You only get one chance to make a good first impression

By Steve Hunt

6th March 2017

The saying goes ‘you only get one chance to make a good first impression’, for a lot of salespeople just getting a chance to talk to someone is hard enough, let alone making a good impression. A lot of effort goes into trying to get that first chance, so new business becomes a numbers game, unfortunately, what happens then is that quantity comes before quality, most of the time.

In some companies there is an ongoing battle between sales and marketing, each blaming one another for lost sales or missed opportunities. Working in a marketing agency for over 20 years I have seen and heard it all, no matter the size of the client, they all have the same day-to-day struggle, how to get relevant up-to-date sales and marketing material out to their front line sales teams fast and on brand.

No matter the size of the team or the size of the marketing budget, there is always someone looking to blame someone about something. Either it is sales missing out on new business because the marketing isn’t up-to-date, or marketing haven’t got the information or resource to do their job. Most of the time it comes down to incorrect information, outdated IT systems and poor data management. Everyday is a fire fight for everyone involved.

In today’s market there is plenty of technology that can help manage, organise and distribute marketing collateral. But a lot of businesses don’t know what is available or what to look for, and a lot of the time they don’t know they have a problem. The backward approach seems to work, showing companies sales and marketing technology that in turn makes them unearth problems that they didn’t realise they had, or that there are solutions for problems they didn’t know they had in the first place until seeing what is out there?

With all the different online marketing channels, that are constantly running 24/7, it can get very noisy. It is very easy for people to switch off, and stay off. So how can companies use technology to cut through the noise and create the perfect first impression.
There is a medium that has been around for hundreds of years, and we still use it everyday, that is ink on paper. It has been, and still is, one of the best mediums on the planet for cutting through the noise and getting noticed. It’s lean back marketing versus lean forward.

Printed collateral has been slow keeping up in the instant digital world of marketing, but it still has its place, and in some cases should be at the head of the table. We tend to go to the web to get answers, but print is where we go to ask the questions. Print still excites people, it engages them, Willy Wonka’s golden ticket wouldn’t have had the same effect being digital. Something printed is still perceived as more credible to many people than anything digital.

It goes to the old adage, “If someone invested enough to print and mail it, it must be important.” An issue print marketing has had over the years, is that you needed to print hundreds of the same thing to keep the cost down, taking away that personal touch. Most printed brochures tend to fit into the ‘One brochure fits all’ category, either they are selling or educating a line of products or services to a wide audience. When printed in large quantities it is not personal to each individual as digital marketing can be, plus a lot of the time the printed version is out-of-date as the ink is still drying.

Personalised print on demand has been around for many years, widely used for direct mail. However, the more complex print personalisation gets, the more cost it is to set up. Companies should (and need) to tailor their content to the client, matching products or services to a specification or job title, something digital marketing can do very well.

Historically the production cost to do this when printing a single brochure or proposal would have been uneconomical. The old way to get the print cost down per unit, was to print more copies of the same thing. Thinking that would save money, by printing 100’s or 1,000’s more than needed. But while it’s drying its shelf life is decreasing, extra brochures means extra cost to distribute and store. There must be millions of pounds of print sitting in damp salespeople’s garages of all over the world, out-of-date, getting dirty and scuffed waiting for a trip to the recycling centre.

Salespeople will always say they have run out of brochures or they are out-of-date so they can’t use them. Companies have no way of knowing how many have been given out, not to mention the different types of brochures that have been sent, and more importantly to who. But there are solutions that can produce individual bespoke, personlised brochures at the touch of a button.

There are solutions that work a lot like a Jukebox. Most companies have spent a lot of time and money creating their marketing collateral, and want to use their historical artwork to produce bespoke collateral. As an example, if you have a corporate brochure, plus many different product brochures. Historically you would print everything separately and give out to the sales teams, plus store them ready to be sent out when a new sales inquiry comes in.

How the Jukebox system works, is by uploading existing marketing collateral so that sales teams just have to tick a box on what they require. Covers can be setup for personalisation and linked to variable data fields that the sales person fills in from an online portal. Creating a tailored document is simple, just select the required pages to build a personal tailored brochure. Once everything has been selected the system will create a brochure into a single pdf to email or print. Everything is saved in the system, sales teams and head office can see what has been sent, when and by who.

Other more complex solutions are like a Mixing desk, similar to the Jukebox but with extra customisation and control. These systems allow you to create and store content live in the cloud that can be edited at anytime. Marketing departments can create new collateral from templates, change copy or images and publish live to all sales and marketing teams instantly. Perfect for large companies who have to deal with compliancy issues, price changes or fast changing content.

Lastly, there are fully automated systems, let’s call them the Live gig. These systems hold all the marketing information live, and feed marketing channels live from a single cloud hosted database. Now instead of having brochure pages that are stored in the system, all information is pushed via a Product Information Management system (or PIM for short). This option can automatically build marketing collateral when selections are made by the user. Other big savings from having a PIM system is that it can also feed websites, apps, email marketing and many other marketing channels. Using systems like these will speed up any sales and marketing process. Saving hours of production time and sales process time. Any marketing or sales material can now be generated at the click of a button from a single data source (ie the PIM)

Systems like Libris Unify, Brandworkz and Sales Layer can help both sales and marketing departments. With any of these systems, saving an hour or two a day from each department and employee soon stacks up. They can help marketing budgets go further and do a lot more. They will help push conversion rates up due to fast, relevant and personal marketing communication. And let’s not forget the extra business done with those saved hours created.

An extra bonus with these type of systems is the collected data. Who is being sent collateral, by which salesperson, and what products or services are being asked for the most. This gives vital sales and marketing information when following up, and helps with future product or services planning. You will also see any weak links in your sales and marketing teams

So to make a good first impression, take a look into how these systems can give your company the power to produce targeted, bespoke and personalised collateral from the cloud. Allow you to control sales teams, speed up reaction times and Increase conversion rates. While safe in the knowledge that all content is up-to-date, on brand and on target.

And possibly start looking at ink on paper in a new exciting way again!