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 Alas, in most cases boxes of printed material was sent to the landfill because it had become irrelevant and outdated.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.

The Surprise Inside

Recently we invited our good friend, @simonslee, to speak to us about Customer Service.  His engaging and entertaining remarks were summarized in two simple words:  No Surprises! When it comes to superior customer service, there should be absolutely No Surprises.  We all nodded in agreement, and decided we had a new mantra for 2010.

Upon sharing (via Twitter) a few of Simon’s comments, I received an immediate response from another good friend, @amybhole.  Her response, too, was summarized in two words, “I disagree”.  Amy went on to say that “surprises are the cornerstone of excellent customer service”.

An interesting discussion via Twitter soon followed. What became obvious were two different perspectives on the topic of surprises. And both of them are equally correct.

When it comes to product fulfillment, certain specific expectations exist.  Product price, quality, and delivery date are just a few of the terms that allow no room for surprises. We expect that our FEDEX package will be delivered the next day.  If we are surprised, it is an unpleasant experience.

On the other hand, business (and life) is full of so many pleasant surprises. As Simon agreed while contradicting his original concept, “I find myself regularly able to do things to surprise customers that are spontaneous and unscripted”.  Amy adds that, “being small, independent and upscale gives us the flexibility to surprise even ourselves from time to time!”   And since 1912, Cracker Jacks has promised us the ever-present “surprise inside”.

So was @simonslee’s original challenge wrong? Was @amybhole right? (That question, by the way is rhetorical.  Everyone knows that @amybhole is ALWAYS right!)

Yes. And Yes.  As a product provider, we strive to eliminate unwelcome and unforeseen surprises.  Our processes must ensure that the products arrive on time, are of superior quality and are produced as indicated by agreed upon terms.  That is the bare minimum. As we continue to transform our business into one that provides services, we now look for spontaneous and unscripted ways to surprise clients.  But businesses cannot achieve those pleasant surprises until they have fully implemented the “No Surprises” program during the production process.

And at that point, and this is where I disagree with @amybhole (Lord, help me!), it will certainly come as no surprise to us.

What are your experiences with surprises (good or bad)?  Please share with us and you may be eligible to receive your own surprise.

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.

Market Smart in the Downturn

By 2010 I was hoping I would be done talking about the recession. Over the past year I’ve had several friends ask me about how and why to market in a down economy. The fact is that most successful companies grow through marketing in the latter half of a recession. Even more amazing is that a large percentage of Fortune 100 companies were actually formed during an economic downtown.

By marketing in a down economy you can put yourself ahead of the competition when the economy recovers. The trick to marketing in a downturn is to market smart. Any idiot can market in a booming economy, when people are willing to spend money all you have to do is show them how. In a bad economy though you have to market smart and show people why to spend money. I typically give out 5 tips to market smart in a down economy:

  1. Track – Analytics are key in marketing in a down economy. You have to make sure you get every dime out of your marketing dollars. Using marketing tools like personalized URLs help you measure response from each marketing piece to help you adjust and refine each time you market.
  2. Segment – In an upturn a shotgun approach works fine, you can typically get enough people to bite on a marketing piece to make it worthwhile. In a down economy you must appeal to them individually which means segmenting your database to deliver exactly the right piece to the right people. Sometimes this means sending multiple versions of one piece, by using targeting marketing you can easily run this all in one marketing push.
  3. Be Innovative and Eye Catching – More than likely your competition is going to be marketing as well during the downturn. So make your marketing stand out. Spend a little extra time with a graphic designer, use good photography, and add that special touch to set your marketing piece apart. Remember a marketing piece is only good if someone looks at it.
  4. Understand Your Market – Make sure you are keeping up with what your market wants. Follow your customers on twitter, create a facebook fan page and invite them to it, or buy them lunch sometime just to chat. In a recession you have to go to the customers, don’t expect them to come to you.
  5. Keep it Cheap – I’ve walked into marketing positions before to find dozens of boxes of marketing materials. The people before me must have ordered a million line cards at a time. Every single marketing handout was at least 5 years old and out of date. In a recession, you don’t have a lot to spend, so spend smart. Instead of running large offset print jobs, run smaller digital print on demand jobs. You can run just what you need without running the risk of having expensive out of date materials sitting around in a closet.

Let me know how you market smart in a down economy, drop me a comment below.


Real Integrated marketing with QR Codes

Integrated marketing is what most forward thinking companies strive to achieve with marketing efforts. However a large gap exists between print and web making integration difficult. The use of QR codes in print advertising and marketing can help bridge this gap.

A few years ago while working for a marketing agency the big buzz word was “integrated marketing”. Essentially this was creating marketing flow between your online and offline marketing. Back then this included things like creating targeted URLs to direct people who receive your print piece, creating cohesion between your web site and your print campaigns, and directing people to online signup forms through traditional media. A gap exists between the printed page and a website. This gap is big enough that many modern marketers have written off print advertising completely. People are just reluctant to get a direct mail piece, go to their computer, and type in a web address.

Real quick, look in your pocket or on your desk. Chances are you have a cell phone within reach. In addition chances are it is a smartphone (iPhone, Blackberry, Pre…). The answer to bridging this gap lies right there, it is your constant connection to the world, but you are still not going to type in a web address.

QR codes are a way to help bridge the gap. Web browsing on cell phones is not at a very usable level. Using QR codes in your marketing allows potential customers to easily pick up their cell phone, scan in the QR code, and instantly be directed to the landing page for your ad. The New York Times recently did an article highlighting this very technique with advertising, looking at how various companies are starting a push toward advertising with QR and other 2d bar codes.

As technology and consumer awareness increases so will the integration of print and online marketing. Integrating technologies like QR codes into advertising takes very little effort, and no additional cost. This also adds a second layer of analytical data to marketing efforts, allowing you to better gauge ROI for a print piece. Take a look how Rob McBryde used this integration to move potential customers from his printed business card to his web site.

-Greg Henderson

Welcome to 2010, the Rebirth of Print

Welcome to 2010, I think this is going to be a very good year compared to the one we just made it through. Few have had a worse year however than the print industry. Which is why I am a little surprised to be here writing this for CustomXM. See I grew up in the digital age, marketing directors like myself have basically killed print. In developing my skill I embraced the computer monitor, and swore off paper. I met Paul Strack from CustomXM and found some of the neat things he was doing merging technology with printing. I quickly realized that I was wrong to abandon print all together. Print is not dead, print is in the process of being reborn. The print we knew 10 years ago is dead, in it’s place however is something much better. 

This blog will serve as a mix of things to help you understand this new reborn print industry. I will focus on some tips that I’ve been able to pick up, ways to enhance marketing through print, some case studies that Paul will share to show how other companies have utilized print, and some behind the scenes views of the print shop. With this my hope is that through a better understanding and some strong examples you will be able to enhance your marketing.

A first of the year post would not be complete without a list of New Years resolutions, so here are mine for marketing:

1 – Step outside of the box and do something completely radical to market my company.

2 – Give back as much marketing insight (both success and failures) as possible.

3 – Enhance the tie between my print marketing and online marketing.

4 – Find some way to incorporate dimensional printing.

5 – Find a better way to utilize social media as a communications tool.

So those are the areas I plan on focusing in this year. Why not drop a comment and share some of yours, I’ll even give the best few a very awesome 2010 CustomXM calendar featuring local photographers like myself.

-Greg Henderson