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In-plants as Visionary Leaders

There is a very real opportunity for forward-thinking in-plant managers to position their operations as visionary leaders within their companies, universities or agencies.

December 2011 By Greg Cholmondeley
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IT'S HAPPENING all the time in the commercial printing world. No longer defining themselves simply as print service providers, commercial printers are working hard to transition into marketing service providers. It's a difficult journey, but they see this as one of the few viable ways to grow from a price-driven, commodity operation with shrinking volumes and margins into a lucrative business with high profit potential.

Such a transition is not easy for commercial printers, though, because it requires them to reposition themselves. They need to target different prospects with different sales approaches while adding new capabilities and expertise.

Here's where in-plants have the advantage. They share the strategic objectives of their parent organizations and can securely leverage the data, skills and expertise, of their marketing, IT and sales teammates without crossing the firewall. Yet few seem to be grabbing the opportunity. Only about 3 percent of PODi's members are from in-plants even though those same larger profits eyed by commercial printers represent bigger savings for in-plants to bring home.

Finding and Building the Business

Personalized, targeted direct marketing campaigns (both in print and digital) are much more effective than widespread mass mailings or e-mailings. Numerous studies and most of PODi's 470+ end-user case studies prove this beyond any doubt. Yet, while many marketing departments are experimenting with social media, numerous others still rely upon traditional bulk mailings (with mediocre results). Often this is done because it's easier, they don't know how to personalize, or because a previous personalization attempt did not deliver improved results.

These are the departments and jobs that the commercial sector is targeting with promises of better response rates and increased business. Savvy service providers are calling on these departments to try different approaches rather than just encouraging them to submit the same bulk jobs. There are no compelling reasons why in-plants couldn't employ the same approach and position themselves as visionaries and deliverers of ways to grow business rather than as commodity printers. In fact, in-plants often have significant advantages over their commercial counterparts with this type of work.

The In-plant Advantage

Offering personalized, digital marketing services requires some different skills and focus than traditional printing and it can be rather daunting. However, in-plants have the potential for being more effective in this than their commercial counterparts for several reasons:

About the Author
Greg Cholmondeley is director of Web Services for Caslon and Co. (, which helps companies leverage digital printing, marketing solutions and print-on-demand technologies to build business. Caslon is an affiliate of PODi (, a global, member-supported not-for-profit organization focused on driving demand for marketing applications powered by digital print and helping members build successful digital print businesses. Recently with Ricoh Americas, Cholmondeley brings 30 years of marketing, engineering, systems architecture, solutions development and in-plant and commercial printing industry experience to his new role. You can contact him a

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