a blue target with a red dart marketing strategy for print shops

When it comes to crafting a marketing strategy for print shops, I hear this way too often. “Our print shop doesn’t need marketing—we have salespeople!” If this is what you’re thinking, I’m going to stop you right there.

I know and love some fantastic salespeople. They are great at connecting with others and helping to solve their print-related problems. The issue with relying solely on your salespeople, however, is that they can’t do it all alone.

Salespeople are built for closing deals. They need strong leads to make new connections and then work their magic on those connections. Marketing has a far broader reach and focuses more on long-term goals. These include building brand awareness and positioning your company as a place to turn for answers.

We’ve all heard the saying “Throwing it at the wall and seeing what sticks.” It’s usually trotted out when people are describing the wrong way to go about something—and it applies to marketing as well. To achieve your goals and support your salespeople, you need to think strategically.

So what does that look like?

How to Create a Marketing Strategy

There’s a LOT that goes into a marketing strategy for print shops. First and foremost, you want to be sure your brand has a strong foundation. The underpinnings of your brand are critical to marketing success. If you don’t know who you are and what you stand for, how will you convince others to work with you?

Next, you need a thorough understanding of your target audience. Who will you be speaking to and why? What do they want to hear? How do they want to hear from you? You are aiming to turn people who don’t know you into loyal customers, so you should be intentional with your choices.

Speaking of how they want to hear from you, do you have the appropriate communication channels in place? This includes any avenue you use to get your messages out: social media, direct mail, email, billboards on I-95… you get the idea.

Before you proceed, make sure you have buy-in from the people in charge. Whether that’s the business owner, division manager, or other stakeholders, you need their approval. Not only will you be spending money (sorry, it’s unavoidable) but you will also be reaching a wide audience. You need to make sure the higher-ups are OK with your plans!

Next, you need to clearly define your marketing goals. What do you want (or need) to accomplish? For example, if increasing brand awareness is your goal, you’ll use different tactics than if you’re focused on marketing a new service. Decide which goals are most important and prioritize them. Use SMART goals to keep yourself accountable!

Finally, decide the tactics you will use to achieve these goals. What messaging will you use? And on which channels? Do you have the budget necessary to fulfill your plans? The tangible product of your strategy is your marketing plan, which outlines everything you plan to do and how you will do it.

Marketing Strategy for Print Shops

Opportunities abound for you to spread your message to your target audience! Deciding on which channels to use can be daunting, but my advice is to start small and build over time. You don’t need to do all the things at once—in fact, you’ll be overworked, broke, and unsuccessful if you do. Choose a few channels that you can confidently support and do them well. (Don’t forget to use your brand style guide to maintain consistency in your communications.)

Some of my favorite ideas for marketing printing services:

  • Content marketing—blog posts, whitepapers, ebooks, etc.
  • Sample kits—one of my favorite things printing companies do
  • Customer events—don’t be afraid to invite people to your shop for a tour!
  • Google My Business—great for local marketing
  • Social media—don’t forget to tag your customers and suppliers
  • Direct mail—obviously!
  • Email marketing—try a monthly newsletter with printing tips
  • School affiliations—accept interns from printing programs
  • Lead magnets—free resources on your website
  • Free webinars—keep them shorter than 30 minutes!
  • Print newsletters or magazines—focus on content that solves your customers’ problems
  • Trade shows—show off your services with your exhibit booth

If you have questions on a specific idea, reach out to me anytime.

I’m passionate about marketing AND printing so I have lots more to say!

a professional woman with blonde hair holding a piece of paperSarah Perlman is the owner of Silverbrook Marketing and provides a variety of marketing services to small business owners and nonprofits nationwide. She is also a proud graduate of Clemson University’s Graphic Communications department. Reach out to Sarah for more information on marketing or to have nerdy printing discussions. 

See Sarah’s Q&A from Women’s Print HERstory Month 2023