Getting Marketing Teams Engaged with Production Print

By | October 13, 2010

Francis McMahon - Oce North AmericaIt’s no secret that marketing departments are savvy when it comes to direct mail. It’s a channel they’ve traditionally owned. They routinely work with vendors – whether it’s a direct mail house or commercial printshop – who provide access to sophisticated tools for conceiving, creating, composing, personalizing, mail-merging, printing and delivering mailpieces to a designated set of recipients and then measuring campaign effectiveness. For direct mail, they have plenty of tools for interacting with the process, from uploading artwork and providing lists to measuring response rates.

However, when it comes to bills, statements, policies and other production print output, many marketers find it more difficult to navigate the terrain (if they even consider stepping onto it in the first place.)

Why do I think marketers less engaged with production print? For starters, there’s the cultural dimension: IT and Operations versus Marketing. Historically production print has been the domain of the technology, operations or billing department, a silo neatly tucked away from creative and marketing types.

As a result, many marketing execs simply didn’t consider transactional documents as vehicles for their messages. As awareness grows, marketing teams and even CMOs are starting to recognize the value of the transpromo opportunity. This is especially true as they face mounting pressure to deliver more accountability and better results at lower cost. However, because they’re new to the game, they may be unsure of what executing a transpromo campaign entails, or how to engage with their traditional rivals in IT.

If you’re a print services provider, this is a golden opportunity. Maybe you’re already providing direct mail or transactional print services for a particular client. You’ve got a new way to add more business and generate new revenue streams if you can help marketing bridge the gap with IT.

Start by helping marketers understand the potential of adding the statement into the marketing mix. Demonstrate the effectiveness of delivering targeted messages to recipients who are highly likely to spend time with the document. Point out the economies of embedding messages in documents that are delivered in an envelope where the stamp is already paid for.

Keep in mind that you also have to win over their IT and operations folks who will be concerned about production cycles, data integrity and the ability to test. These guys want to know that some marketing flunky is not going to be sticking their fingers in the code the day before (or even the week before) production.

Once you’ve convinced marketing and IT that you have the skills, processes and tools to help them “do transpromo” in a quality controlled and measurable environment, help them foster dialogs with other departments and stakeholders. This might entail determining who maintains the library of messages and conditional business rules that define their use. Finally, provide access to tools that make it as easy to manage content for transaction documents as it is for direct mail – and make sure to measure results. In many cases, the very tools that enable marketers to interact with their suppliers for direct mail campaigns can be adapted for the transpromo world.

In a nutshell, educate them, make the appropriate tools available, facilitate the process, and help marketers track results and ROI. It’s a consultative sell – but well worth the effort if it cements your relationship with existing customers or helps to bring you new ones.

Thoughts? Ideas? I’d love to hear your take on how print service providers can get marketers more engaged with production print.

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4 thoughts on “Getting Marketing Teams Engaged with Production Print

  1. Elizabeth Gooding

    There is a great discussion in the Transpromo Professionals Network on LinkedIn on this very topic My favorite comment was from Paul Jenkins in the UK who states, “Finance are unconvinced, IT are uninterested and Operations are inconvenienced.”

    The traditional owners of these documents need to be convinced that it’s worthwhile to let marketing into the sandbox. I agree with Francis that this is an opportunity for consultative service providers to bridge the gap.

  2. MikeZ

    I love it. Keep’em coming! Workflow!! Own the workflow and the printers will follow!!!

  3. Capt. J

    “I’d love to hear your take on how print service providers can get marketers more engaged with production print.”

    The evolution of print (any colorant on any substrate) has undoubtedly accelerated in the past 20 years. Traditional trade or commercial print facilities have had to rebrand themselves as “Marketing Solutions” providers just to survive. Unfortunately what has not progressed in many typical shops is the education of their sales and technology staff on how to talk SOLUTIONS to their customers.

    Having recently come from a rebranded commercial printer who is now reeling with the changes to provide complete solutions for their customer I’d like to submit the following observations.

    Many print providers are still running the race with blinders on. Looking only at profit margins and their sales staff at commission percentages. I don’t blame them. Difficult economic times, razor thin margins everyone is clawing at the scraps left over. Retraining the staff to think solutions and what I’d call white space marketing takes away from hitting the pavement and knocking on doors. Someone has to be willing to step in, hold their hands and train their staff.

    There is also a level of apathy amongst the some sales staff that is use to selling print, not solutions. Some don’t realize the advantage of providing a marketing solution onto a traditional billing statement. They see it as some pie in the sky, techno babble that takes away from focusing on keeping the machines fed with print work.

    As Mr. McMahon mentioned, the cultural divide between IT/Operations and Service Provider. Service providers will have to prove that adding the marketing message will not have an adverse impact on the delivery of time and data sensitive print. They must not only win over the IT/Operations units but the Marketing units also.

    Finally there must be an attainable and measurable goal. With so many sides required to cohesively providing support and expertise to the complete solution; a defined and measurable goal along with a path for the realization of a win/win solution would help inspire all involved in playing a productive part in the final outcome.

    Ultimately the print service provider needs to be equipped with the tools and skill sets to provide education, training and clear measurable goal to the Marketing and IT/Operations units to be successful. The question becomes who will train the trainer?

  4. Francis

    Capt. J – you raise some important points about setting goals and providing education. I agree that service providers need to be able to demonstrate, or point to industry studies that demonstrate, the value of including marketing and other service messaging on transaction documents. There is substantial material out there for that purpose, but service providers need education on where to find it and how to use it – particularly when it comes to training sales people. Then they can, in turn, provide training and consulting services to in-house marketing organizations.
    Setting realistic and credible goals for clients (under promise, over deliver!) is also key to gaining their trust an building long-term relationships. But as you asked – who will train the trainer? And, I’m glad you asked that because Océ saw the same gap and responded with the development of the Press Go! program (see ) to provide the types of resources and education discussed here. While we have offered consulting services to educate service providers for several years, we are expanding the services and making them more widely available and, in many cases, free to our customers. We believe that educating the market will drive better results for everyone. Thanks for taking the time to comment!

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