The Tale of Bob the Printer. Or Printing Services Company. Or Marketing Services Provider…

by Rich B

A Nearly True Story
Once upon a time there was a printer. The printer was a kindly soul and was probably called Bob. Yes, Bob – why not? Now, Bob would get up early every morning and open up his little print shop. He’d potter around for a while putting his shop in order, then welcome a trickle of regular customers with a smile and a promise to deliver their print on some random day which he may (or may not) hit.

black bull pub sign where bob the printer hangs out

But that was the way of the world. His customers were local and bought local. They thought ‘print’, and then thought of Bob. In the battle for his customer’s  ‘mind share’ Bob had it all. He spent his evenings down at the Black Bull and that got is name around to would-be customers. And Bob was a happy man.

The problem, of course, was that pretty soon his customers – who previously thought of ‘Bob’ and ‘Print’ in the same fizzle of a synapse – suddenly started to think ‘Google’ instead. And Bob’s promise of delivering their print by a week on Wednesday (if it’s sunny and his lumbago wasn’t playing up) was no longer the only option when Shiny Steve’s Print Shop in the next town would bring it on Monday come rain or shine.

And so, Bob’s customers started to wane. Weeds began to grow on the step by the entrance.  Bob’s smile started to waver.

And that would have been the end of Bob. But, as it turns out, Bob was a determined and gritty son-of-a-bitch.

No, what Bob realised was that he needed to understand his customers more and give them better service in their print. He also realised he had to give them more than just printing. Gerald, down The Bull, had opened his eyes to the broader media landscape. And now Bob realised his customers were using his printing to ‘market’ themselves. And, what’s more, they were not just using print to do it, but print was one of a variety of  ‘channels’ at their disposal – from word of mouth on the internet (now tagged Social Media) to email, video and TV.

And that, dear friend, is the story of how many printing companies are redefining and naming themselves. Which is, unfortunately, as confusing as hell for anyone wanting to buy services off them. Some are now Marketing Communication Specialists. Others are Printing Services Providers, Marketing Services Providers, Design and Print Services Organisations, Enterprise Print Marketing Masonry Cakes and Haberdashery Service Providers. The mind boggles.

So, in future articles, we’ll look at:

  • The services behind the names.
  • What ‘added value’ services they can provide your business.
  • How they can really help you in practical terms.
  • And how Bob finally met an untimely end after Gerald invoiced him for business consultancy services and tried to recover the debt with a pickaxe (but that’s for another website entirely).

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