Archive for the ‘Industry Research’ Category

Printing in Spook Country

Monday, July 29th, 2013

Spook Country,” the 2007 novel by William Gibson, introduced the concept of “locative art” to the reading public. Gibson’s character Hollis Henry is constantly searching for works of art with her smartphone; art that Gibson describes as akin to techno graffiti.  His descriptions of art tied to a particular GPS location and viewable with a smart phone or VR glasses include a virtual image of  F. Scott Fitzgerald dying at the very spot in Hollywood where he had a fatal heart attack, and Archie – a 90 foot giant squid (Architeuthis for those in the know.) In the book, Archie was designed as a display for a Tokyo department store with “an endless rush of digital imagery along Archie’s distal surface.”

The Museum of Vancouver took a page from Gibson’s book this month by launching their augmented reality museum app “The Visible City.” Truly a work of locative art, Visible City enables a walking tour augmented by your smart device in which the tourist sees the streets of Vancouver as they were in their “neon era.” The application overlays pictures and interviews with local personalities to create an immersive experience.

VisibleCity - Webheaderimage

However, augmented reality today is as much about commerce as it is about art. Like the Tokyo department store in Gibson’s novel, retail is the main early adopter. Major brands realize that the opportunity for consumers to interact with products in retail locations can drive sales. There are many examples of AR used for product marketing including LEGO toys, Heinz Ketchup, Budweiser and Audi. While the first three involve interactions at the point of sale, Audi used Metaio to develop an AR enhanced brochure and a virtual users guide (it’s in German – but it’s so clear it doesn’t matter.) There are also numerous examples of catalogs enhanced with augmented reality apps to deliver 3D product views as the reader directs their smart device at a specific item.

While the early adopters were in retail, other brands are getting on board, most recently PNC bank with their Finder AR-based bank locator app. It’s really not anything that couldn’t be accomplished with a Google search or asking “Siri, where’s the nearest PNC Bank?” Nonetheless, it demonstrates the conservative banking industry’s interest in embracing the new cool thing.

Finder by PNC landing page image

Direct Marketing is a natural fit for augmented reality; just ask Omni Hotels and Resorts. Omni-live, their AR app was released in June and is part of a multi-media campaign tailored to meeting and events planners. It includes print, social media, online video and web advertising in concert with augmented reality. In addition to making the campaign more interesting and interactive, AR also makes the campaign more measurable. As soon as the consumer launches the app, the marketer knows that the campaign is being read and how much time the consumer is interacting with the contents. With a really well done virtually reality application, consumers will return again and again.

There is also potential for AR with transaction printing from mundane explanations to incredibly creative advertising. With AR, a financial institution or wireless/internet/cable provider could virtually welcome new customers on board walking them through their statement or invoice and offering detailed instructions (like the Audi user manual above.)

There are plenty of agencies and AR developers out there ready to partner with you to bring new services to your clients. All it takes is a creative vision of how your current print products can deliver more value. Adding a virtual layer between the reality of print and a virtual world revealed through smart apps is the next step in business communications – are you ready to take that step?

For a nice primer on Augmented Reality (written well before AR was on the tip of people’s tongues) visit Common Craft’s Youtube presentation (sorry, there is advertising on the site.)

Elizabeth Gooding Elizabeth Gooding is the President of Gooding Communications Group and editor of the Insight Forums blog. She writes, presents and provides training on trends and opportunities for business communications professionals within regulated vertical industries.

The Role of Social Media for Printers

Monday, July 15th, 2013

I recently read a blog published by Willis Turner entitled “So… Is Social Media BS or Not?” You can read his blog here on Funding Success (I found the article via the Target Marketing email distribution… proof that people do click through on emails!). In his article, he reports on a conference he was at where the keynote speaker claimed that social media, is in fact, BS. This is obviously a controversial topic, especially with how strongly social media has taken off in recent years and how actively companies – both B2C and B2B – are investing in and building their social platforms. But Turner provided more analysis of the comment which got me thinking…

The power of social media is not in the tool itself. The power of social media is in how it connects with the other components of a brand’s marketing and communications campaigns. As my colleague and MarCom guru, Cindy Cumings, would say – Social Media is just one more tool in the toolkit for successful marketers. Direct mail, email, events, SEO, personal selling… if you use each tool the way it is designed, they all come together to form a powerful and cohesive statement about your company, which ultimately generates results.

Turner reminds us to look at the marketing activities which generate revenue – something that social media does not do. So this means direct mail (still bringing in a large chunk of cash flow for some organizations), email, personal selling through a sales force, etc. These components are what brings in customers, influences sales, and at the end of the day, provides a company’s revenue.

So what does this mean for printers? Printers should take a good look at what channels of communication translates into sales, and continue focusing on those. Social media can serve as a way to bolster their efforts and brand image with customers. Continue to be active on channels to promote your printing work, your brand, and your people. If someone has heard of you before, has a favorable impression of your brand, and has even seen a sample of your work online – they are far more likely to become a customer. And remember, a successful marketing program is not built on the success of one campaign, but rather it is built on the seamless coordination of multiple campaigns, channels, and activities all designed to represent your brand.

Targeting: It Goes Beyond Data

Tuesday, July 9th, 2013

When we think about targeting and personalization, we think about data. But what about messaging? The way your messaging gets framed, including the nuances of the language you use, can make or break your campaign.

Here is a case in point.  A recent survey conducted by found that terms used to describe people aged 50+ are increasingly outdated and offensive by this audience. Most respondents (71%) were comfortable with the term “Baby Boomer,” but only 49% approved of the term “senior.” Nearly half (44.2%) felt that the terms “senior living” and “retirement community” were outdated.

Even worse was the term “nursing home,” which 94% of respondents had very negative associations, and of all the terms presented, had the worst association. Much more effective, the survey found, was language that emphasized health and activity.

So if the traditional terms used in this demographic are now offensive, what terms do you use? Something else! That’s the point. Successful targeting is not just knowing that someone is in the 50+ age demographic. It’s also knowing the style of messaging that is going to be most effective (or not).

What was particularly amusing about this survey, however, was that it was conducted by . . . ironic when the term “senior” was found to be offensive to 49% of the people surveyed!

Just goes to show you how easy it is to fall behind the trends of changing language.

Filling a Want vs. a Need – The Power of Emotion-based Marketing

Monday, July 8th, 2013

Did you ever stop to think why you just had to buy that smartphone, or that sporty new car, that beautiful suit, or that digital press? Long before you thought about why you needed it, you felt in your gut that you wanted it. Because no matter what you buy – be it for personal or professional reasons – your decision is triggered by some emotional need.

In fact, we invariably buy what we want, not what we need. We define our needs through rational, reflective judgment. But we define our wants almost without thinking or even putting it in words. The bottom line is that wants trump needs.

Surprisingly, the list of human emotions isn’t that long. It includes pride, greed, fear, ambition, guilt, a desire for beauty or health, the need to belong or be loved, among others.

Marketers are catching on to these emotions. So, to the list of skillsets they have traditionally brought to the profession – creativity, data crunching, market research – you can now add another: neuropsychology.

Understanding the impact of human emotions on purchase decisions has earned its own label: neuromarketing. Without diving deeply into the nitty-gritty of brain activity – the visceral or “lizard” brain, determines fight or flight reactions, the limbic brain where subconscious emotions dwell, and the neocortex, which forms rational and reflective thought are the “Big 3” in brain functionality.

When it comes to buying, however, our brain’s limbic system is where most of the action takes place. It’s where the emotional processing is taking place, something we might know better as having a gut feeling.  The limbic system actually works and reacts five times faster than the rational thoughts forming in the neocortex. We may think we use facts in our purchasing decisions, but our emotions have often already been “marketed” and the sale made.

Knowing this, however, doesn’t necessarily make marketing easier. The trick for marketers is to tap into customer emotions – without getting creepy, of course.  Whereas we have typically talked about “filling a need,” marketers would be wise to focus on “filling a want.”  To show some emotion is always a good thing. To know some emotion may be just as valuable.

Luxury Buyers Suffer from Lack of Targeting

Friday, July 5th, 2013

This week, MediaPost released data from its survey for “Engage: Affluent” (incomes of $75,000+, $250,000+, $550,000+) regarding their affinity for various channels when it comes to purchasing luxury goods.

The data show 1) the percentage of affluent buyers who recalled advertising messages in a variety of traditional and digital media, 2) the percentage who remembered seeing something of interest in those media, and 3) the rankings of the effectiveness of each medium.

In terms of effectiveness (as defined by MediaPost), the rankings were as follows:

  1. Television
  2. Magazines
  3. Websites
  4. Newspapers
  5. In-home mail

What I thought was interesting is that, while MediaPost ranked these channels based on the percentage of consumers (with affluents as a subset) who planned to purchase luxury goods, in nearly 100% of cases, the percentage of affluents who said they recalled or had “considerable” or “some” interest in the products being marketed was lower across all channels than consumers overall.

Recall of television ads — lower than average.

Recall of magazine ads — lower than average.

Recall of website ads — lower than average.

Recall of newspaper ads — lower than average.

Recall of in-home mail advertising — lower than average.

Level of interest in the material marketed? Lower, lower, lower, lower, and lower.  The more affluent the respondent, the less interest they showed in advertising in any given channel.

This suggests just how poorly these channels are being used to segment, target, and personalize offers to this coveted audience. You would think that marketers would be doing the best job in targeting and personalizing to those with the most disposable income. Yet, this did not appear to be case.

There was only one channel that appeared to be doing better in a relative sense to all the others when it comes to engaging affluent audiences. Affluents were more likely than average to say they had seen products of interest in advertising in sporting arenas.

Especially if you have clients marketing and selling luxury goods, this might be data you want to investigate!

Survey: Buyers Are Multi-Channel — Are You?

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

We talk about multi-channel marketing in this industry, but it needs to go beyond print and follow-up email with a PURL thrown in for good measure. PSPs should be leading their customers in more sophisticated, complex multi-channel programs. Right now, it’s often the other way around.

According to new data from Silverpop and Forrester Consulting, 64% of marketers (out of 157 marketers surveyed) see themselves as either “mature” or “transitioning” multi-channel marketers.

Marketing Organization Stance Toward Behavioral and MultiChannel Marketing

% of Respondents

Attitude Behavioral  Marketing Multichannel Marketing 






Beginning transition end of 2013



Interested, but no plans



No plans, and not interested



Source: Silverpop/ForresterConsulting, May 2013

More than half (51%) of marketers also consider themselves “mature” or transitioning in behavioral marketing while most print campaigns are still focused on basic demographics.

B2C companies see themselves as further ahead than B2B marketers when it comes to implementation of these campaigns. According to the Silverpop / Forrester research:

  • B2C marketers reported a higher level of automation in all but one marketing automation category
  • More than half of the B2C marketers claimed to be “somewhat aggressive or at the forefront” of technology adoption
  • B2C marketers also have a better relationship with their IT support
Marketing Organizations “Implementing, Not Expanding” or “Expanding/upgrading Implementation; % of Respondents



Web analytics tool



Email service provider



Web content management system



Social media engagement and monitoring



Campaign management application



Lead management system



Source: Silverpop/ForresterConsulting, May 2013

Are you leading these customers or following them?

For a copy of the complete PDF of “Up the Ante in the Year of the Customer,” click here.

Millennials, Business and Social Media

Monday, June 10th, 2013

Part 2 of Millennials, “The Greatest Generation” and Direct Marketing. Time magazine recently profiled as the “Me Me Me” generation and described on the cover as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.” Here are ways that these assumptions might be off base, and how marketers can reach this new generation.

Millennials are responding in adaptionary/evolutionary way to technology. A recent experiment,“One Laptop per Child,” delivered tablet computers to Ethiopian villages – with no instructions or teachers, and with preloaded programs. The results were staggering, but reflect what we already know about the technology the Millennial generation has grown accustomed to. Read an excerpt from the study:

  • Earlier this year, OLPC workers dropped off closed boxes containing the tablets, taped shut, with no instruction. “I thought the kids would play with the boxes. Within four minutes, one kid not only opened the box, found the on-off switch … powered it up. Within five days, they were using 47 apps per child, per day. Within two weeks, they were singing ABC songs in the village, and within five months, they had hacked Android,” Negroponte said. “Some idiot in our organization or in the Media Lab had disabled the camera, and they figured out the camera, and had hacked Android.”

I cite this example not to parallel children in an Ethiopian village to the Millennials discussed in Time’s article, but moreso to point out that technology has gotten so user-friendly, that younger generations can be portrayed as lazy, where they may, in fact, be quicker problem solvers and efficient.

The use of social networks is a shining example of this phenomenon, where collaboration between teams and organizations will be an expectation of doing business for the Millennials. That being said, a collaborative approach to social media is imperative within businesses, as well as when trying to use social media as a marketing vehicle for your business. Additionally, since social media is becoming more and more of a mobile activity, marketers are charged with reaching Millennials on their smartphones and tablets. This compounded with “second-screening” and interactions through console gaming devices make the marketer’s job challenging.

A key fact to remember in all marketing campaigns is that the Millennial is born into a “social” technology world – one that is inherently multichannel, and seamlessly so. Most of all, marketers must adapt to the new generation of customers the same way they have adapted to the rapid technological changes that have occurred in their short lifetimes so far.

Avoid These Mobile Marketing Danger Zones

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

There are many danger zones you need to dodge as you send out your mobile marketing messages. There are so many different moving parts with marketing to an “on the go” audience. And it’s easy to leave out a key element or forget something that can make or break your mobile marketing efforts. Here are five danger zones you need to avoid as you work your mobile marketing plan:

1. Forgetting a call to action

Think this is basic Marketing 101 stuff? Well, it sort of is. But it’s easy to get dazzled by the brilliant message you cooked up and then not have a clear call to action at the end.  Every single marketing message should be reviewed to ensure that the call to action is crystal clear. Is the end user supposed to check in? Post a photo? Answer a poll? Tell the audience what to do, and make it obvious. Because if you don’t, your marketing message was just a wasted effort.

2. Forgetting the legal aspects of mobile marketing

Marketing isn’t all fun, outside of the box thinking. You also have to stay within legal regulations and industry guidelines. Someone on the marketing team should know what you can and cannot get away with. And, just because you can get away with something, doesn’t mean you should do it. So make sure that your message is not misleading or illegal and that your delivery is completely above board. You don’t want to deal with the clean-up from a messy mobile marketing campaign.

3.  Not testing your mobile site or message

Once you have a mobile site in place, you need to test it to ensure that it embodies all that is user-friendly for your mobile device audience. No excuses here…for site testing, you can use for free. It even whips up a report for you that will tell you how well your mobile site works on a mobile device. And don’t forget the marketing messages themselves. Test them out – within your business or a small portion of your demographic. Something you think will be a huge hit may go over like a lead balloon. Testing helps take out some of the guesswork with your mobile marketing.

4. Forgetting the delivery method

You always have to keep in mind that your audience is not on desktops or laptops. They are using a smaller screen and it’s not easy to maneuver around. Don’t require a kazillion click-thru actions or force them to scroll back and forth. They also don’t have a printer (so don’t send a message that requires them to print out a coupon!). Some end users may be limited on the amount of information they can receive, so keep the information and images within limits that don’t overload their bandwidth. Of course, as with any marketing message, keep it relevant, and in this case that relevancy should be to those who are on the go.

5. Not using the capabilities your audience does have at its fingertips

Think of all the functions a smartphone or tablet has. Should your call to action include a request to call? To download an app? What about taking advantage of its camera or video-taking capabilities?

Download the 9 Mobile Marketing Must-Haves


Crystal Ball, Anyone??

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

“It is not the strongest or most intelligent species that survive, but the ones who are most willing to adapt.”  ~Charles Darwin

I like this quote because it removes the idea that survival and success are based on natural selection, but are based on intelligence and strategy and looking at how to adapt for future circumstances – an idea that seems especially relevant for the print industry today. At one time in history, we could have said that “print changed the world” and most would agree. But recent technological innovations, shifts towards digital communications and away from paper communications, have many printers working to keep up with the rapidly transforming industry. I suspect this is where Darwin’s idea of adaptation comes into play. Printers need to anticipate the future and prepare themselves accordingly. The same way of doing business will not stand, but you don’t need me to tell you this.

Lucky for printers, they don’t have to anticipate the future on their own. A group of young, bright, and well-educated students from RIT have already done the heavy lifting. Together they researched, wrote, and published a book entitled “Print changed the world – now the world is changing print.” They imagine the print industry landscape all the way to 2022 and address a number of sectors including books, packaging, signage, technical documents, direct mail, and more.

Here are the cliff notes…

Good News for:

  • Mobile devices which enable digital distribution
  • Packaging
  • Industrial printing
  • Signage

Bad News for:

  • The Postal Service
  • Circulars and inserts
  • Periodicals

Aside from the above, there are a number of categories in which the future is mixed – certain aspects will decline while some will rise. For example, authors suspect that self-publishing and yearbook printing will be the primary mode of book printing while traditional novels and textbooks will decline. The Security sector is another mixed bag.

If you read my last blog post, you’ll see that some predictions and research contradict what is in this report. I suppose no one owns a crystal ball so predicting the future is never easy. But nonetheless, it’s best to be informed and anticipate how expected trends will impact your business. So check out the full booklet here! (Made available by Printing Impressions)

Millennials, “The Greatest Generation” and Direct Marketing

Thursday, May 30th, 2013

I am (barely) a Millennial. Born in 1980, I rest on the cusp of what Time magazine recently profiled as the “Me Me Me” generation and described on the cover as “lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents.”

Guess which magazine isn’t getting a Christmas card from me this year.

Overall, the article has received a great deal of exposure and backlash because of the attention-grabbing, slightly hyperbolic title and the overarching assumptions that Millennials crave less responsibility, still live at home and are obsessed with themselves. I’ve read many opinions on this feature that debate the statistics and accusations the article boasts, but the core of what separates the “Millennials” from prior generations is the advancement of technology during their (our) lifetimes.

AdAge makes a troubling assertion (for direct marketers, at least) that “Among other things, baby-boomer marketers need to accept the fact that Millennials have not inherited their parents’ love for the “touch” of paper.” There is some truth to this statement, but as a Millennial that checks his mailbox every day, there is also a major balancing act that every marketer must accept in marketing to Millennials – the same tricks don’t work anymore, they just work in different ways.

Millennials may not “crave” the touch of the physical printed piece, but still will interact with it given the right pairing with technology. Whether this comes in the form of augmented reality, near-field chips or smartphone-based apps and QR code scanning, ways that allow this connected generation to interact with their mail and magazines using a smartphone or tablet will be key in keeping direct mail relevant to this generation. For example, I LOVE to get coupons in the mail, but I’d like it even more if I could scan and save them to my iPhone. The ideals demonstrated by Google Glass also give insight to how this generation will consume information in the years to come. Whereas the newspaper or Yellow Pages may be less relevant to a younger generation, the information contained within will not be.

The past ten years have spawned the buzzword “multichannel”’ marketing, but Millennials are leaps and bounds ahead of the curve. They were raised on multichannel marketing. Television based off of their video games; magazines that point to websites; College acceptance letters that point to social media sites. This technology has never been new to them, so it has become an expectation in the way they do business and the way marketers HAVE to market to them. So there’s another way Millennials are here to save us, they will push companies to try harder and smarter and the best, data-driven messaging will rise to the top.

Marketers are taxed with using all of the data at their hands, especially from “Big Data” via social interactions and from employing advanced segmentation techniques in marketing to Millennials. Without these methodologies, messaging will be ignored, as it competes with the constant stream of stimuli coming from smartphones, emails, social networks, television, postal mail, video games and soon with augmented reality and wearable computing.

Documenting the Value of Paper

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

The American Forest & Paper Association recently released a report entitled “Documenting the Value of Paper.” As more and more once-printed items move into the digital space, the future of printed materials remains in question. This report addresses that question by offering five distinct ways that paper enriches lives which will likely not diminish in the future. It got me thinking – maybe there is still a market for paper, and therefore and market for print… what do YOU think?

Five Dimensions presented by AF&PA (and some interesting highlights from the report):

  1. Paper informs as a learning tool. Studies show that elementary aged students actually perform better at reading comprehension when reading from paper-based books compared to e-books. Students find it easier and more helpful to employ “active” reading habits (skimming, reading subtitles first, highlighting, underlining, annotating, etc.) in paper-based books.
  2. Paper reaches customers. Direct mail is still cited as the communication channel with the highest ROI for customer contact and retention in B2C marketing, followed by email. A Nielson survey found that respondent’s top three preferences for receiving advertising were paper-based – direct mail, newspapers, and in-store printed displays. Consumers who receive a printed catalog in the mail are more likely to shop online than those who do not receive the catalog. More and more people are “opting out” of email marketing lists.  
  3. Paper is a permanent record for milestones in life. Paper is still used for official documents (birth certificates, graduation diplomas, titles to cars, etc.) Paper also preserves many of life’s meaningful personal moments – think family photos, baby books, childhood artwork, handwritten letters, greeting cards, etc.
  4. Paper is a secure form of documentation and communication. Information stored on paper is easily accessible over a long period of time and does not need to be continuously migrated to newer technologies. Online privacy of personal information and documents is a growing concern. Electronic forms of communicating are less secure than printed forms and are open to hacking, data breaches, identity theft and fraud. In many polls, people generally prefer to have a paper version of important documents.
  5. Paper is a sustainable choice. The paper industry supports sustainable forestry practices and is increasing its recovery of paper and use of recycled fiber. Recent lifecycle assessment studies show that environmental impact of paper and electronic text and communication are relatively similar.

Of course this report naturally favors supporting the role of paper and printed materials in society (it is posted on AF&PA’s website after all). Nonetheless, the information presented is based on legitimate resources and verified studies which provide an interesting literature review and summary of information that already exists. So don’t just take it from me… see for yourself!

The Federal Reserve on Mobile

Tuesday, May 21st, 2013

There is a lot of talk, a lot of data, and a lot of opinion out there about the impact of mobile marketing on customer behavior. In this industry, that translates into how mobile needs to be integrated into multi-channel marketing campaigns. It is said that people vote with their pocketbooks, so with that in mind, I thought I’d share some insights from the Federal Reserve. In April, the Federal Reserve released a 79-page report called “Consumers and Mobile Financial Services,” but there is a lot more in here than financial services.

More than half of the mobile phones out there (52%) are now smartphones, and they are changing the way people shop.

  • 6% of all smartphone users have made a point-of-sale payment using their phone in the past 12 months, up from 1% one year earlier
  • 42% of smartphone users have used their phone to comparison shop at a retail store, and 32% have used it to scan a product’s barcode to find the best price for the item
  • 64% of consumers overall who use their phones to comparison shop in a retail store have changed where they purchased the product as a result of the information they found
  • 44% of smartphone users have used their phone to browse product reviews or get product information while shopping at a retail store, and 70% of them changed the item they purchased based on this information
  • 64% of mobile banking users have checked their account balance before making a large purchase in the past 12 months, and half of them have decided not to purchase an item as a result of their account balance or credit limit
  • Approximately 27% of all mobile phone users are interested in receiving and managing discount offers and coupons on their phones, or receiving location-based offers.

This is tremendous evidence for the need of PSPs to begin broadening into mobile marketing. If your customers aren’t engaged in mobile marketing, they should be.

Download a copy of the (free) report here.


NFC: The Future is Here

Thursday, May 9th, 2013

What is NFC?

NFC stands for Near Field Communication and the short answer would be that NFC identifies us. It allows smartphones to be identified and it establishes a radio communication. Think short range NFC Tagwireless RFID technology.

You may have heard of NFC and its ability to make mobile payments easy. Account information is stored on the smartphone and when in close contact with the payment receiving technology, it passes along that account information, enabling a payment to be made.

However, NFC can be a great marketing tool for mobile marketing. And there is also talk of how NFC will help in terms of rewarding customer loyalty. The bonus is that NFC is more interactive and engaging than your typical marketing message. It’s not a “look at me” marketing strategy. It’s more of a “hey, look what we’ve got for you, are you interested?” kind of connection with the audience.

How does NFC work?

NFC is like your short and skinny pal. He can’t reach very far. And he can’t throw a weighty punch. But he’s scrappy and useful in certain situations.  This low power and short-range wireless link allows for information to be passed between a smartphone and another device. While it is short range (think inches), it does not require contact. But most importantly, it allows for the information to relay back and forth between two devices instead of that relay being a one way street.

Not only is it short-range, NFC is slow. Especially when you compare it to Bluetooth or Wi-Fi. But the perk is that NFC consumes very little power. It won’t strain a smartphone battery and suck it dry.

Android NFC Phone in UseA smartphone enabled with NFC can share and interact with another NFC device, or with a “passive” NFC tag. No app needed. And the NFC tag is like a tiny chip that may be embedded (in a poster, a business card and so on) somewhere and has data ready to transfer to a NFC enabled device. The tag doesn’t even need power. Instead, the radio frequency field generated by the NFC device (like your smartphone) does the work, and the data from the tag is transferred to the device.


  • What’s so awesome about NFC?
  • How is NFC used in the real world?
  • How can you put NFC to work for your business?

Get the answers to these questions and more in:


Why Printers Should Care About InBound Marketing

Friday, May 3rd, 2013

We’re hearing a lot about inbound marketing these days, or the use of online content (blogs, social media, SEO) to generate leads. According to HubSpot’s “State of Inbound Marketing Report,” marketers allocate 34% of their overall budgets to inbound tactics. This is 11% more than they dedicate to outbound strategies like direct mail.

Inbound marketing is a trend printers should be paying attention to, and not just because it’s competing for their print business.

Here are three reasons to pay attention to inbound marketing:

1. Inbound marketing is something printers should be doing to market their own businesses.

Prospects garnered through inbound marketing techniques are more likely to convert to sales than those garnered through outbound techniques. They have pre-qualified themselves as being interested in your services—they found you. HubSpot also found that inbound marketing delivers 54% more leads into the marketing funnel than traditional outbound leads.

2. Inbound marketing needs to be supported by outbound marketing.  That means print.

You’ve got the leads. What are you going to do with them? Prospects find your clients’ companies based on inbound techniques, but those leads need to be followed up and nurtured along the sales cycle. Inbound marketing tends to draw people who are researching higher value products that require more follow-up and support throughout the prospect’s decision-making process. This opens tremendous opportunities for print.

3. Inbound marketing needs to be coordinated with outbound marketing.

To keep print in the mix, you need to know what’s happening on the inbound side so your client’s inbound activities are adequately supported. The more you know about their inbound marketing activities, the more involved you can be in helping them develop outbound products (direct mail, letters, posters, point-of-sale) they need.

To access HubSpot’s free report, click here.

Why Email Marketing Is Not King

Tuesday, April 16th, 2013

I just received a complimentary copy of Cross Media Marketing 101 (for 2013) by James Michelson, president of JFM Concepts and VDP Web. Right upfront, I had to give James props for his dismantling of a favored email stat that has been making its rounds in the blogs, Webinars, and PowerPoint presentations. It’s from “Why Email Marketing Is King” in the Harvard Business Review.  Most Digital Nirvana readers have probably seen it.

HBR cites response rates and average order values for direct mail + email, direct mail only, and email only that are on par. When you consider the extremely low cost to produce an email campaign, the report says, email turns out to be king — ROI that blows everything else away.

But listen to what James has to say about these numbers:

1. The stats are impossible without outside manipulation.

The respondents [to this study] were cherry picked from a much larger pool in order to get a 25% response rate. How do I know? Given one client’s data of 650,000 prospects with detailed sales and contact history, I can universally pick a slice and get a fantastic response with targeted offers and specific channels. With realistic constraints (such as not giving each respondent $100 gift card for simply visiting a link), the same cannot be said for 35,000 cold records. . . Not going to happen.

2. ROI has to be calculated using, not just the cost to implement the campaigns, but the costs to acquire the names.

How did the firm in question get that many opted-in email leads? . . . It is almost impossible to exponentially grow an email list from an email campaign, regardless how good the referral spiff is. For email to be king, something else, such as social media, direct mail, experiential events, paid search, point of sale, or a mix of many methods is required, and usually at substantial cost.

3. The report ignores other costs related to email, such as the cost of maintaining the database, accessing enterprise level email software (not cheap!), preparing collateral materials, and so on.

For the ROI calculations in the article to be of any use, the cost of gathering the email opt-ins must be calculated. . . Throw those figures into the mix and what happens to that massive ROI advantage claimed by email? Chance are the savings cited in the chart rapidly evaporate.

This analysis shows why it is so important to use the full costs of any marketing effort in calculating ROI for your clients’ campaigns (and your own) — and when evaluating the truth and accuracy of claims by reports such as these.

Kudos, James!