Print service providers have repeatedly heard that the key to survival is expanding their offerings beyond print to include a host of media options backed by marketing services. Unfortunately, this message is seldom backed by solid how-to strategies. InfoTrends conducted a research study titled,The Evolution of the Cross-Media Marketing Services Provider to assess the current state of the shift toward cross-media marketing services and identify the best practices for successfully making the transition.

This research study surveyed more than 280 firms offering cross-media marketing services. It also conducted telephone interviews with 30 profitable firms that made the cross-media transition. The research revealed the following top ten best practices for making the move to cross-media services:

1. A leadership focus on marketing and business development: Firms offering cross-media marketing were more focused on sales, marketing, and business development. 

2. Repositioning: If you smell like a printer, marketers will run! Firms offering cross-media marketing services were more likely to describe themselves as cross-media marketing service providers or marketing service providers. The majority of interviewed firms repositioned themselves by dropping print from their name, keeping print but adding other descriptors, or creating a spin-off company. 

3. Identify and solve a chronic business problem: Firms that have successfully evolved into cross-media marketing service providers reported that a key catalyst to capturing business is identifying a unique business problem in a particular market and solving it. 

4. The conversation is on the solutions – tactics, strategies, and goals – NOT print: The trick is to focus clients on the actual solution and its potential results rather than stressing the print component. A common message among leading cross-media marketing services firms was to stop talking about printing and frame the discussion into business language that solves the client’s problem, such as: 

  • Driving in-store traffic and revenue per store
  • Re-igniting relationships with orphan customers
  • Speeding up and automating the moving parts of complex and fast-moving campaigns

5. Walk the walk and self-promote: Educating customers and demonstrating credibility are critical success factors in offering cross-media services. Successful firms are offering a mix of self-promotion efforts that include developing educational events, entering awards competitions to gain recognition, producing promotional campaigns that demonstrate competency in the ability to deliver on all facets of a cross-media campaign, and documenting efforts in a case study that is accessible to clients and prospects. 

6. Educate customers: Successful firms reported hosting ongoing educational events, both virtual and brick-and-mortar. 

7. Educate staff: Educating and training staff beyond technical training was a common practice among top providers. 

8. Team selling seals the deal: Successful providers of cross-media marketing services report that placing full responsibility for selling these services on the sales team has not worked. Instead, they are using a team selling approach that includes various project experts, e.g., marketing, data, and IT. 

9. Price = value to the buyer: Pricing is a critical factor in offering cross-media marketing services. An analysis of pricing levels reported by respondents indicated that firms that have offered these services longer charged more. It is important that firms new to cross-media avoid giving away services to win print work and instead set pricing based on the value to buyer. 

10. Be patient: Success doesn’t happen overnight. The firms that we interviewed were quick to point out that success was the result of a dedicated trial-and-error process.

This blog initially appeared in The Digital Nirvana, produced by Océ.