to indicate your company's expertise in multimedia. Train the digital sales people, a customer service people, etc. to make the presentation. Then offer it free of charge to those organizations where buyers will be in the audience. This promotion is practically free other than time commitment. When the time comes to getting through their voice mail, you can believe your calls will more likely be returned if you use any of the above. Any or all of these new age promotions will be useful with current clients. More importantly, they will identify your company as something different to prospects. When the time comes to getting through their voice mail, you can believe your calls will more likely be returned if you use any of the above. Today's digital directions require a new way of marketing the digital capabilities of the printers Traditional brochures and capabilities listing simply won't work. New ways of reaching an ever-growing number of prospects for digital printing must take a mass-market approach, via newsletters, e-newsletters, citywide workshops, and utilization of customer focused associations and clubs.