How to build trust online and sell print

Digital conversations can be as effective as face-to-face encounters

Here’s an approach you can use to sell more printing: Create a pad of printing order forms and leave the pad out on a table somewhere. Wait for someone to find it, fill out an order form, and send it to you. Who knows? Maybe today is the day some random stranger finally buys some printing from you!

That’s not going to be your preferred approach to selling printing in person (I hope!) but that approach is really not too different from the way many printers attempt to sell printing online. Just because your website has an order form doesn’t mean it’s going to get used.

Let’s change that. Today let’s start discovering the path people take as they become a customer who buys printing online.

Take a moment to think about the best customers you have today. Before they earned your “Best Customer” status, you earned their trust. Before you earned their trust you developed a relationship with each of those customers, and those relationships almost certainly started with friendly conversations.

It turns out the process that works so well for selling to customers face-to-face also provides a good model for selling printing online, too. When you take that face-to-face model online, you’re creating what I call a Digital Dialog:

The Digital Dialog Is the online version of you that starts conversations, develops relationships, and builds trust so you can sell more printing.

Take a moment to really think about that. There’s the face-to-face version of you that sells printing in the physical world, and there’s the online version of you that sells printing in the virtual world. Both of those sales processes start with a simple conversation.

Online Conversation Starters

How do you start the Digital Dialog? What are your online conversation starters? Here are a few “must have” items to have in your toolbox of online conversation starters:

A social media voice. Your potential customers are talking online, and it’s never been easier to join in the conversation! Real-world best practices provide the guidelines for this virtual world: Don’t become that annoying person that never stops talking, and avoid becoming awkwardly silent, too. Your social media voice can be just as important as your physical voice, so make sure what you’re saying is worth listening to!

An email newsletter that goes out on a consistent schedule. Your consistency will reinforce your reliability as you develop your online relationship.

A printed newsletter that goes out on a consistent schedule. You’re a printer, there’s no easier way than a regular, printed monthly newsletter to show your customers and prospects that print matters. That printed newsletter can provide the connection to a Digital Dialog.

A blog with helpful (not “salesy”) information. Your thoughtful, helpful blog posts will provide you with authority as the online conversation develops.

With those “must have” items in place, here are a few more ideas you should be implementing:

Make sure everyone on your team that interacts with your customers and prospects is asking this one simple question: “May I add you to our lists?” Get their permission, then get them on the lists for both your email and physical newsletters.

All the major social media channels reward the use of video, so your Digital Dialog becomes more impactful when you use video. You have a production studio in your pocket, so grab your phone and start shooting! Don’t worry if it’s not a Hollywood-quality production. In fact, let the people in Hollywood make the big movies; your audience will appreciate the authenticity of a few rough edges in your video! Share a business tip or a personal experience, interview a customer, or ask someone on your team to share the highlight of their week. If a picture is worth a thousand words, just think how much a video is worth!

What could happen if you hosted a monthly educational session, promoted that session in your print and email newsletters, broadcast it live, and encouraged your attendees to share real-time comments via social media? Someone has to think big; it might as well be you!

With all the tools and technology available today, just think of all the opportunities! You’ve started the Digital Dialog, so it’s time to sell more printing online, right?

Not so fast, you still have to develop the online relationship and build trust. Remember, you want the online version of you to mirror the real you. Make sure the authenticity of your face-to-face conversations comes through in your online conversations, too. That’s how you develop relationships online, and that will be the focus next time when we resume our exploration of the Digital Dialog.