Marketing Services: Myth, Truth and Reality – Part 2

One of my recent posts talked about the myth, reality and truth of becoming a marketing services/cross-media provider. I’ve just come from two industry conferences, the Vision 3 Summit and On Demand Conference and Expo, where I participated in a panel and heard presentations by companies playing in this sand box.

I had the chance to drill deeper into the discussion with my fellow panelists after the sessions ended. A couple of things stood out:

First: another myth. I am willing to bet that the number of companies/printers that are successfully making this transition (profitably) are far fewer than we may perceive based on what we read in the trade media.

Second: another truth
. The ones that are finding early success tend to be focusing on some vertical markets that they already understand and have been servicing.

Third: another reality. One does not successfully make the transition without changing company culture, investing in training and, in most cases, bringing in new talent who understand the market you are trying to sell.

Why should you care? This is not meant to discourage anyone from considering this transition, but rather to emphasize that it does take a certain commitment in time and resources. Moreover, it will require some investments that, in the short term, may actually reduce profitability. It also requires reaching outward for help and expertise that does not currently reside within the company, either in its management or current staff.

And that’s the truth!

Carl Gerhardt is the chairman of Alliance Franchise Brands LLC, the parent company of Allegra Network LLC and Sign & Graphics Operations LCC, and a world leader in marketing, visual and graphics communications, linking more than 600 locations in the United States, Canada and United Kingdom. The company’s Marketing & Print Division, headquartered in Plymouth, MI, is comprised of Allegra, American Speedy Printing, Insty-Prints, Speedy Printing and Zippy Print brands of marketing, printing, mailing and Web services providers. Its Sign & Graphics Division, headquartered in Columbia, MD, is comprised of Image360, Signs By Tomorrow and Signs Now brands of sign and graphics communications providers.

Carl and his wife, Judy, owned and operated their own successful Allegra franchise for nearly 20 years before selling the $2.3 million operation in 2003. He is a PrintImage International/NAQP Honorary Lifetime Member and was inducted into NAPL’s prestigious Soderstrom Society in 2010 in recognition of his contribution to the industry.

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  • http://john john

    Thank you !!! A lot of ink is needlessly wasted on telling us why our businesses are dead, and what we must do to survive….

    You hit this out of the park.

  • http://carlgerhardt carl gerhardt

    Thanks John!
    This is actually something I have had on my mind for a while now and it was good to get it out in the open. There are still many ways to succeed in this business. That said, we are having fun helping many of our franchise members navigate these waters into marketing services.