When is Web-to-Print not Printing via the Web?

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by Greg Cholmondeley, Workflow Practice Director, PODi and Caslon & Company

Kim GrossA dozen years ago the idea of submitting print jobs over the web was a pretty innovative concept. Even as recently as 3-years ago, printers could win deals by pitching savings on waste by print-on-demand and just-in-time printing through online fulfillment. Today both of those stories pretty much get yawns.

So, what does excite customers and provide commercial printers with new revenue streams? That’s the question I asked Kim Gross while interviewing her about her upcoming PODi Institute course called “Win Business with Collateral Management Solutions.”

What Kim has learned is that things like Web Shops and Portals have evolved into services printers try to sell in order to drive print. They aren’t usually solutions to problems keeping people in corporations or universities awake at night. After trying to sell these services and hearing objections like “we really don’t do much printing” or “printing isn’t really a very big issue for us,” Kim decided to take a problem-solving approach instead by asking “ok, what challenges do you have?”

The overwhelmingly common answers included:

  • People in our company often can’t find the materials they need or use outdated versions
  • Our departments, franchises or other entities aren’t using consistent branding
  • We have difficulty managing presentations, training materials, promotional materials, etc.

What she learned was that what these companies really need is help managing their collaterals and marketing assets. And they are willing to pay for this help.

The solutions that commercial printers can develop for corporations and universities who need this can be built using the same technology already used to provide Web-to-print portals, but the solutions require more than just technology.

  • They need to include managing assets which may or may not ever result in print orders.
  • They need to include implementation and training support
  • They need to include launch, marketing and ongoing promotion activities to ensure it is utilized
  • And, yes, they should also include ordering of customized materials, standard printed materials and other items

As I reread this blog, it seems so self-evident, but I know that many print services providers aren’t taking this approach and are having doors shut on them every day. Many already have the core technologies in place but need to know:

  • Who to target
  • How to get in front of them
  • What questions to ask
  • How to run that critical first meeting
  • How to implement an effective collateral management solution
  • How to successfully launch and train
  • And how to ensure ongoing utilization by the client and the client’s clients

This is all good material to think about and perhaps you can come up with some answers on your own once you start thinking about Web-to-print being about something other than printing over the Web. If you want to get a head start you can learn from Kim’s experiences by checking out and signing up for her PODi Institute course titled “Win Business with Collateral Management Solutions” which starts September 8.

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