Marketing Dilemma of MPS27 Sep, 2012 By: Sarah Henderson, West Point Products
When it comes to revisiting quality information, our “refresher course” brings you credible marketing strategies from industry insider, Sarah Henderson, Director of Managed Print, West Point Products, who enlightens us on the “marketing dilemma of MPS.” Read on.
As traditional copier dealers are adding MPS programs to their business, we are often asked, “What is the best way to brand and market my MPS program?” This dilemma is common as many of you struggle to not only implement MPS within your business, but to also convey the appropriate brand promise and execute a consistent marketing message.
Marketing your MPS program should employ a strong integrated mix of marketing messages via various mediums. But prior to any radio ad being cut or brochure being printed, you will need to address some key foundational areas of your program to help you make decisions for success.
Before we can address the concerns specific to MPS, it is important to understand “brand” as defined: a name, usually a trademark, of a product or manufacturer, or the product identified by this name. In marketing 101 we have learned that easily identified brands can own their respective categories. For example, you often would say Kleenex®, not facial tissues. And for years in offices, how many people were asked to Xerox® a document, not copy it? The best brands can also evoke an emotional connection.
For independent office equipment dealers, crafting your brand can be a challenge. We have seen dealers change their brand or name as technologies have evolved, multiple manufacturer lines represented, and additional products and services added. Others in the industry have built their brand around service, innovation, or other concepts with more staying power. Your brand is the foundation of all your marketing activities. It’s what sets you apart and is a claim you can make that no other competitor can duplicate.
What’s in a Name?
All it takes is a quick review of our customer data base to see evidence of how your peers have evolved from “Typewriter Repair” to “Business Machines” to “Copiers” to “Imaging” to “Solutions.” Many successful company names are tied to the owner's name or acronyms that mean something to an established customer set. Typically, these businesses have been around for a while and have the luxury of longevity to reinforce their brand equity. Nonetheless, be open to the concept that the name of your business impacts your brand and should be memorable. The “tag line” should reinforce the unique aspect of your offering.
Be honest & seek feedback on to how your current business is perceived by your target audience.
• What are my desired brand attributes?
• Is my brand tied to a specific product or manufacturer brand?
• Is my brand service focused?
• If I polled 10 people on the street about my business, what would they say?
• How much equity does my current name have in my market?
• Will my brand convey what I need for a successful roll out of MPS?
The answers to these questions will provide valuable insight to determine some marketing activities with which to focus for your MPS program. You will need to apply some name to your actual MPS business or product. Avoid generic naming conventions such as Management Print Services or Print Management. As MPS grows, this terminology will simply place you in a general service category with little value proposition implied.
Organization Drives Marketing
Before you can craft your MPS program brand, your executive team needs to determine your operational structure. This decision informs how you will name and position the program in your marketing efforts.
A common strategy we see is MPS being offered as a “Service of” or a “Division of.” This approach can be less disruptive to your current business structure and company culture. Many of you may feel the brand equity of your businesses name is important in order to secure MPS business. This approach often keeps the existing logo and adds this program name or additional tag line.
The pros of choosing this strategy are that it can be the least expensive initially and you can build on your current logo or word mark. It also capitalizes on your brand equity. By combining your MPS program with your current brand, you can gain immediate trust due to familiarity. The cons of the marketing strategy are that it can create confusion in your target audience. I would argue that MPS is not just another “program” or “product” that is a simple bolt-on to your existing product offering. As such, this strategy can be a hindrance to calling on CFOs or other top level decision makers who may only see the “equipment” aspect of the brand.
Another option is to market your program as a “Division of” your business. This can be initially positioned as a satellite and then grow and perhaps overtake your traditional offerings. It is a building process. Your dealership can create a stand-alone company (in name) that is marketed as a new entity specific to MPS. The pros are that you will be working from a clean slate that is entirely focused on your MPS operation.
Think Long Term
As you add Managed Print Services, look long term and consider which additional programs such as Managed Network Services (IT) may be added. Is the brand you are migrating to or creating, flexible and sustainable over time? Does your new logo integrate with your corporate brand in a way that is complementary when they appear together? Budget both time and money for the long term success of your MPS marketing. Review periodically if your marketing plan is achieving the results you desire. You may consider investing in market research to determine brand perception and awareness. Support your MPS initiative with the appropriate marketing mix to generate awareness and response to achieve your program goals.
One of my mother’s favorite sayings is “If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.” This adage applies to MPS in the imaging industry. It will take the time and commitment for the marketing and program infrastructure to be successful, but the rewards will be there as you secure your customer base and grow your business through MPS. Staying your course will take discipline, but also the awareness to correct and change strategies as necessary.
Sarah Henderson is Director, MPS Operations, for West Point Products. In this role, she plans, develops, and manages the implementation of MPS programs and key infrastructure tools in multiple channels in North America through the Axess program. Since joining West Point last year, she has helped launch the industry leading MPS TCO costing calculator and a national service dispatch center. In addition, Henderson serves on the MPSA Board of Directors. Henderson’s background includes more than six years in the imaging industry, with hands-on experience assisting dealers implementing MPS and marketing strategies. Prior to joining West Point Products, Henderson was Director, Strategic Marketing, for the Office Equipment Group at GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation.