Failure is not an option

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This article is the first in a series of three for an Australian Print Magazine, Print21, where I will discuss important aspects of the adoption of Web2Print as part of an organisation’s transformation from a traditional printer’s business model, to a more technically-orientated print business. The article has been published in the issue of July/August 2018.

Operational Change

Whenever I have consulted about Web2Print issues, while the details might differ between clients, the underlying themes remain the same. I hope to dispel some doubts and give the reader a clearer idea about the specifics involved in transitioning from the old printer’s business model to the modern, 21st Century way of Doing Print.

Firstly, when trying to revolutionise your organisation, you may encounter the stick-in-the-mud attitude, resisting change. A reality check will be necessary, for if your organisation does not adopt Web2Print, your competitors definitely will. Times have changed. While print may be experiencing a worldwide boom, the methods of purchase have changed beyond recognition. Get on board, or be left behind.

Internal challenges will arise from all corners, but the loudest complaints might be heard from your sales and design teams. They may feel the hot breath of imminent redundancy on their necks, but assure them that this is an opportunity where their skill sets will be needed – that they will be able to grow and expand their abilities with the adoption of this modern technology.

The Money Talk

This brings me to another key point: if you are expecting an immediate ROI, you will be disappointed! Along with managing your sales and design teams, you must manage profit expectations. Ask yourself, “What is this customer worth, if I were to lose them altogether?” That should inform your attitude towards them and subsequent decision-making.

Unfortunately, there is no definitive formula for pricing your Web2Print product. Everything is relative to the end-user. Some customers may respond better to an up-front cost and monthly maintenance fee. Others may prefer higher margins, while excluding any maintenance or yearly costs, altogether. Ask yourself how badly the customer actually needs your platform – and then ask yourself what savings could be achieved for them? This should help to inform your pricing process.

Be flexible and don’t get hung up on pricing. Of course, if your customer demands six weeks of bespoke customisation, then feel free to charge them, but avoid getting greedy and the sales will flow. The beauty of Web2Print is its plasticity – you can charge per template, or offer a minimum-spend commitment. The idea is to create stickiness; after all, if this customer purchases elsewhere, how much will you lose?

Fever Pitch

You want to capture their attention and win their business. How?

Preliminary meetings are crucial – face-to-face, mind you! The personal touch matters and is remembered. Try to anticipate the challenges your clients will face, especially the pitfalls of their existing models – time between ordering and finalising artwork is usually disruptively long and can be vastly reduced with Web2Print.

To give yourself a fighting chance, have a demo platform to hand. Try to customise it around your client’s needs. It’s a wonderful thing to be able to show off, demonstrating significant effort on your part, and customers love a working example. You can show where the immediate pain-relief will happen. Your solution is now a remedy. Paint a picture of the future, with and without their existing problems.

Objection!

Clients will have some expectations. Their objection to Web2Print will increase if you do not manage them. The one I hear the most is, “Our current system isn’t broken, so why fix it?” Easy. To eliminate all that extra work! Adopting Web2Print will ensure any marketing manager will leave behind a legacy system that will give them years of bragging rights! Honestly, it’s an enhancement of their role, not a redundancy as it still requires a supervisor to oversee the entire process.

Another objection I’ve heard involves job-security – “But now everyone will be able to do my job!” Designers, in particular, fear for their lives, here, but it’s unfounded. Instead of being called upon to perform all the fiddly, annoying, minor changes during the proofing process, those activities can now be performed by anyone. Which is fantastic! It means that the designers are free to focus on the creative stuff! Besides, the platform will always require templates and I would only trust their creation to a competent designer, even though I know how to use the platform, myself. Their jobs are secure.

The last objection I hear frequently tends to come from upper management. “It’s too much work to implement!” It may be, if they require a great deal of customisation and bespoke coding, however, they won’t have to get their hands dirty or stress about timelines, etc.: that’s what you are for! The hardest thing they will experience is the training to use the platform. Manage the sales process carefully, have tight deadlines, reassure your clients constantly and all will be well.

How to Fail…

Finally, a brief touch on the three most common ways to fail. Obviously, there are more, but these are the ones I’ve experienced most frequently.

Tightly manage all processes – OR FAIL!

Roadmaps exist for a reason and are very useful for clients who don’t know what to do next.

Ensure closure – OR FAIL!

Follow-up all activities. From the second you open with your pitch to the moment they start playing with their beta installation, you should have all of these stages mapped and followed-up.

Address all objections – OR FAIL!

This is key. Do not arm your clients with excuses to halt the entire process. Everything from your end should be planned, measured, calculated and ready to go.

Click here to view the digital version of the magazine. The article is published on page 56.

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