Cross-Media Services — Shops Sending Mixed Messages

WHAT DOES it take to be a cross-media company? Is it simply offering personalized URLs (pURLs) and e-mail messaging as an extension of variable data printing? By that definition, most digital printing operations would now qualify since those capabilities are all but standard.

The real point of distinction is when variable data marketing campaigns are no longer standalone efforts, as they have tended to be, but are tightly integrated with a client’s overall marketing program. As users have become more experienced with the capability, they’re seeing opportunities in doing variable data campaigns (print, Web and e-mail) that build on mass media messaging via television, radio and printed publications.

Extending the definition in this way raises the question, What is the role of a “printer”—cum cross-media service provider—in an integrated marketing scenario? Rather than there being a single answer, it’s a matter of at what level does a company want to compete.

• Realistically, a print provider doesn’t have to do much more than change its branding. It can ally itself with creative agencies that will take responsibility for developing the integrated marketing strategy and manage its execution by various service providers.

• The next step up would be for a company to assume some or all of the creative agency’s role by providing marketing expertise and design services for media beyond that which it can produce in-house, and subcontract the execution out to other companies as needed.

• Becoming a true one-stop shop by bringing all production in-house is the ultimate step. While still few and far between, there has already been the beginnings of an industry trend of print providers building in-house video production studios. Acquiring an existing firm would be another option.

About three years ago, the Dallas-based company formerly known as Pro Printing became Cross Media. It turned the phrase into a company name as part of a strategic plan to position the business as a marketing resource for clients, reports Jeff Bradford, president.

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