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Feeling the Client's Pain
The client’s marketing concerns are Vision Integrated’s concerns, according to company leaders Joan Patrick and Chuck Sherman.
“A lot of our ideas are just based on needs and conversations with the client,” Sherman said.
“It’s really about seeing what clients are trying to solve and what challenges they are facing. And sometimes they don’t know they need a solution, it’s just being able to listen and say, ‘Have you thought about doing this? It might streamline your process.’” Patrick said.
Sherman described how one customer had problems tracking hundreds of orders. Jobs were getting lost in their system and in email.
“We built them a tracking system so everything would come into it and everyone could see what tasks were out there and then track the job.” Sherman said.
“They didn’t come to us and ask us to solve their problem,” added Patrick. “They were just describing their pain.”
The company, with facilities in Chicago, Tinley Park, Ill., and Hobart, Ind., develops products internally and then modifies them for their customers.
“We created our own proprietary backend with some features you don’t see in web-to-print platforms. We don’t have two customers who are using their web-to-print applications in the same way. There are always new features that we’re building to accommodate different clients,” Patrick said.
“For instance, they have Facebook feeds and Twitter feeds built in. They have a Product of the Day — very much like an Amazon model,” Sherman said.
“We wouldn’t be able to do it without the technology team on staff,” Patrick said.
Technology drives Vision Integrated’s innovation.
“When it comes to our ability to provide innovation— it’s about bringing together technology and ideas,” Patrick said. “From a products standpoint, innovation is the ability to take unique substrates and turn them into products.”
“We’re breaking the mold because we have an on-staff technology crew. I don’t know a lot of organizations like us that have on-staff developers,” Patrick said.
Technology is important to the manufacturing side of the business, especially finding new ways to automate processes.
“We do simple things that ensure delivery,” Sherman said.
Vision Integrated also emphasizes sales and marketing. Their team includes 26 salespeople and three marketing professionals. They offer a comprehensive sales package, ensuring the team has “the right tools.”
“We have a variety of expertise (on staff). We have sales meetings every six weeks that are informative. And there’s exchange,” Sherman said.
Patrick acknowledges that it’s a challenge to sell in a commodity business because customers have done some homework and their focus is mostly on price.
“We tell our story. We nurture prospects and clients on the buying process. We do newsletters, quarterly mailings, e-newsletters and implemented inbound marketing program. We promote the products of our clients,” Patrick said.
They look to Dscoop to exchange ideas and develop relationships, and some have even turned into partnerships.
“Hands down it’s about networking. The conversations you have about other companies similar to ours. And the challenges they’re facing,” Patrick said.
“I know there are relationships that continue on and joint partnerships with other companies like ours. Those people wouldn’t have been brought together if it weren’t for the Dscoop conference.”
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