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About Deborah

Deborah is the chief operations officer of PrintMediaCentr, a global initiative providing information and resources to the print and integrated marketing industry, and principal at PrintProQuo, a print production and integrated project management consulting firm. She also is the founder of the Print Production Professionals Group on LinkedIN and works behind the scenes with several print organizations and companies helping with their social media marketing efforts.

With more than 23 years of experience in print production, print buying and project management, Corn has worked for some of the largest and most influential ad agencies and has played an integral role in projects that have won ADDY, CA and other advertising award honors.

So You Wanna be a Marketing Services Provider? Do It Already!

It was just the Memorial Day weekend and besides being a time to honor those who have bravely served our country, let’s face it, it’s the unofficial start of summer and the official start of grilling season. The Weber has been cleaned up; a few bags of charcoal rest inside the garage next to a container of lighter fluid, a box of Diamond large kitchen matches, and some newspapers. Bring on the BBQ!

Whether you are a gatherer or a hunter, most likely you went to the grocery store for three-day weekend supplies. You may have needed to make more than one stop if you were looking for a specialty item, or alcohol—if your store doesn’t sell it. But in general, 90 percentof what you needed you found under one roof. Convenient right?

Now imagine this simple shopping experience in a world without supermarkets. Bread at one store, meat another. Where do you get ketchup and mustard? Who has the paper plates that don’t droop? Oh no, the pickle guy closed early and isn’t back until Tuesday! Why can’t I buy everything I need in one place!

That scenario could be categorized as very American, and that is not lost on me. However, my recent trip to the grocery store was the catalyst for this post and I hope you will play along as we move to the analogy.

Printers should be supermarkets! One stop shopping for as many items and services that can be put on your proverbial shelves to make buyers’ lives more convenient.

And here is the thing...just because you OFFER the service, doesn’t mean you have to PROVIDE the service.

Supermarkets have suppliers; you might even see them in the store stocking the shelves from time to time or taking inventory. Stores chose those suppliers based upon many factors, but certainly customer demand is high on that list. 

Some supermarkets also produce, package and market their own products and specialty items.  Customers, for example, can pick up freshly baked bread, or choose an off-the-shelf item. Kind of like buying or converting envelopes—there is a choice.

So what do your customers need that you don’t supply, and what is the demand of services driven by the marketplace these days?

In the simplest terms, digital and mobile might be the highest need. But maybe customers need a brochure designed, or some help writing it. You might not have a designer on staff, but certainly you have designers as customers to work with who might even work with or know great copywriters. 

Maybe clients need updated product shots, photos or video. Partnering with local photographers/videographers provides some great one-stop shopping that also may bring customers to you.
And if customers do need a website or mobile site, you don’t have to employ someone to do that when you can partner with a company that does—and still maintain the client relationship. I don’t call Lay’s when there are no potato chips on the shelf, I find the supermarket manager or a store employee and ask for help.

Printers have always partnered with fulfillment houses, mail houses, finishing businesses, etc. when they don’t offer those services in house. I have never been told, “Oh sorry, we can’t take that job because we don’t diecut on site.” I don’t understand why that same philosophy isn’t being applied to today’s marketing needs, and printers aren’t taking their cut.

I think “Marketing Service Provider” is a horrendous term and it already has too much negative energy associated with it from within our industry, especially from the traditional marketers/ad agencies out there. So start fresh, provide Communication Solutions.
  • You need print? We got you!
  • You need that print made into an eBook? No problem.
  • You have a VDP direct marketing  campaign requiring a mail drop, data management and pURLs created linking to a mobile site via QR? Coming right up.
  • Six months from now you need the images and files to edit and run again, no worries, our digital assets management service has everything neatly organized and ready for you.

Printers will obviously need to find the best resources to partner with (like buyers do), but when you do, that is news. That is a reason to introduce your NEW services to past, present and prospective clients. It’s an opportunity to open up communication on new levels with buyers and corporate marketers and even provide education on how to create a great multichannel campaign through your service offerings. But more important, it’s an opportunity for your clients to consolidate their business. ONE P.O. to Rule Them All!

So maybe I am naive. This isn’t a revolutionary concept, yet I don’t come across many printers doing it, or they do it with just one or two things. Is it a fear of poaching? I don’t ever have contact with your out-of-house finishers, so there’s no need for me to have contact with any other of your partners unless you want me to. Maybe I’m lazy since I’d rather make one call, deal with one trusted rep, and one trusted company for projects that fit many pegs?

There is more to be said about this of course, but for now, why aren’t you my Whole Foods of Communication Solutions?

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