• Big corporations are approaching their marketing efforts with a seamless blend of traditional and digital marketing strategies.
  • Keypoint Intelligence’s research confirms that channels like social media, company websites, and even webinars offer real-time insights for direct marketers.
  • For PSPs of all sizes, the key element that can distinguish them from their competition is the Customer Experience (CX).

By Karen Kimerer


Consumer preferences are changing all the time, and ongoing technological advancements continue to transform the landscape of client engagement. As a result, today’s print service providers (PSPs) find themselves at a critical juncture. Industry leaders recognize that the focus must extend beyond offering quality products and services. To remain relevant, service providers must acknowledge and respond to the dynamic shifts in communication preferences.

There’s no question that our industry is saturated with options, but survival is not about being the biggest entity or the one with the most tenure. True innovators realize that differentiation lies in the ability to respond quickly and adeptly to a shifting consumer environment. To truly prosper, PSPs must embrace change and cultivate an intimate understanding of the markets they serve. This article delves deeper into customers’ communication preferences, highlighting Keypoint Intelligence data on the trends that are shaping today’s direct marketing spending.

Blending Print and Digital…and Why it Works!

Identifying and exploiting new markets will come easier if you have a clear understanding of how your current offerings meet the needs of your most valued customers. To that point, a surprising statistic emerged from Keypoint Intelligence’s most recent direct marketing communications survey. As shown in the chart below, 88% of marketers that outsource their print services use the same providers to handle the delivery of their digital communications. In addition to being indicative of the versatility of these providers, this statistic highlights the trend we’re seeing in big corporations to approach their marketing efforts with a seamless blend of traditional and digital marketing strategies.

Figure 1: Using the Same Provider for Printed and Digital Communications

N = 179 Business Respondents that outsource at least some of the delivery of their printed direct mail

Source: Direct Marketing Communications Business Survey; Keypoint Intelligence 2023

Using the same communication provider to handle both printed and digital communications helps ensure consistency in branding and messaging. For enterprises, it’s often easier to deal with a single partner for all communication channels than to juggle between multiple entities.

With a blended approach, brands can create holistic campaigns that play off each other. For instance, a quick response (QR) code on a printed postcard that leads to a personalized digital landing page can deliver more value and information than a standalone static postcard. Behind the code, important topics such as sustainability and how the brand addresses it can be explored in greater detail. As another example, a near field communication (NFC) tag embedded on a branded tote can link to an app like Google Pay or Apple Pay, enabling the recipient to quickly and securely order additional promotional products. Providers that fail to deliver both physical and digital marketing campaigns are likely missing out on revenue and may be putting themselves at risk of losing the business they do have.

Keypoint Intelligence’s research confirms that channels like social media, company websites, and even webinars offer real-time insights for direct marketers. Looking further down the list, the numbers indicate that the reliance on intermediaries and the middleman is waning.

Figure 2: Sources of Direct Marketing Information

N = 318 Total Business Respondents

Source: Direct Marketing Communications Business Survey; Keypoint Intelligence 2023

This trend showcases the industry's move towards a more direct, unfiltered, and instantaneous mode of knowledge acquisition. It also underscores the immediate need for resellers and distributors to redefine their roles and contributions in this digital age.

A Shift in Focus

For PSPs of all sizes, the key element that can distinguish them from their competition is the Customer Experience (CX). Survey data from Keypoint Intelligence suggests that a staggering 91% of marketers have a dedicated strategy or department focusing exclusively on CX and process improvement.

CX is the new currency. It’s no longer just about the product or service offered, but how it's delivered and experienced by the customer. A satisfied customer is more likely to be a loyal advocate, so more and more businesses are prioritizing CX as an essential component of their long-term success. In our age of online reviews and instant feedback, understanding and refining the customer journey has become paramount. A dedicated CX department can more efficiently capture, analyze, and respond to customer feedback, ensuring continuous improvement. In addition, it's widely acknowledged that retaining a customer is generally more cost-effective than acquiring a new one. Businesses with a solid CX strategy often report higher customer retention rates, which is important because delighted customers are more likely to become brand evangelists.

The modern business world is no longer just about the transaction; it's about the interaction. The survey outcome reflects a paradigm shift from a product-centric approach to a customer-centric approach. The means it’s time to check your messaging and sales approach—are you product-focused or customer-focused? Can you precisely articulate how your products and services will add to a better customer experience?

Think beyond the product or services your customers typically buy and take a holistic approach. You can do this by:

  • Asking them which channels they most often use to gain referrals, acquire new customers, or reactivate those who no longer buy from them
  • Uncovering how they use social media to cross sell or upsell
  • Identifying the channels they find most effective to retain customers and reinforce brand awareness

Odds are good that your customers are not taking a one-size-fits-all approach to each of the very important marketing disciplines mentioned above. Once you discover the answers to these questions, you’ll be better positioned to capture more marketing dollars while demonstrating your approach to the important “customer interaction” trend.

Delivering value often comes at a cost, so does this mean that offering a remarkable CX should come with a higher price tag? The simple answer is that it depends. In the early days of commerce, the formula was simple: buy low, sell high. The emphasis was purely on profits. As markets matured, however, consumer behaviors evolved. Today’s business landscape is more complex, and a rudimentary approach has begun to show its limits.

Enter the era of strategic pricing, where decisions are not just about bottom lines but about boosting overall company value. A critical driver of this shift toward value-based pricing is the rising importance of sustainability and corporate social responsibility (CSR). Modern consumers and organizations are often willing to pay a premium for products that are ethically sourced, eco-friendly, or contribute to a social cause. This willingness is not rooted in the direct benefits they receive but in the broader value that these products represent. So the real question is, how do your products and services add value?

A company using sustainable materials, paying fair wages, or investing in community projects might have higher operational costs, but their product pricing reflects these values. In such scenarios, businesses understand that price is not just a monetary transaction and realize their contribution to a larger cause can be incorporated into their brand story.

As the business world steps further into the 21st century, the rudimentary models of yesteryear are being replaced with intricate, value-driven models. Pricing is not just a reflection of what it takes to make a product, but what that product stands for. Firms that recognize this shift and align their strategies accordingly will see revenue growth as well as an invaluable growth in company value.

The Bottom Line

Today's PSPs must focus on customization, speed, sustainability, and value. Their needs and preferences must evolve with societal shifts, technological breakthroughs, and even global events. Businesses that align their strategies with these shifts can ensure that they are not just meeting but anticipating the demands of their clientele. A combination of vigilance, adaptability, and innovation can set PSPs on a trajectory for sustainable growth and profitability. This proactive approach, which melds both current insights and future predictions, is the key to thriving in an increasingly fluid marketing landscape.

As part of the Business Development Strategies Consulting Service at Keypoint Intelligence, Karen Kimerer has experienced the many challenges of expanding current market opportunities and securing new business. She has developed a systematic approach to these opportunities, addressing the unique requirements of becoming a leader in our changing industry.