A critical step in successfully selling sign and display graphics is qualifying customer requirements and expectations. Utilizing NAPCO’s recent research study, better identify your buyers’ purchasing needs and preferences to align selling efforts with customer requirements.
The research study qualifies customer expectations, demands and buying behaviours.
NAPCO Research’s study Who Buys Wide-format Display Graphics: How, from Whom, and Why surveyed sign and display graphic buyers/influencers and providers to understand investment, purchasing and demand trends. A major goal of the research was to identify buyers’ purchasing needs and preferences to support print providers in aligning selling efforts and service offerings with customer requirements.
Buyers have wide latitude in provider selection
According to the survey, sign and display graphic buyers and purchasing influencers participating in the research report having wide latitude in selecting their print providers, as only 24 per cent are required to purchase from approved vendor lists. In these cases, providers typically must apply to be added to a prospect’s vendor list and be vetted and approved by its purchasing department.
As most buyer respondents aren’t bound by lists of approved vendors, this implies an opportunity for providers who can forge business relationships based on meeting customers’ unique needs. High-performance selling practices will be as crucial to success as high-quality production.
Purchase from many types of providers
Buyers of sign and display graphics report using a variety of provider types to produce their work, including general commercial printers, sign shops, retail stores specializing in signs and graphics, and online providers (Figure 1). This diversity of sources for purchasing sign and display graphics means heightened competition for providers. The most successful providers will be the ones who can understand and meet customer needs.
While 42 per cent of buyer respondents use general commercial printers to produce their sign and display graphics, 71 per cent use businesses dedicated to producing these items, including sign shops and retail stores specializing in signs and graphics. Buyers also purchase sign and display graphics from online providers (cited by 28 per cent of buyers as sources) and from in-house printing operations (24 per cent).
The high use of commercial printers illustrates the progress that this group has made toward expanding the range of their services into adjacent markets — a trend often referred to as “convergence”.
Overall, the diversity of sources from which sign and display graphics can be obtained increases competition among providers to capture sales. Given that buyers have many choices, providers need to demonstrate the value their organization will deliver compared with others.
Figure 1: Where they buy
Sign and display graphics a key marketing tool
According to the survey responses, organizations use sign and display graphics primarily as a marketing tool. The top reasons respondents purchase sign and display graphics are to:
– Attract customer attention — 69 per cent
– Support sales at the point-of-purchase — 39 per cent
– Generate awareness and promote events — 38 per cent
– Offer product or service education and information — 35 per cent
Buyers value quality, service, staff expertise and speed
Buyer respondents report that print quality and customer care are the most important considerations — more so than price — when selecting providers (Figure 2). Since respondents reported the top use of sign and display graphics is to attract attention, the high importance of quality in the provider selection decision was not surprising. What is noteworthy is that respondents’ perceptions of the customer experience — ease of working with the provider, responsiveness and service — also weigh heavily in their decisions about where to send their business.
Price is rated very important by 68 per cent of respondents, but more cited quality (85 per cent), ease of working with the provider (78 per cent), responsiveness (74 per cent) and customer service (74 per cent) as very important criteria for selecting providers. Coming in behind price are staff knowledge (55 per cent), turnaround (51 per cent) and streamlining processes (38 per cent). Because buyers take all these considerations seriously when evaluating sign and display graphic providers, it is imperative that print service providers ensure they can meet this wide variety of needs.
Regarding turnaround times, more than half of buyers responded that it was a very important consideration, with 80 per cent stating that a turnaround time of fewer than five days is the most common. This underscores the importance of production efficiency.
Figure 2: Sign and display buyers’ provider selection criteria