Print service providers today are competing for a smaller slice of corporate spending than they had access to in the past. The digital revolution didn't kill print as some industry-watchers predicted, but it did place the printing industry into a bit of a niche. Standing out in this space, proving that your printing business is prospects' best bet to accomplish the tasks still carried out best via physical media, will require a concerted sales and marketing effort.

The B2B sales environment has evolved today, and unless your marketing efforts and sales teams have kept up, you may find little interest from the companies that could become your long-term clients. Furthermore, these two facets of your business – marketing and sales – have to be in close contact with one another.

Don't sabotage yourself
Getting through to a prospect means setting up interest via marketing efforts and then reeling in a contract with the sales team. As Printing Impressions contributor Jeff Allen recently warned, this prospect becomes many times harder when marketing and sales don't have their goals and strategies aligned. Allen outlined three functions that marketing should be taking care of to set the proverbial table for sales: Marketers must generate your organization's strategic outlook, drive demand and act as enablers for the sales team.

The constant flow of information between marketing and sales personnel is a fundamental part of running any B2B company, according to Allen. He noted that marketers are the content creation experts, and they should be handing data-driven assets to the sales team, including case studies and white papers. Fitting in with modern strategies that are more about proving value than making a hard sell, Allen called for generated sales collateral to be focused on prospects' needs and interests, not just the functions of particular print offerings.

For marketers to provide this information to the sales team, they need to have particular kinds of expertise and competency. Allen posited that effective marketers at B2B companies should know about their own markets, including underlying conditions and buyer needs. They should also be experts in the products they are trying to sell, and this includes knowing what it's like to buy and integrate the relevant services. Finally, these professionals should be able to get inside the minds of prospective buyers, comprehending the pressures and requirements they're dealing with.

When your marketing team is cognizant of those concepts, it can provide the kind of information and assets salespeople need while generating campaigns that will create interest and demand. As long as both internal teams are operating from the same strategic perspective, valuable leads should be relatively easy to come by.

Jump starts
Not every marketing department is effective as is, and getting reality to line up with potential can be a tough step to take. Fortunately, there are a few quick campaigns that can get an inactive team up to full speed in a hurry. Another Printing Impressions post, this one by John Foley Jr., pointed out some of the fastest ways to make an impact on an audience of potential buyers in ways they'll appreciate.

For instance, the marketing team can release an informational asset to the masses. These were mentioned above, as passing e-books, case studies and other content to the sales team can ease their communications with prospects. When marketers release these items themselves, they have a number of channels at their disposal. Foley recommended using gated landing pages, using prospects' hunger for relevant knowledge to generate leads while simultaneously educating potential buyers.

Foley also gave a suggestion that seems obvious on reflection, but that you may be neglecting: Marketing teams can base their campaigns around customized physical letters. This strategy, using the very kinds of products you're selling to attract customers, plays on a print service provider's competencies. Modern data tracking methods go well with direct mail – and if you offer print marketing services to clients, you have the capacity to use them for your own outreach.

The lead generation machine
Some degree of turnover is inevitable in any service industry. The only way to keep your print firm strong and secure is to keep the wheels turning, reaching out to new clients in effective ways. As long as marketing and sales teams are working in ways that complement one another, your path to value is clear.