The past year and a half has seen e-commerce become more than a shopping option for consumers. It is now a habit. Online sales spiked during the 2020 pandemic. But even six months later, digital sales remain much higher than before. E-commerce has exhibited nearly two decades’ worth of growth since 2019, according to a 2020 US Ecommerce Market Report.
And online purchasing habits affect more than consumer retail. Interactions throughout the past eighteen months have trained even business purchasers to search online first. So, how can Managed Print Service (MPS) providers survive in a world that is edging more and more into online retail? By shifting business strategies to embrace both the traditional and the digital.
One Small Step For MPS
Businesses that fail at digital adoption usually fall into two buckets – those who refused to embrace change and those who jump in without testing the waters. What ink, toner, and office printing service businesses must understand is that digital transformation is a long-term strategy. Therefore, implementation requires much more than a laissez-faire attitude.
A robust digital plan will include an evaluation of company goals, target audiences, and a thorough analysis of competitors and clients. For example, why do customers seek your products and services? Why do some businesses go elsewhere for MPS? What differentiates your business from others? What kind of experience do you want to represent your company?
Once goals, targets, and vision are set, it is time to map out implementation. This is where you decide how your MPS business will host a website, manage digital communications, and integrate these digital aspects into your existing sales and customer service. Again, there is nothing wrong with having an extended timeline to allow your business the opportunity to fully integrate each change before tackling the next step in the digital transformation process.
Communication Has Changed
No one picks up the phone anymore. No, really. Nearly 90% of US adults ignore phone calls. Why? Because most of the time, when the phone rings, it isn’t someone you know. Despite efforts from the Federal Communications Commission, robotic calls, or robocalls, have nearly tripled in the past decade to over 3 Billion calls per month. People’s work phone numbers are not exempt.
So, how are people communicating if not by phone? Just like everywhere else, they have gone digital. Buyers are looking for their information online through search engines, email, and social media. The good news is this gives managed print services an excellent opportunity to showcase their businesses. Websites, emails and social allow the office printer industry to highlight their benefits in ways that directly correlate to the needs and preferences of their target audience.
Nearly half (47%) of buyers report having viewed 3-5 pieces of content before they ever contact a sales representative. Popularly viewed content includes product and service features, comparison guides, benefits highlights, infographics, white papers, and interesting statistics. When posted on a company’s website, emailed out, and highlighted in social media feeds, this content helps position the business and its salespeople as reliable, responsive experts in the industry.
Sales Is Social
Like the phone call, cold call sales are pretty much dead. Recent studies show this tactic now provides a bare 0.3% success rate. Social media, however, is helping to create new sales leaders. Over three-quarters of salespeople who use social media regularly outsell their peers. Social users are also more likely (23%) to exceed sales quotas.
Rather than cold outreach, these salespeople build up professional networks on platforms like LinkedIn using engaging content, commentary, and conversation. Then they use these networks to gather insights and intelligence – targeting key decision-makers.
A majority (92%) of buyers who are active on social are willing to engage with those considered thought-leaders or experts in the industry. Over half (62%) are eager to speak directly with salespeople. MPS companies who encourage their salespeople to use company-generated content to sell on social are setting themselves up for future success in today’s e-commerce economy.
Karen Said It Works
People talk. But, more importantly, people listen. Most consumers purchase products based on recommendations from friends, family, and acquaintances. But, just like general e-commerce, this behavior is not limited to consumer retail. Over 80% of business-to-business buyers begin their search with a referral.
In this new digital age, where service is a significant differentiator, managed print services, toner, and ink providers should have a strategy for managing their reviews. And that management should be more than putting out fires when things go wrong. Print businesses should actively ask for reviews for their Google Business page, to post on their website, and to highlight on their social media platforms. Great relationships can lead to great content and a good boost in business.
The most critical beginner tools for taking your Managed Print Services business into the digital world include a high-performing, responsive website and an email marketing kit. In addition, your business website will serve as your hub for initial brand introduction and content hosting.
The best programs will also go above and beyond the basics. Savvy businesses will be sure to partner with platforms that offer what they need to fit their ongoing digital transformation strategy. For example, systems like PowerMPS provide easy-to-use customizable websites and a complete email marketing campaign management system as well as the order and service management, reporting, accounting tools, and other programs most MPS businesses need to find digital success.