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August 8, 2023

Checklist: 7 Things Brand-Focused Printers Do Well

Checklist: 7 Things Brand-Focused Printers Do Well
# Sales and Marketing
# Transformation
# Business Management

What it takes to truly become a marketing services provider

Checklist: 7 Things Brand-Focused Printers Do Well

Today's marketing leaders are a time-strapped, battle-worn bunch. How can they best cut through the communication clutter and impress prospects? Engage clients and keep them loyal? Appease the boss with return-on-investment numbers and meaningful analytics? Do all this while keeping their heads from spinning?

More than ever, a good answer to those questions is to work with print companies that have evolved into marketing solutions providers. Clients get the benefit of working with partners who understand their big-picture goals before addressing them with a mix of print and non-print solutions.

A growing number of Dscoopers are accomplishing this through their ability to create and track campaigns, improve and protect branding, help customers target the right prospects, use customer data effectivelyprovide meaningful analytics, and more. Many of these print firms now describe themselves as "marketing solutions providers." 

That "MSP" moniker is getting more common in the print industry, but what actually makes it credible to clients and prospects?

Throughout 2022, Dscoop has spoken with several brand-focused members who have successfully evolved their companies, including some PSPs who attended Edge Rockies and spoke about the hard-won business transformations they've made to position their companies differently.

If your company aims to be known for offering marketing and communication services in addition to your print capabilities, here's a checklist based on the experiences of fellow Dscoopers:

1. They're smarter about each customer's business, listening and consulting rather than simply selling. They find solutions for their customers, not customers for their products and services.

That's an incredibly important distinction. The value-based conversations MSPs now have with marketing managers are much different than the price-based ones they previously had with procurement pros. MSPs ask provocative questions and allow conversations to go deep into the customer's world. They spend more time on the "front end" of opportunities, suggesting tools and programs that could make a strategic impact.

"There has never been a more exciting time to help marketing teams make sense of their options and execute strategies," says Doug Traxler, CEO of WebbMason Marketing based in Hunt Valley, MD, USA. "That process begins with salespeople who understand how to help marketers figure out what they're trying to accomplish. No one in our industry can solve an organization's problem unless we understand it. We all need to embrace the truth that a salesperson's role is to become an expert in the client's business, not necessarily in our own business."

2. They're investing time and resources in business development.

Savvy print executives are pursuing radical new approaches to change their organizations, and doing so costs time and money. They're getting their companies to concentrate on developing new revenue streams from new products and services, while optimizing income from existing lines through innovative marketing and the rapid exploitation of changing customer needs and tastes. And that typically means hiring employees with data, marketing and design skills; partnering with software firms and other tech specialists; and revamping marketing teams and messaging to reflect new strategies and services.

3. They're coaching clients to embrace transparency and let go of the feeling of control - consumers rule the message more than marketers do.

Today, consumers can respond to marketing messages and create their own public dialogue about a firm's products and services. Smart marketing departments get rid of a me-first mentality and work with MSPs who help them connect with their audience.

4. They're helping clients generate relevant messaging through the right channels at the right times.

A key facet of a successful transformation from a "print provider" to an MSP is learning how each customer's targets want to receive communication: What outlets do they prefer, how often do they want to be contacted and what really captures their attention? Effective marketing requires selecting platforms that reach customers or members in the ways they want to be reached, and allow them to respond in the ways they want to respond.

5. They're "walking the walk," so to speak, and taking advantage of marketing automation technology for their own companies.

Marketing automation is a set of processes (or platforms) that use software to automate marketing and demand generation tasks. The use of a marketing automation tool streamlines the sales and marketing processes by replacing high-touch, repetitive manual processes with automated solutions.

Here are some improvements associated with marketing automation:

• Follow-up to new leads: Implementing an automated lead response process ensures that leads receive consistent, prompt, personalized communication.

• Timeliness: Marketing automation tools can trigger situation-appropriate messages when they are most likely to have an impact.

• Single view of the customer: Ideally, a marketing automation tool can aggregate all contact with customers and prospects across campaigns to achieve an integrated view.

• Engagement: Marketing automation and a well-designed lead nurturing program help accelerate the speed by which leads move through a sales cycle.

• Increased sales productivity: Leads are qualified utilizing demographic criteria defined by each organization, reducing wasted time and enabling salespeople to focus on quality leads.

• Real-time tracking to optimize ROI: If a campaign is not meeting expectations, the marketing executive can quickly modify it.

6. They're concentrating on improved experiences, not just on better personalization.

Today's marketers crave partners that can help them develop strategies to synergistically utilize media. The initial delivery vehicle may be print, but the key is to drive interaction with the recipient and to deliver an engaging experience.

7. They're helping clients track and analyze marketing campaign data.

Successful MSPs work with clients on a combination of segmentation and data accumulation. With accurate reporting and analysis of website activity, email effectiveness, program registrations, transactions and other key metrics, they enable clients to refine strategies and continually improve. This will be even more true in the future, as more people increasingly expect personal communications based on their previous actions (or inactions).

Great opportunities exist for printers who are able to check off most of those seven boxes.

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