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Oct 1, 2012 12:00 AM
As of January 1, 2013, the Mailing & Fulfillment Service Association (MFSA) will have a new name: the Association of Marketing Service Providers. “This doesn’t mean we’re walking away from the core services and products that have been the MFSA’s hallmark,” says Ken Garner, President and CEO. “We’ll continue to do the work we’ve always done with respect to working on postal policy, legislative reform and all of the operational issues relevant to fulfillment and mailing.”
A ‘SOBER, CANDID AND REALISTIC VIEW’
Garner stressed that the rebranding is an “additive” process—members can expect a broader menu of products and services. The association’s publications, webinars and speakers will feature more marketing-related content.
The change, which has been under discussion for several years, reflects “a sober, candid and realistic view of where the industry is going,” according to Garner. “The value proposition must be broader—service providers, regardless of whether they are printers or mailing and service providers, must begin to see themselves as content developers, managers and distributors. They must support multiple channels.”
In 2009, MFSA teamed with DMA, NAPL and the Winter-berry Group on a white paper, “The Move to Marketing Services.” Subsequent strategic planning sessions crystalized the association’s commitment to the new name and expanded mission. “At first the message wasn’t well received,” Garner concedes. “But as the pain threshold in our industry grew, [members’] receptivity increased.”
CONSOLIDATION MUST PROMPT COOPERATION
MFSA is comprised of more than 480 companies, most of which are located in the USA and Canada. Garner estimates about 20% of MFSA’s members also belong to either PIA or NAPL but adds that “a larger segment may have membership in all three groups.”
As the printing and mailing industries continue to consolidate, the trade associations must be less territorial, Garner asserts. “There has to be a higher degree of partnership and collaboration,” he says.
MFSA teamed with an agency (TGD Communications) as well as an online marketing/social media firm (Grow Socially) to assist in the association’s transition. “But MFSA’s most important partners are our members,” says Garner. “In the spring of 2012, they participated in a comprehensive online survey, sharing their opinions of the industry, their businesses, the association, and their vision for our future.”
A WELCOME CHANGE
Follow-up phone and in-person interviews with a representative sample of the membership provided further insights. The new name, announced at the group’s annual conference this past June, has earned positive reviews. “I’m really pleased with the enthusiastic endorsement,” Garner says. “The change has been met with overwhelming approval.”