Tales from the Coalface: Adding Value, Part 2


Following on from the previous TftC, I’d like to talk some more about how to add value to your interactions with your potential Web2Print customers. This time, I’d like to talk about how to add value after you’ve managed to get your foot in the door, but your customers are still fidgeting over a final decision. 

True Cost

It’s been my experience that a large number of my clients have great difficulties calculating their in-house costs – their true in-house costs. Mostly, they like to toss around figures they’ve plucked from the air, which seem realistic but which are, usually, pure fantasy. I perform these calculations quite frequently, so it usually stands out like a sore thumb when I receive fantasy-figures.

For some clients, I understand the thought-process that led to this: they’re busy; something big has just cropped up; this feels like a waste of time so just say the first thing that comes to mind; etc. For others, they simply have difficulties saying, “I don’t know”, as though it was an admission of guilt or unforgivable ignorance – it’s not! Without doing some research, you simply cannot know!

I’m Paying What Now?!

Problems will arise, after you’ve managed to convince your customer to do the research. If you leave them alone to figure out the figures themselves, you can put yourself into a number of difficult situations.

Firstly, the customer might simply not take into account all the costs associated with their current printing procedures, either through a lack of awareness of the true process, a lack of understanding of the true cost or a lack of attention to the details that go into their printing process, as a whole.

Secondly, there is a real danger that the customer will become side-tracked. Often, these are very tangible concerns and form part of their business, so time that had been allocated to calculate printing costs must now be diverted into plugging whatever dam has exploded, but frequently, a customer’s attention may drift simply because they find this sort of thing dull and would rather be doing other things.

Thirdly – and most horrifyingly – a competitor may move in, sensing blood in the water. That’s your customer that you’ve just spent all this time priming and now someone else is going to poach them out from under you, after all the work you just did, getting them nicely warmed up. 

More often than not, once we compute the actual in-house cost of working without a Web2Print platform, attitudes change.

It usually comes as a surprise – not least of all, the cost of wasted human expenditure: I find it an insult to the dignity of the human race to make a person perform a task that could be easily and cheaply automated. Plus, there are more than enough tasks that still require human oversight and man-hours are still more expensive than robot-hours, so I think of it as a more economical allocation of resources!

So, cutting a long story short: do the research for them!

More like Spray’n’Pray…

By performing the cost analysis for the potential end user, we can take the time to show all the costs, from our perspective – not just the superficial and obvious ones, but the hidden costs, too. We are even happy to assemble the findings into a report and present on their behalf, take questions, give answers, anything to clearly demonstrate value.

Don’t Spray’n’Pray while you Quote’n’Hope – it doesn’t work and you may permanently lose that customer…

When showcasing a complete system like a Web2Print platform,you can no longer just quote’n’hope. That technique – using the term“technique” most generously – is dead. It died a long, long time ago and is more like spray’n’pray marketing when it comes to efficacy. It isn’t going to separate you from the competition and show how you stand out – where are your differentials?

Ultimately, your Web2Print offering might be the best, with the most user-friendly interface ever designed, with the most flexible back-end ever conceived – hell, it might even have been written by MIT, NASA or CERN and would make any programmer cry with joy just to view its source code. But there are a billion of them out there, all performing similar tasks, in similar ways. You have to separate yourself from the herd.

We have decided that added value is the only way to do this.We demonstrate this clearly by making the business case for the client. We are ready to defend it, because we have done the legwork, assembled the research and are even prepared to construct a presentation for the customer, themselves, to use.

Why make life difficult for your customers? Why not ease their own internal difficulties by helping them to advocate the process change that benefits you both? By constructing the arguments for my customers and showing them the justifications, I believe we have accomplished exactly that.