Archive for the ‘Digital Nirvana’ Category

5 Tips for Handling Social Media Complaints

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

Social media provides your business with a flexible way to get in touch with your customers and build a loyal relationship. But what happens when it provides customers with a public means to complain about your business? Follow these five steps to navigate complaints as painlessly as possible:

  1. Monitor your social media channels. If a complaint isn’t acknowledged and resolved quickly, your customer is likely to get more aggravated. Watch your social media channels so you are ready to step in when a problem arises.
  2. Mind your language. No matter how fraught the situation, be sure to remain polite, professional and courteous at all times. Remember to speak directly to your customer in humane language – corporate-speak and stock phrases can sound impersonal and dismissive.
  3. Apologize. Your customer is upset and they want to know that you are taking their concerns seriously. Start by apologizing for any distress or inconvenience caused. By taking responsibility, you’re showing that your business cares about its customers’ concerns.
  4. Acknowledge publicly, address privately. A public apology is a vital first step and shows the willingness to take responsibility. In order to hash out the details of resolving the problem, offer to get in touch by email, direct message or telephone, for a fuller discussion.
  5. Make it right. Analyze the issue, acknowledge your customer’s distress, and work out how you can make it right with them. Willingness to fix mistakes can actually boost your reputation, showing your customer service skills in a positive light.

Complaints are a part of business life, but having them aired publicly is a nerve-wracking experience. By having a plan in place for dealing with complaints and keeping a cool head, you can diffuse the situation and even turn complaints into a positive outcome for your business.

Do you have any experience with negativity on your social media platforms? How did you overcome the problem? I’d love to get a good chat started in the comments below!

USPS Webinar on Saving $ on Mailing Costs – Today 1 PM

Tuesday, June 24th, 2014

We all know that bad mailing addresses are costing marketers money — and a lot of it. Bad addresses can also frustrate and alienate customers. But how do you fix it?

The USPS is offering a seminar today at 1 PM to provide some answers. The seminar is designed to help participants:

  • Understand how customers prefer to receive communications
  • Help them eliminate data silos
  • Save up to 30% in mailing, printing, and delivery costs
  • Keep data clean

“24% of all mailings have some sort of address problem,” USPS says. “That means your message might not even reach the end consumer. Don’t let Bad Data ruin a good mailing.”

To register for the webinar, click here.

Sorry for the last minute notice on this. I just got the announcement myself. Usually, these webinars have some kind of archive link that will allow you to view the content even if you miss the live event. So if you cannot attend today, check to see whether an archived version is available.

Saying “Sorry” Feels Better in Print

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Speaking of the benefits and value of print (see Tuesday’s post), this morning I bear a tale of two apologies.

Several weeks ago, Shutterfly mistakenly sent a promotion to thousands of customers congratulating them on new parenthood and encouraging them to preserve their memories with a photo book. Unfortunately, many of the recipients were not new parents. I was one of the recipients of that apology.

Shutterfly has since corrected its email mistake with a follow up apology. “We mistakenly sent an email that was intended only for new parents who recently made baby-related purchases at Shutterfly,” reads the email. “We’re truly sorry if you received this email in error. We realize this is a very sensitive issue and we did not mean to upset you in any way.”

It happens. Ho, hum.

This week, my father also received an apology. This time, it was for messing up his name. This apology, however, came by mail. It was printed on an oversized glossy postcard.

















The subject line of his email was, “Doing things right.” In it, my father wrote:

The message came on a glossy, full-color, heavy-weight card, 8 1/2 by  5 1/2 inches, not just a little postcard. Pretty nice gesture. It  cost a little send it, I’m sure.

It costs more to send direct mail than email, but it sure sends a different impression. Direct mail costs more, but perhaps that’s one of the reasons its impact is greater, too. It is a much more credible way to say “I’m sorry” than an email that costs little or nothing to send.

Great Resource for Promoting Print

Tuesday, June 17th, 2014

If you haven’t been to the Print Is Big website, it’s worth checking out. There are some great stats there to wow your clients and reinforce the value of continuing to use print. For example, in a world in which marketers are constantly being told that “print is dead,” here are some stats regarding industry size that may surprise many people.

  • Music: $67 billion
  • Video game industry: $33 billion
  • Online advertising industry: $147 billion
  • Print: $640 billion — and drives $3.8 trillion in related services

There is also a page on the greenness of print. For example, do your clients know that there are more forests in the United States today than there were 50 years ago? Or that 70% of supposedly “junk” mail is printed on recycled paper? Or that the co-founder of GreenPeace says that in order to protect the environment, we should use more paper, not less?

Print may be “right sizing” for today’s fractured multichannel marketing world, but it isn’t dying or being replaced by the “greener” world of e-media. Marketers need to be reminded of that.

Get Your (Augmented) Reality Check!

Friday, June 13th, 2014

You’ve heard about Google Glass(es) before, right? But have you seen those magazine advertisements that come to life on your smart phone? You might be thinking of QR codes, which isn’t too far off, but I’m referring specifically to a leading-edge technology that facilitates the most digitally enhanced communication pieces. The technology, Augmented Reality (AR), consists of software integrations to marketing pieces that add layers of digital content (photos, videos, sound effects, games) to a printed advertisement. With AR, a traditional print ad becomes an interactive communications tool that can be used to further inform consumers, gather consumer information, offer promotions, and create deeper brand experiences. At the end of the day, AR helps maximize ad shelf-life and foster consumer dialogue.

To get a better understanding of key applications and examples of AR, I encourage you to check out the recent webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America titled “A Reality Check: Augmented Reality.” The webinar defines and exemplifies how AR interacts within both print and marketing communities. Barbara Pellow of Info Trends leads a conversation with Martin Ahe (Partnerships Manager at Layer) and Deborah Haskel (VP of Marketing at IWCO Direct) surrounding AR value and its implementation process.

Today, there are five critical trends associated with AR technology. The first involves an embedment of AR technology in ‘wearables’. Google Glass(es) are just one example, where the ‘wearer’ issues a verbal command to scan and perform a certain task. The second and third trends leverage AR to enhance the brand experience in retail and at live-events, like concerts. The fourth surrounds AR involvement in the educational space with do-it-yourself learning tools, like books and student projects. Lastly, AR has patterns of success in the automobile industry specifically. From sales brochures to owner’s manuals, brands like Ford, Volvo, Nissan, and Audi are using AR to interact, inform, educate, and strengthen relationships with their customers.

With AR growing in popularity in a variety of fields, you might be asking: “How do I start the implementation process today? And what does that process look like in conjunction with direct mail or printed communications pieces?” One way to start is by consulting the firm Layer, who is at the forefront of the AR industry. Ahe explains that the implementation process unfolds in a couple of simple, user-friendly steps:
1. In Layer Creator, upload a page that you wish to make interactive
2. Drag, drop and specify what you would like to link
3. Click publish

It’s important to remember, however, that the majority of customers are new AR technology. Thus, make sure to keep your blends simple, intuitive, and user-friendly. Haskel highlights: “In order to make effective use of AR, you have to help your clients understand the best way to use it. Think quality over quantity.” Content size (video, imaging, etc.) and the appropriate ‘call to action’ are two major components in creating a successful AR experience. And be sure to educate your audience. Many consumers are used to scanning QR codes where you only scan the small square with your smart phone. But with AR, you scan a larger area, usually the entire printed area, with your smart phone. Since this is a relatively new technology, it’s helpful to provide some direction on your printed piece for the consumer.

Get started today by checking out the webinar for classic examples and further details on the implementation process. It’s no wonder AR is here to stay when a brand can tell a story like this! Consider this your (augmented) reality check!

Are You Missing an Opportunity to Help Clients with Data?

Friday, June 13th, 2014

According to a recent study from NetProspex (“State of Marketing Data: 2014″), B2B marketers are missing basic and easily accessible information to help with their personalization and targeting efforts.  Twenty-six percent do not even know the contact’s industry and 20% don’t know their revenues or number of employees.

What’s notable here is that this type of information is readily accessible from data houses and relatively inexpensive to acquire, yet it can make a tremendous difference in the ability to segment and target communications.

I often hear marketers talking about how easy to is to lose sales simply because you forgot to ask. You laid out the information, but there was no call to action. The same principle applies here. If your clients could be doing more segmentation and targeting but aren’t, have you simply asked them what fields they have in their marketing database and offered to fill in ones that are missing? This is a basic data append that any PSP should be able to handle working with one of the major list companies.

Which clients could you approach today with an ask?

Percentage of Records with the Fields Completed

First name 77.5%
Last name 76.0%
Title 62.9%
Street 54.6%
City 59.6%
Phone 36.2%
Email 89.2%
State 58.5%
Company 77.2%
Industry 25.9%
Revenue 18.2%
Employees 19.5%

Source: State of Marketing Data: NetProspex (2014)

25 Tips for Successful Content Marketing

Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

According to the Content Marketing Institute, 92% of marketers are using content marketing, and there’s a good reason why! Content marketing gives you and your company the opportunity to reach your audience and educate them on topics that pertain to their interests. How can you make sure your content is relevant and entertaining to your audience?

Here are 25 tips keep in mind while you’re crafting your content.

  1. Be Personable
  2. Keep it Concise
  3. Know Your Audience
  4. Don’t Over-Promote
  5. Be Passionate

To see these tips further explained, as well as 20 additional tips, download, 25 Tips for Content Marketing Success.

Please take a moment to read and share this resource at Do you have any other content marketing tips you’d like to share? I’d love to hear in the comments below!

Another Idea That Can’t Be Duplicated by E-Media: Thanks, Nivea

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

This past week, Kevin Keane posted about a terrific AR app for one frozen fruit company’s packaging that not only provides the recipe but actually shows the consumer how to make it via video. It’s a great application that, as Keane notes, illustrates one of the aspects of print that cannot be duplicated by e-media.

Deborah Corn of The Print Media Centr has also posted about another campaign, this time a magazine advertisement, that reflects the same value. It’s a print ad from Nivea used in Brazil. (View video here.) The ad contains a bracelet that, when registered via mobile app, can be put on children to alert parents when those children wander out of the designated area.

Nivea AdIn the campaign, parents tear the bracelet out of the ad, download the app (if they don’t have it already), and register the bracelet. Once the bracelet is registered, they set the desired distance the child is allowed to travel. If the child wanders beyond the set distance, an alarm goes off. The bracelets are made from humidity-resistant paper and can be used more than once.

While this is a high-dollar campaign, it continues to illustrate the value of print over electronic media and should get PSPs of all sizes, and with all types of clienteles, brainstorming.

The key is creativity. Augmented reality, unique mobile apps, QR Codes, image recognition technology, and other technologies are ways to take advantage of the unique properties of print and can be applied in a variety of ways that are affordable even to smaller companies.

How could you take these two ideas and apply them in your markets?

Brand Differentiation with Augmented Reality Enabled Packaging

Saturday, June 7th, 2014

I often repeat the December 2011 wisdom of Dr. Ronnie Davis, Chief Economist of Printing Industry of America who noted that of the 3 segments of print: informational, promotional and packaging, only the latter – packaging, labels, cartons, shrink sleeves and more, is immune to digital substitiution. One of my legal & marketing consulting projects is in the province of packaging and this video confirms a personal prediction that augmented reality enabled packaging can offer real brand differentiation and enhanced value for marketeer and consumer alike.

AUGMENTED REALITY PACKAGING / LiveViewStudio from LiveViewStudio on Vimeo.

Raising the Standards with the Océ ImageStream 3500

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

The end of May marked a turning point in inkjet printing history with Canon’s announcement of the Océ ImageStream 3500. This continuous feed color inkjet press is the first of its kind with the ability to print on standard offset paper stocks. With both digital and offset capabilities, the technology of the Océ ImageStream 3500 removes the need for two different types of paper. Thus, high-quality inkjet printing is more streamline than ever before. Print Service Providers no longer need to rely on treated paper or add-ons to achieve high-quality print production. In coordination with paper mill partners, Canon has tested the print and image quality on a range of paper sources from uncoated to gloss. Notably, all have yielded positive results.

For commercial printers aiming to make the transition into digital printing, this could be your solution. With dual-functionality, the press handles a digital or conventional run up to 160m/min at 1200 x 600 dpi and features a flexible droptlet modulation for higher perceived image resolution. In terms of applications, the Océ ImageStream 3500 is fit for high-end book production, brochures, magazines, personalized catalogues, as well as direct mail pieces. The press itself is the most compact in its class: 10-50% smaller than other production system, which translates to a major save on floor space.

That transition from offset printing to digital, or even inkjet, printing… it just got a little bit more tempting.

All in all, the standards have been raised with the announcement of the Océ ImageStream 3500. We will just have to wait patiently until 2015 for its launch. For further details, check out the recent posts on WhatTheyThink? and InfoTrends.

Can Your Clients Use Digitally Printed Codes to Boost Sales?

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

I admit it. I buy Banquet sausage from time to time. (It’s not for me — really — it’s for the kids). This morning’s pre-school breakfast, however, caught my eye because ConAgra has a new promotion that seems to offer great potential in a variety of vertical markets and is highly adaptable even by small, local marketers.

ConAgra has partnered with Feeding America to make a donation equivalent to one meal to feed a hungry child every time one of its customers inputs a unique code from the back of one of its packages. The codes are input  into a special campaign website,, and each unique entry triggers an 11.1-cent donation to Feeding America, the cost to provide a child with one meal under its program.

IMG_4526This is such a great program on multiple levels.

  • It is great PR by aligning the company with a great cause
  • It encourages multiple sales of its products during the period of the promotion
  • It uses an emotional appeal (stronger than financial in many cases) to woo new customers from competitors during the period of the promotion.
  • It does a good thing regardless of the impact on its sales

This is a great way to boost sales among its own customers, too (you know ConAgra’s already loyal customers are purchasing extra packages right now, and ConAgra does, too!). Plus, if it can steal just a few of another brand’s customers during this period, the company knows that at least a few of them will stay.

How could your customers adopt this model? This might be a great opportunity to pitch digitally printed packaging to new or current customers. Even small companies could align with a local cause (a local food bank, pet shelter, or school). You set up a campaign-specific website and print unique codes on each digitally printed package.

If there are companies already making significant donations to local charities, that might be the place to start. Instead of them making a straight donation, they could use a program like this to boost sales at the same time . . . and you win the digital packaging business.


72% Marketers See Proving Marketing ROI as Critical — and Multi-Channel Is Critically Part of That

Friday, May 30th, 2014

A new Adobe study of more than 1,ooo marketers found that 72% of marketers agree that long-term success at their company is tied to return in marketing investment. That’s great news for personalized print since it’s about the metrics.

At the same time, it’s not just about print. The study also found that 61% of marketers see social media as the most critical marketing vehicle to focus on a year from now, followed closely by mobile at 51%. For printers, this means honing skills in these areas so they can offer a full multichannel platform for their customers.

Unfortunately, too much digital print remains silo-ed. In the WTT’s Digital Print Survey, only 64% of all respondents or less said that their digital printing work was part of a larger cross-media campaign for which the shop produces other print and non-print elements. Forty-four percent said that less than 10% of their digital printing work was part of a cross-media campaign.

Those elements may be produced elsewhere, of course, but from a profit perspective, you want to handle the whole package . . . and most printers are only getting a part of it.

What’s keeping you from adding social media and mobile marketing services to your mix?



What is Responsive Web Design?

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Have you ever visited your company’s website on a smartphone, tablet, or notebook? What did you think? The days of people being tethered to a desktop computer are far behind us. Consumers are moving faster than we can comprehend, and they’re using a variety of devices to consume massive amounts of information.

Is your brand ready to reach this audience? It all starts with a responsive website.

Watch the video below to learn why responsive web design is a must for your site.

Do you utilize responsive web design or have any questions? Let me know in the comments below!

Digital Print Quality Issue: Punch, Counterpunch

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

I have spent a lot of time over the past several weeks starting and moderating discussions about the output quality of digital print and different perceptions of what can be produced. It has been so interesting to hear the perspective from both sides — printer and client.

Clearly, with the right press, a skilled operator, and the willingness to properly maintain the press, you can achieve outstanding quality. But that takes time and dedicated resources, and just as clearly, not all printers always believe it’s worth it.

Consequently, for experienced designers who understand production, there is a notable divide:

In my experience, digital quality is often very dependent on the type of provider you use. For me, digital printing is pretty standard no matter the machine used, but if you work with folks who care a lot about quality, rather than speedy turnarounds, then digital can meet offset standards. But you have to have folks at the plant readily able and willing to take on the issues of banding, gradient quality, and color consistency in order to meet the offset standards. In my stable of print providers, only two are willing to go that extra distance. The rest seem to be more concerned about quick turnaround and low pricing. Which has its place, but I will always use the two printers who will give me consistent quality and work with me on my concerns for those products that require those types of things. — Name withheld [by me] to prevent inundation

This takes us to the classic dilemma. Do I focus on quality and clients willing to pay for it (even if it’s a smaller market)? Or do I go for volume for less discriminating buyers willing to accept less than the level of quality the press is capable of outputting in order to push through more volume at lower prices?

I’d love to hear some thoughts on this decision. Both are equally legitimate business decisions based on different business factors.

Which way did you choose to go and why?


Are Younger Designers Unaware of Local Printing and Support?

Sunday, May 25th, 2014

I have been stirring the pot around LinkedIn, asking questions related to digital print quality and particularly graphic designers’ and print buyers’ perceptions of what digital is capable of producing. While there are designers and print buyers who understand the full capabilities of digital production, there is still notable misperception that digital still offers more of a quick-print-quality output.

As part of those discussions, Stu Leventhal, president of Lexicon Communications (New York City) and adjunct professor – Graphic Design/Production at the Fashion Institute of Technology, made an interesting comment that I’d like to get your comments on here.

It is no secret that, in most cases, designers are not taught production in design school anymore. Consequently, young graduates may not understand the differences between production processes or even between Pantone and CMYK. They are learning on the job, and especially early in their careers, may not know the questions to ask to understand why some jobs are outputting well and others are not.

In this context, Leventhal pointed out that because younger designers often spec their print online, they may not know what they don’t know; and because they are disconnected from the process, they don’t realize that if they’d work with someone locally, they could have a partner who really invests in their education (and, consequently, their ability to output a much better quality job).

The unspoken issue today is that many young designers just know the online resources. They don’t even think to use someone local – or where there is a real person to help and advise.

So young designers may not know what they don’t know, and if they are outputting junk, they may not realize that it doesn’t have to be that way. That doesn’t benefit anyone — including the designer. This spotlights the need to encourage designers to tap into the expertise of local providers and to intensify education efforts among young designers.

Anyone have experience with this? Want to share?