Be careful if you ever have to mend any toys
I was repairing one of my daughter’s toys the other day. Suddenly I realized that I had accidentally glued my finger to one of the pieces! I was left in the embarrassing situation of having to try and detach my finger. The stickiness of the glue was surprisingly effective. I had to work hard to separate toy from finger.
So what does this have to do with the world of print?
It’s actually a handy analogy for the type of customer that you should be trying to produce. You want customers that are glued to you and find it hard to detach themselves from your company. You want to create sticky customers.
What are sticky customers?
Sticky customers are those that find it hard to leave their supplier. There is a glue that bonds you together. That means there is a lot of effort for the customer to un-glue themselves from the relationship.
The ‘glue’ is usually the result of you creating more than just commodity print for your customer. For example, it can be the service that you provide on top of the print. If you are integrated with your customers’ systems, it is a lot harder for them to leave you. It helps you overcome one of the biggest challenges in the print industry.
Today we suffer from the curse of the PDF
The pdf is a highly convenient and standardized way of supplying printing files. Although it is important to have such a universal industry standard, it also makes it a quick and simple task to switch supplier. If I find a cheaper price, it is extremely easy for me to simply e-mail the pdf to a new supplier. There is no effort involved on my part. So why wouldn’t most buyers take advantage of cheaper prices?
These customers are simply transactional customers. You can only rely on them for the work that they have booked in: it is hard to budget a regular flow of work from them with confidence.
That is why it is so important to create stickiness with your customers. Stickiness means that they have to make a real effort to move from a supplier. It is not something to be done lightly. It is not something that is worth doing for a small saving. If you do not have sticky customers, you end up in the trap of commodity printing where buyers are constantly focused on price.
Here’s an example of a sticky customer
Imagine that you produce photo products for a client. The client will need an online storefront for his customers. If you have helped produce that portal, then your client is glued to you. Sure, they may find someone with slightly cheaper product. But there will then be a real effort and cost for them if they choose to move to this new supplier.
They will have to create and test a new portal. They will have to devote a lot of internal time and resource to this, even if the new supplier is providing the portal for them. Instantly, the incentive to change suppliers for a small savings has disappeared.
How do you create sticky customers?
In my next article I share three strategies that help you create sticky customers. You will have plenty of ideas to create this type of customer. Soon, you will find that it is as hard for customers to unstick themselves from you as it was for me to unstick my daughter’s toy from my finger.
**Editor’s Note: This is part of a two-post series on how to turn a commodity customer into a valuable ‘sticky’ customer:
- Why Sticky Customers are the Best Customers
- 3 Ways to Build Sticky Customer Relationships
PS If you’d like more practical ideas on how to engage with today’s buyers, download my free e-book “Ten Common Print Selling Errors and What To Do About Them” right now. You’ll also receive my regular “Views from the print buyer” bulletin, full of ideas on how to sell print effectively.