Author Archives: Heidi Tolliver-Walker

About Heidi Tolliver-Walker

Heidi Tolliver-Walker Heidi is an industry analyst specializing in digital, one-to-one, personalized URL, and Web-to-print applications. Her Marketer’s Primer Series, availalbe through Digital Printing Reports, includes “Digital Printing: Transforming Business and Marketing Models,” 1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance,” “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype,” and “Web-to-Print: Transforming Document Management and Marketing.”

Do you have a “resistance to change” problem?


We keep hearing that printers aren’t in the printing business anymore, and the evidence of non-print-centric thinking is all around us. But it’s one thing to know that you have to embrace change. It’s another to actually do it.

In its 2015 State of the Industry report, Epicomm asked printers what they need to do to improve their company’s adaptability to change.

  • The number one response was “executing our decisions” (58.1%). In other words, we can talk all we want, but until we started doing it, all that talk doesn’t get us off the starting block.
  • Number two was figuring out what the change means to them and what to do about it (45.6%). You can make investments in new services, but if your customers don’t need or want those services, you’ve just wasted your money.
  • Number three was communicating change to employees (38.8%).
  • Number four was anticipating change more effectively and getting out ahead of it (35.0%).
  • Number five was reducing resistance to change (30.6%). This one should probably have been higher. You can’t come up with new strategic directions, execute those decisions, and motivate employees if you’ve got a “resistance to change” problem. After all the years I’ve been around this industry, I’m thinking maybe this should have been number one.

One of the problems with planning for and executing change, of course, is how you offer new services and new directions if you don’t have core capabilities in those areas. In Unsquaring the Wheel: Building a Breakthrough Business Model (by Chis Bondy, Wayne Peterson, and Joe Webb), Jon Budington, president of Global Printing’s Global Thinking division, describes how his company did it.

We hired creatives, strategists, and technologists from outside the printing industry. We essentially bought the education we didn’t have to understand the technological change we were facing.

Not everyone has the deep pockets of Global Printing, but that’s where hiring, aligning, and other creative HR thinking comes in.

I think about the research of Margie Dana and John Zarwan that shows that few print buyers even have “print buyer” in their titles anymore. Print buyers are spread out across the organization and wearing many hats, including graphic design and marketing. You can’t even find print-centric print buyers anymore. If you’ve got resistance to change, you’ve got a problem.

Does your company have a resistance to change problem? If so, how are you addressing it?

Data-Driven Marketing: Where Are We Now?


When we look around, it feels as if there is more personalization occurring in marketing today. We hear more about it. We see it more in our inboxes and mailboxes. But what’s really happening on the ground?

According to Forbes Insight’s new report: “Data-Driven and Customer-Centric: Marketers Turning Insights into Impact,” based on a survey of U.S.-based senior executives, most marketers (large marketers at least) are still focused primarily on knowledge gathering and developing strategies. However, those that are engaged in data-driven marketing are seeing results.

  • 61% say they are seeing “some” business outcomes.
  • 44% say they are seeing “significant” business outcomes.
  • More than half (57%) said it had measurably increased the ROI of their marketing campaigns.

Notable is that more than half (54%) said they had deployed two or more data-driven marketing initiatives. Considering that all of those surveyed were from companies with $250 million+ in revenues, I was, frankly, surprised this wasn’t higher.

Here are three tables that tell a powerful story of where we are with data-driven marketing initiatives. For the full report, click here.

How far along is your organization in leveraging data for marketing purposes? What about in two years from now?

Still focused primarily on knowledge gathering 72%
Developing strategies and a roadmap based on business needs and challenges 62%
Most marketing initiatives are data driven, seeing some business outcomes 61%
Piloting data initiatives to determine value and requirements 58%
Deployed two or more data-driven marketing initiatives, and continuing to apply advanced analytics 54%
Marketing is fully data driven, achieving significant business outcomes 44%

Source: “Data-Driven and Customer-Centric: Marketers Turning Insights into Impact” (Forbes Insights 2016)

Which best describes how well prepared your organization is to take a data-driven approach to marketing?

Mix of technologies is available to various lines of business, with a little coordination 33%
Common set of tools is emerging to support data gathering, analytics, insights, programmatic advertising and planning 29%
IN addition to tools, a single platform is emerging to support data-driven marketing initiatives 24%
Portfolio of tools that enable analysis and planning is well established and fully supported by a single platform and best practices 14%

Source: “Data-Driven and Customer-Centric: Marketers Turning Insights into Impact” (Forbes Insights 2016)

What has been the impact of data-driven marketing on your organization?

Changed our organizational structure 60%
Freed up strategic employees from administrative tasks 60%
Measurably increased the ROI of our marketing campaigns 57%
Automated ability to collect insights 50%
No measurable impact at this time 1%

Source: “Data-Driven and Customer-Centric: Marketers Turning Insights into Impact” (Forbes Insights 2016)

Does this data match what you see? How does it line up with what your customers are doing?

Channel Preference Lesson from Super Shoes


I have been reading about Super Shoes’ new approach to its new, more personalized direct mail campaigns. I must say, I love what they are doing. There is a lot going on there, but here I want to point to the issue of channel preference.

When we think about successful direct mail, we think about the list, the targeting and personalization, and the messaging. However, channel preference isn’t often discussed, and it should be. In this case, Super Shoes knew something critical about its customers, and that is that they preferred direct mail. Super Shoes had an email list—and it used it—but for product offers and promotions, its data showed that customers responded more to print. So that’s what the retailer used.

To get it right, Super Shoes even tested different mailing formats. It found that, of the formats tested, the oversized postcard worked best. Consequently, when rolling out its new, more targeted customer communications, it did so by direct mail using an oversized postcard.

If you read the coverage, Super Shoes put a lot of time and effort into revamping its approach to targeting and personalization. When it came to maximizing that investment,  it didn’t go by what’s most popular, what’s most inexpensive, or blowing in the winds of digital popularity. It invested in print and postage because, based on its testing and analysis of its customer responses, that’s what works. Specifically, it saw a 6.7% conversion rate from its customized postcards.

That’s the value of knowing your customers’ channel preferences.

3 Surprising Stats About Print Buyers


In the study “The New Print Buyers: Who They Are, What They Want and What You Should Do,” released by industry experts and consultants Margie Dana and John Zarwan, there are some surprising stats about print buyers. Dana shared the highlights in a webinar on November 5.

Here are three that got my attention:

  1. Only 13% of print buyers want their printers to “just print.” According to Dana, this is a total about face from a survey she conducted only a few years ago when professional print buyers wanted to work with printers who just put ink on paper.
  2. Despite what we have been hearing, print buyers still care what iron printers have on the floor. Nearly three-quarters (73%) said the equipment list really matters. “I’ve had pushback on this stat, but the numbers don’t lie,” says Dana.
  3. Aside from ink on paper, what is the number one thing print buyers look for in their printers? The ability to offer ideas about new print concepts, innovation, and creative suggestions. Print buyers are not “all about that price.”

“People who source print for their companies are increasingly found within the marketing departments of their companies,” says Dana, and as print continues this migration, “printers must gain influence with marketers as a whole.”

“Marketing is where the decisions are made from how the marketing pie will be divided up,” Dana concludes. “High-level marketers need to understand the wonders that are possible with print and the high-level functionality and capabilities that print can achieve for them.”

Digital Book Printing Conference Highlights


Did you miss the Digital Book Printing Conference back in October? The “In Case You Missed It” webinar is now available on demand. Here are some highlights.

According to Marco Boer, VP IT Strategies, who gave the keynote for the conference, as the total number of printed books declines, languishing inventories are becoming a greater problem. While the culture is still to look at per-unit costs rather than the costs of a book over it lifetime, the inventory problem is forcing publishers to re-evaluate their business models.

Despite drivers for digital production, the “State of the Digital Book Printing Market” survey, conducted jointly by IT Strategies and Printing Impressions, found that the overwhelming majority (71.4%) of publishers feel that it will be 5+ years before a zero-inventory business model becomes “urgent.”

The number one barrier to the zero inventory model? Book publishing culture (47.5%) and lack of infrastructure (32.3%). According to panelists, book publishers aren’t incentivizing their print production staff to cut down on inventory costs. There remains fear and mistrust that zero inventory can work. In particular, there is concern about being caught out of stock and lack of digital book publishing standards to ensure consistent quality over time.

But there are publishers that do make it work. Among the panelists at the conference were Wiley & Sons, which has 20,000 titles 100% POD; Reed Elsevier, whose stock is 95% POD with a goal of 100% over time; and Practising Law Institute, whose books are 100% POD thanks to constantly changing legal content.

The Practising Law Institute, which now prints its books in-house, used to pay $90,000 in shipping costs and throw away $750,000 in inventory every year. Now it prints right in its warehouse and saves a boatload of money. For Reed Elsevier, its move to POD was driven by run lengths and the need to get books to end users more quickly (it had been printing in China). The cost efficiencies brought by high-speed inkjet finally made the POD model viable. Switching to POD also allowed the publisher to achieve its goal of 30% overall cost savings.

Here are some other data presented by IT Strategies:

  • The percentage of books printed via digital print production (whether toner or inkjet) is estimated to grow from 6% today to 12% in 2019.
  • Offset book production will decline 2% year over year.
  • Inkjet has improved to the point that book manufacturers can now print 1,000 – 2,000 copies of a title cost-effectively.
  • In 2016, inkjet will grow to surpass toner, growing 29% YOY. By contrast, toner will grow 3% YOY.

In the next three years, where is most of inkjet’s growth most likely to occur?

  • Replacement of offset 29%
  • Replacement of digital toner 46.1%
  • Creation of new products 25%

Currently, pages printed digitally account for an estimated 5% of the book market.

According to the “State of the Digital Book Printing” survey, only 9% of respondents felt that 25-50% of books would be printed digitally by 2020. More than half (51.3%) felt that somewhere between 10-20% is a realistic number.

To view the entire “highlights” webinar, click here.




The Standard Group Shows Us How Multichannel Makes for a Merry Christmas (Video)


I’ve been waiting all year to talk about The Standard Group’s multichannel holiday campaign because I think it’s one of the smartest self-promotion campaigns I’ve seen in a long time. But first — just to make sure you don’t miss it — I need to give the spoiler. You must watch the company’s Christmas video.

This isn’t just terrific holiday fun showing off the staff’s sense of humor (I love the guy deadpanning it on the bongos). It’s part of a larger multichannel campaign, including video, that gave its customers and employees a crash course in the company’s multichannel capabilities, many of which its customers (and even its employees) didn’t realize the company could do.

First, TSG created a representation of the company’s headquarters as a gingerbread house. The mailing was segmented and personalized. Like an advent calendar, the windows on the mailer were to be opened on specific days. Each window either led to an online video message or enabled the recipient to order a personalized or branded gift. These included holiday messages from the CEO or their individual salesperson (depending on the recipient), holiday cookbooks, holiday music performed by TSG musicians, gift to charity in their name, and a branded mug.

To access the video or place the order, recipients were asked to log into a personalized URL. If they tried to order before the assigned date for that gift, they got a message from Santa telling them they were being naughty.

TSG GingerbreadThe campaign exposed customers to TSG’s ability to coordinate and integrate personalized URLs, QR Codes, video, personalization, high-quality print and decorative finishing, complex programming, and social media. The result was fun, but eye-opening and educational. Within a short time, it had requests from customers to do something similar for them the following year.

Needless to say, The Standard Group was celebrating very happy holidays and a prosperous New Year!

Is USPS Real Mail Notification a Game-Changer?


As if the USPS hadn’t pulled out enough tricks, it has expanded its latest invention, Real Mail Notification, digital alerts of mail about to arrive in recipients’ mailboxes.

The idea is that since USPS sorting machines already take pictures of the fronts of nearly every piece of mail anyway, why not use those images to send recipients digital previews of what’s on its way? Subscribers to the service receive morning emails with pictures of the fronts of pieces that will be sitting in their mailboxes that evening. Not all, but some of the mail will be clickable so recipients can respond to the mailing before it even arrives.

The USPS tested the idea with 5,600 subscribers in Northern Virginia earlier this year, and it introduced it in all five boroughs of the New York market this fall.

According to Direct Marketing News, the Northern Virginia test garnered response rates of 5.9% to direct mail pieces that were engaged with by only 0.5% of non-subscribers. “Nine out of 10 users surveyed said they would continue to use RMN were it offered on a permanent basis and that they would recommend it to their friends.”

What do you think of Real Mail Notification? Will it add life to multichannel marketing? Or is it no better than a traditional email alert?

3D Printing That’s Working (and It’s Another UPS Store)


Last week I walked into The UPS Store in State College, PA for a reason unrelated to 3D printing and was met with the outdoor sign, “We 3D print” and a Stratasys uPrint on the floor. I checked in the with the store manager, Victor DeDonato, and he gave me an interesting scoop on the franchise’s entry into the 3D printing market, which began about a year ago.

The State College store is one of the top UPS Store locations for printing services in Pennsylvania, he said, and has good geographical positioning. While the store promotes its 3D printing via its web presence, it also capitalizes on foot traffic, so when people come into the store for printing or shipping services, they walk right into the sign and, subsequently, the 3D printer itself. The high volume of print work translates into a higher than average exposure for its 3D printing capabilities.

UPS Store SCI was curious about how the franchise handles design. Isn’t this a challenge for its customers? Not at all, DeDenato said. The store has an Occipital 3D scanner in the back (which uses FDM modeling) which it uses to create files for models with non-working parts. Its $60/hour charge for this services keeps down the frivolous requests. For models requiring working parts, it sends out to a third-party 3D vendor in Baltimore, MD, that charges an appropriate rate. Turnaround on outsourced files is two to three weeks.

DeDonato also pointed to the presence of Penn State University, especially with its robust engineering program, as a justification for this investment. University towns tend to have a higher “technology IQ” anyway, and with the presence of Penn State’s engineering students and faculty, its customer base tends to be better able to make the connection between capability and opportunity.

The UPS Store’s most recent 3D project? A replica of a model train that is no longer in production. The customer was an amateur model train enthusiast who ultimately purchased 10 models of this particular train. “It was a really fun project to work on,” says DeDonato.

DeDonato notes that the store does offer wholesale pricing for printers or distributors looking to get into 3D printing without making the capital investment or doing the discovery process themselves.

Where are you seeing new installs of 3D printers? What business models do you see? Do you think any of them are successful?

How Multichannel Affects the Sales Funnel


Why does multichannel marketing work so well? Why has it become one of the most common topics discussed throughout the industry these days?

We all know that part of the reason for multichannel’s success is repeated exposure and reinforcement of the message. Another less discussed reason is that different media play different roles in moving customers along the sales funnel. This is well illustrated in a 2014 study by Experian that placed channels in one of three categories: “greeter” (creating brand awareness), “influencer” (generating interest), and “closer” (getting the sale). When each channel plays its role, the marketer closes more sales and gets more results.

According to Experian’s “2014 Digital Market Trends Report,” the top channels for creating brand awareness (“Greeter”) are as follows:

  • Search marketing: 43%
  • Online display ads: 42%
  • Social display ads: 40%
  • Social media (not paid): 38%
  • Print advertising: 37%

Top channels for generating interest (“Influencer”):

  • Email marketing: 49%
  • Social media (not paid): 44%
  • Online display ads: 35%
  • Print advertising: 33%
  • Social display ads: 33%

Top channels for getting the sale (“Closer”):

  • Website (e-commerce): 42%
  • Email marketing: 30%
  • Direct mail: 20%
  • Mobile apps: 20%
  • Search marketing: 17%

The study also found that half of global cross-channel marketers surveyed planned to integrate four or more channels in their campaigns in 2014.

The breadth of the number of channels being used for each of these steps in the sales process reinforces the critical nature of reaching across the aisle. All of these channels are being used, and the more integrated these channels become, the more critical it is for MSPs and PSPs to be part of the mix. As the individual channels become more well understood and the strategies for integrating them more refined, you don’t want to be standing in an outside silo looking in. You need to be part of the mix from the beginning. So next time you open that conversation, perhaps you don’t want to focus on the channels. You want to focus on the funnel.

Adapted from the report “State of Multichannel Marketing in the Printing Industry” (Digital Printing Reports 2015).

More Great Uses of QR Codes


The other week, I talked about recent data showing that QR Codes are far from being on their way out. In fact, the numbers show that their use is growing. As if on cue, I then saw QR Codes in several new places, and of course, I scanned them.

  • The first was on the label of our Heinz malt vinegar underneath the recipe for peachy chicken. When scanned, it took me to a mobile webpage with pickling instructions, more malt vinegar recipes, and a link for the variety of additional uses for vinegar around the home.
  • The second was on the bottle of Garnier Nutrisse hair dye (for creating artistic stripes, of course). This one took me to a variety of mobile videos offering tips and tricks for hair color application.
  • The third was on an information board along a hiking trail taking hikers to a mobile site listing the various hunting seasons and bag limits.

Heinz QRThese aren’t QR Codes to nowhere. They aren’t codes designed to benefit marketers and nobody else. They are exactly what QR Codes should be — links that provide real information of use to real people. Are there benefits to the marketer or organization? Of course, but they provide real, tangible reasons to scan them, as well.

This is what we’re seeing more and more. Marketers are finally starting to get it. They are finally starting to use QR Codes the way they are designed to be used, and that’s why they aren’t going away any time soon.

Are you collecting good examples of QR Code use like this? You should have your own examples on hand to discuss with clients to show them what great uses of QR Codes look like and, when discussing upcoming projects, encourage them to incorporate their own.