“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don't know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter.”—From Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll Unless you’ve had...
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“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. Which road do I take? she asked. Where do you want to go? was his response. I don't know, Alice answered. Then, said the cat, it doesn't matter.”—From Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll
Unless you’ve had you’re head in the sand for the last five years, you’re well aware of the trend—and the promotion of that trend by those in the know—of printers looking to increase their value to their customer by becoming a Marketing Service Provider (MSP).
Becoming a MSP means that you’ll become involved in offering cross media services, as marketing programs today use a host of other media and platforms to get messages delivered: personalized direct mail/email with PURL, mass media with GURL and CURL, Web, mobile, tablet, QR Codes, SMS, Intellligent Mail Bar Code, and/or social media (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter). These cross-media services are supported by marketing services, such as creative services, campaign management, and/or data analytics.
Lisa Cross, Associate Director for InfoTrends’ Business Development Strategies, actually prefers the term cross-media marketing services provider over marketing services provider. “They are two different things,” she says. “Marketing service firms, as their name implies offer ‘marketing services’ and are printing firms’ customers. The inclusion of the term ‘cross-media’ describes firms that are expanding the media channels they offer and combining them, which requires marketing.”
Strategy is Key
While terminology within the industry might differ, there is consensus that a well-thought out strategy is critical for any firm looking to evolve into a (cross-media) marketing services provider. You have to know what your firms wants to accomplish, and why, asserts Dr. John Leininger, a graphic communications professor at Clemson University.
Make sure to “write the business plan and the marketing plan,” says John Foley, president and CEO of interlinkONE, Inc. “In many cases, becoming a marketing services provider is very similar to starting a new business. Take the time to build strategies and plans that will support this. Create financial projections. Identify the right resources. If you do this work ahead of time, the actual transition will be much smoother.”
Evaluate your current operation, examining what inventory and skill sets you have in place right now, before you make the leap. Success in cross-media requires leadership with a focus on marketing and new business development. “It is not just about operational efficiency, which printers are masters at—that’s important--but there needs to be a balance,” says Cross.
Don’t forget about your team, urges Foley. “I am not saying that you need to hire an entirely new staff, but to succeed, you must get your employees on board with the transition. You should provide education and other training on why your company is changing, how you will do it, and what it will take internally and externally. You need to increase the resources and investment that you spend on your own marketing efforts. Provide help for your sales staff! They will need to change from selling commodity-based items to selling solutions.”
The Right Tools
Technology also needs to be considered. If you don’t have the right tools, you’re not going to be able to take on the work. You’ll need to streamline production, and employ cross media tools from with tools from EFI, XMPie, Dalim, Pageflex, or other leading vendors.
XMPie, for example, offers variable data publishing software that unites customer databases and creative content to leverage customer data and create personalized, multiphase campaigns that use print, Web, Email, and mobile. One customer, QuantumDigital, Inc., looking to gain recognition of its multi-channel, full service marketing capabilities, decided to host a Marketing Innovation and Discovery Summit and invite executive leaders from top agencies and retail brands. The campaign incorporated 1:1 postcards, e-mails, a poster, invitation booklets, as well as personalized URLs and QR codes. Using MindFire and XMPie’s Personal Effect software to create its campaigns, QuantumDigital generated a 51 percent response rate, with 38 percent responding via the PURL and 26 percent through the use of the QR code.