Dealer Resources

Earning More In Tough Times

You don’t have to watch the nightly news to know that the U.S. economy is going through a challenging period right now. As a stationery retailer, you’ve probably already wrestled with questions like, “How bad is this going to get?” and, more likely, “How do I keep my business profitable in this economic climate?” While we’re by no means experts on the economy, we’d like to offer you a few encouraging suggestions:

Initiate Contact with Your Customers
Don’t wait for your customers to come to you. In a challenging economy, some of them may choose not to. Take the initiative to reach out to those who have bought from you before, as well as potential customers, through email, direct mail or telephone. If your customer base is in a smaller geographic area, consider a Saturday “ride around” placing flyers on their front doors. Simply reminding your customers that you’re there to serve them creates an expectation of a purchase in their minds.

Be Careful with Pricing; Add Value Through Service
In a challenging economy, there’s a tendency by retailers to assume they must offer deep discounts in order to get sales. Remember that your time is valuable, and that discounted sales in the end may not be profitable. Instead, focus on your service–helping your customers, offering prompt and personal delivery, assisting with wording or suggestions for making “the perfect photo.” Take an interest in their family and their purchase. Your level of service adds value to your products.

Great service is worth the retail price. It’s the reason you’re willing to pay more for a hamburger at a sit-down restaurant than you are at McDonald’s–you’re paying for better quality and service. During a challenging economic time, you’ll likely find it more profitable to focus on increasing value than on deeply decreasing your prices.

Many would argue, “But there’s now an expectation of a deep discount from all retailers.” Though some discounting may be helpful, remember that you can always count on people to choose great values over great pricing.

Promote Constantly; Leave Room to Adjust
Finally, in a challenging economy it’s better to focus your marketing efforts on more than a “we’re open” sign. If you wait to see how business goes, you may find yourself with little time to adjust later on. Marketing actively does not necessarily mean spending lots of money. Personal contact, phone calls, in-store promotions, press releases to local news agencies, civic and social events–all of these are low- or no-cost means to promote your business.

If you promote consistently, you’ll also leave yourself time to evaluate and concentrate your marketing efforts further if you need a push when business thins out.

Five Steps You Can Take Right Now

Planning and preparation are keys to working successfully in a challenging economy. Here are some practical tips:

Discover and Develop Potential Customers
Make a list of potential customers that you will contact during the season. You may not be able to rely solely on your existing customer base to have a successful season–so plan now to expand your base. We’ve got a few suggestions for expanding your customer list, along with a downloadable worksheet to help you get started. With online tools like Google and the White Pages, you’ll likely be able to find much of the contact information you need to engage these customers from the comfort of your computer.

Write Out a Calendar
Plan your business season. Stationery sales can be year-round–each season brings with it specific opportunities. Your plan can be simple–for each month, write out the steps you’ll take in terms of marketing and promotion and the dates you plan to implement them. Think at least 3 to 4 months in advance. If you’ve been in business for a while, you can even use your prior year’s sales as a target–write out what you earned each month last year, and use that as a gauge to determine how you are performing this year, month to month.

Read Up on the Latest Ideas
There are many excellent resources available to give you encouragement and ideas for promoting your business at your local bookstore. A Sunday afternoon reading may equip you with new knowledge or techniques that will be helpful in your business. We’ve got a Bookshelf of suggestions online to get you started.

Record Your Action Steps
Thinking and planning is great, but without action, you’ll not succeed. Once you develop your potential customer list and calendar, and read through some expert advice, give yourself 3 or 4 “actions steps” to implement in a timely manner. With action steps the best time to implement is right now. Here’s a simple technique–just complete each of the following sentences with a business-related action:

  • Today I will begin by…
  • Next week I will continue with…
  • By the end of next month I will have completed…

Use Resources Available to You
Take stock of your available resources and use what you have at hand. PrintsWell, Inc. has provided this site free of charge, containing many great suggestions and options. There are also a number of low-cost ways to promote your business, from printing your own flyers or postcards, to sending emails, to holding a stationery open house–and many more.

From the PrintsWell, Inc. Team

For our part, the PrintsWell, Inc. team is working hard for your success. We’re improving our communication with you through this website and regular dealer emails. We’re providing new tools for our dealers like downloadable resources, customizable promotion items, and new marketing services. We’ve deepened our discount to dealers for promotional items from 20% to 50%. And we’ve kept the average price of items (based on the average order size) in our new catalog updates the same as last year to make you even more competitive on the pricing front

Even in a challenging economic time, we believe that we can have a role in your success. Best wishes to you for a prosperous and profitable season selling PrintsWell stationery!

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