Archive for the ‘Digital Printing’ Category

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

Canon Solutions America Hosts Sales Meeting, Talks Digital Adoption

Monday, February 3rd, 2014

Post provided by IWCO Direct. 

I recently had the honor of being invited to be a guest speaker at Canon’s annual sales meeting. Presenting at the enormous MGM Grand in Las Vegas was quite an experience. My topic was the growth of color digital printing in the direct mail space with a specific focus on how our customers are using the technology and why IWCO Direct chose Canon Solutions America.

I took the opportunity to explain, from a customer perspective, the advantages and disadvantages of CSA’s equipment, as well as areas that need improvement. My presentation was followed by a spirited Q&A session. It was a great opportunity for IWCO Direct to provide CSA with customer insight on their products.

Digital Explosion Continues

The biggest takeaway from this year’s sales meeting was how quickly the adoption of color digital printing technology has accelerated in the past 18 months. As well as direct mail, book printing and packaging are also leaping into digital printing. This technology is evolving so rapidly that supporting disciplines, such as consumables (ink and paper) and workflow (software tools), are scrambling to keep pace and support the process. That’s why IWCO Direct works collaboratively with all our vendors supporting the digital print process to ensure they stay in sync with our changing needs and with each other.

Support for Our Troops

My favorite part of the meeting was participating in CSA’s team building exercise. We not only assembled 500 care packages (consisting of toiletries and personal care items) for our troops stationed abroad, we also listened to servicemen and women speak about receiving care packages and what it means to receive support from back home. There was also a Marine Color Guard, which opened the activity with the Pledge of Allegiance. It was an outstanding event.

TPAC Committee Update

In December I completed my term on CSA’s inaugural Transactional Print Advisory Council (TPAC) committee. It was an excellent experience. Not only did the TPAC team make an impact on CSA’s approach to the design and functionality of the ColorStream equipment line, it also shaped their approach to color digital printing as a whole.

I have also been asked to join a newly-formed customer steering team, which will provide input to CSA on a variety of issues. This team will allow IWCO Direct the opportunity to interact with CSA senior management, engineering and marketing to express our ideas and recommendations on all areas of our partnership and business relationship. Canon has demonstrated they take our input seriously, which has made our participation very rewarding.

Our first big event is a soon-to-be-formed customer user conference. This conference will provide CSA customers a wide variety of opportunities for input and education. Our first meeting will be in April. Stay tuned for more information.

Overall we had a great time in Las Vegas. We’re excited about the direction of our partnership with Canon Solutions America and the efforts being made by the TPAC committee to shape the future of digital printing. It’s also encouraging that CSA is so eager to listen to its customers and make changes based on their feedback.

You can catch more from Dave Johannes on IWCO Speaking Direct Blog

Blog Author: Dave Johannes
Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations. Richland College and Greenville Technical College. IWCO Direct team member for more than seven years. 35-year veteran of the Industry. Graphic Communications Innovator Award and Allan J. Williamson Continuous Improvement Award winner. Personal business philosophy: “Provide leadership based on the principles and courage required to live the change and drive the results we strive for.” Loves wine tastings and cooking with his wife. Texas Rangers fan.

Geico Botches Direct Mail Personalization

Saturday, January 25th, 2014

It’s become part of our national consciousness . . . “Mike, Mike, Mike! What day is it? HUMP D-A-A-A-A-Y!!!”  It’s the Geico camel and his ridiculous waddle through the office. “Hump D-A-A-A-A-Y!” has become one of those brand phrases that become incorporated into our daily speech.

IMG_3048That’s why when this letter showed up in our mailbox, it had such promise. The familiar “Mike, Mike, Mike” replaced with “John, John, John” and the familiar camel staring at me across the envelope.

Unfortunately for Geico, there is no John here. It’s a quirk related to our former address. John is my father-in-law’s name, and it seems that the list never got cleaned.

Personalization should have really worked here. Unfortunately, when you get a name wrong — especially on the outside of the envelope — it’s not a good marketing tactic.

There are techniques to clean up messes like this before they happen. People move all the time, and there are tactics for identifying and removing duplicate names within a defined geographic radius.

If your clients are purchasing lists for producing personalized prospect mailings, work with someone who knows the pitfalls of purchased data and how to avoid common mistakes. When embarrassments like these get avoided, you look like the hero and your client doesn’t look like the heel.

PODi reviews PRISMAprepare

Thursday, January 23rd, 2014

PODi recently independently reviewed the Canon Océ PRISMAprepare workflow suite and authored case studies and product briefings on these workflow solutions. The overview from PODi:

“Canon’s Oce PRISMAprepare simplifies and streamlines document make-ready processes to efficiently compile, correct, personalize and program print applications. This includes various layout and tab programming, spine printing, color splitting and releasing to production presses. While it can be integrated with other software packages, PRISMAprepare can also be used as a completely self-contained stand-alone make-ready solution.”

PODi completed their analysis by posting a series of podcasts reviewing PRISMAprepare capabilities including:
• Document Editing
• Page and Image Editing
• Personalization
• Make-ready Automation

For more information – visit PODi’s site here.

Stay Ahead of the Curve with Automated Web-to-Print Solutions

Monday, January 20th, 2014

Want to learn how to keep your print services on top within the fast-paced marketing community? If so, InfoTrends’ Kate Dunn offers insight and recommendations on how to adapt and automate print services for your clients. Sponsored by the PressGo program of Canon Solutions America, this webinar gives you the information needed to bolster your online business.

You might be asking, “What are some of the web-based market models out there?” For starters, there is the standard Ad-hoc Send-and-Print, which most printers already have in place. This allows the customer to upload a single file, receive a cost estimate, and send the file to print. The Catalog and Template based models mainly surround business communications, sales and marketing collateral, and direct mail, which are customizable to certain degrees. The holy grail of models is Process Automation, which integrates an enhanced supply chain with fully customizable print ordering.

OK, let’s apply a model to a real-life scenario. With an automated template process system, a realtor can sign-in online, choose a business card template, select copy that pertains to his property sales pitch, send the card to print, as well as have the business cards packaged, postmarked, and mailed to recipients. Accomplished all in a series of clicks without having to juggle communications with a number of service providers.

Let’s review: why are automated print services so important? Well, InfoTrends predicts that 40% of all printed materials will be procured over the Internet in the coming year. Customers are asking for automation services in order to streamline their supply-chain and maximize profits. In short, web-based automation adds value for both you and your clients. Today’s marketing supply chain consists of multiple, interconnected suppliers that an organization relies on to produce materials (print, promotional, and point-of-sale) to market their products and services. It’s astonishing, however, that 70% of businesses surveyed have no way to track or predict obsolescence within their supply chain. The last thing any client wants is a loss of control over their brand! That’s where a web-based approach is applied to fix the gap. Some of the benefits include: customer access 24/7, increased print accuracy, reduced customer service workloads, and enhanced volume production. Sounds like a nicely packaged offer to me.

If you want the complete list of benefits, the stats, and further insight into web-to-print solutions, view the webinar here:

Another Great Stat for Promoting 1:1 Printing

Tuesday, January 14th, 2014

Are you keeping a log of stats for promoting 1:1 printing over online alternatives? One of the categories of stats I keep seeing recently is how a high percentage of online targeting is completely mistargeted.

Most recently, Blue Research noted that not only is online advertising mistargeted, but consumers are getting so irritated by irrelevant advertising that they are abandoning the brands doing it.

Here’s the latest:

96% of consumers report receiving mistargeted information or promotions. While that’s not new, many are so fed up that they are abandoning brands as a result. [1]

Sure, there is the occasional database mess-up in 1:1 printing, but overall, targeting in print is highly accurate. The contrast with online mistargeting can create a powerful impression on customers thinking of reducing print volume in favor of electronic alternatives.

[1] 2014 Consumer Research: Social Login and Personalization (Blue Research 2014)

Interested in Learning about NFC Tags?

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Happy New Year to all! Now is a time to make resolutions and innovate. For those of us in the print industry, one of our resolutions likely involves making traditional print more interactive.

In this Printing Impressions webinar sponsored by Canon Solutions America, moderator Lisa Cross talks about where Near Field Communication (NFC) tags fit in accomplishing this goal. If you’re like me and you’ve wondered what NFC Tags are – this is the place to learn. This webinar defines NFC technologies, shows how they are creatively implemented, and provides statistics from recent studies of their success.

Let’s jump to the content. Lisa introduces Matthew Bright, the Chair of NFC Forum’s Retail Special Interest Group and the Technical Marketing Director of Kovio, who focuses on the importance of NFC technology and provides examples of its use. To complement Matthew’s expertise, Nate Mullikin and Jill Krueger from Corporate Graphics International tell their company story and provide interesting examples of print interactive products and solutions.

To set the scene, Lisa highlights how technologies have emerged to combine traditional print and digital media to maximize the communication experience; a combination referred to as ‘tradigital’. Like most of us know, the key challenge in navigating the tradigital space is reaching an audience that now has control over the media they consume. In an Infotrends study, Lisa points out that 47% of printed marketing materials were linked to online and digital channels. Specifically, mobile use is the fastest growing channel within spending distribution. Therefore, a market for NFC solutions exists to cut through the communication clutter and to make strategic connections throughout campaigns.

Building off of Lisa’s introduction, Matthew describes how NFC is a ‘magical technology’ for interactive print. There are three main cases of NFC use, but the focus of this presentation surrounds the ‘touch to learn more’ concept. The ‘tags’–or stickers—connect printed material to multimedia content uploaded onto the cloud. The stickers can be adhered to posters, mailings, and even embedded into product packaging. For example, with a NFC sticker on a wine bottle, the consumer can then touch his or her phone to the tag, which links to tasting tips and optimal meal pairings on an online interface. It takes a view from print to digital in mere seconds.

Nate and Jill add to the discussion by citing how Taylor Company has adopted the use of NFC technologies in the solutions they provide their clients. From networking with customized business cards to the creation of interactive digital booklets & registries, NFC technologies offer an enhanced gameification of brand, product, and services.

This blog really just touches the surface of NFC technology. Take a deeper dive and be sure to check out the webinar here:


 

Looking forward to 2014!

Thursday, December 19th, 2013

Every year, I like to think of my trip to PRINT/Graph Expo as a preview of what the coming year will bring. This year, we asked Madison Advisors to jot down their notes about what PRINT indicates will be big in 2014. Here is what they offered:

According to Madison Advisors, expect to see growth in digital color continuing through 2014. The firm’s recent engagements have shown an increase in production color printers in both in-plants and service bureaus. Outsourced print providers without high volume color capabilities are reviewing the market for the best solution to meet the needs of existing and new client opportunities. Most understand the need to have the color devices in place when bidding on color jobs as the learning curve is too great to take an “if they come, we’ll build it” approach. Creative sales approaches are needed to get these placements so the service bureaus can control their capital expenses while building volume.

Madison Advisors is also forecasting growth for outsourced customer communications platforms. As the IT department at more than one large company has observed, it is increasingly difficult to hire, train, motivate, and retain skilled IT professionals in the area of document composition. When the guy next to you is working on a cool mobile application, it’s tough to get excited about putting dots on paper. As a result, we see an increasing number of companies outsourcing their document implementations and ongoing operation to external vendors.

Custom packaging and product labeling is a growth area for commercial printers and there were a number of products at PRINT 13 geared toward this, again, many inkjet-based. The opportunity here is two-fold. For the printer, digital packaging printing allows them to respond quickly to changes in labeling from their clients. Short runs can now be profitable as you can print fully customized single units. For the marketing manager, digital printing of packaging and product labeling allows them to customize the messaging on each product to a specific micro market or respond to an outside event with special packaging.

The message from PRINT 13 was that color digital print is the future and the industry is prepared to deliver solutions to streamline the production process. Printer vendors are investing in new print technology, software providers are taking what they have learned over the years and investing in new solutions that are more user-friendly and easier to support. 2014 will be an interesting year as these new print solutions get into the hands of users and we can see if they deliver on the hype.

Convergence to Digital Inkjet Shifts to Hamburg Facility

Monday, December 16th, 2013

This morning we announced the expansion of our digital platform with the installation of an Océ ColorStream® 3900 at our Hamburg, Pa. facility. As the news release referenced, and as Joe Morrison noted in a recent post, the next 12 months will mark a period of aggressive investment in digital inkjet technology. This strategy will capitalize on the convergence to digital that is reshaping the direct mail industry.

Our customers have experienced eye-opening results using highly targeted and personalized campaigns that only digital print technology can produce. In some cases this equates to double or triple-digit lift in response rates. But that’s not the only benefit they’re experiencing. Using the single-stream optimization that digital technology allows also lowers their postage cost. We will expand on how our digital technology impacts postage in an upcoming article. Digital print technology also powers cross-channel campaigns by making it easier for print communication to connect consumers to online channels.

Harnessing the power of digital print technology does require an adjustment from marketers and their design team, however. If you’d like more background on what we mean, please read some of the content we’ve developed that relates specifically to digital printing.

We will be making more investments in the coming months, as we’re intensely focused on having the best digital platform in the direct marketing industry. If you have any questions about our digital capabilities or designing for digital, please feel free to contact our Sales or Creative Services teams.

Post by Jim Anderson of IWCO Direct. Chief Executive Officer and graduate of American University in Washington D.C. Bringing the “we versus me” philosophy to IWCO Direct for nearly 15 years. 2010 Harry V. Quadracci VISION award winner from the Printing Industries of America and 2008 Printing Impressions/RIT Printing Industry Hall of Fame inductee. Avid golfer and NY Football Giants fanatic. 

To see more, visit http://www.iwco.com/blog/

Personalized URLs: In-House Lists Vs. Prospecting Lists

Friday, December 13th, 2013

On Tuesday, I wrote a post about the changes in perception and expectations regarding personalized URLs. I’ve gotten some great feedback, including a comment I’d like to share here.

Many see anything interactive like a PURL as being a trip to nowhere except a hundred more emails a month, and more telemarketing calls.  It takes time to separate the legitimate benefit from previous pratfalls.

I totally agree with this. In fact, it’s why I have listed as one of the best practices for personalized URLs as using an in-house list rather than a prospecting list. In-house lists naturally come with a higher level of trust.

An exception would be prospecting lists in which respondents want ongoing contact from the marketer. A classic example comes from the Zeiterion Theater (whose case study can be found in PODI’s case study archive). It created a profile of the ideal patron, then sent a prospecting campaign to the desired demographic and invited them to log into a personalized URL for a chance to win free theater tickets. Even if respondents didn’t win, they responded because they were interested in theater and were most likely wanting and expecting additional and ongoing contact.

But the issue of not responding because of concern about unsolicited telemarketing calls is a very legitimate one and one of the reasons that in-house lists can be a more effective channel.

What’s your experience? Do you encourage clients to use in-house lists? Or do you use personalized URLs for prospecting? If so, how do you get around this perception?

What’s the State of Personalized URLs?

Tuesday, December 10th, 2013

Once or twice a year, I update my educational reports and brandable white papers on a variety of topics related to digital printing and personalization. Recently, I updated the one on personalized URLs. What stood out to me?

How mainstream they’ve become. Years back, I remember regularly writing blog posts and articles on how personalized URLs were being unfairly criticized as under-performing in comparison to other personalization techniques. It wasn’t because they didn’t “work.” It was because expectations were unrealistic and they were being used improperly. (Sound familiar? Can you say “QR Codes”?)

I talked about how personalized URLs were not campaigns in themselves, but simple response mechanisms used for the right campaigns to achieve specific marketing goals. I talked about how success campaigns using personalized URLs were often (not always, but very often) being sent to in-house lists, not prospecting lists, and how critical targeting and segmentation were to success.

It really struck me how I don’t write about that anymore. In fact, response rates for personalized URLs and full personalization are equalizing, but not for the reasons one might think.

The ear-tickling answer is that people have figured out personalized URLs and response rates are rising to the level of the super-successful, full-blown 1:1 personalization, but that’s not true. It’s because expectations for what full-blown 1:1 personalization can do on a day in, day out basis are becoming more realistic.

When I first started writing on these topics, campaigns had to be getting response rates in the 20-30% range before they were deemed article-worthy. Today, they have become sufficiently mainstream and the focus has sufficiently switched to ROI that even single-digit response rate campaigns are written about when they are highly profitable. Response rates matters less now than conversion rate and ROI.

That’s good news for personalized URLs, which had a bad rap for a long time. But it’s really good news for everybody because it means, not that the personalized URL market is maturing, but that marketers’ understanding and expectations of these applications is.

What’s your opinion? What do YOU think is the defining change in this marketplace?

Digital Printing Technology In Action

Tuesday, November 19th, 2013

Last week, IWCO Direct President Joe Morrison described how the dramatic shift toward digital printing technology is driving IWCO Direct’s investment strategy. This technology increases relevance of marketing communications, makes cross-channel integration easier and allows for integration of Big Data into direct mail campaigns – all of which drives stronger ROI for our customers. And if PRINT 13 was any indication, it truly is the future of our industry. Today I’d like to offer a hands-on look at our latest digital printing technology. We’re excited about our new presses and hope you enjoy seeing them in action.

 

Blog Author – Dave Johannes
Vice President of Digital Print and Mailing Operations. Richland College and Greenville Technical College. IWCO Direct team member for more than seven years. 35-year veteran of the Industry. Graphic Communications Innovator Award and Allan J. Williamson Continuous Improvement Award winner. Personal business philosophy: “Provide leadership based on the principles and courage required to live the change and drive the results we strive for.” Loves wine tastings and cooking with his wife. Texas Rangers fan.

This post is provided by IWCO – see more from their blog Speaking Direct

Coupon Nirvana! Weis Learns from Kroger

Friday, November 15th, 2013

Recently, I wrote about being teased and left disappointed when CVS claimed to be offering personalized coupons and discounts for loyalty members, but as it turned out, it was only for online offers. What I wanted was personalized coupons in print.

With print, you know what you’re getting. You don’t have to sign up for anything to receive the discount. You don’t have to wonder what marketing gimmick you’ll have to try to identify and avoid, how closely you’ll have to read the fine print to avoid signing up for something else you didn’t want, and all that. You just take the coupon and use it. As a loyalty card member, that’s what I deserve, right?

Guess what I got in the mail yesterday? My grocery store, Weis, is now offering personalized coupons  . . . in print! They have taken a tip from Kroger, which started personalizing coupons earlier this year, and my local Weis store is now doing the same.

In my mailbox was what appeared to be the same booklet of tear-out coupons I’m used to receiving, but this time, it said “personalized” on the cover. I opened it, and sure enough, there were no more coupons for products I have never purchased. Instead, there were coupons for coffee creamer, whole grain breads, seasoning grinders, and even fresh meats and vegetables. Now that’s exciting! The trend toward truly personalized coupons is growing, and it’s moving into print.

Loyalty programs offer tremendous opportunities for your customers to provide value to their customers, and personalized coupons is yet another way to add to that value while providing you with opportunities to increase your print volumes at the same time.

Are your clients using personalized coupons? If so, how?

Who’s Not Communicating with Whom?

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

We often talk about business rules for data-driven communications. Rules help to drive personalized, relevant communications, but even with the most sophisticated rules, data still requires human logic, reasoning, and insight. Real, live stakeholders in both the marketing and data sides of the business need to be actively involved throughout the process. Yesterday, we received a direct mailer that shows what happens when they aren’t.

IMG_2178The idea behind the mailer was a good one. The offer was for window treatments, and since we just purchased a home, it was relevant to us. It was the right list, mailed promptly, so the timing was excellent.

But the marketing copy? “Welcome to Annapolis South!”?

It would have been great if we lived near Annapolis, but we don’t. We live more than 50 miles away. We also live north of Annapolis, not south, and it’s not one of those cities where people regularly commute back and forth either for work or entertainment.

Personalizing the message was a good idea. The timing was appropriate. Then the geographic parameters got set. My guess is by someone other than the person who crafted the marketing copy. Either this or the parameters were adjusted later by someone not involved with the messaging. You know, someone farther down the marketing chain who said something like, “Hey, wait a minute! Annapolis is the capital of Maryland. Let’s not make the geographic radius too restrictive!” That works in some markets but not in others. It doesn’t work in this one.

Data-driven print personalization is a powerful tool, but even with the most sophisticated business rules, it still requires communication between all of the stakeholders and the application of human logic and reason by someone (or multiple people) with knowledge and understanding of the target markets. In this case, the headquarters of this chain is in California, so having those eyes would have been that much more important.

When you are crafting personalization campaigns for your clients, how closely are the stakeholders working together throughout the process? Are data bloopers like this able to get through?