The CustomXM – Kodak Video Challenge – Enter and you may win!

There are vendors, and there are partners.  Kodak is one of our partners.  Over the past three years, Kodak has played an instrumental role in helping us expand our offering of digital printing solutions.  In addition to these successes, this relationship has lead to numerous award recognitions over that past several months. As a result, Kodak will soon feature CustomXM in a series of print, on-line, and trade publications.

But this recognition is not about the awards.  It’s about our success in adapting to the digital world around us.  It’s about the solutions we provide for our clients. And, it’s about how we interact with you.

Now we are beginning a fun new venture together.  As part of our continuing, combined efforts to show CustomXM as a thought leader and innovative solutions provider, we are attempting to expand the reach, awareness, and influence of the graphic communications industry through a series of videos.

And we need your help. We need your ideas.  And we want to have some fun!  So here’s what we want you to do:  Give us some ideas for a short one to two minute video.  Videos will be filmed in our facilities, using a Kodak Zi8 HD video camera.  One lucky winner will win their own Kodak Zi8 HD video camera. This lucky winner will be selected from all the qualified entries.  To be considered for entry into our Video Challenge contest, your idea MUST include:

  • The concept of our president, Paul Strack, appearing in the video while wearing a tuxedo
  • The phrase, “but it’s not about the awards.”, must be included in the video script
  • The concept, or tagline, “Print Lives” must be worked into the video in some manner

For an example, take a look at this video we recently produced:

Videos that we produce and submit to Kodak may be posted as appropriate on Kodak TV, YouTube,, other industry sites, and of course, our CustomXM site.

Again, we will choose one winner from all qualified entries.    Additionally, if we select to produce a video from the qualified entrants’ ideas, we will award another Kodak Zi8 HD video camera to the entrant of the first video we select to produce.

So here are the submission guidelines:

Submit your ideas via the blog comments below, or send via email to [email protected].

In addition to the 3 requirements listed above, describe to us a scene or two you would include. Visit our website at,  or our facebook page to learn more about who we are and what we do.  Use this information to make your ideas relevant to our organization.  Finally, let’s have some fun.

Deadline for entry is Friday, April 30.

How do I get folks to open the envelope?

While discussing a subscription renewal appeal for the Arkansas Repertory Theatre, the Rep’s Director of Marketing, our good friend Angel Galloway (@angelmg) asked, “How do I get folks to open the envelope?” 

After getting over the excitement that Angel still considers direct mail a viable marketing channel. (Trust me, it is!), here are some of the tips we offered, as well as a few others: 

  • Make the piece relevant to the recipients. It the message is designed specifically for the recipients, it is more likely to be read.
  • Variable data helps make the message more relevant.  Using the information (database) you already know about your recipients, your message can be individually tailored to them.
  • The offer inside is king! In creating a highly effective direct mail campaign, your offer is 40% of the battle, the database is 40%, and the creative is 20%.
  • Focus on the offer, not necessarily the brand.  Respect the brand, but don’t make it the overriding element of a direct mail campaign.
  • Remember, the campaign is not about you, it’s about your recipient. Talk to them, keeping in mind the things they want to hear. 
  • Instead of “spray & pray”, target your audience and your message.  Don’t try to be too many things to too many people.  Main Street, USA is still where most of us live.
  • Try “lumpy” mail.  Include something in the envelope that creates an “I wonder what’s inside” feeling. (a pen, a keychain, etc.)
  • Make the offer obvious .  Make it evident what your recipient is supposed to do.
  • Color graphics capture attention and improve response rates. With improved digital printing technology, you can affordably add color and variable data printing to envelopes as well.
  • Where practical, include free samples – let your target audience give it a shot.  Let sampling campaigns prove the power of your product.  (In a recent USPS survey, 82% said they would try a product after receiving a sample)
  • Regardless of the channels used, be sure to incorporate ways  to track response rates – Business Reply, offer codes, QR codes, PURLS, specific 800 numbers, etc.

As consumers continued to be bombarded by email and more and more online advertising, now, more than ever, may create a situation where direct mail is more likely to be noticed.  Mail volume has decreased, this in turn may create more opportunity for your message to get noticed by this marketing channel. 

Want to try full color, targeted envelopes to see how it improves your open rates? Enter our Bucket O’ Swag Facebook giveaway to get 50 free prints along with other items. Or if you are ready take advantage of our 2 for 1 special going on right now.

What direct mail success techniques would you like to share?  We’d love to hear from you.

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.

Your Tax Dollars at Work

I had the pleasure of attending   the 2010 Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism. If the venue itself, Eureka Springs, was not engaging and entertaining enough, the information presented was certainly captivating for those in attendance.  More importantly, the information was welcome and exciting news for all of us as citizens of the Great State of Arkansas.

Rarely do I look at Arkansas as a visitor, but my eyes were opened to the incredible work that our State Parks and Tourism , Aristotle  and CJRW  are doing to bring visitors to the Natural State. And it is nothing short of amazing.

Consider this:

  • The primary site for Arkansas tourism: received 6,184,550 visitor sessions in 2009. This was a 10.5% increase over 2008.
  • Arkansas is the first state to incorporate the use of QR codes, or mobile tagging, which allow visitors to take advantage of URL shortcuts to travel information throughout The Natural State.
  • allows you to enjoy the sights of Arkansas through the eyes of four Travel Writers covering all areas of the State. No other state comes close to this complete coverage.
  • When defining “market share” as number of hits to its website, Arkansas is ranked number one compared to all contiguous states, including Texas!
  • Arkansas became one of the first states to launch its own iPhone app. Using this app, you can find coupons for family fun and shopping, or get daily specials at an Arkansas spa. Even catch special rates for romantic getaways, weddings and honeymoons.
  • During 2009, Arkansas was in the top five of the most visited state tourism sites every month, except one, in which we were 6th(Hey, even our state needs a short vacation!)
  • And the most amazing fact:  All these resources are available free of charge to you, me and the tourism destinations that choose to take advantage of them.

One other “undocumented” fact, but one I witnessed personally, is that the Tourism Communications Manager, Dena Woerner (@DenaJill) has got to be the hardest working dynamo in the tourism industry. You may try to follow her on Twitter, but you can’t catch her.

So there you have it: A State Agency, An Internet Agency, and an Ad Agency, working in unison to make Arkansas Travel & Tourism tops in America.  How is it done?  Naturally.

The peak travel season is drawing near, won’t you share with us your favorite Arkansas destination?

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.

Becoming a Linchpin

After a lot of persuasion from friends I finally picked up a copy of Seth Godin’s Linchpin this week. Just a few chapters in it is already a book that changes the way I view my position. However something struck me this morning. Why can a company itself not serve as a Linchpin for the community as a whole?

Godin describes a Linchpin as people who “invent, lead, connect others, make things happen, and create order out of chaos”. In a sense that really is what CustomXM has become in my mind to our community.

I met Paul a little less than a year ago. I was immediately struck by how he tries to push the envelop of what a print company can be, without fear of being ridiculed or making a mistake. That is the essence of a Linchpin.

Paul approached me as you all know a few months ago to help him with social media. I accepted not based on pay, because I could certainly make more doing other side jobs, but because I wanted to be a part of what he was doing here. I’ve seen him do that with others as well. CustomXM is up to something game changing in the print industry, and people want to be a part of it.

Finally, I am not sure if you noticed or not but the print industry is in a state of chaos. Traditional print business models simply are not working. The tighter a company embraces those models the quicker they are to fall. Everything you knew about print 5 years ago is dead. Offset press – dead, envelopes and stationary – dying with mail, large print productions – dead. Paul and CustomXM has chosen to embrace this new culture of technology, speed, interactivity, and personalization by creating a form of order out of the chaos that the print industry has fallen into. More than that he is constantly pushing the edge of what print can do and has, from what I have seen, become a leader in the industry.

Now Paul does not pay me to talk good about his company, in fact he will not see this until I publish it. I write this particular blog as a customer of CustomXM, which I am. CustomXM has become exceptional in the Little Rock community, they even have the awards to back that up. In a sense they have become a Little Rock business Linchpin.

I work every day with struggling manufacturing businesses, if there is any industry that understands the recession as well as the print business it is manufacturing. I have come to realize that the reason for this recession is not the housing market or corrupt loans. It is because businesses refused to think, they continued to do the same old thing every day. The other parts such as loans just brought the problems to the surface. In order for the US to survive and grow again we need business Linchpins in communities across America to step up the way that CustomXM has to lead this change.

If you are a business owner ask yourself what your company is doing. Are you sticking to your old principles or are you taking a risk and breaking the mold to become better than your best? Pick up a copy of Linchpin, take some time to apply it to your business, and lets get better together.

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.