A lot of you recently received our first email newsletter, and believe it or not, I got a lot of positive response from it. Out of over 1,100 sent out, I had 11 that opted out (take me off the mailing list!) and received over 20 compliments and a  couple of tips that will help out in future editions. I consider that a success.

Are we following a “Marketing Plan”? Kind of, but not really. Here’s the thing, we have a story to tell, and its a pretty good one. I’m also finding that a lot of our customers have a pretty good story to tell. So, how do we (or our customers) tell our story and connect with our customers and potential customers in a market that seems to be a lot different than it was a few years ago?  In the past, we’ve told everybody what great printers we are and about all of our equipment, benefits and so on….Yawn! Thats all been done by every printer in town and quite honestly its boring. These days, if you’re not a good printer, you might as well stay at home…its that simple.  So like everybody else, we’re looking for ways to connect with our customers, and I think that’s a new challenge in todays market.

Anyway, lets get back to us telling our story, because I think this is applicable to a lot of businesses out there today looking to tell their story. The first thing we did was build a new website (we did make a marketing plan, but its been scratched out and re-written so many times that its kind of funny). I know, I’m a printer, but lets face reality, your website will probably be the center of your marketing efforts in the future. Its got the ability to be dynamic, its always out there and weather 1 person or 10,000 people are reading it, your cost is somewhat the same. Here are a couple of the highlights (at least in my mind) that we added from our last website.

We added a blog, which gives us the ability to post some ideas and thoughts. Its tough staying on it each week, but it does actually give me the oppurtunity to think through ideas when writing about them. If nothing else, its good therapy, but I think I’m getting better each week. And from the marketing side, it allows us to add tags about certain subjects which can be found in search engines (thats already helped out a couple of times). But I think the real objective is opening up a conversation with our customers and potential customers.

And we added a Flickr Photo stream just for fun (and because we could). It shows off  some of the stuff we do outside of printing.  This is another part of telling our story; you see we have a lot of different, interesting people here that have a lot more to their lives than just printing. So why not share it and strengthen a relationship with somebody else out there that might have the same interest.

And we have some case studies, talk about certain types of projects (cool projects and difficult projects) and how we handled them, and we get in to our equipment, processes and so on. You can look for yourself (you’re here). The thing is, I don’t want to “sell” you something, I just want to start a dialog and see where it goes…If you know more about us and what we do, then when you need something I’m sure you’ll ask about it, everybody else does.

Of course we need a customer touch point, and thats the “get a quote” page. We still need to clean it up a little and make it more user friendly, but I am amazed at the amount of people that submit quotes & questions through this page. Sometimes just to get a phone call  back and talk about their project. I feel like this is an important part of the process, because it is a “Contact” or “Touch” point for customers to come back at us.

And of course, since we are printers, we’ll mix it up and put some of this material into printed peices for some sort of distribution and continue to “tell our story”; I think we are going to have some pretty cool ideas yet to come. The world changed sometime over the last year or so, and a lot of the old rules don’t apply any more. But there is a big thing that has not changed, and thats telling our story to customers and potential customers that still need our services and expertise. I’m looking forward to some of the new chalenges of helping our customers get their stories out, as well as figuring out some new, cool ways to communicate our message.