We’ve had countless discussions with printers large and small who target large enterprises as the holy grail to keep capacity filled and to maximize profits. Few, if any, large operations want to be bothered with short-run jobs for local shops. Even companies with a large number of digital presses would still rather focus on large run, highly personalized jobs than a 1,500 piece order for a small- or mid-sized business.
But when we’ve spoken with those companies, they see the challenges in the smaller jobs (too much administrative time for a small amount of money being the key issue), but not the opportunity to be had in offering services to aggregate these types of orders.
We also hear about missed opportunities, where large clients will go to their printing partners, and ask if they can support sophisticated web-to-print tools that include other online marketing resource management components, and often they can’t. The manufacturer then has multiple vendors to manage for their channel marketing programs, and the printers are missing out on strengthening that relationship with their existing customers.
What’s a printer to do?
To be honest, we HAVE seen the growth in the number of printers who’ve started to bill themselves as full-service ad agencies as their print services have been commoditized and as print money has fled to other types of marketing.
But we often see these companies trying to take on the aspects of largers, Tier 1 branding agencies in their expertise and their offerings. They want to help create beautiful print pieces that really emphasize the brand. Or they want to help buy a 10 million name list for a national mail campaign for a loyalty program. And many of them are doing this fairly well.
But the HUGE missed opportunity is leveraging relationships with those existing clients to help create intelligent direct marketing programs for those clients’ channel partners. Many of these printers lack team members of with the specialized store-level retail knowledge to create truly effective programs based on 1,000 or 1,500 mailings. And unless you know the ins and outs of these channel marketing programs, your initial thought might be, “Oh, no. I’m not playing collection agent to 1,500 small businesses.”
Those misconceptions are what continue to make this segment of marketing (and revenue) a distant dream for MANY printers and direct marketing providers.
The major opportunity
As we’ve established, you HAVE a good relationship with that mid- or large-sized OEM. Do you know how they fulfill their channel marketing printing? Are they even offering direct marketing support to their channel marketing partners? If not, is it because they don’t really know how?
All of this is support that printers and other direct marketing agencies can be providing. Plus, if you understand how the fund collection and reimbursement process works for these channel programs, in many, if not most cases, payment methods are already in place that will ensure you don’t actually have to become a full-time collection agent, as well.
Let’s look at the example of Apparel Company A, who has 5,000 channel partners who receive, on average, $1,500 a year in marketing and advertising support from the Company A. If you ran a single Back to School or Holiday campaign in which each of those retailers ordered 500 postcards, you have a 2.5 million piece run. Yes, you’re going to likely be able to offer customized overrun sections on those pieces, but it’s going to be well worth it.
You have to know how to sell these types of programs, though, and how to speak the language of individual retailer marketing and how those trade funds support programs work. You have to be willing to ask your customers what they’re doing in these areas and how you can help. And you have to know how to find those points of pain and pitch solutions that suit their business needs while being something you can reliable fulfill.
How We Can Help
Here at SilverGrass, we have more than a decade of experience working with manufacturers, dealers, and distributors on getting the most out of their co-op programs. We’ve also worked with dozens of printers and direct marketing agencies to develop distributed channel programs that increase retailer revenue while opening up new streams of business for those printers and agencies.
We have the knowledge of these types of programs, how to sell them, potential pitfalls, and best practices. We’re available to help you put together programs and service pitches for your customers so you can increase your revenues and offerings. Contact us to learn more.