It’s pretty easy to talk about choosing a commercial printing partner with a print customer who’s been in the business for many years. You get it! You know who’s who. You’ve built your own network of favorite print partners as well as others – like buyers, designers, marketers, paper people and mail specialists. These are your trusted resources, your go-to list of printing pros to tap into when you want to check out a potential new printer.
However, if you’re fairly new to working with the printing industry, it’s not so easy to tell one company from another. Don’t all printers print, for Pete’s sake? What’s the big deal? Surely they all offer pretty much the same suite of services.
Not so fast. Printing companies may all print, but marketers in 2013 have indicated that they’re looking for more: more capabilities and more marketing-related “power” from their printer partners.
First of all, forget the idea that you can tell what kind of printer you’re dealing with by the company’s name. Firms that have “print” or “printing” in their names may very well offer you a lot more. And companies where any variation of the word “print” is missing may offer printing services and then some.
Get past the name thing. Focus on capabilities. Dig around a printer’s web site, and it’ll become pretty clear if a company is primarily a commercial printer (offset, digital, or both) and doesn’t offer marketing services. For many customers, this is plenty of manufacturing power, and it may be all you need: a terrific printer that produces stellar quality at decent pricing.
Many printers also offer comprehensive mailing and fulfillment, too. This is a common “value-added service” in the business. It’s extremely popular among print customers – after all, much of what you get printed needs to be mailed as well. So give extra points to printers that offer mail/fulfillment.
There’s another class of print providers that’s pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a commercial printer. They know that customers build marketing campaigns using several media channels, not just print, not just digital, not just mobile, but often a mix of all three.
These print companies have been adapting to changing business needs. They have evolved. They’ve seen the power of multichannel strategies, and the effectiveness. In response, they have added relevant services for their customers. These include the ability to create such things as QR codes (Quick Response codes) and PURLs (Personalized URLs). They know how to develop variable data print campaigns, where their customers can track every response. They have expertise in social media and mobile marketing as well. In a sense, they have transformed from printer to data analyst, campaign designer, multichannel expert, and printer.
Today’s modern printers help customers manage campaigns. Their umbrella of services-and-expertise has expanded. They are media specialists who can help your print campaigns work effectively, successfully, and very smoothly…with all manner of e-media.
These are the modern printers. I’ve seen the transformation of the industry in recent years, and it’s remarkable.
© 2013 Margie Dana. All rights reserved.