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When Marketing Web-to-print, Don't Call it Web-to-Print!

Published on July 17, 2014

Jennifer Matt gives some key tips on how to brand your web to print offering by telling your story and not using the term web-to-print or the software solution you are using.

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By Cary Sherburne on Jul 17, 2014

This is great advice from Jennifer Matt!


By Henry Freedman on Jul 17, 2014

Couple points here. "Web-to-Print" is a marketing moniker added to what is a technology evolution. I would have to say the essence here is technology. New ways to communicate print, ability to put terms in online transactions to legal protect printer further, rule checking on submissions to reduce error and surprise and above all automation of the process to the point where the customer/buyer is actually controlling the production process in a hands free way now on many sites and in turn is responsible for the errors. In the late 70's when I first developed this technology and had it connected with evolving ARPA and DARPA net type systems used by Pat Driscoll of the Air Force to start.

We saw the marketing component however the "web" or net to print, where customer connected to the plant floor had a bigger return from the technology. So this is truly a technology based process with a marketing veneer. Some very good marketing points are made here however the real money is on the plant floor automation and aside from customers, connecting your sales people to the system is paramount. It is fun to see where this ahs gone and Jennifer has some nice marketing advice here however we should not lose what this really is. return than simply getting the order. In the early '80s and subsequently my 829 patent where heuristics (intelligent rules) were inserted into the system for manufacturing everything took off. See http://henryfreedman.com/print-ecommerce-automated-printing-control/

[Edited by WhatTheyThink for readability]


By Janice Malone on Jul 17, 2014

This is a very good video that really speaks to the customer.


By Elisha Kasinskas on Jul 17, 2014

Jennifer makes a great point. Technology is just the enabler for the transaction. Marketing is such an important topic that we asked our in-plant customers how they market their capabilities (SEO doesn't apply to in-plants, but everything else mentioned does) so with other in-plants could learn from them. We created a white paper, stories about the top marketers and a marketing "Success Kit." See the white paper & marketing contest winner stories here: http://www.rocsoft.com/information-center/ and click on the Build a better in-plant icon to get to the Success kit. In the InfoTrends study,"Software Investment 2014," Marketing & sales were the #3 reason for business growth for in-plants and print for pay.


By Howie Fenton on Jul 17, 2014

This is great advice from Jennifer that helps separate our industry jargon from the purpose of the tools we use. Naming it to extend the brand is brilliant too and is not unlike QC or quality efforts within companies that can also help extend the brand.

The rare exception and reason to use the term Web to print may be in a bidding situation where a print buyer is specifically looking for features that a printing company offers (to add to a spreadsheet) where they refer to it as either an e-commerce or web to print solution.


By tom koceja on Jul 17, 2014

Web to print never comes up it's just too confusing, we offer storefronts that is what our customers understand, its direct to the point and markets itself. Most of our storefronts POD and fulfillment integrated MIS; monthly reporting helps customers relieve their internal inventory with streamlining client internal system supplying GL account codes created per order (marketing tool). So I guess my point is "storefronts" are what works the best when describing this since the web is the tool everyone uses. Web to print never comes up in the conversation or in our marketing.Technology streamlines important message. Thanks for your marketing techniques stated.


By carro ford on Jul 17, 2014

Love your common sense advice. Right on target.


By Jennifer Matt on Jul 17, 2014


I have to comment here. I know you want it to be ALL about the technology but its not. There is tons of great technology out there and there is not nearly enough successful printers. I want successful printers and successful printers need to focus less on the technology and more on the marketing - I know that doesn't serve your purpose because you can't patent marketing advice!

By the way, I don't believe in patents - I believe in open source, open collaboration, giving what I've learned away for free via books, videos, and posts. You know why? Its a better business model because it all comes back to you bigger, better, and in ways you could not even imagine. I partnered with HP we printed and distributed 18,000 books at the last Drupa - we donated everything to EDSF.org - no patents, no restrictions, just all open sharing and I KNOW its been a win-win-win for HP, EDSF, and me.

So - technology is awesome but it doesn't do it on its own. People still make all the difference and people need to understand, market, sell, and believe in the tools for real success to happen. No patents necessary.



By Jennifer Matt on Jul 17, 2014

Carro, Tom, Howie, Elisha, Janice, and Cary

Printers want: new customers, repeat customers, and loyal customers. I have a very bias opinion but I believe that reducing the customer burden (making it easier to buy print) and increasing the problems you can solve for the customer via web-to-print programs can deliver on new, repeat, and loyal customers.

It isn't as easy as buying technology - we tried that in web-to-print v1.0. We have to wrap a program around it so that our sales people are set up to succeed with a great marketing story and our customers have a program to drive adoption of the new tool.

The results don't come right away - hence the frustration but when the results come they are strategic: you have a digital connection with your customers, you have more data to understand customer behavior, and you have embedded yourself further into the customer's business process.

Thanks for all your comments and thanks for adding to the conversation.



By Henry Freedman on Jul 17, 2014

Jen I hope you believe in inventors if not in patents. From you response think you may have misread my comments.

"Web to print" is an institutional response to technical change. The institution almost always follows the technology as example law is catching up to the internet etc.. and as time goes by the technology changes the organization etc. I just stated the real value is in the full integration not the parts.


By tom koceja on Jul 18, 2014

Two valuable takeaways that were stated above, thanks for the insight!

"you have a digital connection with your customers, you have more data to understand customer behavior, and you have embedded yourself further into the customer's business process"

"the real value is in the full integration not the parts"


By Jacob Aizikowitz on Jul 18, 2014

Jennifer, thanks for the message and the presentation.

As a vendor in this and other related application areas, I believe that Web2Print is a term useful for the very entry level of that market -- a Print Shop that opens a door on internet street.

I feel that once a print shop starts thinking in terms of creating web portals that are dedicated to a customer of theirs -- what Tom K from above calls "storefronts" -- it has to embrace a marketing and branding and Solutions selling approach that leaves the technology behind; pretty much along the lines of your message an presentation.

I will add though that in the same way that not all print businesses are the same, not all the technologies for such storefronts are the same. So, once a business starts generalizing and focus on solution selling, abstracting the technology away, they need to make sure that they will not generalize too much, and get to a point that the solution they are offering is the same as the one offered by their competitors. How much to abstract is art.

[Edited by WhatTheyThink for readability]


By Jennifer Matt on Jul 18, 2014


We are seeing a lot of printers making their 2nd or 3rd technology decision with web-to-print. This makes the printer a more informed customer (they at least know what limitations they want to avoid from their previous technology decisions).

I'm of course exaggerating about the "don't think about the technology" only to make the point that most web-to-print projects fail because sales and marketing has been completely left out. What I like about sales participation is that sales is very customer-results focused (not technically focused). This will keep the priorities where they belong - get transactions, drive adoption, and of course look for ways the technology can enable those desired results.



By Pete Basiliere on Jul 19, 2014

Jennifer, since you do not believe in patents, why are you on a site that copyrights and reserves your work? The protection that a copyright provides to your work is essentially the protection that patents offer inventors.


By Charles Gehman on Jul 19, 2014

The market is getting very sophisticated. I recently saw an RFP from a customer that discussed Web2Print requirements in great specificity.

This Fortune 500 company's process was being led by an IT team. Procurement and the actual end-customer in marketing were in the background. I think you have to carefully consider the "tech-savviness" of the customer.

W2P has been around for many years now, and customers have been doing it for years. Just like so many printers are on their 2nd or 3rd "go-around", so are some customers. There is a lot for them to read on the web.

The game continues to change.


By Cary Sherburne on Jul 19, 2014

It's great to see so much discussion on this thread. Thanks to Jennifer for getting it started. I agree with Chuck with the caveat that there are STILL lots of marketing people that don't understand the possibilities. Witness the stories of our two marketers in a recent webinar, where their printers either didn't alert them to opportunities or came at it with exactly the wrong message ... you can submit your jobs online does not cut it! If you didn't listen to this webinar, you should consider investing the time. Nice to see marketers reinforcing Jennifer's message. http://whattheythink.com/webinars/181/


By Carl Gerhardt on Jul 21, 2014

Interesting discussion and great points but not much about "what to call it"......if we don't call it web-to-print.


By Cary Sherburne on Jul 21, 2014

I think the point is people need to craft services around the web to print capability and name it accordingly... Literature Fulfillment Service, Marketing Resource Center, Marketing Resource Manager ... depends on what they are doing with it.


By Slava Apel on Jul 21, 2014

Just like Facebook is adding the "buy" button, and not calling it peer-to-vendor software, we can also call it “ordering” or “buying” or “proofing” or “automating” or “marketing” etc., instead of “print order procurement” or “Web to print”. One word description is much more clean and more precise than industry chosen w2p descriptor.


By Jennifer Matt on Jul 23, 2014

Chuck - I find IT getting more involved sooner because virtually every functional area of the modern corporation is being inundated with technology tools to help them do their job better. Marketing is becoming way more technical and procurement is being asked to up their game on tracking and monitoring their purchasing decisions.

IT is no longer the last group brought in to "bless" the decision that was already made by procurement/marketing. IT is at the table and like you said, quite possibly the author of at least a portion of the requirements document.

In this case of course you have to answer their questions. My point in this video is that your general offer of self-service ordering online needs to be branded proactively as a solution that provides marketing logistics services around your printed products and services.



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