Best Practices: Cross-Media Services Success
Print service providers are expanding media offerings to complement print and grow volume. Adding new media channels and related services has not been an easy task. Transitioning a business from providing printing only to providing printing plus online, mobile, and social requires major changes to long-standing business models. Investments in technology implementation, staff training, and customer education require time to take hold and yield results.
To assess the current state of print service providers' adoption of cross-media services and identify best practices to grow these services, InfoTrends surveyed Printing Impressions' readers. The survey was conducted in September, with 143 respondents, 99 of which were commercial printers.
The research pointed to strong adoption of cross-media services. The survey found that close to 38 percent of print service provider respondents currently offer cross-media marketing services. Of those, 22 percent have offered cross-media marketing for more than two years.
At the same time, 38 percent of print service providers have no plans to offer cross-media services. Key reasons for not offering these services include lack of client demand and alignment with their current business model. Print service providers who are interested in offering cross-media services reported they don't have the skills necessary to do so or don't know where to start.
Many printers are finding success in offering cross-media services. The research revealed five key practices for successfully offering these services:
Incentivize Sales Reps. One of the biggest challenges printers face when introducing cross-media services is getting sales reps on board with selling these services. Half of print service providers that offer cross-media services reported not making any changes to sales compensation plans. Often, the sales cycles for selling these types of services are much longer than traditional print services. Furthermore, determining how to price these services can compound the problem, especially when an initial plan to offer these services at a lower cost to build share ends up becoming the norm (30 percent of print service providers reported that the top challenge in offering cross-media marketing services is pricing). Not changing how sales reps are being incentivized when the sales process is different can cripple the growth of these services.
Integrate Platforms with Customer Systems. About 6 percent of print service providers that offer cross-media products and services integrate internal software platforms with most of their clients' systems. Another 7 percent integrate with half of their customers' systems. A whopping 37 percent of respondents didn't offer any type of integration. Integrating with customers' systems requires having internal IT expertise. Many firms are hesitant to invest in IT staff, but it is an investment that can quickly pay for itself. By integrating internal platforms with customers' systems, print service providers can lock in relationships with customers, and position their business as the go-to provider for producing cross-media campaigns.
Combine Cross-Media with Print E-Commerce. Only 47 percent of those offering cross-media services enable these orders through an online storefront. Very few of those looking to invest in cross-media tools plan on leveraging the Web for order placement. The key benefit of e-commerce is that it gives customers the ability to order campaigns 24/7 and check a campaign's status in real time. Customers don't have to wait for a call back from their sales rep. Another key benefit is the ability to include marketing automation tools that add an additional level of self-service for marketers. In particular, this includes small business marketers that can't afford advisory services for campaigns, but still need to produce cross-media campaigns.
Demonstrate Cross-Media Capabilities Through Self-Promotion. The best way for print service providers to promote their cross-media services and demonstrate competency is to create self-promotion campaigns featuring what they can do. A majority of respondents offering cross-media services (74 percent) launched some type of self-promotion marketing campaign to showcase their capabilities. Demonstrating expertise through a cross-media, self-promotion campaign provides prospective customers with solid proof on the concept and the provider's ability to deliver.
Combine Channels. While incorporating one media channel at a time is a good way to scale-up cross-media services, there should be a plan to provide a variety of services over time. Respondents offering cross-media marketing services reported campaigns that included more channels (see Figure 1) yielded higher profits.
For most print service providers, training staff on how to use the new technology and sell these services is a critical requirement that is often overlooked. Training staff, both on campaign execution and selling, were identified by survey respondents as top challenges when offering cross-media services. Another key challenge is determining what to offer and how to price it. While pricing is influenced by a variety of factors, the most profitable cross-media service reported by respondents was printing (see Figure 2).
Successfully adding or expanding cross-media services requires careful consideration of factors on both the operational and business sides of an organization. It also requires developing a strategy supported by the right tactics. The five key considerations presented offer a tangible starting point. PI
About the Author
Stephanie Pieruccini is a consultant for InfoTrends' Production Workflow & Custom Communications Service. Pieruccini is responsible for conducting market research and analysis, responding to client inquires and providing coverage of industry events. She can be reached at Stephanie_Pieruccini@infotrends.com or by calling (781) 616-2109.