By Matthew Parker
I love technology! I have recently been learning how to use iMovie and am amazed at how easy it was to create my first movie. Just a few drags and clicks and I had an MP4 of my trekking holiday in Norway all set to music.
The trouble is that I have all the right tools, but I’m not a great moviemaker. I have a friend who is a corporate filmmaker. I wouldn’t dare compare my efforts to his. But many people think they can achieve the right results just because they have the right software.
And it’s the same with printers.
Technology alone does not make the right multi-channel print partner
You can’t choose a multi-channel printer by looking at their software alone. These days, there are numerous new software solutions being sold to printers. So many printers have multi-channel technology. This doesn’t mean they know how to use it effectively.
And that means it is all the more important for buyers to take care when evaluating potential suppliers. There can be a big difference in the skills of these suppliers. Some may seem great, but just won’t deliver. And that could cause expensive promotional activity to fail.
It is vital that print byers choose these suppliers carefully
Print buyers who are cautious when choosing a multi-channel printer will achieve more with their print spend. They will choose suppliers with whom they can forge a long lasting partnership.
And the right suppliers will also be able to help the buyers. They will help them create a complete integrated strategy, one that will create results. The print buyers will find that they are in control of their marketing strategies.
Print buyers who do not choose the right multi-channel printer will struggle to gain this control. Poor suppliers will fail to create strategies that lead to results. The print buyers won’t achieve what they need from their budgets. And they are likely to have to waste time looking for a new supplier.
So how do you find the right supplier? Here are three things that you should consider when evaluating a multi-channel printer.
1. A multi-channel printer should practice what they preach.
A multi-channel printer should be running its own marketing in a number of channels. You should expect to see them using email blasts, social media and maybe SMS … as well as print.
You should expect to see that all this activity is integrated. If a multi-channel printer is not able to run multi-channel marketing, then you should beware. They need to be able to create their own successful campaign. Otherwise, how can they create one for you? And they can use their experiences to give you input into your own campaigns.
2. Multi-channel printers should offer advice and strategy
A good multi-channel printer won’t just offer more than one channel. They will offer advice on how and when to best use each channel. And they will offer advice on how to integrate the different channels.
Ideally a multi-channel printer will have a champion of strategy. This person may come from outside the print industry. They will certainly have good experience in putting different channels into practice. Their role is to make sure that the customer is given practical advice, and that their campaign has the right help to be as effective as possible.
But experience and expert strategy are not the only things that you should look for in a multi-channel printer.
3. Multi-channel printers must offer safe data handling
Your data is valuable. And you will lose all trust from your customers if it is lost or mis-used. So it is vital that a multi-channel printer offers the highest levels of secure data handling.
Here are some of the things that you should look out for:
- effective firewalls
- secure off-site backup
- encryption of data being sent off-site
- limited number of staff able to access data confidentiality agreements with staff handling data
ISO27001 will have all this and more. But if a supplier does not have this ISO, it is not necessarily a problem. In fact, some people see a much bigger problem in using a multi-channel printer.
Don’t you lose specialist expertise by putting all channels through one supplier?
If you choose the right multi-channel printer, you will have the right specialist expertise. But this does depend on you finding a multi-channel printer with the right champion of strategy.
You may lose expertise if you judge a printer just by its software. Make sure you follow these three action points to choose the right supplier:
- Check what marketing activity the printer is doing itself. What channels are they using? Are they integrated?
- Ask how a multi-channel printer can help you improve your strategy. Do they have a champion of strategy who can help you?
- Audit the supplier’s data security procedures carefully.
This will set you well on your way to choosing a supplier that will give you the results that you need. You don’t want to choose an amateur for your multi-channel communications. Just as you wouldn’t choose me to create your corporate video.
Matthew Parker is the founding director of Print & Procurement and author of the recently published, “The Print Industry Negotiation Handbook.”
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