GRAPH EXPO IGNITES THE IMAGINATION! Fuels PSP-to-MSP Transition with Actionable 'How-to' Advice

The Marketer’s Lounge inside the GRAPH EXPO Marketing Pavilion was the place to be Monday for any marketing service providers (MSPs) or print service providers (PSPs) seeking to exchange ideas and learn from the experts and each other. In addition to all of the resources to be found, there was an in-depth educational session on how brands connect with their audiences and another on the marketing strategy behind the USPS “If it Fits it Ships” marketing campaign. There also was a multi-channel marketing “meet and greet” reception where attendees shared best practices and details of successful multi-channel marketing campaigns. Today, the pavilion will host sessions on the power of print in the multi-media campaign, successful integrated marketing campaigns, and leveraging the power of 1:1 marketing.
The MSP ‘mantra’ is not limited to the Marketing Pavilion. It is a thread that runs across the show floor of GRAPH EXPO. Practically every digitally-oriented vendor offers some sort of tool or product and also actionable advice printers can use in making the transition from PSP to MSP.
Why the intense interest in marketing in a venue that traditionally highlights the capabilities of print? According to presentations at the pre-show EXECUTIVE OUTLOOK Conference, it is because becoming an MSP is a logical next step for printers who want to escape the trap of commodity printing and the limits of only offering customers ink or toner on paper.
Becoming a marketing services provider does not mean turning your printing company into an ad agency. Rather, it means being able to offer marketing tools to marketers, which could be ad agencies or marketing departments within corporations. That said, it takes more than simply hanging out an MSP shingle in front of your print shop.
Moving into marketing services is not a simple matter. The umbrella term covers a lot of territory including: digital marketing, lead generation, social media, mobile services, marketing automation, Internet services, database management, analytics, integrated media services, lead management, email marketing, lists brokers, creative services, telemarketing, social content generation, online presentations, search engine optimization (SEO), and integrated marketing management.
There is also a vast array of individual components involved. Design services for websites are another option. So are publishing services such as e-books, digital editions, and iPad apps. Other components can include digital asset management, variable data design and production, database management, QR codes, PURLs, email campaigns, and website management. It can also involve more traditional things such as mailing and fulfillment and package printing or design.
Consultant Steven Schnoll offered EXECUTIVE OUTLOOK attendees 10 steps to consider when contemplating making the move to becoming an MSP. Among them was developing a program to ask customers what was important to them, and then writing a business and marketing plan based on what they tell you. He also suggested partnering with a good supplier to help with new service offerings, hiring or retraining employees in such things as data management, and hiring or retraining salespeople who understand new cross-media concepts. One of the more important suggestions was to “develop a features and benefits list that highlights what your new services can do to assist customers achieve their business objectives.”

Where to gain
actionable how-to advice
The Marketing Services Pavilion is co-sponsored by the Chicago Chapter of the American Marketing Association and the Print Council. It features vendors who offer a wide variety of products and expertise that lend themselves to making the transition from PSP to MSP. The list reads like a “who’s who” of companies that can assist PSPs in making the transition to MSPs. However, making that transition involves both a commitment and a continuing effort because the landscape is constantly changing.
In his new book “Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry,” author John Foley, CEO of interlinkONE (Booth 3661) and Grow Socially (Booth 3662), cautions: “Remember that making the transformation from print service provider to marketing services provider is not a one-time effort, but rather it is a journey down an ever-evolving road. This means that building a lasting business isn’t all about what is going on today. Making the transformation to a marketing services provider requires looking forward to the future and anticipating (okay, trying to anticipate) the changes ahead. This includes changes in technology, changes in services, and changes in get the idea.”