2020 has been unlike any year. Ever. Mother Nature showed no mercy. Storms, fires and floods left devastation in their wake – while a pandemic devastated our health and our economy.
Yet despite all of its challenges, the print industry rallied, re-invented and re-tooled to help provide relief. We learned how to be agile – despite work-from-home and social distancing mandates. We overcame supply chain hurdles – and answered the call for PPE. We came together – to deliver communication solutions at a time the world needed it most.
2020 has re-shaped the way that we communicate and engage in the print industry.
Print’s New Role as an Essential Service
In the wake of the pandemic, print providers have been declared an essential service – and have re-invented how they engage with buyers, new markets and new revenue streams. From the start of the pandemic, printers were filling the PPE gap – today it has expanded to include the production of face shields, protective barriers, social distancing floor graphics and more. Today, print is helping stimulate the economy.
How Technology is Helping Create a Better Customer Experience
Print providers are realizing that there are fruitful revenue streams stemming from embracing AI technologies – which uses data to make decisions – and can provide more personalized customer experiences, optimize workflow, reduce waste, and facilitate customer support. In contrast to data-oriented AI, QR Codes, AR and VR are experience-oriented. They allow print providers to engage prospects and customers digitally, while simultaneously supplying the analog sensation of print. For example, you can provide a QR Code on a piece of direct mail that points prospects to a special offer, a virtual tour or behind-the-scenes production info – an opportunity to show off equipment, paper, finishes, etc. These interactive technologies keep prospects and customers engaged with a multi-sensory, personal experience – that helps speed up the prospect-to-customer journey. It’s a win-win. Customers receive a better buying experience, while print providers tap into new revenue streams, optimize operations and improve customer support.
Re-Inventing the Cold Call
Seventy-five percent of B2B buyers use social media as a part of their purchasing process. While the role of cold-calling may have shifted, the importance of building a relationship with prospects and customers remains ever critical in the buyer journey – where engagement over the phone has shifted to online digital and virtual platforms. Embracing social media as a sales channel allows you to be present and engaging during the critical first half of the buyer journey. It is where you learn about each other and join in conversations – and it gets you over the hurdle of “I only have business contact info in CRM and don’t know where to call.”
The Show Must Go On
While interactive print merges the physical and digital worlds, virtual events provide printers the opportunity to create an engaging, global community experience. One opportunity to embrace the power of direct mail, for example, could be to send swag – like lanyards, pens, t-shirts or “all-access pass” – and provide incentives to show it off on webcam or post to social media – featuring the event hashtag of course. Just because physical events are on hold doesn’t mean giveaways are too. Do them! It will incentivize attendees to participate, share, enjoy – and return for the next event.
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