It continues to amaze me how behind the times the building material industry is compared to the rest of the business world when it comes to adopting new marketing practices. Too many companies still waste money on printed catalogs, literature and trade ads. Sales and marketing departments have been stuck in the mindset of marketing projects to complete versus sales problems to solve when it comes to attracting more customers.
Hanley Wood, the industry’s leading publisher of building material trade magazines is laying off print journalists to focus on strengthening its online platform. Sure, they will gladly take your money for a trade ad if that’s what you want. But trust me, you don’t. You’d be wise to follow their suit and begin building your company’s online presence.
Why is it so hard to switch? Here’s 5 reasons why building material companies are slow to click cancel on print
1. A salesforce crutch. Salesmen love literature. Many of them can’t imagine making a sales call without literature. Honestly, They don’t really need it, they just think they do. In companies where sales runs marketing, they print literature for everything. Don’t let your sales department overrun your marketing. Invest in educating your salesforce to use technology and online resources versus relying on printed materials.
2. Marketing has no balls. In companies where marketing has more clout, they usually still print too much literature. They do this because they don’t have the balls to say NO to sales. Or its because they realize that no one ever got fired for printing a piece of literature but they might get fired for trying something new. To me that’s a big red flag. Companies who stay relevant in their industries do so because they are capitalizing on the online marketing frontier.
3. Ad agencies love print. Too many ad agencies wait for you to give them an assignment to complete. They know how to make money (by taking yours) and how to win awards. Many ad agencies are ultimately about padding their portfolios NOT solving your sales problem. Remember that.
4. You can show the boss something. When you print something or produce a trade ad, you have something to show the boss. Many of today’s online tactics are less visible so you can’t show the boss what you’ve done. Unfortunately, this kind of “show and tell” work only produces paper and not profits.
5. You can’t fail. Other than getting a print project done on time and on budget you usually can’t measure the results so you can’t fail. The results of online are much more measurable which can also mean accountable.
Still not convinced? Here’s 5 advantages on why you should drop print from your marketing plan.
1. Your budget grows. I typically recommend new marketing strategies to help my clients move online. Usually, they tell me they can’t do it until they get more money. I respond by telling them if they stopped printing so many unnecessary things they’d have a surplus of budget money to put towards effective marketing.
2. Your customers can find you more easily. Research shows your customers are utilizing technology for the majority of their information gathering. What this means is for every dollar you spend on print is a dollar you aren’t using to improve your online presence.
3. You stay ahead of competition. Unlike print, online marketing is evolving everyday. Companies who are focused on leveraging their online presence have a learning curve advantage over the competition. It takes the late adopters longer than they think to catch up.
4. You protect and control your image. Your sales teams are the front lines of your company. Do you want them to be viewed as outdated or do you want them to be seen as on the cutting edge and knowledgeable? This image is subconsciously transferred to the products and company they represent.
5. You embrace the Green trend (and thus see more green). The green trend is not going anywhere soon. So, it’s logical (and profitable) to start embracing it. Literature is outdated as soon as it is printed. The sad truth is a lot of literature ends up accumulating in your salesman’s trunk. And when a new piece comes out, the old stuff is simply thrown away. Even the literature that gets into the customer’s hands usually ends up in the trash. This wasteful cycle of printed materials is bad for the environment and bad for your bottom line.
Most companies who rely on print can’t imagine quitting cold turkey. If you NEED to have printed materials be strategic with what you print. Be smart with your resources. Ideally, you should have a goal of being out of print in three years or less, so start developing a plan now to get there.
Since most people are comfortable with meeting a deadline than being measured on sales results, it’s up to you to take the lead and be a smart leader.
So, unless you want your company to be a thing of the past, stop putting printing projects ahead of profits, please.