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10 smart reasons digital marketing can help remanufacturers to grow

July 21, 2015

Uninet Imaging’s Zoltan Matyas gives 10 different reasons why digital marketing can help you grow your company, and why the industry needs to focus on it to improve its market share.

When I was getting my ideas together to write this post, one thing was clear from the beginning: I will have to combine my 15 years of experience in the cartridge remanufacturing industry with my fresh academic studies on Digital Marketing and Social Media at the University of Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. I had the title for weeks…

I’m not a professional writer. More than anything I’m a salesman. Starting an article was a lot more difficult for me than picking up the phone and making a call about toner. That’s easy. I have a lot to say but I really needed inspiration.

So there I was looking at the empty screen, going through my notes, looking at other blogs on digital marketing etcetera, and all of a sudden an old quote came to my mind which I read the other day on Twitter. It got me inspired instantly. It’s from one of the greatest, and sums up pretty much everything I want to tell you: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives but the most adaptable” – Charles Darwin

My every day job at Uninet is basically to talk about business, listen, identify needs and provide answers to as many remanufacturers as I can at any given day. Those being said, believe me I heard and thought many hours about you, your business and your problems.

At the same time I’m studying Digital Marketing, and recently everything just clicked in my head. Let’s mix the two. Having a good, well-defined and executed digital marketing strategy can give immediate answers to problems remanufacturers face in 2015.

zoltan1I mean problems such as: branding, trust, delivering value propositions to the new type of buyer, positioning and many more. Let’s talk about problems a bit. The financial crisis hit all of us hard and it’s far from over. It lowered demand, pricing and profits. We are dealing with the price destructor, low-quality clones by mainly following their pricing, and as a result good quality raw material suppliers either starve or are going out of business. It’s a fact that the whole supply chain is in a bad shape and we keep losing added value.

If that’s not enough, now we have the dollar getting more expensive, pulling sooner or later everything else with it… and I’m really sure you could easily come up with more factors hurting us and our businesses. I hear them every day. I do realise that merely thinking about all this gives a good reason to be grumpy on your way to work every morning (and being unreceptive to a guy who calls you to sell expensive toner!).

But let’s stop for a second. HP recently raised prices, and I’m about to give you 10 great reasons why digital marketing is exactly what the remanufacturing industry needs to get a second chance and reposition itself. We just need to get it right this time. I’m not saying it will be neither simple nor easy. Far from it, but I truly believe it can make your morning ride to the office motivating, and as you gradually put a well-designed digital and social media strategy in action, your coffee whilst looking at sales will taste a lot better.

I’m from Hungary and I have been taught in school that blaming others to justify bad results is for cowards. I’m sorry to be blunt, but blaming the Chinese, the crisis, the school holidays the weather the politicians and policy makers and most recently the dollar exchange is just plain boring and very unproductive. I’m not saying that everything is great either, but one thing I do mean: it’s time to realise that the world is changing, and rolling up sleeves and getting to work is always a better option than crying or waiting.

The financial crisis is far from being resolved, and arguably demand for printing will not increase any time soon (we can discuss mobile printing in another post…). I can say the same about clones too. I do not see a huge change on that front anytime soon, regardless of the numerous ongoing lawsuits, court cases and half-done policy plans. Cheap clones will continue to find their way into our markets.

The dollar being strong makes everything a remanufacturer uses to produce cartridges more expensive, and again it looks to stay that way for a while. Raw material for toner production is in most of cases paid for in dollars, as well as the aluminium to make drums, and the list is endless. Transport is paid in dollars and suppliers’ stockpiles are not endless.

There is a positive side of this though. It hugely affects clone importers as well as OEMs, so at least we are not the only ones with the problem. But this is again a good topic for another post dedicated to the art of pricing. You need to charge what you deserve for the value you propose to your consumer. Yes – I mean we need to increase pricing – but there are different ways… first they need to listen and understand you, and I don’t think we are there yet.

At the university we work on real or fictional cases, and consulting projects. Whilst doing that I came to the following conclusion: “The toner and inkjet cartridge remanufacturing industry is light years behind in leveraging the opportunities the digital revolution offers.”

In fact it is pretty normal in Europe and it is good news for us! There is a study saying that the average percentage of the marketing budget an SME assigns to digital marketing in the USA is 55 percent; in the UK it is 27 percent, and in the rest of the Europe it’s six percent. Competition is low, and standing out in the crowd if you start early enough is always easy and more rewarding.

It’s simple. What we remanufacturers do is sell cartridges to people and companies who print. Guess what? All of them are on social media. And please don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean they want to see your cartridge prices on their Facebook walls (I definitely wouldn’t), but you can’t ignore the fact that their attention is there. That’s exactly why we have to be very smart about our digital marketing strategy.

So let’s see what we have. Sorry but needed to pick a big one. MSE (@MSETONER) has 337 Twitter followers (I did not find Clover) versus HP (@HPPrint) having a massive 52,400, and that is only their print division. Looking at the leading suppliers of remanufacturers, Static Control Components has 44 Twitter followers and Uninet has 57. That is when I said to myself… hang on a minute. This is more than strange – I could be wrong here.modern_communication_technology_flat_illustration_by_cursorch-d72tm9f

Although Twitter is clearly the preferred social media network for B2B content and to obtain a targeted audience (what we need) but still… Facebook is the elephant, so let’s see. Running the same exercise (did not find Clover either), I found two Facebook pages who claim to be official distributors of MSE – no official MSE company page though. One had 83 page likes and the other one had 1,029. Interestingly both of them from Latin America! HP’s official Facebook page has more than 3.6 million likes.

I could go on and on and looking into LinkedIn, Instagram, Google+, Pinterest etcetera, but I honestly don’t think you need an industry-wide social media presence analysis to clearly get my point. It is very simple. We are not there. Our industry is practically inexistent on the social media map, whilst our audience is there everyday, and the time they spend there with smartphones is increasing exponentially.

Then there is something else to face. Let’s say I’m a very forgetful but dedicated entrepreneur running a small business (so no secretary), and I’m on a mission to close a deal tomorrow with a potential customer. I’m working hard on a short deadline, and need to print a report for my tomorrow meeting but my printer is out of toner. Well no problem – we are in 2015, so local next-day delivery is not an issue, and all I need to do is turn to Mr. Google. As I said, I’m a small business so I have an HP LaserJet Pro P1102 on my desk.

Mr. Google will kindly return me 2,860,000 websites within 0.61 seconds to pick my cartridge from. How do I decide? Positioning! Job done – order placed within two minutes. As statistics and clever internet buying behaviour analysts say, I will choose any of the first five websites offered and get back working on my meeting tomorrow, since this is what is really important for me.

This obviously shows that the industry does try to leverage the internet. Yes there are many websites, but at the moment we are only using websites as extremely expensive business cards. Someone not long ago told me when we discussed about SEM and SEO (geeky words for the importance of positioning with search engines) that: listen Zoltan, if you really want to keep a secret, just make sure it’s on the second page of Google.

I’m sure again you all get where I’m going with this. If you honestly think how many times have you clicked on a website listed on the second page of Google, you know exactly what I mean.

If that was not enough to convince you that you need a good digital marketing strategy and you are still reading, then now I’m ready to deliver on what I promised in my headline.

Here are your 10 reasons digital marketing can help you to grow. They are not in any particular order of importance. Consider them as you feel best for your business, but please do yourself a favour and do not ignore them. Most likely some of your competitors won’t.

  1. Digital marketing will boost your brand

Remanufacturing as a whole needs a brand refurbishing, and digital marketing is the perfect tool for that. If you deliver what you promised and a bit more, a satisfied customer will share with others. Social media has been invented to facilitate just that. There is nothing better than a free-of-charge brand ambassador recommending your cartridges to friends and their businesses.

  1. Digital marketing creates trust

This is a key factor in our case. I have said in all of my presentations I have given in the last few years that one of the main reasons for the low market share of aftermarket versus OEM is due to consumer trust issues. Who doesn’t read Amazon reviews? Not to mention actual customer reviews on or Tripadvisor before booking a hotel or a holiday? Digital marketing gives you the ability to leverage on REAL testimonials.

According to a Nielsen Global online customer survey, 90 percent of respondents claimed they would trust information about a particular brand or product or service if the data comes from people they know.

  1. Digital marketing is cheaper than the traditional one

You don’t need to pay the designer, nor have to have a department or print flyers and direct mail cartridge catalogues. You are good with a well-designed social media and digital marketing plan executed by a creative community manager or an external consulting firm. Strategy, creativity, tactics and a bit of automation are all you need.

  1. Digital marketing puts you on the same level with any of your competitors

On the digital marketing playground, size does not matter: targeted audience and relevant value proposition does. Regardless of how many cartridges you make or how deep your pocket is today, a small remanufacturer has the same tools and resources as a huge one to perform great digital marketing, lead generating and sales processes.

  1. Digital marketing will give a better return on your investmentnetworks

The key is to find the way to generate continuously growing traffic of highly-targeted audience. You can do this by consistently providing relevant value content. This traffic will yield more leads and more sales. You are widening your sales funnel. It’s a simple rule of numbers. The more your digital strategy generates this kind of traffic, the faster you will get the return on your investment.

  1. Digital marketing delivers conversion you can measure

It’s measurable. Yes, with numbers in Excel. Digital marketing gives you things like CPC (cost per click), CPM (cost per thousand impressions) and CPL (cost per lead) percentage rate of incoming traffic converted to leads, and sales, click-through and bounce rates, number of new subscribers and exact time spent on your site, etcetera. This means SALES. You can go as deep as segmenting your key measurements based on the demographics of your audience.

  1. Digital marketing helps generate better revenues

According to a recent statistic published by Google, companies using digital marketing strategies have 2.8 times better revenue growth expectancy.

  1. Digital marketing allows you to talk to YOUR customers

The internet is an interactive thing. Good tactics in a well-executed plan will give you valuable insights as to what is it that your customers want, so you can focus on optimising your sales funnel to deliver on exactly what they need. You can also answer them. I just tweeted Linkedin that I don’t like their mobile interface, and they got back to me and we had a conversation (I was right J).

  1. Digital marketing caters to the mobile customer

I don’t want to talk to you about the smartphone revolution now. It’s everywhere. Are you Android or iPhone? Do you have a smart sexy app that facilitates ordering for your repeat or contract customers? Not to mention reminding them when is best to do it so it eases your stocks? Or a game with rewards?

  1. Digital marketing allows you to tell your customers clearly what you want them to do

As discussed before, your goal is to widen your sales funnel, convert traffic to leads and sales etcetera, and conversion is made through a “call to action”. It means basically clearly directing your audience to do something you want them to do. It can be: sign up, like, download, call, share, buy etcetera.

There you go. I managed to get to 10, and I hope you find them good enough to consider. My aim was to provoke some thoughts in you. Feel free to get in touch and share your views on this. I’d love to hear from you, and I’m happy to answer any questions or personally discuss anything mentioned above.

Based on your feedback I’m also considering to regularly write about what I think how remanufacturers should do this. Please don’t be shy to let me know if you liked what you read, and don’t hesitate to reach out to me directly. You can easily find me on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn – just type in my name…

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