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Expand Our Thinking About Web-to-Print

Web-to-print has to become the set of tools that enable printers to be competitive on the web. This is a whole lot more than a B2B business card site. It requires us to rethink the way we shop for solutions and partners.

By Jennifer Matt
Published: September 14, 2012


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Jennifer Matt is the managing editor of WhatTheyThink’s Print Software section as well as President of Web2Print Experts, Inc. a technology-independent print software consulting firm helping printers with web-to-print and print MIS solutions. You can reach her at jen@whattheythink.com.



By Wayne Lynn on Sep 14, 2012

Another great perspective. I would add the need to consider and think through the impact that the technology, if it's good, will have on the traditional sales process and the role of the traditional sales person in our industry. There's an opportunity to leverage the far too few sales professionals who can sell solutions and not just transactions. Most surviving companies will struggle to grow organically for some time to come. Leveraging legitimate sales talent will solve that problem for some.



By Dave Erwin on Sep 18, 2012

I believe the phrase web-to-print become a misnomer. Shift focus from the "output" of web-to-print solutions to the "outcomes" of when one uses the web-for-print. Outcomes are much more important to the customer than the output.


By Jennifer Matt on Sep 18, 2012

Wayne - I agree, I don't think there's a need for transactional sales resources anymore. Why pay a human to process transactions manually when software can do it more efficiently, empower the customer, AND save the printer time and money?

If you're in sales you have to be in SOLUTION SALES. The solution sale isn't about taking orders or saying yes to everything the customer asks - its about bringing unique perspectives to the customer. Print has some killer competition, you have to be able to communicate its strengths amongst formidable communication competitors.

Solution selling is a big transition. Technology is part of a solution sale. They work in conjunction. You bring new perspectives to the customer and then lead them to your ability to solve those challenges with technology.



By Jennifer Matt on Sep 18, 2012

Dave - - -

I love the language, what are the outcomes of truly transitioning your customer interactions online? What customers will you keep? What new customers can you win? How does self-service order entry make you a more efficient manufacturer?



By Mike Chiricuzio on Sep 19, 2012


Good points. Although we offer web to print services, we are really providing a brand management service, called Brand on Demand. Our clients not only use the service for printed documents, but text messaging, email, purl campaigns, etc., as well as promotional products.

Bringing accountability, control and empowerment to the process significantly enhances both the perceived and real value of the system. Just a different way to utilize the technologies for efficiency, ease of use and to help our clients be more nimble in their marketing.


By Bill Strobridge on Sep 20, 2012

Hmmn, I like Mike's more encompassing use of WTP. I'd like to know more about what you're doing Mike and how you're accomplishing it. Hand in hand with that Jennifer I'd like to hear your perspective on how you would position web to print services to an end user/client. Maybe you've already done that. If so please refer me to the appropriate article. Thanks for the shake up call.


By Jennifer Matt on Sep 20, 2012

Mike -

You said, "although we offer web to print services, we are really providing a brand management service, called Brand on Demand."

Here's my take on that statement. Web to print is in our language. Brand management is in the language of the customer. We need to stop talking in our made up language and start talking in language that resonates with the customer. The great thing about moving customer interactions onto the web is all the value you can provide in addition to ordering print. You can provide an integrated marketing suite like you described but also the ability to help your customers manage marketing budgets, distribute brand assets reliably, and monitor/track the use and usefulness of brand initiatives.

Keep speaking in the language of the customer - its way more effective. Customers want to to talk about their problems, their challenges in their language!



By Jennifer Matt on Sep 20, 2012

Bill -

How to position web to print to the end client - that's your question. I could speak for hours on this topic! Here's a brief summary.

Please do not say, "are you interested in web to print"?

Personally my approach to sales in general has changed recently. I used to enter the solution sale with lots of questions (you know find the pain). Now I make sure I not only know the pain but I bring a unique perspective to the customer's business.

How does this apply to web to print? Don't talk about what you can do or what your company has or does. Talk about how the customer can do things better - solve their problems by giving them a unique approach. Make the conversation so valuable - they might think they should pay you for it. (Quite the opposite of a regular waste of airspace sales pitch).

Read the book The Challenger Sale. It has changed my mind about how solution sales work.



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