And now for something completely different . . .


Sometimes it’s necessary to invoke Monty Python to make a point.  Let me apologize.  I know that it’s asking a lot of the readers to introduce a blog post with  2.5 minute video, especially one that appears to be totally disconnected from the matters at hand.  Of what use is an absurd clip about “how not to be seen?” In actuality, little use whatsoever apart from entertainment.  The value is in the last line of the clip, John Cleese’s epigrammatic, “and now for something completely different!”

I’m writing again today about change and the difficulty that we all have with it. Maybe the video is pertinent after all, though.  There are consequences to a failure to adapt, albeit perhaps not so dramatic as the explosive fireballs that obliterate the characters in the Python skit. Part of the difficulty that many in the printing industry are having with change comes from uncertainty about what the future looks like.  We know that it’s different from what we’re doing now, but how different?

This Week’s Conversation

Earlier this week I had an opportunity to get a glimpse of a possible future for many in the printing industry who are trying to reshape their businesses. On Tuesday,  I spoke with Spencer Powell of TMR Direct in Colorado Springs, CO.  Over the last three years, Spencer and his father, Wes, have transformed an established direct mail house into something that looks, well, “completely different.”  The company was started over 40 years ago by Gerry Amber, Spencer’s grandfather.  Over the years, the business evolved from print into lettershop and direct mail work.  Wes came into the business from the homebuilding industry in the 2000s.  When the economy brought activity to a screeching halt in 2008, Wes decided that it was time to change. He began to experiment with marketing services, focusing on homebuilders as a vertical market because of his understanding of that industry.  Spencer had just started a social media business, and the two joined forces in 2010.

If you visit the TMR Direct website, you’ll quickly get a sense of the scope of the company’s capabilities.  While lettershop work and direct mail campaigns remain important business segments, the website offers a comprehensive product and service mix that really centers around inbound marketing.  In our conversation, Spencer stopped just short of describing the company as an “inbound marketing agency,” but from an outside perspective TMR Direct is all that and more.  The company is a Hubspot reseller, and most of their clients subscribe to this comprehensive marketing and analytics package.  Website design is a third product category for the company.

It’s also evident that the company practices what it preaches with their own marketing efforts.  The website is content rich, with detailed explanations and package pricing for potential customers who discover the company online.  Inbound marketing customers have come from all over the U.S, according to Powell.  Most customers for the category are actually new, and one of TMR Direct’s ongoing efforts involves bringing some direct mail customers into contact with the opportunities of the new marketing environment.

The transition to Marketing Service Provider (MSP) is undoubtedly “completely different” for many printers, and it’s very helpful to have an idea of what the possibilities are.  While it is evident that TMR Direct has created an excellent new approach to business, I did not get the impression from my conversation that the Powells felt that they had reached a new destination or the end of opportunity. Inbound marketing continues to evolve and with the evolution comes new opportunities for innovative MSPs who are continually looking for the next thing “completely different.”

Final Comment – Printing to MSP in one go?

“Of course, it’s a bit of a jump, isn’t it? I mean, er… chartered accountancy to lion taming  in one go… You don’t think it might be better if you worked your way towards lion taming, say via banking?”

The Last Part

DP Marketing can help your company begin the transition to Marketing Service Provider. We’d be glad to schedule a call to discuss your business.  There’s no risk – the first conversation is absolutely free.  For more information, please take a look at our Marketing Services for Printers page and explore our website. If you’d like to schedule a call, you can contact Richard Dannenberg by phone at 478-719-4029, by email at, or by filling out a Contact Request Form here on the website.