Marketing Services Providers: Separating the Contenders from the Pretenders

The YGS Group’s marketing department started with one person 10 years ago and has grown considerably since then.

GLS Cos. entered the marketing services fray with its acquisition of stand-alone marketing specialist Next Communications.

“This can be done by anybody, but you must have the creative ability to perform these tasks,” Schnoll adds.

The options for an MSP wanna-be are ample. A printer can open its own marketing department and hire/develop the core marketing competencies. It can merge with or purchase an existing agency, or it can strike up a business agreement to work together while maintaining the status as independent concerns.

MSPs Must Walk the Talk

John Foley, CEO of interlinkONE and Grow Socially, plus the author of “Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry,” has witnessed the avalanche of traditional printers that now characterize themselves as MSPs, yet do little or nothing to justify this distinction. True justification involves a plan; it entails new products and services; and it involves a sales staff that understands how to sell solutions and is adept at consultative sales.

“The most successful folks I see have identified that they need a plan, can execute the plan, and that they require the right staff,” he says. “With that, they’ve changed messaging, are doing a better job in inbound and outbound marketing, and they’re wrapping their hands around their Website and content marketing. Those are early adopters.

“The people who failed (as MSPs) added it the same way that they add equipment,” he notes. “Take personalized URLs. They bought software because they thought it would be a magic bullet to produce revenue. It’s a value-added service, it’s relevant…so how come it never took off? Because they just took people, sometimes prepress staff members, and said ‘OK, you’re going to make the landing pages.’ But you need different skill sets.”

Foley sees pros and cons in aligning with existing marketing firms, and he feels there can be opportunities for printers that aren’t afraid to have people work remotely. From a capex standpoint, adopting marketing capabilities, depending on a company’s current level of marketing engagement, could run between $20,000 and $150,000, according to Foley. A strategic road map to a successful conversion could take as long as two years.

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  • Jim Claxton

    As an owner of a small printing company I sat down 5 years ago to develop a new tagline for our company.
    One of my favorites was content distributor. I like content service provider even better, however printing content
    is possibly the weakest part of our product mix, it certainly is a shrinking market. I’m leaning more towards
    printed products, believing that printed products have a better future than content printing.
    Data management, that delivers on point printed products could be the next bright spot in the industry.
    Jim Claxton