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Marketing Services Providers: Separating the Contenders from the Pretenders

May 2014 By Erik Cagle, Senior Editor
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Ask Steven Schnoll, and he'll be the first to tell you that the term marketing services provider (MSP) is just, well, an awful moniker to hang around the neck of a traditional printing services provider (PSP).

"Printers and marketing just do not go hand in hand," observes Schnoll, the managing director of Schnoll Media Consulting in New Providence, NJ. "Generally, printers are terrible marketers, so why should they attempt to call themselves a marketing services provider?"

Schnoll has a point. While some have done it successfully, the printing community—on the whole—does not boast a reputation in the general business community for being astute marketers of their own products and services. Can we safely presume that they would do a better job with the marketing fortunes of another business in their hands?

By the same token, Schnoll isn't dismissive of the value that marketing-based offerings can provide for printers. Semantically, he feels they're just better off in describing themselves as content services providers.

"It hasn't worked for many organizations," Schnoll says of the MSP tag. "You don't know the first thing about marketing; how are you going to provide your customers with a true marketing plan? You can't event market yourself.

"But you can come to them and say 'I have a portfolio of content delivery vehicles that can help you be successful in your current marketing plan; I'm your go-to partner,' " he adds. "Those who do it successfully are all about content. They can do it with video, Website building, mobile apps—whatever their need for content delivery."

What does it take to justify that MSP tag? A dedicated team, a plan, a course of execution and a healthy dose of cross-media.

Schnoll relates a story about a New England franchise printer (yup, a franchise printer) that came to the rescue of a certain local, prestigious medical school that had a great deal of data, but apparently didn't know how to best leverage the information. Saturation mailings dealing with medical specializations were sent to the masses, which proved to be a waste of time and money for the university. The printer was able to better segment the mailings, incorporate microsites and generally tailor the messages in a more personal way.



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