Lessons Learned: Become a Marketing Services Provider Even If It Kills You
Becoming a marketing services provider is a risk we want you to take. Since you’re already running a successful printing business, you may wonder why we push you to make that leap. Why bother changing when your day-to-day already suits you (and pays the bills)? Because digital technology changed the print market. Because customers need more than an execution service. And because you can.
Last week I shared my review of Jeffrey Hayzlett’s Running the Gauntlet (with Jim Eber). Its advice on managing with a fierce commitment to flexibility can transform every business. But we’re particularly excited about how printers can use the book as a guide toward becoming an MSP. Becoming a marketing services provider hinges on your openness to change and even your willingness to fail. And that’s where Hayzlett comes in.
Running the Gauntlet articulates—and refutes—every reason printers avoid becoming an MSP. Read on for my four favorite Running the Gauntlet takeaways to help you power through the obstacles in the way of making your business better.
“Be Smart or Get Stuck. Nothing Sells Itself Forever”
Back when selling print was like selling air, print sales were simple and your livelihood was safe. Sharing information, business operations and advertising all depended on print. Now that the web is your worthy (but beatable!) opponent, stretch yourself and add value to your services. Don’t just print a direct mail piece: design it. Fill more needs of more customers to elbow your company’s way to a greater market share.
“Know Who You Are So You Can Change in the Right Direction”
Don’t sell yourself short—you’re more than a print expert, and you’re more like your client than you think. As a small business owner you know exactly where clients are coming from. You understand their concerns because you share them. Quit with the self-defeating idea that only agencies can fulfill clients’ marketing needs.
Speaking of ad agencies, forget your critics. Competitors who attack your MSP transition feel your business closing in on them. They’re threatened. That’s it. Hayzlett once enraged a couple of veteran lobbyists when he stole all their business. But he refused to let up: “I never acted the way they wanted me to…. I played my own game and did not back down.”
“Change Agents are White Buffaloes”
Stick with me here. Change agents, explains Hayzlett, drive change in thriving organizations. They’re white buffaloes because they don’t blend in with the herd and are most likely to get attacked (by a wolf or a naysayer, take your pick). Your own employees can derail your MSP transition if they aren’t on board. But when you act as a change agent along with Hayzlett, employees will represent themselves as marketing services providers, too.
No one said that turning your PSP to an MSP would be easy. But stick with it—becoming a marketing services provider is hard work that pays off.
What obstacles to change is your printing company facing right now?