Strokes of success

Creating an engagement and value masterpiece

Rachel Iannarino will be the first to tell you that the approach her company takes in areas like customer engagement has changed over the past few years. While the strategy still involves arming its sales team with the right tools and content, there is more of an emphasis to fully engage the efforts of the Baesman sales and marketing teams. The CRM, customer loyalty, marketing, and print and fulfillment provider continues to employ innovative strategies around account-based inbound and outbound marketing. Iannarino, VP of Marketing and Client Experience, says this gives the sales and marketing teams better opportunities to share data and identify the right prospects.

The one source of consistency is the need to build personal relationships.

The strategy is pretty straightforward. The Hilliard, Ohio, company’s approach is to go beyond the superficial to find what its customers truly care about. And while the sales and marketing team understands that meaningful personal relationships translate into valued, lasting engagements, the key is to never be intrusive.

Baesman utilizes targeted account lists that are broken into Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 groups. First, it identifies a potential account at the company level and compares it against its ideal customer profiles, which in turn identifies the company’s size/revenue it wants to target, along with other criteria like location and industry.

Paint rollers with colorful paint lines coming from them

If the fit is good, the Baesman team conducts research to further classify it in a tier. Tier 1 accounts have high revenue potential and involve hyper-personalized 1:1 outreach. Tier 2 accounts include some level of intent data. Iannarino says it uses several tools to help identify accounts that are searching for its services and keywords, as well as targeting people who have been on their website and have some level of awareness. Tier 2 will involve a bit more mass in outreach.

Finally, Tier 3 accounts are former Tier 1 and Tier 2 accounts that had little to no engagement. These are held for future outreach. Maintaining engagement is done with a series of outreach touches from email and phone calls to digital and physical gift offers, as well as sending relevant content like an eBook or Infographic it has developed.

The key is persistence without intrusiveness. “What we’ve found is that persistence is the key,” Iannarino says. “Sometimes it can take upward of 20 touches to get one engagement. While we try to mimic outreach patterns that have resulted in a conversion, we find that each prospect is different and it varies substantially based on current need, workload, and products and services they may be researching. We definitely lean on our personas to tailor the message. That seems to be a critical element. For example, we speak with a print buyer much differently than we speak with a CMO. It’s important to us to tailor the message and approach based on persona.”

In the new world of customer engagements, Paul Biernat says industry providers continue to do a good job of adapting to creating enhanced offerings and looking beyond the historical services typically sold as a service or job-basis relationship. The key is to listen to your business development team and primary customers. What are their concerns, challenges and limitations?

This will allow your team to craft a strategic vision and adopt the right critical thinking for the right overall solution. “Doing a deep dive and performing due diligence for unknowns is critical,” says Biernat, COO of Brandkey Graphics, which creates and manages brand graphics using a real-time cloud-based workflow process. “This helps uncover and point to a change or adjustment in offerings or additions that would be necessary for success and value to the client.”

The most critical—and difficult—part of the process is not just listening to what your client says, but reviewing any processes and experiences the client may have experienced that bogged down or underachieved in the past. “I have been impressed with partners and competitors that have created focused teams and specialties to tackle items such as RFPs, which are time consuming and need the right mindset to put the best foot forward.”

How does his St. Louis Park, Minnesota, company ensure that value is consistently conveyed at every touchpoint with a client? Biernat says the solution is straightforward. “Throughout the process, and definitely prior to the final proposal, you have to make sure you and the stakeholders share the same value benefit.”

Paint rollers on a white surface with colorful paint lines coming from them

Recently a company wanted to implement a rewards program for its product, so it approached Precision Services Group looking for direction. The company chose the communications support company because it needed to promote the program via email and direct mail. Aware of Precision Services’ on-staff, full-time development team, the company knew that Kevin Smith and his team were up to the task.

Part of the plan involved building out a rewards website and API connection, which was needed to communicate data back to the customer’s CRM. While the website had nothing to do with print, except for the initial direct mail piece, it added value to what Precision Services could deliver.

“We were specifically picked for this project because of our ability to write custom software,” says Smith, President of the Tustin, California, company. “Now, with the rewards site up, we are able to produce, store and distribute promo products, printed calendars, etc. directly to our customer’s customers. This is something that we weren’t doing 10 years ago. I believe for us to stay relevant, we need to be the complete marketing supply chain for our customers.”

The strategy is another clip in the arsenal for companies like Precision Services and others that are looking to stay engaged and connected to an ever-expanding marketplace.

While Precision Services Group is a direct manufacturer and owns all of its own equipment, Smith says it is difficult in today’s fast-paced environment to get customers excited about the type of equipment being used or the quality of the work printers produce. For example, these days, press checks are rare. Even more challenging, most companies feel they can get the quality they need from any vendor.

“People are busy and don’t seem to have the time to really invest in holding their vendors responsible for what they are paying for,” Smith says. “They think what paper or color they are getting is normal, so it can be hard for salespeople to break into new accounts.”

While just a few years ago the announcement of a new press could excite customers to want to see how the equipment could help their business, the needs transcend just printing. That’s why Precision Services continues to focus on marketing its software capabilities—a move that helps engage with a curious consumer group. “In the end, your engagement is about helping your clients with the pain points they have,” Smith says. “How can we take some of that away?”

In the ever-present race to pique customer experiences, today’s print service providers and marketing service providers must continue to get personal. While the journey through the buyer’s funnel can be time consuming—and frustrating—qualifying prospects is always going to be about your personalized approach. “B2B prospects are consumers too, and we know from recent research that today’s consumer expects personalized offers and communications,” Iannarino says. “If they feel they are part of a mass outreach blast, it may not resonate well, or at all. I think the most opportunities are going to exist in continuing to find ways to become efficient in personalized outreach so that the messages prospects receive prompt engagement.”

In the end, it all comes down to data. By crafting and documenting a repeatable account-based marketing process, you can hone the data critical to identifying the right accounts and assign the appropriate engagements.