Thanks to Jeffery Jones, who raised the issue of making the transition from print service provider (PSP) to marketing service provider (MSP) in response to my plea for ideas for blog posts. Well, Jeff, here goes nothing.
I think printers should be printers. I don’t think it’s a good idea to try to reinvent yourself as a marketing service provider and run the risk of alienating potential customers who are marketers. I know I am probably very unpopular right now, having said that, and I expect a lot of you out there will disagree. That’s OK.
Very simply, just be who you are. Don’t let anyone else tell you who you are supposed to be, or what you HAVE to do in order to stay alive today. Bollocks!
I am a big believer in trusting your instincts. If your gut tells you to just put your head down and be the best damn printer you can be, and you work hard every day to take good care of your customers and land new business on a regular basis, who can say that you are wrong? I won’t. I’ll tell you to keep doing what you’re doing.
Now, if there is something wrong with your business—like sales are down or you know you need to add some digital equipment—that is another story. But, again, trust your gut. Don’t become something you are not just because some analyst tells you to.
Now, having said all that, I DO believe you should learn as much about marketing as you can.
- Understand what the challenges are that your customers face.
- Understand what they are trying to accomplish.
- Learn great questions to ask to show that you are interested in helping them achieve their goals.
- Read marketing blogs.
- Read a book or two on marketing.
- Attend some seminars so you can understand the vocabulary.
- Do your research on your customers so you already know what they do and what they are GOING to do (like launching a new product at a trade show in three months), so you can be ahead of the curve and ahead of your competition.
You need to be more than an order taker, and your conversations need to have more substance than, “Do you buy print? I sell print!” You need to bring creativity and insight to the table. You need to be different than your competition. Knowledge is power.
So, if I were you, I would invest a lot of time and energy in becoming a marketing expert, but I would not try to change my business into something it is not. If you put ink on paper, you are a printer. Unless you are willing to go all the way and become a marketing agency, just stick with what you know. And then know more.
Oh – and Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all that, too!