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Branding: Change the Marketing Dilemma of MPS

8 Dec, 2010 By: Sarah Henderson, GreatAmerica Leasing

Branding: Change the Marketing Dilemma of MPS

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.

Brand Defined

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 off 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 owners 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 and seek feedback on to how your current business perceived by
your target audience.  Ask yourself:

  • 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
  • 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.

Keep Working

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 the Director, Strategic Marketing, for the Office
Equipment Group at GreatAmerica Leasing Corporation. For further information


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