The biggest thing about Web-to-print is that you need a customer who will use it. I’ve seen many printers fail because they took a “build it and they will come” approach. You need to be talking with the customers and really be sure they want to use it. The successful Web-to-print solutions force the customer to have some skin in the game by charging if they don’t use the service. You have to have someone at the customer’s office pushing online ordering within the organization or their print buyers will keep ordering the old way. Just don’t think that by offering the service customers are going to beat down your door.
Question: Will printers have to become marketing service providers to survive?
Most printers won’t survive and prosper by just putting ink on paper. They are going to have to get involved in the entire communication process. Providing marketing support is one way, but most printers don’t have the skill set to compete with marketing companies.
What printers do have are the tools to make communication easier for their customers. Printers who can integrate print collateral with the new Web services will be the ones to succeed. For example, you don’t have to be a marketing expert to know how to create and print a QR code on a customer’s marketing material. You don’t have to be a marketing expert to develop easy-to-use websites for customers or give them the tools to do mobile marketing. You should be able to partner with customers and help them get their information to their customers more effectively. Having a moniker isn’t going to get customers in the door. You are going to have to get out of the shop and get face-to-face with customers to show them what you can do.
Keep those questions coming. As printers, we face many of the same challenges, but I can attest to the fact that there are printers who are very successful and have a long, profitable future ahead of them.
John Giles is the author of “12 Secrets for Digital Success” and “The DTP PriceList”. He is the technology director and a consultant for CPrint International. Contact him at 954-224-1942 or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find John on Twitter.com at @JohnG247 and Linkedin. His blogs can be found at johngilesiii.blogspot.com/ and at www.MyPrintResource.com. To order John’s books, visit www.crouser.com.