A few weeks ago, I posted a link to an online poll I was conducting in an attempt to get feedback on print buyers’ and marketers’ attitudes toward printers and print distributors / brokers as “marketing services providers.” In other words, their perspective on allowing their providers of print to do more than output individual components of a larger campaign and allow them to handle entire marketing campaigns (which is what a marketing services provider is supposed to do).
I had hoped to get a broad perspective on print buyer’s and marketer’s attitudes on this issue, but only handful of respondents were buyers of print. The overwhelming majority were printers, print distributors / brokers, or marketing services firms. Even so, there were some interesting results. In fact, I think these results are important, if decidedly uncomfortable, for this industry to address.
Although this is not projectible data, 23.5% of respondents said they were “extremely comfortable” letting commercial printers handle their 1:1 printing, multi-channel marketing, and other marketing campaigns and 5.9% said they were “extremely uncomfortable” doing so. When it came to print distributors / brokers, however, no respondents — not even the providers of print services themselves — said they were “extremely” or even “somewhat” comfortable allowing them to handle marketing. In fact, the percentage saying they were “extremely uncomfortable” jumped to 43.8%.
When asked to indicate their reasons for trusting or mistrusting printers and print distributors / brokers, as expected from a base of respondents mostly from the print community, more than half said this wasn’t applicable and that they trusted their printer or distributor in this area. But number two was, “We integrate with a full range of media (including television, radio, and print advertising) and need a provider capable of managing these channels, as well,” with 26.7% giving this answer.
In the printing industry, we’re so focused on online and mobile communications as competitive media that major media like television and radio go off the radar screen. Yet for many marketers, these are the base of their campaigns, so without the ability to manage these media, as well, commercial printers and print distributors / brokers are relegated to being vendors of a single or even multiple services (or even siloed campaigns) but not the integrator or campaign developer. This is the elephant in the room when printers and distributors talk about becoming “marketing services providers.” Television, radio, newspapers, magazines, billboards, and other major media are “marketing,” too!
This poll raises some really important questions. This industry has been transitioning from being printers to calling themselves “marketing services providers.” These survey results, while not projectiable, shine a spotline on the elephant in the room. If even members of the printing industry do not trust their own to handle marketing, why should marketers trust them to do it? It’s an interesting question that I think the industry needs to be honest about and get a handle on.
Consider it it your challenge for 2011!
In the meantime, have a wonderful and blessed Christmas and holiday season.