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How to Shape Customer Perceptions

Your customers may perceive your in-plant differently than you'd like. It's up to you to mold those perceptions through strategic marketing.

September 2013 By Jerry Sampson
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The in-plant customer can be an enigma—aware of the in-plant's existence while at the same time ignoring it entirely. More times than not, this attitude is born of perceptions that are usually inaccurate.

The May 2013 IPG article "A New Strategy in Minnesota" reveals how the University of Minnesota dealt with this situation. The operation came to the realization that an in-plant must do the same things all small businesses do: establish a brand, a reputation and a marketing plan to entice customers to think of the in-plant as the supplier of choice. In short, the in-plant's management team acknowledged that they needed to change their operation and alter customer perceptions.

While the in-plant may have the tools and skills to maintain relevance, the customer may disagree—not necessarily due to lack of skills and tools, but because of the customer's perception of issues the in-plant may not be aware of. In other words, how does an in-plant use internal marketing to mold the perception that will increase sales?

An internal marketing effort to change customer perception requires a strategy and tools employing the following three steps:

  1. External Assessment
  2. Internal Assessment
  3. Communication

External Assessment

Determining who is a good prospect is a critical ingredient to a successful marketing effort. It first begins with an assessment of current customers/prospects, what their needs are and how well they are being met.

Typically, in the in-plant environment, there are two categories: saints and sinners. Those who use the in-plant are the saints and those who do not are...well, you know. While this classification is humorous, it is necessary to know why those two groups exist. Plus, an assessment of the current customers/prospects will determine what growth potential is available and where you have been successful.

The individual who is changing and looking for new solutions is the ideal prospect. She/he wants innovation and solutions in the form of products, which gives the in-plant the opportunity to broaden its offerings and sales avenues. While current products may be in demand, new products coupled with value-added attributes can be explored with this type of customer. CRM, PURLS, QR codes, Web-to-print and print-to-Web are examples.

Jerry Sampson and his partner Ed Daniel are consultants with Document Communication Technologies, a full service in-plant print consulting group that has assisted numerous in-plants, both in the United States and abroad. For more information visit DCT Consulting Group at



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