In this article, I wanted to speak to the FESPA UK community about something called Relationship Marketing. This is typically broken down into 3 categories. Referrals, Networking, and Strategic Partnerships.
Referrals First and foremost you need to know what percentage of your business is coming from referrals. Customers who refer you are probably the best customers you will ever have so it's important you know who these people are. If you don't have one already, now is the time to build in the process to ask these questions when onboarding a new customer. Who referred them?
If you have customers who regularly refer your services, make it easy for them to do so. Give them an affiliate link if you sell your print online so you can track who's referring you and appoint new sign-ups accordingly. Give them personalized Postcards with their name on them to give out to people at networking events and such. Most importantly, thank them. Take care of the people who refer you. They are some of your most invaluable customers. Networking One of the best things I did whilst running my own printing business was to start hosting networking events. I began by volunteering my time for a group called 4N before becoming an Area Leader and managing up to 3 different regions. From there I was asked to help run the Scottish franchise for the Business Growth Show which back in the day, was probably one of the largest business show networks in the UK hosting around 30-40 events each year. What this did was super elevate my profile and made me the go-to guy for all things print which was a really handy place to be as everyone always needed new marketing materials for exhibiting at the shows or turning up as a delegate. I went on from here to set up a business events company to run alongside my print business and ended up hosting events from anywhere between 5 and 2500 people all over the UK.
Now don't worry, I'm not suggesting you go and do anything like this but I wanted to use it as an example of what can be achieved when your platform is elevated and you're seen as the go-to printer. If your premises are big enough, host a networking evening at your place and use it as an opportunity to showcase your services. Alternatively, you could hire a space at a local restaurant or hotel, put on a small buffet and use it as an opportunity to give a presentation on your products and services. In addition to this, there are plenty of networking groups out there with opportunities to get involved in helping facilitate. Check out this website to see what's going on in your local area https://www.findnetworkingevents.com/
Strategic Partners These can come in various forms, other businesses, groups, and clubs but essentially what I'd like you to think about today is who has a database of your ideal customers. Maybe you specialize in business start-up print packages so an accounting firm might be someone you want to team up with. Every new business needs an accountant so they can introduce you as a strategic partner and vice versa. Something that worked very well for me was becoming a strategic partner for the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce. They had literally hundreds of my ideal customers and I was able to become their preferred print partner of choice. Every day, when a new business joined the chamber one of their team would give them a call and introduce the services of their strategic partners. One of their tasks was to gather the last year's worth of print invoices from said company and pass them on to me where I would do a print audit and show them where I could save them money. The customer received a discount through their membership and the chamber got a small kickback for every new spending customer sent our way but it was worth it for the steady stream of new business I was picking up. So to summarise:
Put a process in place to make sure you know which of your customers are referring to you and make it easy for them to do so.
Start to think about how you can elevate your business through networking.
Explore potential strategic partners and start to reach out.
If you've found this useful and would like to know more about myself, The Online Print Coach, you can visit my website www.theonlineprintcoach.com. FESPA UK members also receive a 20% discount to The Print Growth Academy. You can access this special discount at https://www.theonlineprintcoach.com/offers/gMYNWLnS?coupon_code=FESPA_MEMBER