Becoming a Marketing Service Provider


So you want to become a MSP?

We have a 55 gallon drum of Pixie Dust that we’ll sprinkle over your entire prepress department and the transition will be instantaneous!

Beginning the process of adding marketing services to your offerings is a great idea, but unfortunately, it’s not that simple. Becoming a Marketing Services Provider (MSP) isn’t exactly like adding new bindery capability or a wide format printer to the mix. The transition from printer to MSP may very well require additional technology, but it may also call for development of some creative talent that you might not currently have in-house. For printers, the transition almost always requires a paradigm shift or two. The easiest is the change in perspective from a product to a project orientation; but ultimately the transformation to MSP requires a move from a short-term, task-based focus to a longer-term strategic perspective. These changes don’t happen overnight . . . even with pixie dust!

All of that said, the shift to an MSP strategy is a great idea for innovative printing companies that want to escape the commodity mold. The good news is that you don’t have to make the transition all at once.

A few things to think about:

  1. Becoming a marketing service provider requires a change in the sales process. If your sales staff is calling on print buyers and asking to be able to quote the next project, you’re in trouble.  The sales pipeline for marketing projects is necessarily longer, but the results can be quite profitable.  Desired contacts are C-level and the conversation is about ideas, not price. While it is possible to retrain a good print salesperson, the customer’s preconceived notions may still get in the way of the sale. You may need to hire a different kind of sales person.

  3. You may need to hire new creative or technical talent. While the software involved in adding capabilities is not outrageously expensive, the transition to MSP may require some new skills that don’t currently exist in your prepress department.  Cross-channel campaigns are a natural point of entry for most printers.  Implementing this technology requires some basic database and html knowledge. More advanced applications may require a knowledge of scripting or light programming. Creative talent is another question.  Even if you have an artistic designer, they may not have the creative juices required to come up with the concepts or content required for full fledged marketing campaigns. This may mean another addition to your staff.

  5. You’ll need to think about costs and profits in a new way.  The ROI calculations for your printing press won’t work here.  Your pricing must cover the time and energy expenditure for selling, creative, and production, plus a premium for conceptual work and implementation that the client can’t handle themselves. You’re competing in an agency arena – hourly rates probably aren’t the best idea.

How can DP Marketing work with you? First, we’ll need to evaluate where you are now, talk with a few customers, and identify the greatest areas of potential.  From there, we can help with selection of technology, training, and if needed, hiring a key individual with creative and/or high level sales skills.

Interested? We’ll be happy to schedule a meeting or telephone conversation to discuss preliminary ideas, and then work with you to put together a plan to add marketing services and begin to transition your company.