Quick Printing
February 2007
6 common marketing don’ts
Some moves can sink good marketing. Here’s a list of things you should not do.
Heading into 2007, I thought I’d provide a list of marketing ideas with a twist. Instead of what to do, let’s look at it from a different angle and describe things that you shouldn’t do to create a successful marketing plan. So, here are some marketing don’ts

1 Don’t listen to your co-workers This is probably the number-one killer of any good marketing program. Employees mistakely assume that since they get tired of working on promo pieces month after month, prospective customers, who may look at your mailing for two or three minutes a month, must feel the same way. Your prospects barely know you exist. That’s why you can’t quit mailing. A monthly campaign will slowly create front-of-mind awareness about your firm, and create more opportunities for sales.

2 Don’t wait for the perfect idea I visited a very large printer last spring who had asked for advice to improve his marketing. I asked for samples of the marketing pieces he had been using, and he pulled out this big file folder with about nine or 10 mailers, client letters, and sketches for a trade show booth. It was all creative stuff, and I was puzzled by his lack of success. Then he explained that he’d never actually used any of the ideas because he “didn’t think they were quite good enough.” Don’t wait for the perfect marketing campaign to come along. It’s a very effective way to make sure nothing happens.

3 Don’t expect short-term results Marketing takes time. I would guess most printers give a marketing campaign three to five months before throwing in the towel. They almost always make the mistake of adding up the money they’re spending and comparing it to the revenues the campaign is generating. Of course, it will be a lousy return on investment in the beginning. Don’t expect short-term results from your marketing efforts. Carefully analyze your budget and commit to a campaign for 24 months. Quitting too soon guarantees you’ll waste a lot of money.

4 Don’t forget to prospect Have you studied ways to prospect for new printing business? Why not? Consider calling each of your top 20 customers in December, tell them you’re trying to increase sales by 8% in 2007 and ask if they have any friends who might benefit from using your printing firm. You need to think about prospecting and develop a system. Then work the system and watch your sales grow. I’ve never met a printer who had an organized prospecting system in place, yet it’s one of the best competitive advantages for any firm.

5 Don’t be cheap Many printers produce beautiful materials for their customers, but scrimp on themselves. They don’t spend money on quality design, they use just one or two colours, and they print on some remnant paper stock that looks hideous. This sends the wrong signal to your employees about the value of your firm’s marketing materials. Your own printed pieces should reflect your best creative and production skills. So, collect all your second-rate materials and throw them in the garbage—in front of your employees. Then, redesign everything to reflect how good you really are. If you want to boost morale and create positive energy, that would do it.

6 Don’t wait too long One of the saddest things I see is someone who’s waited too long to begin a marketing program. Sales aren’t growing. Cash is down. He can’t afford the latest technologies, and maybe he’s even lost a good employee or two. It’s very hard to help someone in that situation. By the time things get that bad, spending money on marketing may only contribute to the weakness of the company because of the short-term reverse cash-flow effect of marketing actions.

If your sales are strong, please don’t stop marketing. If your sales are so-so, ramp up your marketing efforts to lift them as soon as possible. Stop procrastinating. There are plenty of opportunities in this industry, and printers who make the right marketing choices will win.
Mike Stevens is one of North America’s most successful small printers. He owns Express Press in Fargo, North Dakota. Starting with sales of $10,900 a month in 1985, volume now exceeds $250,000 per month. You can reach him at mikestevens@expresspressusa.com or visit www.expresspressusa.com.
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