By: Deborah Corn
I have always prided myself on being proactive and focused on the desired result when it comes to problem solving. It gives me an edge for project management and getting from point A to point B and beyond, with the least resistance.
Over the past few months, I have had to adjust my thinking to be able to ‘react’ with every COVID-19 news report and be super present in the realm of now, making sure my messaging and communications were also hyper-current. I focused on the only things I knew for sure:  that people who needed print’s help were in crisis and that one day the world would reopen.
With the economy amid a phased reopening, living in the present means you’re late but looking too far ahead can be dangerous for your bottom line. Here are three ways you can plan for the long- and short-term at the same time.


As your print customers and community businesses come back, give them a moment to breathe. Let them assess their state of being before you pounce on them for sales. Start by letting everyone know you are open, any changes to processes or procedures for working with you, and that you’ll be circling back to schedule a strategic planning meeting. Planning, not sales. This is a business discussion—about their business, not yours.
At the meeting, whether live or online, find out the business results they need to achieve to keep their business open and any information regarding short- and long-term marketing they may have done in the past that can be used as a benchmark. Do not pitch them at this meeting. Listen. Even if you know exactly what they need, walk away. Prepare a formal document that recaps your discussion and presents all or any that apply: a marketing plan with costs, a menu of appropriate print items to help achieve their goals, options for packages that bundle applications and/or services together for cost savings.
The best way to present your offering is in person. If that cannot happen, create a sample kit that includes everything you are suggesting they need, any relevant stats and case studies that may apply, and information about your company… Bio of salesperson, key personnel, press operators. Put your people in your pitch! Also include anything your company did to help the world pre-COVID and what you are intending to do moving forward. This can all be digital, too… but ideally, make it an ‘also,’ not the only method to share this info.

Capitalize on Your Vertical Market Success

Not everything is opening at full capacity at once, so you have a chance to test the waters and see what you excel at based on the business results you helped to achieve for your customers. You may find, for instance, that you have the most community success with shoe stores and the most B2B success with customers who require direct mail. Now create a prospect list focusing on those two things.
As you, and the world, move along, you may find more successes with other verticals and B2B print applications. Keep updating your prospect list and sharing your customer stories, especially on your website. Give visitors plenty to read and research when they look you up, and they will.

Get Trending

I am currently obsessed with watching television commercials for the foreshadowing of marketing campaigns to come and as an indication of what is appropriate to talk about and sell. Brands spend the most money on broadcast, which sets the tone for who they are and what will follow in our mailboxes, magazines, shelves, and streets.
In North America, cars have become very topical. People feel safe in their cars. Advertising them is ‘allowed.’ What is interesting is how they are doing it and what it could mean for your sales if you watch carefully.
Up until two weeks ago, a car was a future need… one day you will need this again to go somewhere when you can leave your house. Now it has shifted. Car commercials are showing families on vacation… car trips are back! And, more importantly, their destination is the woods. All of this makes sense for a brand. People think cars are a COVID-free zone and the woods are social-distancing ready. The images are appropriate, and, with new financing terms, the messaging on cost super relevant.
How does this translate into an opportunity for a print shop?
National advertising starts a conversation that you now have permission to bring to a local level. In this example, people may need a family trip vehicle and camping gear. Where are the car lots and camping stores in your community? What else do families taking car trips need? Can you come up with a family activity box a local sporting goods store could sell—like car trip Bingo, colouring books, travel journals, or ways for families to upload pictures and create a photobook or matching shirts?

You Got It

No idea is off the table to keep your print shop printing. Look around and see what’s happening. See the messages brands are spending millions to deliver and translate that into a way to help your business achieve a positive result. That’s how you will keep customers coming back for more in 2020 and how you can stay in front of what will be needed next.

Open for Business

Most of the world is reopening for business. If you’re scrambling to get your print shop back to ‘normal’, you may find your shop slides even further behind.  Take some time now to strategically relaunch your pandemic-prepared business with fresh ideas and opportunities to help clients relaunch theirs – and create new and loyal community customers in the process!
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