Tuesday, February 24, 2009

We're Printers. Not market service providers. Not print service providers.

Another discussion is starting up at PrintCeo.

It started when Cary Sherburne posted What is a PSP?
It seems like I always hear suppliers and consultants to the printing industry, particularly those that have a “digital” heritage, taking about the wants and needs of PSPs. What the heck is a PSP anyway? . . .
then from the first comment
. . . So I’d like to challenge the pundits and consultants to come up with a name that actually describes this direction they are advocating that PSPs take their companies. And I look forward to the responses you get!
then from the next comment
. . .To this day calling myself a “digital printer” vs. an “offset printer” (we do both) has absolutely no meaning to 99% of my customer base. Yet saying “Yes, I can do that in 24 hours” has tremendous meaning! The terms PSP or MSP only have value if they allow me to communicate some level of differentiation to my customers. I would be a fool to believe that success in adding fulfillment services would come from rebranding myself a FSP. If I add multiple additional services and then aggregate all that into one generic label like PSP I wonder if I’m not actually damaging any brand equity I could build by “genericizing” the additional services into a category that no-one except consultants would recognize. . .
then from another comment
. . . I agree with Ric. Being proud of our trade, in an outdated sort of way, may not be such a bad thing. Once upon a time, after 30 years or so, you could call yourself a printer, and people knew you could help them communicate to the public. Maybe this will have less to do with which machines or media we are talking about, and the term Printer will remain vital as technology changes.
Then I chimed in,

I also vote for Printer. Everyone understands it. Market service provider, print service provider, originate up at the corporate level, not on the ground. Sounds good at conferences or in a business plan. Or when someone is trying to figure out a “marketing plan.”

But imagine saying to a real person who wants to spend money, “Hi, I’m a market communications service provider.” Or “My company is a Print Service Provder”. No offense, but it sounds alot like sanitation engineer.

Printer. Ben Franklin was a printer. My dad was a printer. A nice word with a 500 year tradition.

Plus almost everyone on the planet knows pretty much what it means.

Now if we could only get the vendors to stop being document solution business streamling communication providing global leading suppliers of . . .

For a while, I guess people thought if they called themselves something else, Wall Street would be impressed. But they weren't impressed. All it did was confuse the team and dilute the focus.

It's time to stop drinking the Internet Kool-Aid. This is the Printing Industry. It's the undiscovered growth market. It is driven by education and information technology. It has a clear sustainable revenue stream. It is becoming the Print Output Industry. One of the dominant players is going to become the Walmart of information.

Besides, Ben Franklin is much cooler than Jeff Bezos.

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