A popular buzzword in the printing industry is “convergence,” which describes efforts by printing companies to expand into areas adjacent to their traditional product lines. Print companies are adding specialties like sign printing, textiles, and décor to broaden the relationships they have with current customers and to attract new business. The same concepts apply to companies that provide mailing services.
Convergence in the printing industry was on full display at the recent Printing United show. The whole purpose of the show was to bring all genres of printing together in a single event. The size of the crowds and opinions of several exhibitors with whom I spoke indicate the show concept worked.
Mailing technology was under-represented at Printing United this year. I suspect we’ll see more vendors that support the mailing business participating in future editions of the event.
Convergence in the mailing industry might prompt a transactional document company to seek opportunities to run direct mail applications, or a direct mailer to handle bills and statements. Outbound mail processors could provide inbound mail sorting and distribution services. Print and mail companies traditionally set up to handle batch processing may consider ways they can also take responsibility for their customer’s triggered or on-demand communications.
Data quality and analysis is also an area rich with possibilities for mail service providers. Starting with postal addresses and mail tracking, companies can expand to help their customers clean up their databases. With familiar software tools, mailing companies could be a resource that helps their customers progress toward the 360 degree customer views they desire by eliminating duplicates and merging data from multiple sources.
Multi-channel communications is an area already pursued by print/mail service providers. This too can be expanded to not only distribute multi-channel messages but accumulate metrics, tracking, and response mechanisms that generate data ready to be ingested by CRM systems or automatically trigger follow-up communications.
Advice and consulting about leveraging the power of postal mail would be an easy transition for mail service companies. They are already experts about how to sort, prepare, and induct mail. They monitor trends in the mailing industry concerning rates, postal promotions, and postal services. Mail professionals are in an ideal position to move their companies from the end of the customer communication workflow to a place where they can influence what happens further upstream. They can recommend customer actions that use postal mail to meet organizational objectives. To offer mail-focused consulting advice, mail services companies may consider augmenting the staff by adding a marketing specialist with an emphasis on mailed communications to generate new business and differentiate themselves from their competitors.
The printing business has responded to shrinking profit margins and job run sizes by branching out and expanding their services. The mailing industry is facing similar challenges. Mailers can ensure postal mail remains an integral element in their customers’ strategies for customer experience and customer retention by exploiting the convergence concept.
Mike Porter at Print/Mail Consultants helps document operations build and implement strategies for future growth and competitiveness. Learn more about his services at www.printmailconsultants.com and www.pmccontentservices.com. Follow @PMCmike on Twitter, or send him a connection request on LinkedIn.