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Marketing For Survival

November 1998


From all over the South—and beyond—university printing managers came together to share ideas and learn from each other.

With a large dose of Southern hospitality, Auburn University recently welcomed the 23rd annual Southeastern University Printing and Duplicating Managers Conference to its Auburn, Ala., campus.

Despite his Midwestern roots, Auburn Printing Service Director Harv Dahl had no trouble providing a warm Southern welcome to the more than 40 attendees, whose ranks were slightly lower than expected due to the approach of Hurricane Georges, which kept almost a dozen managers home.

One of the most helpful sessions featured a panel of managers discussing their efforts to market their in-plants. Moderator Joe Goss, of Indiana University, said that when he started out as director of Printing Services, the marketing program consisted of waiting for the phone to ring.

"In today's environment, I'm convinced that marketing and promoting your in-plant may be the only thing that keeps you in business," he remarked.

He told managers to identify the distinct market segments at their universities, as well as the experience level of customers, so that they can be targeted for the appropriate type of marketing.

Goss suggested getting permission from customers to add a credit line on jobs so that others can see where they were printed. This shows that the in-plant is proud of its work, and it gets the shop's name out.

Mike Loyd, director of Graphic Services at Louisiana State University, said that he periodically sends out a customer survey card with jobs. He can use the mostly positive responses to tout his in-plant's benefits to his management, and the few negative responses give him an opportunity to talk with those customers to learn how the in-plant can improve its services.

Loyd has established a customer advisory panel so that customers can candidly reveal what they like and don't like about LSU Graphic Services. He can also bounce ideas off of them to find out if they would be interested in specific new services. Additionally, Loyd has hired a marketing coordinator whose job it is to meet with customers and prospects.

At North Carolina State University, such a marketing coordinator would not be allowed. The university prohibits its in-plant from advertising itself. As a result, Catherine Armitage, director of University Graphics, has marketed her in-plant in more covert ways.

Like Loyd, she sees direct customer contact as a great way to drum up business. She puts her staff on various university committees so customers get used to seeing their faces and hearing about the in-plant. Tours of the printing operation are given frequently as a way to show people the shop's capabilities.
 

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