Use These 5 Questions to Make Your In-plant More Valuable

Threats from outsourcing and facilities management constantly challenge in-plants. So, get ahead of change and control your destiny. You can make your in-plant more valuable to your organization by thinking proactively and doing things in a different way. Four industry-leading experts discuss this and more in an on-demand webinar: “Seven Results-Generating Ideas Printers Can Implement Today.” To help you start the conversation, we’ve put together 5 key questions that will lead to smart changes.

Question 1: Do we think like an in-plant or a commercial printer? What could we do if we behaved more like a commercial printer?

For years, most in-plants have been either fully or partially funded and have used a “cost-based” pricing model. They don’t have sales staff; they don’t sell internally (much less externally) and they have limited products and services. But what if…the “printing company” within your enterprise started behaving like a “value-based” commercial shop. “One thing leading in-plant printers do is think outside the box and act more like commercial printers,” notes Howie Fenton, a featured webinar presenter and noted in-plant expert. “As a result, they’re more successful and less threatened by facilities management and outsourcing companies.” The successful in-plants have sales people who don’t just sell to internal customers, but to external clients as well. “This is a wild idea in the in-plant arena to not just sell to internal customers, but bring in commercial applications as well,” declares Fenton.

Question 2: What are your potential value-add products?

What Fenton has observed about highly successful in-plants is that they act more like commercial printers and open their doors – literally – to other opportunities. These out-of-the-box in-plants aren’t cost-based anymore, but value-based. They may charge less for commodity products to appease customers, but charge more for value-added products, like variable-data printing and direct mail campaigns. After all, an in-plant has the same print technology and skill – and value – as other commercial printers.

Question 3: How do we connect with Marketing? What about IT? How can we get more involved?

One important area the webinar explores is how in-plants engage with the in-plant’s biggest potential customer: the marketing department. (And what about your IT department, too? It’s worth looking into.) You’re all in the same business, which provides common ground for collaboration. What are ways to be more in sync? Also make sure marketing knows as much about what your in-plant can do, as you want to know about their goals and needs. Become strategically aligned and make that your mantra, says Fenton.

Question 4: Are the goals of my university in-plant consistent with the school’s marketing strategy?

Universities account for the largest segment within the in-plant market. For university marketing departments, fundraising and recruiting are paramount. Finding qualified students and donors is important to a healthy academic institution, and the in-plant can contribute to this goal. One thing that’s been tremendously successful is using variable data for recruiting and fundraising. In-plants with digital presses and personalization software speak the language of targeting. Most mail pieces parents and students get from colleges are static and generic, but if you gear content to what interests them like majors, minors, financing and extracurricular activities and add relevant images, now that piece stands out and gets response. Howie Fenton notes in the webinar that university in-plants have used variable data to increase response rates from 0.5 or 1 percent to all of a sudden response rates of 10, 12 or sometimes even 20 percent. 

Question 5: How can we find out what others in our industry are doing? Where can we get ideas and benchmarks from vertical markets?

In-plants are common in lots of vertical markets – finance, insurance, education and government to name a few – but it’s still hard to find good benchmarking studies. Organizations like the Association of College and University Printers (ACUP) support in-plants, and Fenton advises looking for one that focuses on the types of work similar to what you do. He also notes that if you look at benchmarks, those for commercial printers are different than those for in-plant printers. “You really have to make comparisons among like companies to be valid for you,” he says.

Find more valuable advice for growing your in-plant. Download the webinar today.

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