Chuck Gehman of Mimeo on transitioning to a marketing service provider
Published on January 13, 2011
Chuck Gehman, VP of Product Management at Mimeo tells Cary Sherburne that printers who are considering moving from printer services to marketing services should carefully consider.
Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne and Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I’m here with Chuck Gehman who is Vice President of Product Management for Mimeo. And Chuck we’ve known each other a long time and I know that you don’t always like go with the flow or the crowd, you’ve usually got some leading edge and some different ideas. And we hear a lot about how printers have to move from being print service providers to marketing service providers and I understand that you’ve got some feelings about that topic.
Chuck Gehman: I do.
Cary Sherburne: Surprisingly.
Chuck Gehman: I think that it needs to really be well considered for a printer to decide to do this. That’s probably the biggest challenge I have with it, that’s it’s being over hyped in the media, so the present company accepted, of course. But I think printers needs ideas to improve and expand their business and to fill in for volume that they’ve lost and they may or may not be it depending on the circumstances of the printer.
There are other ways to expand and grow your business and succeed, besides being a marketing service provider, whatever that is because the other problem I have with it is it’s a little ambiguus term. If you do a Google search for marketing service provider you will primarily come up with people that send emails. They’re email service providers. So I think that’s something we as an industry have to consider. Recently Margie Dana wrote an article about printers calling themselves marketing service providers to disguise the fact that they’re printers. And from her standpoint as somebody who represents print buyers thinking that’s not such a good thing if you’re...
Cary Sherburne: Well, you know, it’s interesting because if you are positioning yourself as a marketing service provider but you’re not walking the talk then you just lose credibility instantly. I mean, so I was speaking with a company that did make a transition successfully, Sugar Bush Media Solutions, Mark Parent and he did it the hard way. I mean, he just sort of said, “Okay, I’m just going to make this migration,” and he lost a lot of business in the beginning because what happened was most of his customers were agencies and they said, “Wait a minute you’re competing with us.”
So the lesson he learned out of that was, hey first of all I have to have the knowledge about how to market. I got that but then I also have to have a plan and then I might want to start this as a separate business and let my traditional printing business fund the growth.
Chuck Gehman: It’s true. It’s very true. And there’s another conundrum for printers. If their printing business is suffering and they think this is a way that they will get more print volume on the presses that could be a recipe for disaster. In fact, I really started to think about this when I read your interview with the Mallard press guy.
Cary Sherburne: Oh right. with Bob Gay.
Chuck Gehman: And I’m looking at that going, you know, one thing that really struck me was he said if I had to do it all over again I’d go hire a CFO and a salesman and give them equity in the company. And I’m looking at that going, why didn’t you just do that and not do the marketing service provider thing? That probably would have been the thing – the difference between success and failure. So I think that’s something to think about.
Cary Sherburne: Yeah and the other thing that Mark Parent said, not to overuse him but he’s done such a great job is that, you know, you have to read everything. You have to go to the venues where the marketers are? You have to really live in their world and he claims to have read just about every book on sales and marketing that’s ever been written, maybe, maybe not. But none the less he’s very well read in the subject so you’re able to really have that credibility. If you walk in there and you don’t have the marketing credibility forget it. I mean he says, “If marketing is not your thing don’t go there.”
Chuck Gehman: I think that the printing business is very tough and competitive. This is even more tough and competitive, you know, it’s sort of another league when you start getting into what advertising agencies and marketing companies actually do.
Cary Sherburne: I think that’s given our listeners and viewers and readers a lot to think about. Thank you.
Chuck Gehman: Thank you.
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