Common Grounds: Opportunity Seized

June 16, 2014

A Multi-Channel Story

complexityGetting into multi-channel support for an in-plant or commercial printer is not a choice.  It is a decision to thrive.  Do you feel it has unmanageable speed and complexity? The customer has already made the choice.  Thriving plants will follow customer demand and be there.  Over the next few weeks, we'll explore how to get into this thriving and exciting business as a print plant.

Some years back one division of a supported company challenged the existing team to build an on-demand method of printing sales collateral. The team stepped in where demons fear to tread. The team succeeded.

It was rough. The hardware and software with which they started were kludgey and cumbersome. Yet, success came in providing just-in-time results for the division in a roughed out method. Costs trimmed by 50%. A bigger division joined with a different business model. Then another joined with a different business model. Then an outside related company joined. Then another company joined with a different business model. The multi-company in-plant model was birthed and thriving. The team's next logical step was to be in-plant for other companies that were too small to have their own in house provider.

In time, an on-line warehouse was created to keep the companies' compliance and marketing and legal and the customers happy. Support of variable and customization came. Then came ordering and prepress and preflight and production and finishing and shipping all coordinated in one system.


Why Multi-Channel?

A client asked about a multi-channel campaign mixing direct mail and email and timed delivery and feedback to sales reps. The team created a multi-channel product line. Carpe diem.  Learn  ins and outs of micro-sites. IMB (intelligent mail barcode) provides a way to monitor and measure deliveries. Connect the pieces of visits and no-visits and responses and no-responses and many other variable opportunities. Do it.  The customer has an explicit and expressed need.

80% of the new business growth became multi-channel. New clients came. Existing clients continued to grow in on-line on-demand at an amazing rate. and expanded into specialty finishing with UV, banners, posters, custom short-run perfect bind, and micro-run envelopes static and variable.

Multi-channel brought in new clientele. In one sales initiative, over 100 independent agencies asked about multi-channel opportunities. Market interest is high.

Multi-channel campaigns provide steady work with many running at once for different clients and others in ramp up. It becomes a constant workflow.  Do you dare?

Do You Think You Can Do It?

To thrive in the business of graphic communications be digital and data savvy, flexible, and fast to market. It is not necessary to be first to market, but fast to market.

Develop people and provide an ever learning environment. People thrive on new approaches. It helps in an industry in big transition. Waiting for jobs to go away does not seem like a good idea.

Print business has flipped. High Volume Transactional Output for this one group reduced 47% and lost profitability over a four year period.  Bulk print for clients has been replaced with versioned and variable short-run on demand. Where are you? On-demand produced increased overall volume and excellent profitability and customer benefit. Multi-channel and custom press brings life and profits.


How do you discover new needs?

When you live as a transformational department or group, people are always coming with new ideas and testing you. Listen. Modify. Adapt.

  • An executive asks about those new bar codes (QR) and why they exist. Respond with facts and stats and knowledge.
  • A creative yearns for new substrates or banners or books on demand. Listen, study, and find cost effective ways, ask others if they would buy and move.
  • Magazines, twitter feeds, blogs, and other media are monitored continually for where the world is skating. Try to pick the best picks.


Lifetime Learners

Skills are transferable. A person doing variable coding for a mailer can do variable coding for a micro-site. An operator running a digital press can learn wide-format. A finishing tech working a programmable folder can program an OMR reading, three knife booklet maker.


ROI/ROEIt is time for you to consider multi-channel support seriously.  It is not as easy as some make it to be.  Neither is it as hard as it looks.  You can apply yourself and your team to move forward.  Stay with me over the next few weeks and get the basics.

This article focuses on Be Focused and Be Responsible and Thrive sides of the operational pyramid.  

Let’s talk: Phil Larson or Shepherd Consulting OK

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