Monday, May 9, 2011

Why Do Printers Have to Know About Social Media

While reviewing the latest quarterly reports from Presstek, a major supplier to printers that produce advertising mail, I came across a great introduction to social media.  Now why would a manufacturer of printing equipment create an introduction to social media? Simple, Presstek wants their customers to be as effective as possible in selling print services and in particular selling print services to digitally savvy customers. (For Presstek, increasing printing sales means more sales of consumables and eventually printing equipment.)

"Surviving and Thriving with Social Media: a Social Media Primer for Printers" is a great introduction to social media for anyone trying to take the first step into using social media to market their products or services.   In a beautifully presented format it illustrates how various types of social media are being used to complement traditional marketing approaches.

The primer will do little more than wet the reader's imagination regarding the marketing ability of social media.   In particular the primer shows that social media clearly is an effective tool to reinforce the most effective and yet most expensive part of sales, in-person contacts between a sales representative and an existing or potential customer. 

The challenge facing users of social media is transforming the various outlets (e.g. Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Four Square, Blogs, etc.) from broadcast communications (i.e. placement of a blog post, You Tube video, a Facebook news items) to an interactive communication (i.e. a give and take between a company or salesperson and potential customers on a Facebook page, or twitter conversation, or comments on a blog.)  The amount of time this transformation takes place depends on the size of the market that a company serves and its ability to get customers to participate.

In an odd way, old-style printed advertising, including correspondence with current or potential customers can play an important role in getting customers involved in a company's social media marketing efforts.   Customers need to know where to go and why and mail is often the most effective means of getting a social medial campaign rolling.

This unusual link between social media and print media illustrates one of the reasons that both those whose livelihoods have long depended on mail and print media and those whose careers started with social media need to learn more about this link. Postal Vision 2020, a symposium on the future of the Postal Service in a digital and social media age, is bringing some of the greatest thinkers regarding the internet, social media, and mobile communications to talk about the future of the United States Postal Service.  For companies like Presstek, the future of the Postal Service is critical as many of their customers use their presses and consumables to print mail.   To the extent that social media changes the type of mail that is printed, the printing run of particular mailings, or the total volume of mail sent, then it affects Presstek's business.   Postal Vision 2020 will provide a starting point for thinking about the future of mail in a social media age, a critical issue for the printing, paper and direct marketing industries.    Postal Vision 2020 will be held June 15, 2011 and the Marriott Chrystal Gateway Hotel in Arlington, VA. To learn more click on any of the links.

1 comment:

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