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Business Transformation

Making Sense of the Marketing Services Provider Transformation

NOTE: This is Part 2 of a 9-Part Series on Becoming a Marketing Services Provider

No matter how you dress it up, a printer is a printer. Most printers would say that it is their price and customer service that will set them apart. If everyone has the same recipe for setting themselves apart, how much difference is there?

The Practical But Necessary Steps

Becoming a marketing services provider takes some time, and there are some non-negotiable steps along the way to make the transformation complete. First, it is necessary for the online presence of the printer to be inviting, friendly, easy to use, interactive, and functional. The ability for your customers to order online is an important facet of the printer’s transformation. Customers should be able to upload mailing lists using the printer as an email service provider. They should also be able to access and download information to be distributed or printed in small quantities.

But having an online store does not automatically make you a marketing services provider. The printer has to examine cross-media marketing. As I state in the book, cross-media marketing is, “a form of cross-promotion in which promotional companies commit to surpassing the traditional advertisements and decide to include extra appeals for their offered products. The material can be communicated by any type of mass media such as e-mails, letters, web pages, or other recruiting sources.”

So you have become cross-promotional and web-friendly. Now you need to execute some campaigns.

The Importance of Self-Promotion

You are looking to drive traffic to a retail store, whether that store is brick and mortar or digital, and increase sales. There are steps that can be taken to ensure a successful campaign. Create postcards with personalized URL’s or QR codes to attract the attention of potential customers. 80% of all printed material ends up in the mail, and who knows how much of that immediately ends up in the trash. So personalizing gives your efforts a much higher chance to be received than a standardized mailer.

Once the recipient accesses the URL, have them confirm some information to expand and provide accuracy to your database. Then drive them to either take a survey or claim their special offer that you advertised on the mailer. After a couple weeks, follow up with non-responders. When customers do come into the store in response to a direct marketing campaign, track that information to measure the effectiveness. If it’s not effective, go back to the drawing board. This should hopefully all lead to increased profits, data on marketing campaign strategies, and customer contact information. All of this lends itself to one of the most important ideas in marketing: return on investment (ROI).

The Secret to Success

Data is everything. Make sure you aggregate a solid database to help you in your marketing efforts. The best database is one you create yourself. The most relevant information to your business is only known by your business. A list provider can only be so specific to your target audience.

Hop on the Mobile Train

One more big aspect of this chapter is about making print interactive. I mentioned QR codes earlier; they are the best way to integrate new media into your printed efforts. They are two-dimensional barcodes that can be scanned by a smartphone, such as an iPhone or Android. Once scanned, they bring the user to a mobile website or landing page, creating an interactive experience for the customer. This mobile page will be stored in the phone for additional access later on, which means the proper information that you want read will be in the palm of the target audience’s hand.

The groundwork is being laid for the printer to become a full-fledged marketing services provider. In the next installment, we will talk about getting down to fundamentals to really complete the transformation.


Learn More about John Foley, Jr.'s book - Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry
Learn more about John’s Book Today!

Patience, Perseverance and Perspective

Hello! Welcome to Part I of my series, a reflection of my new book, “Business Transformation: A New Path To Profit For The Printing Industry”. This is the first installment in a nine part series, chronicling some of the major highlights of the book, and how they can aid and assist your business into pushing forward into the new digital age. I wrote this book because I believe printers have so much room to grow to stay ahead of the curve and ward off some of the pitfalls that traditional printers

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face in the 21st century. Since 1996, I have been offering integrated marketing solutions to the printing industry, and the time has come that all printers need to be jumping on board. This book isn’t meant to be a tool for you to buy my company’s products, it is simply an outline of what you can do to update your business. When I first sold my marketing solutions, I got a lot of flak. “You don’t understand my business,” is something I would hear on my first sales calls. “I’m a printer,” they would say, “I don’t offer marketing services.” And then my favorite, “The internet is a fad.” So needless to say, it took some time and some perseverance to break through.

The Power of Change

It was important to spread the idea of change, and understand the time it would take for this idea to set in. And once a few printers saw the benefit, things became much easier. But there are no guarantees. Just by saying you are a marketing services provider doesn’t mean you are going to just be a different business overnight. There is a process to how you acquire customers, how you retain them, and everything in between. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will your reformed printing company. Offering marketing services is a fundamental change in what you do. It’s not a transactional change like a mail and fulfillment company would see. You need to fully embrace the change of what being a marketing services provider brings.


I offer some specific company case studies in this chapter, and how they have made the leap to a full blown marketing service provider. They handle it in different ways, one handles everything in house, and one contracts out a company to “fill in the gaps”. Either way, it works for the respective company. And when you decide to change over your printer, what about the name? There is a lot to consider here. You don’t want to alienate your loyal brand followers with a new name, but you also want to reflect your new services and the company’s intentions for the future. Be cognizant of the changes you make, because once you say you are offering new services, you better be able to deliver.


Learn More about John Foley, Jr.'s book - Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry Learn more about John’s Book Today!

Case Study: Goodway Group of Massachusetts

Goodway Group Logo

One of the companies profiled in Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry is Goodway Group of Massachusetts.

Now, you may say that I am biased because of their proximity to my hometown, but I swear that’s not it! I just truly think that they are an inspiring story.

In the book, I had the chance to devote a good amount of space to presenting the transformation that their business has gone through over the years. I was able to share the internal decisions and changes that happened inside their organization. Well, I am quite happy to say that during that time of transformation, Goodway Group found benefits with interlinkONE’s software.

Here is a sample of that part of the story:

Based in Burlington, Massachusetts (with sister locations near Philadelphia and Washington, D.C.), the Goodway Group has transformed over the past 15 years from a traditional offset printer into providing online collateral management, inventory management, and one-to-one multi-channel campaigns for clients. As an early adopter of black & white digital printing technology for producing variable content, the Goodway Group saw a natural progression to expand its services by adding digital color and leading variable data publishing technology.

The company provides these services to organizations in the pharmaceutical, automotive, and software industries that want to reduce printed inventory and have more effective marketing programs. interlinkONE is an integral enabler for Goodway Group to provide these services.

By using interlinkONE’s Web storefront and order management components, Goodway Group is able to handle a wide array of job types, from direct mail to complex kits that include promotional items and require multiple recipients. The company can also track inventory of all print and non-print items through the solution, as well as perform fulfillment functions necessary for complex orders. It has also been successful with providing multi-channel communication campaigns to clients by using personalized URLs, personalized e-mails, printed collateral, and up to nine different customer touchpoints through interlinkONE.

Qualified leads can be placed into different priority buckets, and hot leads are forwarded directly to a client’s salesperson for immediate follow-up. Noel Doherty, President and CEO of Goodway Group of Massachusetts, says that “Some campaigns have been so successful that the response has been too great for a client’s sales force to handle.”

The company also uses interlinkONE internally to manage its inventory and projects. From Doherty’s perspective, interlinkONE “just makes doing business simpler, and allows employees and customers from all over the country access information in real time.

Defining the Title of Marketing Services Provider

Throughout my book, Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry, I had the opportunity to provide case studies of companies that were traditionally considered printers, but that have transitioned their business to offer additional solutions to their clients. In some of these case studies, the companies have embraced being labeled as “marketing services providers” (MSP). However, there are others that have decided to stay away from that description. Within the entire print industry, I think that you’ll find a similar divide regarding that label. Some feel that the term MSP has no place; others have chosen to utilize it. But what does being an MSP actually mean? Over the next couple of weeks, I will seek to provide answers to many of the questions regarding the marketing services provider shift that are still currently out there. Whether you agree or not, I hope that you enjoy them!

Question: What does the title marketing service provider actually mean?

When I say that term, here is what I have in mind: A marketing services provider participates in the more lucrative and more profitable marketing value chain (including print and other channels) by providing an array of services related to the marketing process, from campaign inception to program execution. Marketing services providers also understand that to participate in the value chain, they must generate good data and relevant messaging via the right channel(s). Marketing services providers know that success links to the creation of one-to-one communications that are based on a deep understanding of the customer’s

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needs. As a result, marketing services providers are implementing the infrastructure (technical,

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sales, and consultative skills) that will allow them to effectively develop solutions for efficient communications.


Learn More about John Foley, Jr.'s book - Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry Learn more about John’s Book Today!

Printers that Are Looking for a New Path to Profit

Recently, I had the chance to publish a book about a subject that I am quite passionate about — the printing industry!

There is no doubt that the worlds of marketing and communications are changing faster than at any point before in history. Channels such as mobile and social networks are increasingly playing a role in our our daily actions.

Is there still a place for print, mail, and fulfillment?

I think so! And in my book, “Business Transformation: A New Path to Profit for the Printing Industry“, I provide strategies, plans, and tactics for service providers to help them grow their business during these changing times.

What else can you find in my book? This video provides the answers: