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How to Communicate Price Changes to Your Customers

Why do price changes happen in the printing industry? The reasons begin with the cost of supplies, move on to the cost of labor, and continue through changing delivery costs. There are shortages and bottlenecks in the supply chains, including in the labor force. As the need for quarantines and lockdowns evolved since early 2020, every touchpoint in the printing supply chain has been impacted—prices have had to change. 

Despite the fact that most people understand the unprecedented business circumstances the global business community is experiencing, breaking the news to customers still takes a gentle hand and clear communication. While it’s true that they likely won’t be surprised, your customers will still want to understand what kind of changes they should expect. In the June 2021 edition of the Harvard Business Review, Utpal Dholakia of Rice University says to be straightforward and as transparent as possible. He explains that authenticity and honesty matter to customers, especially for communications about pricing. Craft your message carefully to explain the need for the price increase. Don’t be afraid to cite the challenges of the past year, since it is a common experience for everyone. 

Price Change Conversations Should Be Customer-Centric

That same article makes the case for using a customer-centric narrative that focuses on the value you bring to the relationship and the intent to continue to meet client needs. While you will likely want to avoid exposing every detail of your cost structure, profit margins, and business strategy, do let customers know that your print industry suppliers are also raising prices. Remember, too, that timing is important.

Many businesses set their printing budgets on a yearly basis. They may make mid-year or quarterly adjustments, but they plan based on their forecasts. Price changes for printed products, large or small, mean they need to re-assess their budgets. Begin by understanding your costs as a print reseller and what you need to communicate to customers. Then develop a program so that everyone on your team is communicating the same message.  

Your communication program should include five elements:

  1. Internal agreement on increases and how they will be communicated.
    Before you begin talking to your printing customers, everyone should be on the same page within your organization. Customers worry when they hear mismatched messages, so work with team members to keep the messaging on point and consistent.

  2. Direct communication with customers when circumstances permit.
    A visit to the customer is best, but if that isn’t possible in the current environment, try to share your message in a video or phone call. If the amount of customers your printing business has makes this impossible, be sure to craft an email that is personal, and suggest ways you can help them stay within their budgets to get the most value.

  3. Advanced warning with defined timeframes for price changes.
    Customers need time to review their current buying plan. While internal pricing may be changing more rapidly, try to give customers as much warning as possible. Can you give them three months? Or only one month? Whatever timeframe you use, be prepared to explain it to your customers. If you can offer deals in advance of the price increase, customers appreciate the consideration.

  4. Reasons for the price increase at an appropriate degree of granularity.
    In most cases, there will not be a reason to expose every element of every price change to your printing customers. Instead, look for the strong, high-level reasons that will make sense to customers and accurately reflect why you are changing your price structure.

  5. A plan to follow up as price increases approach.
    Announcing a price increase shouldn’t be the last conversation you have with your customers. It should be part of ongoing contact. Create a plan that ensures the sales team will continue to stay in touch with customers. Create special bundles and deals that you can offer on a regular cadence to deliver alternative value to customers.

Price changes will happen—and they may happen more regularly in the coming months as supply chains continue to experience disruptions. Keep your customers in the loop by keeping your relationship as close as possible. The 4over team can work with you to create new offerings and build bundles to help reinforce value, so contact us for help!

4over LLC is one of the largest wholesale trade printers in the U.S., with multiple production facilities across North America. A trusted source of print fulfillment since 2001, the company helps large franchise printers, single print shops, print brokers, graphic designers, photographers, and every type of print reseller in between grow profitable businesses by offering a vast selection of quality products at guaranteed trade-only prices. With capabilities such as gang-run offset, digital, grand format, and promotional printing, plus state-of-the-art equipment, 4over offers every customer savings, selection, and scale. Not yet a 4over reseller? Register Today!

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As one of North America’s largest trade-only printers and a trusted source for print fulfillment since 2001, 4over helps print, design, and other creative services resellers grow profitable businesses. We do this by offering a vast selection of quality print products at guaranteed trade-only prices. Our expansive e-commerce catalog includes everything from standard marketing collateral like business cards and brochures, to harder-to-find specialty, large format, and promotional products.

Our capabilities span gang run offset, digital, grand format, and promotional printing across six production facilities, staffed by experienced, committed operations teams. With locations across North America, state-of-the-art equipment such as powerful Incas and Scodix UV machines, and fast turnarounds, 4over offers our customers savings, selection, and scale. We serve large franchise printers, single print shops, print brokers, graphic designers, photographers, and every type of print reseller in between. Learn more at Trade.4over.com

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