Mathieu Gonzalez, Managing Director, Operations EMEA & North America
Mathieu Gonzalez, Managing Director, Operations EMEA & North America 25 August 2020

What does next-generation print management look like?

Print will only thrive if print partners understand the new challenges marketing teams face, and augment their services with modern answers to tough questions

Mathieu Gonzalez, Managing Director, Operations EMEA & North America
Mathieu Gonzalez, Managing Director, Operations EMEA & North America 25 August 2020
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Print will only thrive if print partners understand the new challenges marketing teams face, and augment their services with modern answers to tough questions

The print management industry has been around for more than half a century. But in 2020, the industry isn’t reinventing itself quickly enough. It’s still a business model based on procuring materials, built on supplier relationships, reach, and treading a fine line between price, quality and turnaround times.

(What is print management? Read our explainer here).

At Indicia Worldwide, our heritage is in print procurement. We incorporated Charterhouse and Ergo, two of the largest and most successful print management companies in the world. So, we’ve had the “isn’t print dead?” question asked of us many times. For us, it’s a red herring.

Print management in its traditional sense is a price war – and it’s a war that all sides will eventually lose. The print management provider can’t make savings indefinitely. If they try, they’ll cut on service (be that quality, speed, or innovation) and then the client loses as well.

However, that absolutely doesn’t mean the print industry is dead. Printed materials are still a key to many marketing channels, and a driver of engagement, as this neuroscientific study found. Creatively, print is still important – great ideas often include print innovation.

We believe in a next-generation model for global print management (and we’re proud to say that in Indicia Worldwide, we’ve built it). Here’s how print management survives, and crucially how it creates new value for global brands in a world of ever-diminishing savings.

The application of data science

Firstly, data scientists are in high demand in marketing departments right now – and for good reason. The activation of data through marketing analytics drives performance through customer understanding, and in terms of campaign measurement.

And because data is a central pillar of Indicia Worldwide’s proposition (we’ve been running data-led marketing for clients such as Nissan, The Very Group and ITV for decades), we can also apply our data-led decision-making expertise to print management.

How? Here are some examples…

  • Using various analytical techniques to spot patterns in cross-region buying behaviour to identify opportunities for harmonisation and the rate carding of specific items

  • Econometric modelling to understand the marketing ROI of in-store activity

  • Retail effectiveness analysis – by gathering data in-store, you can apply the kind of analytics rigour to your in-store marketing that you already do in digital marketing

The activation of data is central to a sustainable future for print management, just as it is central to sophisticated marketing. For print to continue to be valuable to brands, working with partners that can glean insight from data, both in terms of buying and in terms of marketing performance, is key.

Marketing literacy

Print management often refers to execution – print experts reacting to briefings. But if you use a print management partner that offers an end-to-end marketing service, you shift the relationship from being all about procuring materials to a relationship that contributes to your marketing’s effectiveness.

The next generation of print manager must shift their focus towards activating marketing rather than executing print. To be valuable to clients, print managers must be marketing activation experts in their own right. If the print partner understands the levers available to the brand to innovate and boost effectiveness, they help create better-performing campaigns.

As we’ve said, everybody loses if we exist purely to squeeze prices.

Being closer to the brand, sharing their objectives, understanding the customers’ behaviours, and speaking the client’s language (both literally and figuratively) – this more rounded approach is crucial if the client is to grow sales, maximise ROI, or at least reduce waste.

At Indicia Worldwide, we have been working tirelessly on switching the focus and transforming our operating model, so our on-site teams become integrated partners for client brands.

Indicia Worldwide’s people contribute to successful marketing activation, rather than simply take print orders. And by understanding what you need to achieve upstream, our print service is augmented with services that create value, rather than just save money.

Expertise when and where it matters

Another example is our dedicated Retail Design Solutions team, who are experts when it comes to POS marketing. Not only do they know how to create for the printing process, they also understand what’s actually going to work in-store.

This setup is a far cry from the old-school production studio model that does little more than fulfil orders from your marketing team.

Further upstream, Indicia Worldwide’s marketing communications agency setup means that there are more opportunities for our clients to create new value in their marketing. Strategic planning, creative, production and print management – coupled with the data analysis capabilities discussed above – creates a unique performance cycle that creates value on an ongoing basis. It’s so much more valuable than racing to the bottom on print costs.

The other benefit of strategic thinking in-house? We are solution agnostic. If a digital screen display is the best use of your budget and the best way to connect you to your audience, that is what we will design and procure for you. We are not simply fulfilling print orders – we’re partnering to get you results in your marketplace.

Production synergies

Finding print’s place in a measurable, strategic marketing strategy means finding new ways of working. Bringing production needs closer to the brand (and away from one-trick pony print houses) means better brand guardianship and faster speed to market.

Operationally, the closer creative production takes place to the strategic marketing process the better. That’s why we augment our print management capabilities with creative production studios, with new ways of working built in. Often, this means on-site studios to take briefs in person – which means we’re better at getting it right first time, and can perform a brand guardianship function.

The next generation print management company – perform better AND spend less

What all these developments have in common is that they give print management relevance to marketers’ jobs, because the print management partner contributes to marketing performance, not just cost.

In times of squeezed marketing budgets and the infinite measurability of new channels, brands should expect their print marketing to deliver both effectiveness and efficiency.

With value-creation services wrapped around the core print procurement function, Indicia Worldwide represents a truly next-generation print management model – one that can make your omnichannel marketing strategy perform better and cost less.

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