How to tap into your vendor network… and tap into profits

Shake up your marketing efforts – invite suppliers into the client conversation 

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the day-to-day business of the sales and marketing side of the business. And it’s easy to fall into a rut of doing the same things, particularly if they’ve proven successful. But what about shaking things up a bit?

I have written many articles that share insights and tips on promoting your products and service. But an online #Printchat that I recently participated in got me thinking about how printers could be better leveraging their vendor network.

Nobody knows your business better than you. When you showcase your work, you ensure that it is of the best quality. When you’re meeting with new prospects and customers, you tailor that showcase to best suit their needs and objectives.  Now imagine taking that to the next level.

What if you could leverage your vendors, who have that same intimate knowledge of their own products and services, and invite them to join the conversation?

When I got my start as a graphic designer in the print industry, one of my very favourite things was going through the paper swatch books. I was jealous of the students given the opportunity to create and design some of the most beautiful work I had seen. The textures, colours and various techniques used to showcase the paper’s strengths often sparked my own creative juices.

One of the most frequent questions that I get asked by my peers, to this day, is about what type of stock to use for an upcoming print project. The second most frequent question of course is explaining the difference between pounds and points. Now I know you’re chuckling a bit, but consider how many of today’s designers, marketers and print purchasers are asking those questions.

What if you hosted an educational seminar, lunch and learn or workshop that focused on paper. Working alongside your vendor, you can educate and inspire your customers and prospects to consider new approaches where they too may have fallen into a rut. Give them a crash course in paper weights and types. Help them understand how their paper choices impact the final outcome. Show them what happens when you run the same job on different stock. Let them touch, experience, and play with all the various samples.

And you don’t need to just stop at paper. What else will help showcase your shop’s capabilities?

Let’s think about ink for a moment. Let’s face it, many of today’s designers are not taught how to design for ink paper, let alone other substrates. They expect that what they see on the screen will be what gets reproduced on paper. And when the job doesn’t come out the way they envisioned, you’re the one caught in the middle…between the creative folks, the procurement folks, and others.

Turn the conversation around. Invite the designers for an afternoon of learning. Share cost-saving secrets with the procurement people. And engage the marketers with ideas for offset, litho, wide format, or any other areas in which an idea can be reproduced into something tangible. And the best part is that you will have your vendors by your side, sharing their tips as well.

Don’t forget about your software vendors.

At Avanti, we created an ebook to help printers avoid the common terms and “geek speak” that we in the industry take for granted, but leave our customers and prospects scratching their heads. It’s one way that we, as vendors, are helping our customers improve profitability. You can download it yourself at: avantisystems.com/avanti-geek-speak-ebook/

Do you have a web-to-print storefront? Invite your software vendors to share tips to improve the overall experience. What a great way for them to hear directly from the end users; and what a great way for you to learn how to make it even easier for folks to purchase your products.

Whether you choose to hold one large event with multiple vendors, a series of workshops, or more casual lunch-and-learns, be sure to produce a printed keepsake, produced by your company, using your vendors’ products.

Everyone comes out a winner.

Vendors are exposed to customers, who will come back and order their products and services through you. Your customers use their new knowledge to shake things up a bit and try out some new ways to use print. And you continue to be your customers’ trusted print advisor… and earn more business.

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Joanne Gore

Joanne Gore is a B2B marketer who’s passionate about print and has spent the last three decades helping companies maximize their marketing and communications efforts. Founder of Joanne Gore Communications, she helps companies tell their story to a new generation of print and business buyers. Email: joanne@joannegorecommunications.com Follow her on Twitter: @joannegore121