Opportunities for Service Providers: A Few Observations from DMA 2011

By on October 5th, 2011

Recently, I had the chance to spend some time at the DMA 2011 conference in Boston. While I absolutely enjoyed my time at Graph Expo, I was excited to attend a show that primarily consisted of marketing agencies and in-house marketers. I was looking forward to seeing what topics were trending, what challenges were being hotly discussed, and what technologies and channels were being debated.

It’s certainly very important for all of us that are associated to the printing industry to understand what marketers are thinking and talking about. Thus, I’d like to share some of my observations from DMA 2011. I hope that you find them helpful!

1. Marketers are absolutely in need of integrated solutions:

One theme that seemed to exist in many of the conference sessions was the need to break down silos and to integrate marketing efforts. As more and more marketers move to reach their customers and prospects through multiple channels, many of them have fallen into the trouble of storing and managing multiple databases. Those databases might store conflicting or simply varying bits of information about their contacts. This harms a marketer’s need to try to communicate with their audience in real-time. It also prevents a marketer from truly delivering one-to-one and relevant messages.

Thus, service providers (especially those that are committed to offering marketing services through multiple channels as opposed to only print, mail, or fulfillment) have a tremendous opportunity to promote and offer solutions of that nature to their customers to help them solve those challenges.

2. The Primary Discussion was Digital — But Print Still Has a Place in the Marketing Mix!:

I won’t lie – many of the discussions at DMA 2011 centered around online marketing and other digital marketing initiatives. But there were still a number of great case studies shared that involved print and direct mail components. Some of the main reasons why I heard marketers share why they still chose print as a channel included:

  • It is tangible.
  • It can be personalized.
  • It can create a deeper emotional impact.
  • It can be a very effective way to drive people to online content.

3. When it comes to social networks, businesses have a lot to learn:

Judging by the attendance of various sessions, many companies are still striving to learn how to effectively use social networks in the B-to-B space. Here were a few of the tips that I heard that I’d like to share:

  • Twitter’s search features can be one of the most powerful websites for companies to utilize. It enables us to really listen to what’s on the minds of customers and prospects.
  • Facebook’s dominance in the social networking space is truly astounding — thus, we most likely all need to invest more resources there. They have 800 million users! Nearly half of them log in each day.  30 billion pieces of content are shared there each month! Those numbers clearly dwarf the activity that other social networks can share. With that much volume, it’s certain that some of the content being shared and discussed has to do with companies and products. In order to capitalize on the opportunities there, business of all shapes and sizes must be on Facebook too.
  • People love video. It’s true. Video is being used more and more by marketing agencies and other companies to tell their stories. I truly think that many service providers can utilize video to do the same thing

4. Mobile and QR Codes Were Huge… and Growing:

There were a ton of QR Codes at the conference. They were on posters, signs, collateral, and clothes. While that is a good sign to me when it comes to printing, I also noticed that most of the QR Codes were not used 100% properly.

  • Primarily, most of them seemed to point to non-mobile websites. I truly think that there is a tremendous opportunity for service providers to grow their business by doing more than just providing or printing the QR Code; but rather, to also offer the building and hosting of the mobile website or mobile landing page.
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    7 Responses to “Opportunities for Service Providers: A Few Observations from DMA 2011”

    1. Patti Dumas Says:

      John,
      I think your observations are right on the money and enlightening for those of us offering both print and other marketing services to help customers communicate. I also think the opportunity to offer mobile as a service is real and much needed. I say go for it before someone figures out how to make it a commodity and sell it for a penny! In the meantime the rest of us can figure out how to solve customer business issues that include mobile marketing.

    2. Ernie Schell Says:

      Thanks for this, John. Wasn’t there, but all sounds sensible. One observation: the need to overcome “silos” of data has been identified as a major priority for at least the last 25 years…. But I think it goes further. Different departments see the company differently, and merely “sharing” or “integrating” data will not assure that what the company does with it is truly optimized. This even gets at the heart of what’s basically wrong with software, but that’s a whole other story (a book really, and I’m working on it!).

    3. John Foley Says:

      Hi Patti,
      I am so sorry that I missed your comment earlier! I loved your feedback. Here’s hoping that companies view mobile as a way to increase the value of the solutions that they can offer, as opposed to something that’s commodity-based.

      Thanks again for the feedback,
      John

    4. John Foley Says:

      Hi Ernie,
      Thanks very much for sharing that observation. I do agree with you that “breaking down silos” has been a problem for many companies for a long time. And as new channels have emerged so successfully, such as social and mobile, that has created some additional issues in that regard for companies.

      The way to overcome those silos certainly will take a combination of efforts — technology, commitment from management and the doers, internal sharing of information, etc.

    5. Jasper Says:

      In my experience, mobile more than any other channel seems to be the one that excites as much as it mystifies marketers. Many times I’ve had a customer ask me questions like “How much does it cost to make a QR code?” “How do they work?” – questions more related to function. My reply usually goes something like “It doesn’t cost anything to make a QR code, that’s not where the magic is. The value stems from the experience available to a respondent when they scan the QR code. Is it mobile friendly? Is it interactive and interesting? Is it valuable to both the scanner and your business (will you get the results your looking for?”

      Think about a TV commercial – any marketer you talk to isn’t going to get caught up in how magical it that we can make moving images appear on consumers TV screens. What’s important to them is how to craft a TV commercial so that it’s impactful and effective. As experts in our field, we are in a position to help drive the conversation regarding mobile marketing in a similar direction for our customers. That is, we can show them how to make the use of QR codes (and mobile marketing as a whole) impactful and effective.

      It doesn’t do any good to have a QR code for the sake having a QR code. As well all know, there is a strategy involved. Unfortunately, there still seem to be a lot cases of “QR for QRs sake” out there. That is exciting for us as MSPs because it means that there is a lot of market potential for our services and expertise.

    6. John Foley Says:

      Hi Jasper,
      Thank you very much for your comment. You made some excellent points! It truly is all about focusing on the entire mobile experience… from the QR Code to the mobile website to the landing page to the fulfillment.

      I do agree with you that there are a lot of marketers out there that recognize the potential of mobile, but that are still unsure of how to tie it all together with the rest of their marketing initiatives. That absolutely means that there is an opportunity for service providers to help and make money.

    7. Joie Moneyhun Says:

      I’ll be most certainly implementing this when i’m designing my search engine marketing monster internet site for 2012.