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Selling cross-media: Asking the right questions

Canon EXPO 2015

Offering cross-media services not only helps print service providers (PSPs) to differentiate themselves from competitors by offering added-value services, but also opens up new revenue streams and ensures that print remains relevant in a multi-channel world.

However, because cross-media marketing services have a higher value, a different approach is required to sell them to customers – namely a consultative method that focuses on understanding the customer’s challenges and motivations in order to build long-term, trusted relationships. This can often mean that the sales cycle is longer than that for selling digital print volumes, for example, but it stands to reason when the ultimate goal of using cross-media for print buyers is a long-term investment in two-way consumer/brand engagement as opposed to a one-off purchase of 100 posters.

To truly reap the benefits of offering cross-media services, the key for PSPs is to put themselves in the shoes of the print buyer – in this instance the marketer – and look at their business objectives, understand the hurdles they need to overcome, ask the right questions and tailor solutions to help them get to where they want to be.

Does that make sense?

Marketing has changed and has largely moved away from a ‘broadcast’ approach where one message is shared with a diverse audience for some of whom it will have no relevance. Instead, today’s marketers are focused on directly engaging their customers using offers, messages and channels relevant to them. This is why the concept of cross-media is garnering such a positive response.

However, if the marketer doesn’t understand what the PSP is offering because the terminology being used differs from the vernacular they are used to, the PSP may as well be speaking an alien language. For example, ‘cross-media’ is a term predominantly used by the print industry, so it may be that marketers do not recognise it, or may know it by a different name. The name itself is not important; what marketers will respond to is the idea of joined-up campaigns across multiple channels that use data analytics to make them measurable and enable adaptation according to responses.

What do you want this campaign to achieve?

Quality products and good customer service are no longer strong enough differentiators for PSPs. Marketers expect these to be a ‘given’ from a supplier. Instead, they are looking for help to solve their problems. They are seeking innovation, inspiration and education.

Delivering successful cross-media campaigns entails helping marketers to communicate more effectively with their customers by joining up campaign touchpoints, measuring audience responses and then using the data gathered to improve the efficacy of the overall campaign. But all of this is irrelevant if the PSP doesn’t first ask that all-important question of the marketer: “What do you want this campaign to achieve?”

Part of the change in mindset that PSPs need to adopt when expanding into cross-media is to interrogate the customer’s objectives rather than taking a one-size-fits-all template approach.

Have you thought about….?

If a marketer orders some variable data print, for example, a useful way of broaching the subject of cross-media is to ask what other customer data the marketer has at their disposal. This then leads nicely into the question: “Have you thought about…..?”

For example, if the customer’s objective is to engage with lapsed customers and the tactic behind this is to send a piece of targeted direct mail, the question the PSP needs to ask may be “Have you thought about a more rounded campaign that would involve an initial email to each prospect followed by a printed customised offer with a personalised URL to redeem a voucher for those who open the original email?” Not only is this more cost-effective than sending a printed piece to all prospects, but it positions the PSP as a consultative partner who is prepared to invest time in helping the customer meet their desired goals.

Is this campaign effective and how can we improve it?

A big selling point of cross-media campaigns is the ability to measure customer engagement and this has an obvious appeal for marketers eager to calculate the ROI of their activities. It is possible to establish which channels, messages and offers are working best and tailor activity accordingly.

Generating the right customer journey for the audience is also important and this is where PSPs can help marketers significantly, as recommendations can be made on how cross-media could both use the data the marketer already has to enhance this experience and, simultaneously, gather further customer data.

Many marketers do not realise how much can be achieved even with a limited dataset, so PSPs who are able to make sound recommendations will set themselves apart.

For a PSP, moving into cross-media services does not begin and end with a software investment or new market proposition – that is only the beginning. Asking the right questions of marketers may well open the door to an entirely new conversation that leads them down a more effective route of customer engagement and, simultaneously, positions the PSP as a strategic partner worth holding on to for the long-term.

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