Target Market: In-Plants Explained

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Target Market: In-Plants Explained

This post if Part 3 of 3: Online Target Markets

  1. B2B
  2. B2C
  3. In-Plant


An in-plant print production center is a unique breed of print provider, mainly in that its charge is to service what I call a “captured community.” This community could be a university, a company, a non-profit, or a government institution.

The variability in the in-plant target market really depends on the level of “capture” in the community. This spectrum can range from strict procurement policies that forbid you from purchasing print products and services anywhere but the in-plant all the way through situations where most people in the community aren’t even aware of the services offered.

What is unique about transitioning the in-plant business from offline/manual processes to online, self service ecommerce? Most of the process is the same as commercial printers, the uniqueness of an in-plant is the level of knowledge successful in-plants have about their communities. Because many in-plants are run by employees of the organization, they are seen as part of the community, a tag any business would value highly in the commercial space.

I have found that inside an in-plant you find individuals with huge knowledge stores about the organization, its communication challenges, and its operating procedures. This knowledge store can be embedded into an online interaction if its properly mined and implemented.

Many in-plants look at self-service as a lower value service, whereas their customers value convenience over high touch. A web to print solution in an in-plant brings greater reach throughout the community (removes geography) and enables the in-plant to better communicate the entire breadth of products and services available.

The in-plant market does have some key features and functionality to look out for when deciding on a web to print vendor:

  1. Authentication Integration
    • Making it easy to seamlessly use the services, remove the need for duplicate registration / authentication.
    • Put the security burden on the centralized authentication system
  2. Community Segmentation
    • A single community isn’t always homogenous – the solution must enable segmentation (for instance students vs. faculty, or executives vs. staff)
  3. Procurement Integration
    • Most large organizations have a centralized procurement system, integration into this system greatly eases the burden of the in-plant’s accounting/budgeting/chargeback processes.
  4. “Soft” marketing and Promotion
    • Remember “captured community” does not mean “mandated” – the in-plant still very much needs assistance in promoting their services and maintaining relevance inside their community to continue to grow and expand their offerings.
    • Marketing to captured communities is different than commercial marketing. Generally tactics like e-mail campaigns are not allowed. Innovative promotional activities are required to spread the word organically when mandates are not possible.


  1. Barry Walsh on September 2, 2010 at 4:55 pm

    The inplant market has always been a crazy one. Previously an accountant coming in and asking “Why are we spending all this money on print” and adding bodies and equipment to the inplant shop….Today’s mantra across the board being…”Why can’t we get rid of these heads and outsource that print?”.

    Being able to communicate and demonstrate your financial contribution is key to this.

    Procurement integration is the next big thing. Look at companies like Mtivity, Claritum and P3 among others to bring needed efficiencies and transparencies to print procurement.

    Add to that the Business Process Outsourcing solutions and companies proposing them. We have all seen the large BPO and broker companies come in and replace an entire print procurement department, disrupting the relationships that have kept print companies in business. Infotrends expects this model to increase rapidly over the next 5 years.

  2. Jennifer Matt on September 7, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I feel that in-plants have an incredible value that they don’t promote near enough. The folks at the in-plant have operational and intimate knowledge of the business, they deploy this knowledge every day but they don’t promote the value of this knowledge.

    My belief is that in-plants can embed that operational knowledge into a web to print system in order to both extend their services and better promote themselves.


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