Archive for the ‘Direct Marketing’ Category

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!

 

Increase the Value of Your Email Marketing Efforts

Tuesday, March 4th, 2014

Would you like to give your customers the marketing messages they want, the way they want them? Of course you would. That’s why you need to make the most of your email marketing. With up to 77% of customers preferring to get their marketing messages via email, it’s time to make sure you are getting the most out of this valuable resource.

Why Email Marketing Matters

Email marketing offers a lot of advantages. Email is:

  • Customizable – you can customize everything from your email content to what triggers an email to be sent. It’s a versatile medium, so use that to your advantage.
  • Affordable – setting up an email campaign is cost effective. Crafting a good email takes time, but emails are still relatively quick to put together compared to other marketing materials.
  • Relationship focused – email brings you into direct relationships with your customers, encouraging them to take action on your messages.
  • Measurable – email metrics tell you everything from open rates to click through rates and unsubscribe rates. All this tells you what you are doing well and where you could do better.

How To Make The Most Of Email

Email is a great ally for your business, but how do you make the most of it? Your aim is to send timely relevant emails that will be opened and acted upon. Start by:

  • Keeping it personal – you’re not sending email to “your list”, you’re sending it to the individual customer who is going to read it. Keep them in mind and address them directly.
  • Keeping it snappy – customers get a lot of marketing messages. Make yours stand out with an attention-grabbing headline and content that lets your brand’s personality shine through.
  • Keeping it customer focused – make the time spent reading worth their while. Instead of opening with why they need to buy your product or service, offer information that will be useful to them. Inform and entertain first, sell second.
  • Keeping it actionable – email is a great medium for encouraging action. Make it clear what the next step is, whether that’s getting in touch, placing an order, or looking out for the next eye-catching missive.

Email is a marketing mainstay that offers a welcome boost to your business. Give plenty of love to your email list and give them tantalizing content that will establish your business as worth paying attention to.

Have you had success with email marketing? I’d love to hear. Share your tips and best practices below!

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.

 

The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing

Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Building a successful multi-channel marketing campaign is a bit like making a cake. For the recipe to be a success, you need to add all of the right ingredients.

In order to help you do so, let’s take a look at some quick dos and don’ts for executing multi-channel campaigns that will keep your clients and their customers happy.

Learn how you can execute a successful multi-channel marketing campaign by downloading, “The Dos and Don’ts of Multi-Channel Marketing,” free for The Digital Nirvana readers!

Take a moment to read and share this resource at http://ilnk.me/DoDontMMC! Do you have any additional tips for executing successful multi-channel marketing campaigns? I’d appreciate your feedback below!

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:


 

 

Useless Personalization: Would You Have Stepped In?

Tuesday, February 18th, 2014

I saw something odd in my mailbox this morning. It was from a local auto dealership. It was personalized based on my use of their service center . . . once. I opened it, and two lines caught my eye.

The first line was in the opening of the letter. “Heidi, I noticed you haven’t visited [dealership] for service in over a year . . .”

The second was the headline for the call-out box next to it. It was in red, bold, and large font: “SPECIAL PRICING PROGRAM.” The pricing wasn’t on service. It was on purchasing a new vehicle.

I put down the letter and thought about what I’d just seen. The dealership is calling my attention to the fact that I haven’t been to the service center in more than a year — and they want to sell me a new car.

That’s an odd combination. Either I haven’t been there in a year because I’m dissatisfied, I’m taking my car somewhere else, or my 2005 Chevrolet Equinox is in amazing shape and hasn’t needed even a tune-up.

If the latter, then why do I need a new car? Now, I can understand if I weren’t a lapsed customer but a frequent customer. You know: “Heidi, we’ve noticed you’ve been into our shop 5 times in the past 7 months. How about a new ride? We’ve got great financing on NEW VEHICLES for valued customers like you!” But it didn’t.

I could spend a lot of time busting on this particular letter, but what I really want to know is this. If you had been producing this job, what role would you have played? Would you have asked to look at the copy before it went into production? Asked about targeting based on service history? Looked at the promotional offer in the call-out box to see if it matched (in any way, shape, or form) the content of the letter?

Publishers: Multi-channel Means “Print First”

Monday, February 17th, 2014

A study conducted by WoodWing Software, a multi-channel publishing system developer, found that when publishers think multichannel, they think print first.

In the study, WoodWing surveyed a total of 125 participants, mainly from the Americas (38%), Europe (54%), and the Asia-Pacific region (8%), asking about their publishing strategies and the use of social media.

The majority of respondents (59.2%) favor a multimedia approach. No surprise there. Specifically, they favor a combination of print, web, mobile, tablet and social media.

More surprising, however, is that, in today’s age of social media and email marketing, the plurality (21.6%) favor a “print first” strategy. Only 5.6% favor a web first approach, 4.8% favor a mobile first approach, and a mere 1.6% favor social media first.

Look at that — print wins again.

The study was conducted from mid-December 2013 to mid-January 2014. It consisted of four multiple-choice questions. Respondents were mainly from newspaper, magazine and corporate publishers as well as advertising agencies and marketing departments.

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

4 Marketing Channels You Must Invest In

Thursday, February 6th, 2014

No matter how large or small a business is, the following four marketing channels are must-haves for increasing brand awareness, growing product interest, and enhancing your online presence.

  1. Your Website: A corporate website should be your business’s first priority for establishing a strong marketing effort. Strong websites have the ability to promote all of your products and services, collect data from inquiries and leads, and help enhance your search engine optimization. Online searches are the primary way for people to find any type of business these days – make sure their first impression of your business is a positive one!
  2. Email: Whether your business is B2B or B2C, this channel is a must-have because people use their email every day, for both personal and business reasons. You can use it to announce new products, cross-promote services, and for follow-up campaigns from previous events. Email is a great way to stay in front of your audience, increase product awareness, and drive traffic to your website.
  3. Mobile: In case you didn’t notice, mobile devices are kind of a big deal right now and they aren’t going away. Businesses of all kinds need to review their website from mobile phones, tablets, laptops – you name it! If the user experience of your website is not mobile-optimized, you are losing your mobile audience.
  4. Social Media: There are many benefits of social media marketing for businesses. These channels are great for staying in front of your audience’s eyes on a daily basis, driving traffic to your website, and finding new audiences. Social media channels also tend to rank higher in search engine results because they are updated so frequently.

Each one of these marketing channels are essential for broadcasting your business’s capabilities to your audience.

What other marketing channels does your company invest a lot of its time into? I’d love to hear below!

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.

QR Codes Being Mistaken for Tracking Codes?

Saturday, February 1st, 2014

I’ve put the question out there for awhile: Has there been sufficient adoption of QR Codes that we should start removing the explanatory text around them?  The answer has been a resounding “No!” Feedback is that the explanations are still necessary.

The other day, a friend mine, knowing that I write about QR Codes frequently, pointed out a “QR Code” on a label that might be of interest to me. It was, in fact, a Datamatrix used for tracking.

That made me wonder. Have consumers become so used to seeing the square black-and-white tracking codes (such as those used for inventory management) that, when they see QR Codes, they think they are just larger versions? Could this by why some consumers still don’t recognize QR Codes as marketing response mechanisms?

If so, then it makes sense why some sort of explanatory text is necessary. Perhaps that explanation doesn’t have to be how to scan, how to download a reader, or that level of detail. Perhaps it can be something more subtle, such as making it part of the call to action: “Scan this code to get a 10% discount!” Or, “Scan this code for a chance to win free tickets!”

Such calls to action should be used anyway. The point is just that perhaps it’s less critical to tell people how to use the codes than it is simply to draw the distinction between codes for tracking and inventory management (which consumers ignore) and codes for marketing response (which they shouldn’t). What do you think?

Driving M-Commerce from Print Circulars

Tuesday, January 28th, 2014

It is very interesting to me how print is reinventing itself right now. Print and mobile, in particular, seem to be having quite the love affair.

For example, more steps toward integration were announced by Lord & Taylor and Hudson’s Bay just recently.  Both are using the same mobile application (Pounce) to allow customers to make purchases directly from print media using their their smartphones and tablets.

The experience of the user is very much like a checkout screen on a website. The customer scans the code on a piece of direct mail, a circular, or a magazine. On their screen pops up a mobile-optimized page. The page shows the item, the price, and allows them to select size, color, and quantity. When they are ready, they hit “purchase.” First-time users have to input all of their credit card and other information, of course, but subsequent purchases can be made using the same app with a single click. As long as the retailer is using the same app, their credit card information is stored and they don’t have to input it again.

Although mobile wallet apps have been around for awhile, incorporation by large brand names will help spur adoption. Currently, they require explanatory text and app downloads, but just like QR Codes, they are becoming more common. Over time, less explanation will be necessary.

This is great news for print. The more print can be used to drive mobile sales, the more valuable print becomes.

The data is on a very positive trend. As reported by MediaPost based on a Parks Associates study “Transforming Commerce: Mobile Wallets and LBS,” 20% of all smartphone owners used at least one mobile location service or mobile wallet in 2013. The study suggests that this will increase to 43% of all smartphone owners within three years.

Do you have any clients who could benefit from a mobile payment app?

 

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.