Archive for the ‘Digital Printing’ Category

3D Printing in the Commercial Printing Industry: Think Dimensional Mail

Friday, April 11th, 2014

I’m stunned. I just looked back at my post on using 3D printing to drive digital printing and there are 68 shares on LinkedIn. I don’t think any post I have written — ever — has gotten that many LinkedIn shares. This tells me I’m on to something.

Part of the reason, I think, is that all of the discussions I’ve seen around 3D printing have to do with bringing existing products, services, and business models into our industry. That means discussion about whether printers should try to replicate what’s already being done, and done well, by companies that are far more entrenched and expert at it than printers are. Of course the answer to that is, “No!”

What nobody is talking about is how printers can apply the technology in a complementary way to drive more sales the products and services they already offer. That’s why I think that post resonated so much. As I discuss in the report “State of 3D Printing in the Commercial Printing Industry: 2014,” I believe 3D printing will provide significant opportunities for this industry, but most important applications will be the ones nobody has come up with yet (although I’ve proposed a few).

We are hearing many printers express concern that 3D-printed products are simply too expensive to be used in marketing campaigns, but I don’t think 3D printed products should try to compete with traditional response incentives or ad specialties. I believe 3D-printed products should be used for creating customized or personalized products (branded items), one-off products (personalized, highly unique incentives like action figures of company executives), or for ultra-short-run campaigns with a highly targeted audience.

In this, 3D printing would compete with dimensional mail. When going after corporate executives, marketers understand the value of sending a personalized box, complete with personalized marketing collateral, personalized sales letters, and personalized incentives ranging from radio-controlled cars to personalized baseballs. Now imagine a 12” action figure that looks just like the CEO of the target company staring out at the recipient (or his gatekeeper) from underneath a plastic window as part of a mailing box. I can imagine an open rate in that campaign of 100%.

So when thinking about 3D printing, forget replicating what’s already being done. Think how the technology can be applied in complementary ways to drive the business PSPs are already doing!

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 2

Wednesday, April 9th, 2014

By: Irving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In my post last week, I reviewed a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands”. Let’s consider how this article translates into the Printing Industry…

How can a company making printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others?

Here are a couple of suggestions:

  • Become comfortable with your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses – and be able to talk to your potential clients about them.  If a competitor’s equipment can generate 20-30% more copies per minute than yours, and costs the same, the client may argue that their equipment is more productive and you will lose the sale.  But if the client has post-printer finishing need that cannot be done in-line at the equipment’s rated speed the productivity premium may be eliminated.  In fact, using a “faster” print machine may create a total production time slower than your solution.
  • Understand your client’s entire workflow – See the example above.  Understanding what your client’s workflow is, from creation of a print product, through printing, finishing and even delivery, will allow you to build a solution that specifically meets your customer’s needs.  If your client is in no rush to create the booklets to send to its clients, there is no need to provide the fastest piece of print equipment.  If they need documents as quickly as possible, then identify where, in the current process (pre-print, print, finishing) there are the most problems and develop new solutions that meet the client time needs.
  • Have a solid implementation plan, and a fail-safe – Have a solid plan for equipment delivery, connection to print servers and networks, installation and testing.  If the solution is not working to the client’s expectations and requirements, have a fail-safe in place to ensure that the client’s bottom line is not negatively impacted due to your equipment or solutions issues.
  • Have training and mentoring solutions in place – We’ve all been in situations where we buy a piece of equipment or a product and then have to learn how to use it.  Using the Internet has made things a little easier, but, as an organization, do you want your customers to learn how to use your equipment by seeing what someone else does on the Internet?  Identify your client’s most important needs and requirements of the equipment and solutions you are providing and ensure they know how to use your equipment or solution to meet those needs.  Develop focus groups with other users so that they can share issues between themselves (with input from your organization) to develop new solutions they can all use.

The new world of sales is changing in this information-rich environment.  Be sure to use all of the tools your organization provides to provide your potential customers with all of the information they will need to buy your products, services and solutions.  Providing as much information as possible to your customers gives them the power they need to make decisions that meet or exceed their requirements at the most cost-effective price.

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

The End of Brands? How to Sell Equipment and Solutions in the Information Age Pt. 1

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

ByIrving Gaither – Madison Advisors

In February 2014, a New Yorker magazine article entitled “The Twilight of the Brands” identified the reasons that consumers are starting to abandon their prior reliance on brand loyalty in purchasing products.  The use of online information to shop and compare items, and to listen to other purchasers on the pluses and minuses of products is now the way most customers buy products.

For established brands, this makes selling products at a premium price an increasingly difficult thing.  If you are selling a product that is superior to other producer’s products, then you may charge a premium price.  But performance numbers are quickly matched by other producers, and often there is a number of products that are so similar that it is difficult to identify them sitting side-by-side outside of their brand names.  Past performance is no longer a selling point for many consumers; what the product is and how it performs NOW is what is critical to the purchaser.  There are two situations where this isn’t true – when the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product or where the brand confers status (think Louis Vuitton).

For the consumer, the information age means they are making better buying choices (hopefully), and competition has improved quality and lowered prices. It also means that upstart companies find it easier to compete with established producers.  If you make a product that works well at a competitive price, you will quickly become the next Asus, Roku, Hyundai or Kia.  We have gone from stable consumer markets to tumultuous ones, but if you can make a great product, the world will beat a path to your door (or store website).

Let’s look at the sales situation that is a bit outside of this “new” sales paradigm – where the quality of the brand is integral to the use of the product.  In the past, Coca Cola was a brand synonymous with this type of product.  Wherever you went around the world, if you purchased a Coca Cola, it would taste exactly the same and it would not make the consumer sick (because the water was pasteurized in the bottling process).  World travelers really built the Coca Cola brand, and as world economies improved citizens of the world had enough ready cash to buy one bottle of Coke.  Coca Cola has such a foothold in the US and other countries that they have increased market share in consumable beverages using their bottling companies if not their Coca Cola syrup to provide regional and local beverage favorites in every country they have a bottling plant.

So how can a company making copiers and printers break itself away from the pack and differentiate its solutions and services from the others? Check back next week for a couple of solutions!

Reference:  The New Yorker, Financial Page, Twilight of the Brands, by James Surowiecki.

Using 3D Printing to Drive Digital Print Marketing

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

For the last several months, I have been poking around, interviewing printers who have purchased 3D printers, reading 3D printing case studies, surveying 3D industry data, and trying to answer the question, “Is 3D printing relevant to the commercial printing industry?” The answer is yes, but not in the way I think many people believe.

One of the biggest opportunities for commercial printers, I believe, will come in using the production capabilities of these printers to drive the need for multi-channel marketing. Let me give one scenario.

Your client is a pediatric orthodontist who wants to increase his patient base, but there are several competing pediatric orthodontists in his geographic area. So you come up with an ingenious marketing plan that none of his competitors are using. You promote the dentist with a unique incentive for using his services — a 12″ action doll that looks just like the child. Then you purchase a list of households with a specific income level, with children under 18 years of age, within a specific geographic radius, and send out a postcard featuring a young girl with braces, with beaming smile, holding a 12″ action doll that looks just like her — braces and all.

Is this an expensive incentive? Yes, it is. But it’s only provided with the purchase of braces or other orthodonics. It can be printed in-house at the print shop or outsourced to a provider like ThatsMyFace.com. This model could be applied to nearly every market vertical. What incentive could be printed to encourage test drives of luxury vehicles? Or product demonstrations of high-dollar items. Say . . . a new digital printing press?

The value of 3D printing isn’t necessarily going to be in producing 3D-printed items for their own sake. It’s going to be for the larger marketing opportunities that these 3D-printed items create.

For more on 3D printing in the commercial printing industry, you can check out my article “Early 3D Adopters” in Printing Impressions or my report “The Status of 3D Printing in the Commercial Printing Industry.”

 

“We are always fans of having the medium be part of the message”

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

“We are always fans of having the medium be part of the message.”

This is a quote from Rosser Clark, creative director for the award-winning marketing firm Fixation, whom I had the privilege to interview this morning.

Fixation had produced a really interesting “exploding page” product for Reno Tahoe USA, a firm promoting trade shows and events in the Reno Tahoe area. His comments about the medium being part of the message were very interesting to me in light of the discussions these days about the relevance of print.

What makes print relevant to an audience today? It’s matching the specific, tangible characteristics of print to the right marketing goals. It’s not a “one size fits all” kind of thing. It’s strategic pairing, and the Reno Tahoe campaign illustrated this concept extremely well.

An Exploding Page (produced by Structural Graphics / Red Paper Plane) uses scores and die cuts to allow the piece to fold down into a flat square. When opened, it “explodes” into a much larger size, opening like a 360-degree fan. So like Reno Tahoe, it, too, is “a lot more than you expect.”

Exploding Page“It is more memorable than a plain sheet of paper, and their tagline is ‘Reno Tahoe:  A lot more than you know,’” says Rosser. “Likewise, this piece is a lot more than you’d think. It’s small, but huge inside. It mirrors the message really nicely. The headline on the cover also says, ‘OPEN.’ That is the message: Open your mind to Reno Tahoe. It’s also a command: Open this piece. That works nicely. The headline pays off the inside. Reno offers you a lot more than you know, and this pieces does, too!”

It’s a great example of how print offers something that no other medium can. . . and it is this kind of creative thinking that will keep print fresh and relevant in today’s burgeoning use of digital media.

By the way, the piece, which is being used as a handout at conventions, was produced in a run of just 500 copies.

Printing Is Easy, Marketing Is Hard

Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog, it’s too dark to read. —Groucho Marx

It has been said, by whom, I’m not entirely sure, that everyone has a book inside them (insert your own “Marxist” joke here), or at least everyone thinks they do. I am regularly asked by friends and colleagues, both inside and especially outside the printing industry, about how to self-publish a book. Almost universally, the questions are about the physical production and printing process (“how many pages/words do I need I need to write?” “How expensive is it?”, etc.) or how ebooks work. However, from my experience, the questions one asks about self-publishing should focus less on production and more on marketing—and even whether there is an audience at all for the book you want to write.

There are success stories, of course. The 50 Shades of Gray franchise (to my horror, I discovered too late that it had nothing to do with color management) is perhaps the emblematic example of the self-publishing experiment that was enough of a hit to lead to mainstream publishing success. (Imagine, erotica being a saleable commodity. Who’d’a thunk it?)

Regular WhatTheyThink readers may know (or be in denial about the fact that) that Dr. Joe Webb and I have co-written and self-published almost half a dozen books (see in particular here, as well as here, here, here, and here), and the half-dozenth is on the drawing board—and, no, will not be called 128 Levels of Gray and will not chronicle the erotic adventures of a prepress department manager. The one thing that we have learned in our self-publishing adventures is that production, printing, and even writing all comprise the easy part of the self-publishing process. Today’s digital and on-demand printing technologies make it easy and inexpensive to publish your own books, and services like Amazon and Lulu, to name two that we have used, handle both the physical production and offer an online storefront for a book. But that is, again, only the smallest of first steps.

Some serious questions and considerations to ponder before even setting finger to keyboard include:

  • What is the real market for the book? Be honest. What is the competition like? Do your due diligence. Search Amazon, Barnes & Noble—even venture to the nearest physical bookstore to see what books may exist on your topic. You may very well be entering a very crowded or even saturated market—even if you have a unique take on a well-trodden topic—and being self-published is one major strike against you if your closest competition is from an established publishing company.
  • Is there a lot of free competition? Our recent book is The Home Office That Works!, about setting up a productive home office, and while there are few published titles (that we found) that cover the topic the way we did (most are about launching a specific home business), but we discovered after the fact that there are a lot of blogs and online articles about various aspects of running a home office. It’s strewn piecemeal all over the Internet, but a challenge is getting people to buy something they can probably search out and get for free. If I were to write a book offering tips for prospective self-publishers, I would be in trouble because of blogposts like this one.
  • Do you have a promotional/marketing apparatus already in place? That is, are you a fairly well-known speaker in your industry and can use speaking gigs as marketing tools for the book (and/or vice versa)? When we published Disrupting the Future in 2010, it hit enough of a nerve in the industry that it led to Joe and I getting speaking gigs that, in turn, promoted the book. It helped that we were known quantities (for better or worse) in the industry.
  • How popular are you on social media? I’ll get in trouble for saying this, but I think social media has become vastly overrated as a marketing and publicity tool, but that’s not to say it is not without value. Are you active enough in these areas or do you—like me, I hasten to add—have to be dragged kicking and screaming into social media? If you are like me (and my thoughts and prayers go out to you), do you know someone who can do your social media stuff for you?

Self-publishing is not as looked down upon as the old vanity publishers of yore, but there is still a stigma attached to it, as in “you couldn’t get a real publisher, could you”—even though all the questions you should ask yourself before self-publishing are the same as you should ask before seeking out any publisher.

Digital printing technology has truly enabled the small, independent, or self-publisher—but that really is only the beginning of the process.

Super-Cool Fold of the Week!

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Brace yourselves for the most amazing feat of direct mail and digital print. This week’s selection was a spectacular find from HP’s DScoop Conference in Orlando. From Motioncutter in Germany and printed on an HP Indigo press, this pop-up self-mailer has an exciting secret – high-speed variable laser-cutting with personalization! Yes, imagine a different, highly-detailed laser cut name in EVERY mailpiece, produced at speeds of up to 6,500 per hour. Skeptical? You can watch their demo video, too. Mind = blown.

 

Are in-plants up to speed on offering cross-media marketing services?

Monday, March 17th, 2014

Although cross-media marketing services are becoming more prevalent amongst print and communications partner providers, we in the print industry have yet to discuss how this evolution affects in-house, or in-plant, offerings. Last week, Canon Solutions America sponsored an InPlantGraphics webinar surrounding the question at hand: How are in-plants making the cross-media connection? Barbara Pellow, Group Director at InfoTrends, offers key background information on how in-plants are moving up the value chain and provides a breakdown of planned market investments for 2014. This overview could not have been more appropriately complemented by the examples of leading edge solutions from one of the industry’s most progressive in-plants at The World Bank. Both David Leonard, Manager of Printing & Multimedia Services, and Jimmy Vainstein, Printing Facility Manager, pose important questions and review a business model in transforming a print-focused in-plant to a full service, cross-media solutions provider.

We know having a broad range of services and capabilities, price point, and speedy turnaround time are at the top of everyone’s vendor criteria wish list. But the kicker surrounds what types of services are provided to connect with the 2014 target audience. In an InfoTrends survey, mobile marketing, multi-channel integrated marketing, web hosting, and web design services trump that wish list. This by no means comes as a surprise given the direction of communications trends and increased digital access. Barbara drives home the point: “This market is in transition. It’s an evolution, not a revolution.” The winners in this evolving market are going to figure out how to make paper interactive, how to extend value of media, and how to create solutions that are easily measurable.

That might sound like a complicated process, but really it boils down to first understanding what options are out there. For example, four ways to make print interactive include:

  1. Mobile codes – example: QR code, which links to web address
  2. Mobile messaging – example: text message containing discount receipt instructions
  3. NFC Tags – example: printed poster containing tag, which links to mobile web offer
  4. Augmented Reality – example: printed brochure, which links to digital expanded version

Knowing these channels, understanding a client’s needs, and investing in the proper software and print solutions will make for a seamless transition.

There is tremendous room for growth in most in-plants. InfoTrends highlights that the majority of in-plants foresee a stable or increase in overall revenue thanks to strategic software purchases and a re-vamped business model. As Dave and Jim explain, these investments strengthen the goal of knowledge sharing while delivering cutting edge, multi-channel communications solutions. Their business model explanation and examples successful communications pieces drive home the fact that in-plants can provide equally—if not more-so—competitive solutions.

For more insight and key questions to consider from Dave and Jim, be sure to check out the full webinar:

 

Marketers Are Focusing on Acquisition Budgets: Are You?

Friday, March 14th, 2014

Target Marketing just announced its “2014 Media Usage Survey,” and while folks might be scrambling to analyze the growth in budgets and ratios of print to digital spending, the nugget I found most interesting was this: marketers — your customers — are planning to spend more on customer acquisition than customer retention in 2014.

Considering that most marketers reported either increasing their marketing budgets or holding them steady this year, this data spells very good news for MSPs. Just as valuable, however, is knowing that marketers plan to spend more of those budgets on customer acquisition. This tells you where to focus and craft your pitch.

B-to-B marketers foresee a 45% rise in acquisition budgets, but only 30% are increasing retention. It’s similar for B-to-C (42% vs. 34%) and both (40% vs. 33%). A couple years ago, marketers were playing defense and increasing retention spending. This year, they appear to be back on the hunt to increase market share.[1]

How does this help you?

  • Talk to customers about the shift in marketing climate. If their competitors are spending more on acquisition, that means your clients need to be prepared. Competitors are going after their customers harder than ever. This is an opportunity to talk to your customers about expanding their own budgets.
  • Develop new strategies and relationships for list acquisition and refinement, profiling, and cloning. Help your customers do what their competitors are doing — going after someone else’s customers.
  • Expand your capabilities in the areas of unusual finishes, folds, and bindings, all of those things that make the components of your clients’ marketing campaigns stand out. You always meant to do that but never had time. Now is the time to do it.
  • Add new suppliers if necessary. Be willing to spend the time experimenting with new mailing formats, the effect of colored substrates and envelopes, on-envelope personalization, and other elements so you’re ready to roll.  This is a customer acquisition environment now. Eye candy is more important than ever.
  • Become comfortable with selling and implementing A/B testing. As the competitive environment heats up, your clients need to be focusing on what really works (not what they think works). The more you can help them, the more valuable you become as a marketing partner.

Finally, be ready to switch it up to customer retention strategies if the data changes next year!

 

Canon Solutions America Celebrates 2013 and Unveils 2014 Progress

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014

As a linguist, I am fascinated by the art of institutional ‘storytelling’. The narratives of a company make up its history, business plan, mission, and yearly goals. They shape relationships with their audience, like their partners, customers, the media, as well as other stakeholders. Stories essentially showcase the work and structure of a company, and that is exactly what was celebrated at Canon Solutions America in Delray Beach, FL in early February.

At a press and analyst 3-day event, industry leaders came together to celebrate the anniversary of Canon and Océ’s integration and to learn about their 2014 direction. Executives offered updates on the company’s progress to journalists and analysts, a panel of customers discussed the role that Canon technology played in their success, and visitors saw CSA technology in action at the company’s Customer Experience Center.

With their newly integrated infrastructure, production sales, service, and support organizations, CSA reached $1.7 billion in revenue in 2013. President and CEO Toyotsugu Kuwamura cited a $2 billion target by 2016. A number of presentations unveiled how this growth will be achieved: through the strengthening of existing and newly formed partnerships.

“Over the course of 2013, we’ve partnered with every single paper mill in the United States of America,” said Francis McMahon, Vice President of Marketing for Production Print Solutions. This expansive industry partnership lead to the decision to open North America’s first media lab designed for live testing across inkjet and toner-based products. Opened on March 1st, the lab will provide CSA the capacity to work with all paper mills to test even more sheets with more inks. “When a customer calls, we want to be able to quickly and effectively assess their needs and objectives and provide them a solution,” said Kris Albee, Marketing Director of Production Print Solutions. “Our collaboration with the mills in developing, testing, and optimizing new products and formulations gives us the first-hand insight to do just that.”

Additionally, CSA recently invited its media partners to participate in an industry-first effort to develop a global, vendor-neutral inkjet media catalog. The result is a best-in-class tool that allows the user to examine all of the paper products qualified for Océ inkjet platforms. “Both our partners and our customers have been asking for a tool like this, but no one’s been able to bring the parties together before,” stated Albee. Along with the catalog, CSA will continue to collaborate with the launch of a CSA User Group Committee and a second advisory council, known as the Digital Print Advisory Council (DPAC).

CSA’s 2014 direction fosters win-win opportunities for all parties involved, especially for their customers and partners. It will be interesting to see how these innovative, collaborative efforts revolutionize the print industry all together. For further insight, especially regarding product reviews, check out PODi Insights account here.

Solving a Problem with 3D Printing: Part 2

Friday, February 28th, 2014

Last Friday, I posted about my experiment with Hudson Printing to solve a real-life problem using 3D printing.  The problem is that my mother’s beloved Elna sewing machine had a worn gear, rendering it useless. For years, my mother has bemoaned its loss. Now perhaps for the first time, there is a solution — thanks to 3D printing.

3D printing offers the promise of being able to print parts like you print a piece of direct mail. Just slower. . . on a different substrate . . . and in three dimensions. Is this a service printers can realistically offer? We decided to find out.

Last I posted, the next step was sending the part to Hudson Printing and awaiting questions from the designer. It turns out, that was not the next step. The next step was removing the gear from the sewing machine, which turned out to be a lot more difficult than expected. This was not an at-home job, so in order for the part to be created, the machine had to be taken to the sewing machine repair shop to be removed first.

Then the questions started coming.

  1. What if there is more wrong with the sewing machine than just the worn gear? What if, after going to the time and expense of having the gear professionally removed, even the most perfect recreation doesn’t solve the sewing machine’s ills?
  2. Will the substrate used to create the part be of sufficient strength to do its job? That may not be known until the part is removed, mailed, designed, printed, mailed back, and professionally reinstalled.
  3. Will the part be within the necessary tolerances to work together with all of the other machinery in the sewing machine? Again, to be determined.

These are the questions we are wrestling with right now.

The fact that discovery has stalled our little experiment reminds me of a comment made by Burke Jones, owner of The UPS Store in Kearny Mesa, CA, which does a high level of consumer business on its Stratysys uprint. The printer stays busy with both consumer and professional (engineer / prototype designer) work, but he called the front counter sales process “a black hole of time” because of all inquiries, unrealistic projects, and hand-holding that comes with 3D printing in a storefront model. It tells me that discovery may end up being as much a challenge, as not more of a challenge, for printers as 3D design.

Has anyone here recreated machine parts on a 3D printer, either as a supplier or a consumer? If so, was it successful? What were the issues, if any?

Stop the Personalization Snobbery!

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014

A funny thing happened to me today. I received a postcard in the mail, and I was unbelievably impressed by the targeting. I couldn’t believe how timely and relevant this mailing was.

We are in the process of moving across town, and part of the logistics of selling this home and moving into a new one may require temporary storage of some of our belongings. Just today, in fact, I had been thinking about PODs as the perfect solution to the challenge.

I opened the mailbox this afternoon, and guess what was staring at me? A postcard from PODs! Perfect! How did they know? What algorithms were they using that allowed them to be so precisely targeted — not just in the recipient base but in the timing? I was intrigued. I looked at the mailing label.

“Dear Resident . . .”

I had to laugh. Yesterdays’ blogger Richard Romano has called this “serendipity marketing.” Others call it “spray and pray.”

While we like to be personalization snobs, you know what? Sometimes it works. When using programs like the USPS’s Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) program, it’s also dirt cheap.  It would only take rental of two or three PODs in the entire township to cover the postage and printing of this mailing. Anything else is a bonus.

While we promote personalized, relevance-based print marketing, it’s important to remember that undifferentiated direct mail works, too. There is a reason direct mail has been the bedrock of direct marketing for decades . . . even before personalized printing came to town.

 

Can Social Media and Direct Mail Merge Seamlessly?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

“Social media isn’t a fad, and I think we can all accept that,” said moderator Barbara Pellow, Group Director of InfoTrends, in January’s webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America.

This we know: social media isn’t a new trend. It has an established yet evolving role within the marketing sector. So the question becomes, how does the print industry integrate social media into traditional marketing pieces, like direct mail, to offer optimal customer outreach?

Renée Hall, VP of Business Development at Dukky, and John Ortiz, Director of Operations and Sales at Your Preferred Printer, give an overview and case-study examples of successful, seamless integrations. The speakers touch on strategies and software tools for merging social media with direct mail, which ultimately bolster a client’s network and increase bottom line sales.

Let’s consider the facts. When 1000+ enterprises were surveyed in 2013, social networks were cited as the number one area in which media usage will increase. In addition, 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to a digital channel in order to reach broader audiences and boost response rates.

Now, how are these social networks leveraged?

In order to answer this question, printers must first start by defining their business altogether. Hall finds that most printers have either transitioned to become full marketing agencies with in-house printing capabilities, or they now characterize themselves as a ‘printer+’. As a printer+, the business presents itself as a traditional printer, but integrates online, digital components to complement mail pieces. “Embrace new technology, keep and expand your services, provide tools for measurement and analytics, and leverage what already exists” are just some of Hall’s suggestions for success.

After updating the business approach, printers must next consider the new role of direct mail. It’s no longer a one-way, exposure-oriented form of communication; rather, it’s an entry point to cultivate a conversation and gather information. Take Hall’s Chick-Fil-A example: 5,000 mailers were sent out to gather demographic information of potential customers and to inform them of the branch’s opening. The postcards featured free food promotions that required online validation. Once online, customers were prompted to take a short, information-gathering survey. Once completed, they were able to receive the promotion and “share” the offer within their social network. On opening day, 14,000 customers walked through the branch’s doors. 20% of which accredited the decision to the direct mailer and it’s online component ‘call-to-action’.

Sounds like one successful way to get customers engaged, mobilized and excited. For more examples of seamless integrations and for the complete list of tips, check out the recorded webinar here:


 

 

How Pizza Changed the B2B Customer Mindset

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014

Post provided by IWCO Direct. 

We all know that technology continues to transform the ways companies serve consumers at a rapid pace. But have you thought about how these new conveniences are changing the mindset of B2B customers? One of the most noticeable changes is how access to real-time, detailed information in peoples’ personal lives is also becoming an expectation in their professional lives.

Shoes Shipped Fast; Pizza Personalized; Forget the Taxi

Maybe this change started with shoes. The Zappos mantra of exceptional service in the form of selection and delivery times moved the expectations bar higher. Then Friday night pizza delivery morphed from a phone call to a mouse click or screen swipe. Order pizza online at Domino’s and you can choose olives on the left or right and know who’s making it. Then the “Dominos Tracker” allows you to watch your pizza move through various stages of production with a notification when it’s left the store. It’s a similar situation when you want to avoid the hassle of hailing a cab. When you order car service through an app like Uber, you can see the fare and precisely how long until your car arrives. And like your pizza, all large shipping companies, including the Postal Service, provide the ability to track a package you shipped or a product you ordered along its delivery route to its final destination. These consumer experiences, and many more, are transforming how customers expect to be served in business settings.

Changing with the Changing Mindset

This nearly instant access to information has shifted the mindset of the B2B customer. They want – and need – a similar level of transparency on the status of complex projects and transactions, in as close to real-time as possible. At IWCO Direct we’ve noticed this changing mindset. We are streamlining our workflow processes with tools that add value and make it easy to do business with us. But we’re not stopping there. We’re transforming our customer experience model and production processes. By enhancing our digital workflow, we will give our customers more robust views into the status of their jobs, along with the tools they need to make their job easier.

All of this is being implemented with the understanding that every individual action collectively creates the customer experience. From accounting to the production floor, we all play a role. As you can imagine, this is quite the undertaking. We’re very excited about how it will transform the experience for our customers and more fully engage our employees. We plan to share updates on our progress and additional insights in the coming months, so please check back often.

You can read more posts like this on the IWCO Speaking Direct Blog. 

Blog Author: Pat Deck
Executive Vice President of Customer Experience and graduate of The Citadel and the Naval Postgraduate School. Bringing the “work hard, play hard” philosophy to IWCO Direct for nearly five years. Commissioned Officer of the U.S. Navy, music and travel lover and Chicago Bears fan. 

Meet the Niagara

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

“Exhilarating and fast” is how VP of Marketing Francis McMahon describes the integration of Canon and Océ in his PRINT-13 interview with Mark Michelson of Printing Impressions magazine. In the interview, McMahon explains how the integration of the two companies allows them to do more for customers than ever before. Joint R&D, funding, training, programming, and the addition of new leadership have heightened the speed at which CSA successfully brings solutions to market. Hear for yourself what McMahon has to say…

Among the many exciting 2014 products, did you catch the name of one of the industry’s first cutsheet inkjet device?!

Meet the Niagara. “Exhilarating and fast” is also one way to categorize this high-volume sheetfed color inkjet press. Revolutionary to the print industry itself, the Niagara features a patented four-color ink system (with a planned future extension of up to six stations) that will produce at a speed of 3,800 duplex B3 sheets per hour and up to 8,500 duplex letter-sized sheets per hour, with a monthly volume of up to 10 million letter sheets per month. The Niagara consolidates sheetfed black-and-white and color workflows on to one production printing system, which ultimately streamlines print jobs and can reduce overall operating costs. One of the most exciting and celebrated features of this product surrounds its ability to leverage many already existing in-line finishing options. The ultimate combination of speed, efficiency, quality, and consistency. Look out for the Niagara at the end of 2014 and early on the 2015 market!

Interested in learning more? Check out the full press release here