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By Barb Pellow, InfoTrends
In last week’s column, we noted that InfoTrends has just completed a multi-client study entitled The Evolution of the Cross-Media and Marketing Services Provider. This study surveyed more than 280 print/cross-media service providers to understand the current state of cross-media and the evolution taking place in the graphic communications market.
As a community, print service providers understand the critical importance of getting into cross-media services. Of the 285 print service providers that participated in our survey, 58 percent are offering some level of cross-media services today. Furthermore, 87 percent of respondents were either offering services today or had plans to offer them in the next 24 months. providers that participated in our survey, 58 percent are offering some level of cross-media services today. Furthermore, 87 percent of respondents were either offering services today or had plans to offer them in the next 24 months.
Figure 1: Do you offer cross-media marketing services?
Last week’s article discussed the first four strategies for success in entering the cross-media world. These included:
· Clear strategy, direction, and market positioning
· A focus on solving the customer’s problem with an emphasis on vertical markets
· Walking the talk and self-promoting using cross-media technologies
· Education for customers
This week’s article emphasizes the remaining four success criteria that were highlighted in our multi-client study.
Education Starts at Home
Educating and training staff beyond technical training was a common practice among top providers. Successful cross-media providers are participating in formal education, forming peer networking groups, and working with groups aligned with their vertical market focus. Overcoming resistance to change was identified as a real challenge among firms making the cross-media transition. The culture in the printing industry fosters a resistance to change. Staff members are not always receptive to the unknown, and service providers must educate employees to help overcome this challenge.
Team Selling Seals the Deal
Successful providers of cross-media marketing services report that placing full responsibility for selling these services on the sales team has not worked. Instead, they are using a team selling approach that includes its various project experts (e.g., marketing, data, IT).
The Conversation is on the Solutions—Tactics, Strategies, Goals—NOT Print
A common message among leading cross-media marketing services was to stop talking about print. At the same time, however, print is not something that should be forgotten because it is not going away. Profitable firms acknowledged that while print will remain a staple of their offerings, the trick is focus clients on the actual solution and its potential results rather than stressing the print component.
Success Doesn’t Happen Overnight
The firms that we interviewed were quick to point out that success was the result of trial and error. A number of firms reported investing in services that they thought clients would rush out to purchase, like personalized URLs and database-driving multi-channel marketing campaigns… only to find that the sales process took much longer than anticipated. On average, print service providers reported that the entire process for selling cross-media marketing services took 5.6 months. This underscores the message that cross-media marketing is not an easy sell. It takes time to convince the customer and build the relationship.
Figure 2: When selling cross-media marketing services, how long does the entire process take?
Cross-media marketing services are the here and now. Rather than a revolution, the shift toward cross-media services is an evolution that starts with simple offerings and then branches out into more complex services. Print service providers, in-plants, and vendors all need to find a way to be strategically relevant by understanding the market as well as marketing.