Printers with an eye toward expansion—or perhaps even survival--need to look beyond the iron on their shop floor, as marketers and print buyers seek creative methods to engage and target their audience. Savvy printers are doing just that, supplying highly innovative solutions that cross multiple...
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Printers with an eye toward expansion—or perhaps even survival--need to look beyond the iron on their shop floor, as marketers and print buyers seek creative methods to engage and target their audience. Savvy printers are doing just that, supplying highly innovative solutions that cross multiple communication channels.
“Among PODi members we see that many are successfully providing cross-media services, such as linking print and online communications through Personalized URLs and QR Codes, incorporating email marketing into campaigns, using social media channels and developing campaign specific microsites,” says Christine DeLooze, content director, Caslon, a PODi affiliate. PODi is a global, not-for-profit organization focused on increasing demand for marketing services and applications driven by digital printing.
“Some are even supporting their customers’ social media efforts by maintaining Facebook pages and scheduling Tweets,” she says. “By providing these value-added services these companies are becoming trusted marketing partners.”
Of course, adding cross media services is not as simple as hanging a shingle on your door declaring your new offerings.
Making the transition to becoming a solutions provider requires specific skill sets, such as solutions selling, solutions expertise, data management, and customized programming of various software tools. On the shop floor, the key to delivering these new solutions centers more on workflow and less on equipment. A core competency to this toolkit, says DeLooze, are solutions that have a technical component related to data and/or software programming.
Updating the Business Model
The tricky part is to get alignment around the new business model.
One of the greatest challenges for a printer is to move away from commodity pricing to value-based pricing. “A printer whose strategy is to underbid the competition is not going to be viewed as a strategic marketing partner,” says DeLooze. “Cross-media solutions that incorporate digital print can create new value by delivering relevant marketing messages that drive increased sales. Value pricing is related to the value the customer perceives they are getting as opposed to the cost of the product or service. PODi offers an online training module specifically focused on this area in addition to value calculators that help prove the benefit of solutions that incorporate relevant marketing powered by digital print.”
I think printers’ biggest challenge is identifying which skills and services are the best fit for their own company, says Margie Dana, president and founder of Print Buyers International. “They have to make a choice and decide what other services, specialties to add to their printing base.”
There are so many options available; the biggest challenge is often knowing where to start. “It’s important that printers narrow down their specialty and not just jump into QR Codes or mobile computing or content management—they can’t be experts in everything,” says Dana.
Critical for printers is knowing their customers and their markets; they need to get better versed in the key marketing solutions/tools that their customer base is using, or is going to use. Printers who target specific vertical markets—education or retail, for example—should be paying strict attention to what marketing strategies and platforms are heating up in that segment. Want to be of real value to your customer? Don’t only look at the marketing programs your customer wants to launch, know what his competition is doing as well. Find out what’s trending now, and what’s projected to trend in the near future.
Providing cross-media services should be part of an overall marketing strategy. Just adding a Personalized URL or a QR Code to a direct mail piece will not instantly increase revenue. “These are just different channels for engaging the recipient,” says DeLooze. “Key campaign components still need to be considered—objectives, list, offers, relevant messaging and design. Printers who want to offer cross-media services need to be prepared to consider the entire customer experience from start to finish.”