I'm about half way through Paul Down's book, The Boss. I just finished the part where an Interior Designer in Kuwait expected that Paul should be leaving him a printed catalogue to show his clients examples of Paul's work. All throughout Paul's book he has so far eschewed printed material in favor of websites.
This made me think about an article I read recently in the New York Times about how in today's day of the internet the big players still some decide to augment their online and brick & mortar presence with something they can mail to their prospective customers. Several times a year companies like Pottery Barn, Restoration Hardware or Crate & Barrel still send out a pretty significant seasonal catalog.
Customers can already do a lot of research on the retailers websites and they usually don't have to go very far to see the goods in person, so why the need for printed media?
None of us here have the horsepower to produce catalogues like this but how could we leverage the power of print?
One idea that might make sense would be to create a magazine or pamphlet with an outfit like Blurb. A scrapbook of a customer's remodel would probably have legs. At the end of these projects people like to show them off to their friends. An important part of the war story is the BEFORE pictures. "You should have seen it before!" is probably declared even more often than "How long are you going to be on that saw?"
Giving your customers something they can give their friends gives them a way to bring you up in the conversation for long after the job has been finished.
You need the BEFORE pictures anyway for part of your interim project marketing campaign.
Just like Paul, my business is entirely internet based. It's a great way, but very challenging way to attract customers.
I think having some sort of printed material is an excellent idea. Attention spans of consumers are becoming shorter and shorter, and at the click of a button you can be forgotten about in an instant.
One of my marketing initiatives is to develop a simple 4 page sales sheet as a mini catalog. You get get a 11x17 flyer printed both sides that's center folded to give you a 4 page brochure for less than $.30 each (2000pcs).
We use uprinting.com for our printed material and have found their pricing to be a third of other companies. Actually even local print shops simply purchase from them and resell.
We recently hired a rep group to call on architects, and they keep telling me to come up with a paper brochure. These guys are old school, but they swear that printed is still essential as a supplement to the website. We'll see.
One of the advantages of printed material (for face to face meetings) is that you can use it as sort of a rorschach test.
You want to have your pictures in a loose format so that you can spill them onto the coffee table or conference desk. This allows the various people at the meeting to pick and choose which images appeal to them. You will see some of the constituents paying peripheral attention to the things being discussed but more attention to the details within a particular photo. This gives you insight into what things grab their attention.
This is way different than everything in a three ring binder where you steer the meeting. Developing ideas in a linear format is important but you want to also provide some mechanism for a feedback loop. If, as you make the presentation, you lay each image out on the table you will get more audience participation. An iPad is great also but, as Mel points out, not as tangible as a picture someone can show someone else.
You don't need to sell a customer on the concept that they need a product like yours. You need to focus on making it easier to buy. Sometimes the purchaser needs to get a buy-in on an their end as well. By giving them something to show their constituents you make this easier for them to get that buy-in.
In my opinion part of the reason a physical brochure works is that it is physical. After talking with prospective customers, they have something that they hold in their hand.
The nicer the brochure, the more they think you are worth. If you can afford to make it very nice in design and paper quality, it reflects your company. I hired a graphic designer who does brochures to do mine after I had done it myself for many years. The difference was incredible. He used same pics but it just looked so much better. Even my regular customers noticed how much better it looked.
Another benefit is that is doesn't go away when they turn off their computer. It lays around on the table, in the drawer or wherever to be looked at again and again. It sits around the house and keeps reminding them of who you are.
A website is where a client can find you if he is specifically looking for you among thousands of shops. With a printed brochure you find the client, and for the time he holds the brochure he is yours without interference from others.
A color brochure can be printed for a couple hundred dollars. Well worth the investment.
FORUM GUIDELINES: Please review the guidelines below before posting at WOODWEB's Interactive Message Boards(return to top)
WOODWEB is a professional industrial woodworking site. Hobbyist and homeowner woodworking questions are inappropriate.
Messages should be kept reasonably short and on topic, relating to the focus of the forum. Responses should relate to the original question.
A valid email return address must be included with each message.
Advertising is inappropriate. The only exceptions are the Classified Ads Exchange, Machinery Exchange, Lumber Exchange, and Job Opportunities and Services Exchange. When posting listings in these areas, review the posting instructions carefully.
Subject lines may be edited for length and clarity.
"Cross posting" is not permitted. Choose the best forum for your question, and post your question at one forum only.
Messages requesting private responses will be removed - Forums are designed to provide information and assistance for all of our visitors. Private response requests are appropriate at WOODWEB's Exchanges and Job Opportunities and Services.
Messages that accuse businesses or individuals of alleged negative actions or behavior are inappropriate since WOODWEB is unable to verify or substantiate the claims.
Posts with the intent of soliciting answers to surveys are not appropriate. Contact WOODWEB for more information on initiating a survey.
Excessive forum participation by an individual upsets the balance of a healthy forum atmosphere. Individuals who excessively post responses containing marginal content will be considered repeat forum abusers.
Responses that initiate or support inappropriate and off-topic discussion of general politics detract from the professional woodworking focus of WOODWEB, and will be removed.
Participants are encouraged to use their real name when posting. Intentionally using another persons name is prohibited, and posts of this nature will be removed at WOODWEB's discretion.
Carefully review your message before clicking on the "Send Message" button - you will not be able to revise the message once it has been sent.
You will be notified of responses to the message(s) you posted via email. Be sure to enter your email address correctly.
WOODWEB's forums are a highly regarded resource for professional woodworkers. Messages and responses that are crafted in a professional and civil manner strengthen this resource. Messages that do not reflect a professional tone reduce the value of our forums.
Messages are inappropriate when their content: is deemed libelous in nature or is based on rumor, fails to meet basic standards of decorum, contains blatant advertising or inappropriate emphasis on self promotion (return to top).
Libel: Posts which defame an individual or organization, or employ a tone which can be viewed as malicious in nature. Words, pictures, or cartoons which expose a person or organization to public hatred, shame, disgrace, or ridicule, or induce an ill opinion of a person or organization, are libelous.
Improper Decorum: Posts which are profane, inciting, disrespectful or uncivil in tone, or maliciously worded. This also includes the venting of unsubstantiated opinions. Such messages do little to illuminate a given topic, and often have the opposite effect. Constructive criticism is acceptable (return to top).
Advertising: The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not an advertising venue. Companies participating in a Forum discussion should provide specific answers to posted questions. WOODWEB suggests that businesses include an appropriately crafted signature in order to identify their company. A well meaning post that seems to be on-topic but contains a product reference may do your business more harm than good in the Forum environment. Forum users may perceive your references to specific products as unsolicited advertising (spam) and consciously avoid your web site or services. A well-crafted signature is an appropriate way to advertise your services that will not offend potential customers. Signatures should be limited to 4-6 lines, and may contain information that identifies the type of business you're in, your URL and email address (return to top).
Repeated Forum Abuse:
Forum participants who repeatedly fail to follow WOODWEB's Forum Guidelines may encounter difficulty when attempting to post messages.
There are often situations when the original message asks for opinions: "What is the best widget for my type of shop?". To a certain extent, the person posting the message is responsible for including specific questions within the message. An open ended question (like the one above) invites responses that may read as sales pitches. WOODWEB suggests that companies responding to such a question provide detailed and substantive replies rather than responses that read as a one-sided product promotion. It has been WOODWEB's experience that substantive responses are held in higher regard by our readers (return to top).
The staff of WOODWEB assume no responsibility for the accuracy, content, or outcome of any posting transmitted at WOODWEB's Message Boards. Participants should undertake the use of machinery, materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB's Message Boards after considerate evaluation, and at their own risk. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages it deems inappropriate. (return to top)
Forum Posting Form Guidelines
The name you enter in this field will be the name that appears with your post or response (return to form).
Personal or business website links must point to the author's website. Inappropriate links will be removed without notice, and at WOODWEB's sole discretion. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Your e-mail address will not be publicly viewable. Forum participants will be able to contact you using a contact link (included with your post) that is substituted for your actual address. You must include a valid email address in this field. (return to form)
Subject may be edited for length and clarity. Subject lines should provide an indication of the content of your post. (return to form)
Thread Related Link and Image Guidelines
Thread Related Links posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should point to locations that provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related Link that directs visitors to an area with inappropriate content will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
Thread Related File Uploads
Thread Related Files posted at WOODWEB's Forums and Exchanges should provide supporting information for the topic being discussed in the current message thread. Video Files: acceptable video formats are: .MOV .AVI .WMV .MPEG .MPG .FLV .MP4 (Image Upload Tips) If you encounter any difficulty when uploading video files, E-mail WOODWEB for assistance. The purpose of WOODWEB Forums is to provide answers, not to serve as an advertising venue. A Thread Related File that contains inappropriate content will be removed, and uploaded files that are not directly related to the message thread will be removed. WOODWEB reserves the right to delete any messages with links, files, or images it deems inappropriate. (return to form)
The editors, writers, and staff at WOODWEB try to promote safe practices.
What is safe for one woodworker under certain conditions may not be safe
for others in different circumstances. Readers should undertake the use
of materials and methods discussed at WOODWEB after considerate evaluation,
and at their own risk.