Six Keys to Becoming a Marketing Solutions Provider

By Andrew Paparozzi
In October 22, 2010

Thinking about becoming a marketing solutions provider? So are a lot of others. NAPL State of the Industry research (http://www.napl.org/Publications/State-Of-The-Industry/Publications/State-Of-The-Industry) shows that to make the transition successfully we’ll have to understand the following:

What we’re were getting into. Being a marketing solutions provider is a new business that requires new approaches, capabilities, and skills, not a simple extension of our printing businesses. As one State of the Industry participant puts it, “Be sure to understand how deep the water really is.”

• There’s plenty of potential in being a marketing solutions provider but absolutely no guarantees. We have to get beyond the hype. And we can’t rely only on case studies or estimates/projections of market growth. The companies profiled in case studies may have resources, capabilities, and circumstances very different from our own. And as NAPL has long emphasized, what the market is doing (or is expected to do) says nothing about an individual company’s prospects because there is so much variation around market results.

All the costs of making the transition, including the costs of changing client perspectives—to quote another State of the Industry participant, “convincing customers that we can do more than just print!”—and changing internal perspectives both in general— “overcoming the inertia from traditional mindsets”—and particularly in sales, where “it is an effort to get salespeople to change.”

We will need new skills in sales, marketing, strategic planning, etc. We have to think carefully about how best to acquire those skills. Training? Partnerships? Hiring? If hiring, how will we convince the people we’ll need to work for us? Remember, we’ll be competing economy-wide for them, not just with other printers, because they can work anywhere.

Add is bad. Succeeding as a marketing solutions provider requires integrating services into a compelling value proposition that makes the client more successful for doing business with us—not simply adding services.

There’s no reason to do it alone. Making the transition from printer to marketing solutions provider is about redefining, not simply refining, and excelling at things we’ve never done, not simply getting better at what we’ve always done. There’s a lot at risk. We minimize the risk and maximize the return by hearing all sides of the story and ensuring we aren’t overlooking something critical. The best place to start: www.napl.org.

Andrew Paparozzi

Epicomm's Andrew Paparozzi, Vice President/Chief Economist, is well-known for his accurate and thoughtful discussions on the economy and US commercial printing industry. A foremost author and speaker on economic business trends in the printing industry, Paparozzi heads Epicomm's Printing Economic Research Center.

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