Mailing & Fulfillment — Five Steps to Become an MSP

WHEN I owned my own fulfillment center in the Dallas area in the ’80s and early ’90s, I wondered why printers were not embracing mailing and fulfillment services as an extension of their business.

Actually, I was looking over my shoulder, dreading the time when the giant woke up and understood the importance of these ancillary services to the growth of their businesses. Fortunately, the introduction of new technology and Web-based products kept the majority of printers busy enough not to infringe on our sacred mailing and fulfillment territory.

There were some printing industry innovators, such as Jim Schultz at Great Lakes Integrated and Gary Garner at GLS, who had the vision and understanding to pioneer the adoption of mailing and fulfillment services into their printing companies. These companies have reaped the benefits of their entrepreneurial efforts and are continuing to grow at a rapid pace. In addition, they’ve set themselves apart from their competitors by changing their value proposition to the client.

So I pose these questions concerning the new industry buzzword—Marketing Services Provider (MSP). What is the definition of a Marketing Services Provider? How do you know when you have achieved the MSP status? How do you get to be an MSP?

Before presenting answers to these specific questions, it is important to understand some background on the development of the Marketing Services Provider company description. Since assuming my position as director of fulfillment services for MFSA four years ago, I’ve concentrated on educating mailers and printers about the virtues of fulfillment and why they should get into the business. Even back then, we stressed that diversification and coined “Solution Selling” as the buzzword. We have now embellished that description of diversification to a higher level and call it “Marketing Services Provider.”

The adoption of fulfillment services has been enhanced by the fact that 81 percent of printers have adopted fulfillment at their client’s request. Printers have been forced into the industry by the needs of their customers. This market reaction is consistent with the marketing value chain, which I have proposed for many years, and shows that each marketing initiative follows the same and predictable path:

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