Good Impressions, Got One?
There are five things that drive sales. They are price, quality, service, perception and promotion, not necessarily in that order.
In the 1970s Wal-Mart came on the scene with astounding success. The retail industry tried to follow Wal-Mart’s lead and compete with them on price. Price was only part of the Wal-Mart formula for success. The other parts of the Wal-Mart formula were building it bigger, providing good service and value to the customer. They built the perception of the lowest price through good marketing. Fact is, you can go through a Wal-Mart store and find hundreds of items that you can buy else where for less. This strategy worked so well that today Wal-Mart is the largest retailer in the world. Their size now enables them to take advantage of economies of scale in purchasing and in supply line that makes them juggernaut in the retail. Remember they did not start off dominant. What they did have was a founder with a dream to build it and who had an understanding of how to use price and service to attract customers. He molded the perception of his company with sound marketing.
This is not an article on pricing. So on price I am only going to say that it has to be fair and in line with the quality of the product and the level of service being delivered. If you talk to most consumers you will find price is important, but quality and service are more important (they don’t want to be gouged). They don’t mind paying a little more for good quality and good service. There are plenty of examples of businesses that sell their products for higher prices, sometimes a lot higher price than their competitors. Starbucks and Nordstrom are two examples of this. Starbucks is selling $4.00 cups of coffee by packaging and selling a “coffee experience”. Nordstrom is selling quality and superb service.
You can see that creating the perception of quality and service and effectively communicating it, allowed these companies to compete and succeed much more so than selling price.
The definition of perception is: an idea, conception, notion, thought, belief, judgment, or estimation. What ideas, notions, thoughts or beliefs do your customers have about your business? Do you have a program to help guide and mold these ideas, notions, thoughts and beliefs of your customers? Or, do you just kind of let the chips fall where they may? Good or bad we are living in a marketing and P.R. world. You are competing and may be losing business to competitors who have a better perception than you do.
There is an old adage, which goes, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This is very true with the printed materials you use in your business. What kind of impression does that invoice make? Does the flyer you passed out last week look professional, build trust and confidence or did it look kind of amateurish? Do you have a professional looking brochure that tells your story and builds the perception you want? Do you have professional looking thank you or birthday cards to send out to your customers? All of these things, when done professionally, help build sales.
I don’t mean to overwhelm you but a lot goes into creating and building a company brand image and communicating it. You don’t have to do it all at once. Just take one thing and improve that, then move to the next thing and so on until you have the basics covered. One of the easiest and cheapest things you can do is with the cleanliness of your office or store. A clean, organized office and storefront goes a long way to building customer confidence and creating a perception of professionalism.
The public is leery of getting slip-shod service. They have been burned by poor service and poor quality and will stay away from a business they feel is not up to par. Like it or not, the company brand image and perception your customers have of your business will make or break you.
Existing customers are good to have, but all businesses have a certain attrition level. Customers leave for various reasons; they move, they go to a competitor, they sell out or they just die off. If you are going to stay ahead of your natural attrition you have to have an on-going marketing program to reach and attract new customers. It does cost money. You do have to do it regularly and consistently. If you don’t the alternative, for most people, is not an option. One of the best ways to attract new business is with postcards. Postcards are inexpensive to produce. They allow you to target exactly whom you want. And, compared to other forms of advertising, are relatively inexpensive to get in the hands of your customers. A professionally designed and printed postcard can go a long way in communicating and building a company brand image. There are some basic laws of postcard marketing that we use to boost response rates.
Flyers are also a tried and true way to increase sales. A flyer that is created in Microsoft Word and copied on a copy machine is better than nothing. But what perception does it give of your business? A few dollars spent on a professional design and reproduction can increase your response and build on your image. You want to create a perception of professionalism.
When customers call or come in the next thing that is useful is a brochure. The best use of a brochure is to give further information and help the customer come to a decision. A professionally designed brochure guides the customers through the buying process. We can help you to create a brochure that will help you sell more and build on your image. Brochures are great as handouts at trade shows and other events.
Your internal paper work is also important. Work orders, invoices, letterhead and envelopes should all support the image of a professional operation. Invoices are the last thing your customer sees and also goes home with the customer. These things are inexpensive and play an important role in molding perceptions of your business.
In short, anything that a customer sees or touches either builds and supports an image of professionalism and trust or tears it down.
Think about it for a minute, who would you be more likely to buy from, the business that projected a professional image or the unprofessional image? Aesthetics and the “look” of your materials matters. If the design and look of the piece are poor, prospects may never read your content. And, what’s worse, decide they could get better quality and service from a competitor.
You may have noticed that Wilson Printing is not like your average commercial printer. I realized a long time ago that people could buy paper and ink anywhere. What separates us from 99% of the other printers you find is that we offer more than paper and ink. Our staff are trained and experienced in marketing and design as well as in printing. Our purpose is to help you improve your business with our experience and expertise by creating professional materials that make you look good. We can help you create materials that look professional and are yet easy on the budget. The money you invest in improving the image and perception through professional marketing material will pay for itself tenfold.