Yes, we offer printers the solution mentioned in this post, but this post isn’t about us. This post is about uncovering new opportunities for printers. Here is the question…
Besides print production, should printers procure promotional merchandise, apparel, and other branded products for their clients? If yes, how? If not, why not?
Let’s start by defining the “marketing supply chain”. The marketing supply chain is the chain of suppliers that an organization (brand) relies on to produce marketing materials (print, promotional products, apparel and point of sale) to market their products and services.
For the last 3-4 years, I have heard of more and more printers expanding their services beyond print. Other than print production, printers are offering services such as direct mail, fulfillment, inventory management, warehousing, and procurement services. Others have gone further and now offer one-to-one marketing services, multi-channel marketing campaigns, and brand management services. Others have gone even further and also offer services such as video production, content creation, data management, and creative services. There are many more. These are just some that came to mind.
Many of these services were unavailable through printers a few years ago. How did they get there? During his presentation at EFI Connect 2017, Andy Paparozzi said, “In 2016, lithographic services only accounted for 42.3%, and everything else accounted for 57.7%. To survive, printers need to find new opportunities versus trying to manage the decline in print demand”.
We sat down with a printer and one of its clients to discuss this topic in more detail. “Working with multiple vendors and using different systems is painful. We always wanted to outsource procurement efforts. Ideally to a single vendor. The solution our printer provided has made everything much simpler and automated. It does everything for us. We simply place orders online and that is it.” the client said.
The printer told us this. “We want to offer our clients the right solutions. We want to minimize their efforts. We want to make it easy for them to order and manage their marketing products. Our software provider allows us to do that very easy.”
Did this printer strengthen its relationship with this client? YES. Will the printer get more business from this client? YES. Does this uncover new revenue opportunities for the printer? You bet.
If you already produce and fulfill print for your clients, why not take care of promo, apparel, and POP? Marketing storefronts automate the whole process, regardless of how many vendors your client needs. If your clients push a high volume of orders a month, you will save them a lot of time and hassle.
Marketing storefronts allow your clients to bring print, apparel, logo-emblazoned stress balls or any other item printed with their brand on it under an online portal. It is not difficult for a producer to procure these items if they forge key partnerships with the right vendors.
How do marketing storefronts work?
1. Your client populates their marketing storefront with any product they use to promote their brand.
2. Mail products, pre-approved templates, print ready files, promo, apparel, and large format are all accepted.
3. Your client sets up users, their rights, and business rules. This includes who can access the portal, what they can see, order, change, personalize, etc.
4. Orders are routed to vendors via, cXML, FTP or email.
Be incremental if you want to reduce risk. Get this to work for a single client and move to a second one when you are ready.
Like I mentioned, I work for a software provider that develops web-to-print/marketing storefront solutions for printers. Our clients are normally large printers, often $30MM plus in revenue. I met with Rick Aberle, our CEO, yesterday, and I asked him about our churn rate. A churn rate is the annual percentage rate at which customers stop subscribing to our service. “Almost 0%, they don’t leave” he said. This goes beyond a good product; this is a good opportunity for printers.
How to offer this opportunity to clients
Simple: ASK. You already have a foot in the door. You are responsible for a portion of their marketing supply chain – print products. It’s an easy conversation with your client. With an ear to the ground, I can’t think of many reasons why printers don’t put this offer on the table.
Instead of trying to bring more clients in, focus on your top 10 existing accounts and grow these accounts as much as possible. They already do business with you; it’s just simpler. You will end up as a hero to your clients and receive recurring revenue for longer.