Written by Howie Fenton
Hi, my name is Howie Fenton and I am a guest blogger for Xerox. As you may know, I am not “on staff” at Xerox. I am a consultant with NAPL specializing in workflow and digital printing. For me, blogging is more of a hobby than a job but like many people, I am just as passionate about my hobby as I am my job.
I find engaging in conversations through blogs fun and somewhat addicting. I look forward to sharing some ideas and I hope to engage you in the conversation. I can’t think of a more engaging subject than the PSP-MSP (Print Services Provider to Marketing Services Provider) controversy.
The motivation is simple but the concept has created quite the debate. The printing industry is struggling with cyclical and structural changes, which is reducing the demand for printed products and changing the products offered. The cyclical change is tied to the economy, while the structural changes are from technologies that are disruptive to the printing industry such as the Internet/email, cell phones, and e-books among others.
Clearly, the greatest issue is the threat of substitute products and services from sources such as computers, the internet, cell phones, and laser printers and copiers. One way to overcome this threat is to create new solutions that do not have a comparable threat of substitution. Variable data printing is one example of a product that has existed for years but more recently companies have started to offer other products that might be considered more of a marketing service than a printer service.
Among these new solutions are email marketing, Purls, SMS (texts), social media marketing and QR codes. As companies evolve and offer these marketing and value-added services, this trend has been coined the PSP-MSP transition.
This trend has created some fans and some critics. You may have read about this when Margie Dana the founder of Print Buyers International wrote in her blog, “I’ve had it with printing companies masquerading as marketing solutions providers…Who’s the cluck behind this movement, anyway? Do you really think that print customers, creatives and corporate marketing managers won’t eventually find out that you’re a manufacturer? Why are you hiding it, anyway? You’re not ashamed of being a printer, are you?”
I heard this loud and clear almost a year ago at NAPL’s Top Management Conference. During one panel discussion with print buyers, a few print buyers said they were not interested or happy that printers were offering or branding themselves as marketing service providers.
Clearly, there are many sides to this story. Which side are you on? Should printers offer marketing services? Should printers brand themselves as marketing providers?
Howard Fenton is a Senior Consultant at NAPL. Howie advises commercial printers, in-plants, and manufacturers on workflow management, operations, digital services, and customer research.
Written by Howie Fenton