And the Award Goes to……Social Media

We were recently selected as Arkansas Business of the Year in a night that was equally euphoric as it was humbling.  When I consider how fortunate we were to even make the cut as one of the five finalists, I naturally look at the efforts of our staff, and the loyalty of our clients.  Both combine to allow us to provide high energy, creative solutions in a enthusiastic way.

As I explore further the reasons for our success, I cannot ignore the role technology has played along the way. Throughout our 44 year history, we’ve tried to walk fine line between being on the “leading edge” of technology, without crossing over into the “bleeding edge”. And during 2009, we made the leap into the realm that is called Social Media.

Is it fair say that Twitter had a role in our selection as Business of the Year?  Consider this, over the past 9 months, Social Media in general, and Twitter specifically, has:

  • Made our company more accountable and responsive.  (The world is listening.)
  • Made me a better spokesperson. ( LRTweetup is chock full of communicators, PR types, marketers, and more. All are incredibly smart, and giving.  I have learned much from all of them.)
  • Greatly increased our brand. (For 42 years we’ve been known as Custom Printing Company. Yet, to our Social Media crowd, the only name they recognize is CustomXM.)
  • Increased my vocabulary. (think: Words with Friends)
  • Improved my writing skills. (140 character limit makes one be succinct.)
  • Totally reinvented my thoughts about business lunches. (Free Valet Parking!)
  • Improved my listening skills. (Some might call it voyeurism, but the audience IS talking. We must listen.)
  • Taught me how to Engage, Interact, and React.
  • Created some incredible relationships.

And that final point is the key to any organizations’ success. The relationships. Our relationships with our staff, our clients, and our friends make us better as individuals,  and as a company.

So on behalf of social media, we humbly accept this award.

How has Social Media improved your company?  Please share your success with us.

Paul Strack is the president of CustomXM. Paul has become a leader in the print industry for his integration of social marketing into the company’s overall marketing strategy.

The state of digital printing

Let’s start with some statistics:

1) According to Pira International, the total global digital printing market has grown 122% since 2002, and by 2012, it is expected to double again, accounting for 21% of the overall global printing market as a whole.

2) Today, 30% of print providers offer web-to-print services. (CAPV)

3) 30% of today’s digital work is versioned or personalized. (Interquest)

What I hear loud and clear from these facts is that the future of print is healthy. As the economic situation in our country continues to force companies to tighten their belts and their budgets, the efficiencies of digital printing become more and more critical to a company’s marketing strategy. Let’s take a brief look at the how and why:

(Digital) Print-on-demand: In the past, the price points gained by printing long runs on off-set presses was the key factor in how printed material was produced. The price per unit was the determining factor. Alas, in most cases boxes of printed material was sent to the landfill because it had become irrelevant and outdated.  Therefore the cost efficiency of long runs was not as great as imagined.  POD allows you to create short runs of relevant material at an affordable cost and also gives you the added benefit of being able to personalize each printed piece and take advantage of the power of targeted marketing.

Another advantage of POD is the ability to merge your print production and fulfillment with a web-to-print solution online giving you a greater amount of control in your print purchasing than you could imagine.  Picture this…a company’s sales force can go online and order sales collateral that is personalized for their prospects, in their region and have the product shipped directly  to them without ever having to pick up a phone.  The web-to-print portal can also produce reports on usage, manage warehousing of certain products and provide online proofing and design features.

Integrated Marketing Solutions: What is an integrated marketing solution you ask?  Good question. In our print-centric approach, digital printing’s abiity to create personalized print pieces allows us to harness the power of database technology and the web to create marketing campaigns in multiple channels.  Using Personalized URLS (PURLS) we can create printed materials that drive prospects and clients to websites that are designed to give you the opportunity to A. pitch a product or service B. gather valuable data about the prospect via a survey page including an email address for future marketing purposes C. forwards leads automatically from the site to the proper personnel and last but not least D. provides an online dashboard for managing the campaign. These tools also provide the ability to integrate the campaign with your CRM and your client database.

What kind of strategy does your company have for reducing marketing costs while increasing the efficiency of these strategies?  Can you manage print costs over a large geographic area? Do you have the right tools to drive prospects to your web site? Lets talk about that.

Steve Davison is a marketing consultant providing marketing and sales support to CustomXM. When he is not doing that Steve is a professional touring guitarist.

How the iPad Changes the Print Industry

Now we enter the week after the big iPad announcement. There have been tons of talk about how the iPad will revolutionize the book and newspaper industry, but what does it do for the other side of print?

Here are 3 ways I think the iPad will change the print marketing industry for the better.

Accessibility for small business: I’ve worked in small and larger business. In marketing print large business has one key advantage, you can print the thing out, show it around, and get a feel for what the final product will look like. In small businesses you are typically running desktop quality printers that can’t even print clip art right much less high quality graphics.

The iPad is geared at reproducing print quality, which is why they are pitching books and magazines. The iPad gives you a chance to create an ad or a marketing piece, look at it on your iPad for a closer match than your desktop monitor or printer, move it over to your boss if needed for approval, and email it to the printer, all from the same device.

Move from print to web: I talked recently about how QR codes help move people from print to web. While the iPad does not have a camera for QR codes (a camera does not fit the iPad business model) it does provide one more easy to use device that can move people from print to web.

The iPad offers a much better keyboard (overcomes the lack of camera) and can enable an even better web experience than an iPhone.

Personalization: With HTML5 support, large touch screen, and potentially more (with iPhone OS 4) the possibilities are really limitless with how you can personalize your marketing experience to the customer.

Imagine they get a direct mail, go to their URL on their iPad, and suddenly they can be immersed in a full interactive experience.

Above all don’t believe the negative press the iPad is getting, remember the same things were said about this little worthless gadget called the iPod. The iPad has the opportunity to revolutionize all forms of print. Building it into your print marketing model has the potential to put you ahead in the changing marketing landscape.

Greg Henderson is marketing and social media professional with 8 years marketing and online experience. Greg has worked with several companies focusing on integrating online and offline marketing.