Do all your customers know everything your operation can do? I rarely get a ‘Yes’ when I ask this question. In-plant operations typically serve many customers and internal departments producing a wide range of products and services. Yet many of those same customers may have little comprehension of the full breath of services your operation can produce.
Taking a page from vendors, consider developing a marketing strategy that defines your key customers, your services and how you intend to communicate with customers. The plan should also define opportunities for growth within your organization. A marketing strategy and communications plan are the basis that drives activities to engage your key customers and educate them on everything your operation can do to support their goals and objectives.
Set the Foundation
So much has changed in the last few years for operations across all verticals. A well-defined marketing strategy drives alignment across departments and good decisions to support your organization.
A marketing strategy is the foundation that defines the purpose for your team, the mix of products and services, and your different customer segments. Many in-plant operations don’t have a dedicated marketing resource. There may be a person who updates your website or online ordering portal and handles special requests from customers. You may have a key manager/supervisor that assists customers with design and special projects. These are marketing activities, whether they are done by one person or a team. Your in-plant operation will produce better results when marketing tasks are connected to a defined marketing strategy. The strategy answers why we do what we do. With alignment on a strategy, a marketing plan then defines how to communicate and promote your operation.
Know Your Customers
Know your customer segments. Who is your ideal client? Who uses or buys your products and services, and more importantly, what projects and programs are outsourced and why? Do senior leaders understand how you serve key departments and the impact your operation provides? If your operation does not have the first right of refusal on outsourced jobs, consider arranging meetings to gather input from customers and departments that outsource. In defining your strategy, ask the questions:
- Why do our current customers work with us?
- What business problems do we help them solve?
- What results do our solutions enable?
The answers will begin to provide clarity on defining the value of your services and ways to approach departments that outsource.
The more you know about your current customers, the more specific your marketing strategy can be. A strategy will take into consideration how to identify new customers and provide relevant messages to them.
Do the research
I recommend doing the hard work of researching, analyzing, and interviewing current customers to find out their goals, challenges, and results they produce. With this data you can define the attributes and segments for your most valuable customers. Your marketing strategy will then validate the benefits of your services.
Know your competition
Another key component of a marketing strategy is a detailed competitive analysis. If ongoing work is outsourced, gather the data to understand why. Determine what capabilities the vendors provide that are different from the services of your operation. There has been much change among print mail service providers. Perhaps your operation has expanded its capabilities and now offers new services that will enable you to provide similar solutions and insource work previously outsourced. Perhaps there are new decision makers in the departments who have outsourced work that do not know or understand the value your operation can provide to meet their business needs. With clarity on why jobs are outsourced you can make strategic recommendations to invest in expanded capabilities to serve new customers.
Position your Strengths
A well-defined marketing strategy includes positioning. Positioning means articulating how your mix of services and capabilities create results for your customers and prospects. Positioning then drives specific messages for your products and solutions. Messages that are used in marketing communications, website content and creating internal awareness. Communication programs and marketing activities will be defined in your marketing plan.
Marketing activities must include ongoing relevant communications and content to create awareness and engagement for your customers, prospects, and senior leaders.
A defined strategy provides a path to engagement across your organization. If you are looking for new opportunities for your operation, it may be time to put on your marketing hat.
Lois Ritarossi, CMC®, is the President of High Rock Strategies, a consulting firm focused on sales and marketing strategies, and business growth for firms in the print, mail and communication sectors. Lois brings her clients a cross functional skill set and strategic thinking with disciplines in business strategy, sales process, sales training, marketing, software implementation, inkjet transformation and workflow optimization. Lois has enabled clients to successfully launch new products and services with integrated sales and marketing strategies, and enabled sales teams to effectively win new business. You can reach Lois at https://www.highrockstrategies.com/ or Lritarossi@highrockstrategies.com