Posts

What’s New Wednesday? Paper USB Drives

It’s Wednesday, and you know what day it is?? Of course I’m referring to What’s New Wednesday. Weekly, or at least regularly, or at least on certain Wednesdays, I plan to introduce new products, new ideas or new thoughts that relate to marketing, print and signage. Some of these may well be the next big thing in the world of communications, and some may be nothing more than a curiosity. And let’s be honest, some may just be lame. But we won’t know until we take a look, so let’s begin.

If you know anything at all about me, you know there are two true loves in my life. Yeah, yeah, we all know about my wife and our kids, but I’m not talking about them right now. I’m talking about paper and technology. Old school vs. new school communication. Imagine if you will, a world in which both of them live together in harmony; one feeding off the other. We may have discussed this courtship before when we’ve talked about QR codes and even Augmented Reality. While those relationships still do exist, some of them anyway, I found this newest union to be very interesting.

It’s called swivelCard, and in a nutshell, it’s a paper USB drive that is embedded in a business card. Cool, right? We have smartphones, smartwatches, so why not a smart business card?

Here’s a peek at their Kickstarter video:

http://youtu.be/4zmn7a6Jing

Since it is my sworn duty to explore all things paper-embedded-with-technology, I inquired about becoming a reseller of this product, and purchased a sample pack. I wanted to properly celebrate this marriage made in heaven. Sadly, the honeymoon may be short lived.

I suppose that USB drives are also called thumb drives for a reason. You need your thumb to insert them into the USB slot. And when you combine the fact that I am generally all thumbs, and attempting to gingerly, then not so gingerly insert a paper USB drive into my laptop, the results were less than appealing. Admittedly, I had issues. And crumpling. Fortunately, I had more than one in my sample pack, and finally successfully loaded the drive and launched the content.

I do like this idea and the overall concept. Anything that finds a way to make the printed word more relevant and engaging is a must have for me, But I do have questions that make me wonder if this will have legs:

  • I am sometimes leery of putting USB drives with unknown content into my computer. Is this a widespread concern?
  • I appreciate the concept; I was so excited about it after watching the video. But the construction, folding and execution was a little awkward and borderline cumbersome. For my time, I would rather simply type in a URL, or hey, maybe even scan a QR code.
  • The example of using this in a medical facility is genius; patient education is a great shortfall of our healthcare system and in theory, this could go a long way in making headway in that area. But is it easily deliverable on a patient-by-patient basis? Again, the idea is brilliant.
  • They do have some entertaining video case studies, even one using the swivel card at a wedding. Would you use this for your wedding?
  • And major kudos to include the ability to track and measure analytics with this device. Remember, if you aren’t measuring, you aren’t marketing!
  • But is it cost prohibitive? The swivelCard is much less expensive than a preloaded USB drive. But at a cost of about $2.00 each, it is much more expensive than a standard business card. (Granted, it offers much more than a standard business card.) And the USB drive, based on my mangling experience, may be a one-time use.

Actually, ignore that point, we can always print more!

So that’s What’s New this Wednesday. Is the swivelCard something of interest to you?  Will this marriage last?

And please, tell me What’s New with You?

blog photo

Paul Strack

[email protected]

@pstrack

CustomXM Wins Three National Awards!

Yeah, we are a little excited about this…

North Little Rock, AR — October 12, 2014 — CustomXM , a marketing, print and signage provider in North Little Rock, AR recently received three national awards from the graphic arts industry. CustomXM received two “Bennys” (named in honor of Ben Franklin), the highest honor in the 2014 Premier Print Awards, for its campaign announcing its expansion into the wide format and signage market. Additionally, Paul Strack, President of CustomXM, was one of twelve national industry leaders inducted into the Soderstrom Society, the graphic communications industry’s most prestigious honors organization.  Both awards ceremonies recently took place in Chicago.

The Premier Print Awards, the graphic arts industry’s largest and most prestigious worldwide printing competition recognizes outstanding achievement in print production. CustomXM received its “Bennys” in the categories of Variable Data Campaigns and Self-promotion.

Michael, Lisa & Paul Strack after receiving the 2 Bennys in Chicago.

Michael, Lisa & Paul Strack after receiving the 2 Bennys in Chicago.

The Premier Print Awards are hosted by Printing Industries of America. In its 65th year, the annual contest recognizes those responsible for the creation and production of superior print communications. The event promotes excellence in print communications and rewards companies and individuals who produce the very best in print media.

This year, more than 3,000 entries were received from printing and graphic arts firms from around the world, and judges awarded the Benny to the top entry in each category. “It’s quite a compliment to be recognized by the industry as a company that produces award-winning print on an international level. The quality of print today is really quite amazing. To have won such a prestigious award for print quality is exciting for our entire team,” said Strack

Michael Makin, president and CEO of Printing industries of America, agrees. “The Benny winners represent the best our industry has to offer. This year’s entries were outstanding. There were entries from companies in 7 countries. Despite the fierce competition, CustomXM through hard work and dedicated craftsmanship produced not only one, but two pieces worthy of the Benny.”

The Soderstrom Society is named for Walter E. Soderstrom, one of the founders of the National Association for Printing Leadership (NAPL). The Society recognizes the contributions of industry leaders, including print company owners, industry supplier executives, educators, journalists and consultants. This year’s inductees represent a wide variety of industry segments, from equipment, materials, and services suppliers to printers, mailers, and marketers.

“We are pleased to present this impressive slate of Soderstrom Society inductees, who have distinguished themselves in their fields and are very worthy of the honor,” says Joseph P. Truncale, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer of AMSP/NAPL/NAQP, the new association created this year through the merger of the Association of Marketing Service Providers, National Association for Printing Leadership, and National Association of Quick Printers.

“We are proud to add these outstanding industry executives to the list of eminent men and women that make the Soderstrom Society the industry’s most illustrious organization,” notes Truncale. “Over the years, Soderstrom Society members have made significant contributions to the growth and advancement of our industry in innumerable ways and membership in the Society is a mark of distinction in every area of graphic communications.”

“It’s quite an honor to be inducted into the Soderstrom Society, and I thank NAPL for this significant recognition,” said Strack, President of CustomXM.

For more information about CustomXM ( www.customxm.com) contact Paul Strack at 501-375-7311

What’s The Buzz? Join us for Lunch to Find Out.

Over the past couple of years, through our popular quarterly Lunch & Learn programs, we have tried to present new marketing tips, tricks and techniques.  Our goals are to continue to help you add more arrows to your quiver to enable you to make your marketing efforts, and the measurement of those efforts, more effective.

Our next Lunch & Learn on Thursday, November 29, takes a slightly different approach.  With the variety of marketing channels available, it becomes critical for successful marketing professionals to focus on the necessary tasks to support the organization’s marketing goals.  In addition to the tools, it is also necessary to incorporate not just a project management tool, but a marketing management tool.  Marketers must be able to effectively focus on how to create, store and distribute marketing content in ways that not only save money, but maximize resources while producing higher returns on marketing investment. And that’s exactly what our next Lunch & Learn will showcase.

Jon Davis, COO of lee|Stafford, will present marketing success stories that utilized their Beehive Protocol software.  The Beehive Software solution empowers marketers to support multiple campaigns, channels and activities – both online and offline.  In short, it provides ways to help marketers – Organize, Communicate, Respond, Track, Adjust and Improve.

Jon is a veteran of the medical device and healthcare industries.  He has been instrumental in the development of patient communication efforts and in thousands of product launches that represent billions of dollars in sales for his clients, all using the BeeHive Protocol proprietary software that he helped develop.

Please join us for lunch as Jon introduces this concept of how to available software allows you to maximize your quick response marketing needs in compelling case study examples.

And if that is not incentive enough, one lucky attendee will win a new iPad Mini!

I look forward to seeing you on the 29th!  Register here.

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack

Is it still ok to think outside the box?

If I recall correctly, we retired the phrase “think outside the box” a few years ago. And rightly so. It was a tired cliché, and its use rarely led to a win-win situation that allowed us the opportunity to wrap our head around it to continue the paradigm shift. So I won’t go there.

Recently, a couple of marketing projects afforded us to avoid that cliché completely, and more importantly, allow us to think inside the box!

The JamBox

A financial services client is a firm believer in highly targeted, direct marketing campaigns. Often, the typical approach involves a message to individuals who desire to increase their wealth. But in this campaign, the idea arose that it might be better to target those individuals who have already accumulated wealth, but have concerns about their ability to pass it along to their heirs. In an uncertain economy, these individuals need assurances that the fruits of their hard work will be preserved. Hmm….how do we convey the message of preserving fruits..hmmm…think about it…ah ha – Preserves!

So we found a supplier of Arkansas-preserves, BlackBerry Jam to be specific, and mailed them to these targeted individuals. It was a very soft sell, we didn’t want to spread it on too thick.

Nothing is certain in life or direct marketing, but we feel pretty confident that this JamBox will get opened, and will receive a second look. We be jammin’.

Fore!

Corporate golf outings remain popular events. Finding a way to get the most out of your sponsorship often times yields results that are sub-par. Our client knew they wanted to furnish top quality golf balls for this event, but if you are like me, those branding moments never seem to last beyond the 5th or 6th hole. We suggested this time that they think ON the box. We replaced the traditional golf ball sleeve with a customized, branded version that featured the flagship product. Now, every time the golfer reached for a ball, they couldn’t help but notice the sponsor. And our guess is, due to the uniqueness of these non-traditional “goody bag” items, they may have spent more time admiring them than their partner’s golf shot.

Did this approach work?

Here is what our client tells us:

Golf balls and boxes were a HIT! We will definitely do that again – one customer saw the picture of the motor on the box and approached our salesman to make an appointment to visit w/him about switching to our motors…

It sounds like that mulligan we purchased won’t be necessary.

If you are feeling a little boxed in with your direct marketing efforts, give us a call. We can help, and the cliche’s are optional!

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack

How Do They Do That?

I’ve always been a fan of magic.  Houdini, David Copperfield (the magician, not the book), Criss Angel (sort of) – the art of the illusion has always fascinated me. And if you are like me, a very good magic trick doesn’t always have to “wow” you, but it does need to leave you wondering – how do they do that? And once you figure it out, it’s like “oh yeah, why didn’t I think of that?”

Our upcoming Lunch & Learn on Wednesday, July 25th will showcase a little bit of magic as well.  The ABCs of Marketing Magic Made Simple, presented by Paul Schaller, may not mesmerize you with smoke and mirrors, but my guess it will still certainly have a “wow” effect.

Paul is the president of ABC Financial Services in Sherwood, AR. Over the past 20 years, he has guided ABC through the evolution of targeted, one-to-one marketing by implementing customized solutions to secure, enrich and maintain client relationships. This leadership magic has made ABC Financial the country’s largest provider of financial and marketing services for the health club industry.

In the spirit of full disclosure, I do point out that ABC Financial Services has been a client of ours since about 1998.  While our partnership has enabled ABC to take advantage of the one-to-one marketing technology, it has been the dynamic vision of Paul Schaller to make marketing magic when it comes to growing customer relationships.  I invite you to come hear more next Wednesday as Paul shares his magic.

You can register now at IntegratingMedia.com.

I look forward to seeing you there.

 

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack

Toyota Manufacturer Recalls Open Source Use of QR codes

In what is likely to cause an overwhelming groan among marketers and technologically savvy consumers (and cheers among designers and IT staff ), QR code inventor, Denso Wave has issued a cease and desist order to all users of this open source tool.  Invented by the Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave in 1994 to track vehicles during the manufacturing process, this two dimensional bar code has been hailed as the savior of print, marketing budgets, and the ever-dwindling use of online commerce.

Speaking through a translator, Denso Wave President and Chief Executive Officer Mitsuhiko Masegi, expressed regret in taking this unprecedented legal action, stating, “I regret taking this unprecedented legal action.”  Masegi went on further to explain, “The QR (Quick Response) code was originally designed to improve productivity for manufacturers.  We wanted to offer this tool as a way of helping businesses focus on streamlining their operations.  Sadly, however, it seems people use it just to focus on their smartphones.”

Masegi noted increasing trends in the insulting use of variations of the code name itself into everyday pop culture.  “The bastardization of this worldwide brand is totally out of control. Last week I read where Prince, who once, as the artist formerly known as Prince had an extremely poor experience using a symbol to convey a message, had re-released his hit single, Let’s Go Qrazy!  And even one of my favorite American Country cross-over artists, Lionel Ritchie, has somehow re-created a new smash hit with the late Patsy Cline in a duet titled, Qrazy for You! In my honest opinion, this is just a bunch of Qrap!  Uh, I mean crap!”

Masegi commented that most Americans don’t fully appreciate that value of QR Codes.  He pointed to a recent study that claimed QR codes were dead in part because only 21.5% of American college students were able to recognize a QR code.  Masegi responded, “That’s still higher than the percentage of American college students that can  actually read. ‘Nuff said.”

Further evidence of corporate QR code misconduct can be found in names of entities and services providing guidance on this now obsolete code.  QReateandTrack, BeQRious, TrakQR are just a few of those domain names that will have to consider their response to this cease and desist action.

Citing what he called egregious usage flaws and borderline usage stupidity, Masegi relayed these most offensive trends he has witnessed –

  • Codes placed along posters and turnstiles in subway stations, where there is no connectivity.
  • Codes placed on billboards located on interstate highways.  Many of these are PSA type billboards encouraging drivers NOT to text and drive.
  • Codes tattooed on the lower back of college coeds. So low in fact that you really can’t get a good scan unless they are in beach attire, in a very skimpy bikini.
  • Edible QR codes.

In reference to the last offense, an obviously agitated Masegi noted, “Who in their sane mind would eat a QR code?  Even with liberal amounts of good saki, that makes no sense to me.”  Masegi offered the photo below as proof of the ongoing  insanity. 

Ironically, Masegi  pointed out that when one scanned the original QR cupcakes above, on what are now popularly referred to as QRupcakes,  the end user simply received the message, “Bite Me.” 

And apparently, that is what triggered the current legal action.

 

Happy April 1st, 2012!

QR Code is registered trademark of DENSO WAVE INCORPORATED.

 

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack

Marketing, Networking & BBQ!

One of my favorite aspects of small business ownership is the flexibility to be able to do things out of the norm, away from the daily routine, while hopefully bringing value to clients and prospects.  Our quarterly Lunch & Learns are a perfect example of this.  Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to explore the latest in marketing trends from social media to location and mobile marketing and all things in between.  We’ve received great feedback from our attendees, and have tried to tailor our programs to help meet their needs.  And of key importance for me, we’ve had fun doing it.

Being a borderline “ham”, I always enjoy the role as a presenter.  On other occasions when we bring in guest experts, I find equal pleasure in playing host to our many guests.  Next Thursday, March 29, I have the pleasure of welcoming back to Little Rock my favorite Bostonian, John Foley, Jr.  John was with us just last June, but so much has changed in these past 9 months that we’ve asked him to come back for an encore presentation.  He will be presenting his “State of the Union” of social media and mobile marketing.  Here are just of a few of the challenges and questions he will be addressing:

  • Are the social and mobile channels actually working for marketing efforts?
  • Are customers and prospect benefitting from all the available mobile interaction?
  • Are businesses actually improving revenue by spending more money in these areas?

You may be familiar with some of the topics, and some may be completely new to you.  Either way, I guarantee an informative, entertaining 90 minutes chock full of marketing takeaways.  Throw in a catered lunch, it is the best $10 business value in town.

If you are not familiar with John, or want to hear a little more information, take a look at this video:

So if you are involved in marketing, or enjoy new trends and technology, or are looking for a networking opportunity and a great lunch, please join us on March 29th.

Register here:  http://IntegratingMedia.com

I look forward to seeing you next Thursday.

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack

Marketing, Networking & BBQ!

One of my favorite aspects of small business ownership is the flexibility to be able to do things out of the norm, away from the daily routine, while hopefully bringing value to clients and prospects.  Our quarterly Lunch & Learns are a perfect example of this.  Over the past two years, we have had the opportunity to explore the latest in marketing trends from social media to location and mobile marketing and all things in between.  We’ve received great feedback from our attendees, and have tried to tailor our programs to help meet their needs.  And of key importance for me, we’ve had fun doing it.

Being a borderline “ham”, I always enjoy the role as a presenter.  On other occasions when we bring in guest experts, I find equal pleasure in playing host to our many guests.  Next Thursday, March 29, I have the pleasure of welcoming back to Little Rock my favorite Bostonian, John Foley, Jr.  John was with us just last June, but so much has changed in these past 9 months that we’ve asked him to come back for an encore presentation.  He will be presenting his “State of the Union” of social media and mobile marketing.  Here are just of a few of the challenges and questions he will be addressing:

  • Are the social and mobile channels actually working for marketing efforts?
  • Are customers and prospect benefitting from all the available mobile interaction?
  • Are businesses actually improving revenue by spending more money in these areas?

You may be familiar with some of the topics, and some may be completely new to you.  Either way, I guarantee an informative, entertaining 90 minutes chock full of marketing takeaways.  Throw in a catered lunch, it is the best $10 business value in town.

If you are not familiar with John, or want to hear a little more information, take a look at this video:

So if you are involved in marketing, or enjoy new trends and technology, or are looking for a networking opportunity and a great lunch, please join us on March 29th.

Register here:  http://IntegratingMedia.com

I look forward to seeing you next Thursday.

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack

Hot Dog Marketing

While we always try to have informative and engaging speakers for our quarterly Lunch & Learns, we certainly received a bonus in the local celebrity of Hot Dog Mike (@hotdog_mike). In continuing with our theme of True Confessions – Real Life Stories of Marketers in the Digital Age, Mike had the daunting task of addressing our fourth marketing point – Something Blue.

No, he was not going to talk to attendees about anything that was particularly depressing.  Instead, he was going to share his experiences using social media (Facebook  and Twitter) to promote and grow his business. How is this something blue?  You see, both Facebook and Twitter icons are blue in color.

Any good marketer knows that one of the first rules of engagement is Know Thy Audience.  In other words, who fits your demographic  profile?  When posed with that question, interestingly enough, Hot Dog Mike responded, “My demographic is shockingly, everybody.”  Man, woman, child.  Politicians, lawyers, musicians, student, librarian, police officer.  You name it, they (we) all gotta eat, right?

So how and why did he use social media to engage with this vast demographic audience?  Surprisingly, in the beginning, Mike wasn’t a big fan of social media.  But he did realize that in order to promote his product (in other words, he needed to market), he had to use a mechanism to help spread the word about what he was all about. And social media tools fit that need. 

Takeaway point – communicate your message using the tools that your target audience prefers to use.

Mike also realized that social media was an excellent tool to use for listening to his prospects, and his potential audience. And because it is a conversation, a dialogue, Mike used this tool to engage with his audience. 

Takeaway point – A successful marketer must use available channels to engage, interact, and react with his or her audience.

After establishing his internet presence using Facebook and Twitter, Mike began using these tools in a manner that fit his personality.  Yes, he is certainly about food, but he is also about his community, and he was looking for ways to incorporate ways to use his food truck to give back to the community. Again, his engagement with his audience allowed him to achieve these objectives.  Mike explains “my brand is me,” so all things related to social marketing are handled by Mike himself.  That way he is certain that it has his look, his voice, his feel.

Takeaway point – In matters of social media marketing, be yourself. Be transparent.  People generally prefer to engage with a person as opposed to a brand.

So there you have it, marketers in today’s digital age continue to use Something Old (direct mail), Something New (QR codes, pURLS), Something Borrowed (communications) and Something Blue (social media) in a variety of ways to ensure their success.  Cross media and multi-channel marketing tools provide for more effective ways to help you Market Smarter.

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack

True Confessions – Something new for Better Beginnings

Continuing our recap of True Confessions exposed during our Lunch & Learn held September 29th, it’s time to hear about Something New.  And how appropriate it was for to hear from that sharp, young up-and-comer from  The Communications Group, Jason Brown (@JBrown935). Jason spoke to the audience on how Something New – QR codes, personalized URLs (pURLs) and microsites helped his client educate childcare providers about the resources now available from  the Arkansas Department of Human Services (DHS).

DHS was participating in the Arkansas Early Childhood Association Conference. Their goal was to introduce “Better Beginnings,” the new Quality Rating Improvement System for childcare providers.

Jason explained that his client desired a campaign that would:

  • Drive conference attendees to the DHS booth for the purpose of introducing the new childcare rating system
  • Assist in educating attendees about online resources that are available to assist them in meeting Federal Standards for childcare providers
  • Gather valuable data about attendees’ knowledge and awareness of the new regulations through a list of survey questions.

Takeaway point:  Before embarking on any marketing campaign, clearly identify its objectives.

To help achieve these objectives, 900 cards were distributed to all attendees. These cards included both a QR code and a unique URL that encouraged respondents to visit a microsite to learn more about the DHS program. An additional option of taking the card to the trade show booth was offered as well.

Takeaway point: Always include multiple response mechanisms to make it convenient for your target audience to respond.

To encourage participation on the online survey, a prize was offered to all who completed the survey and redeemed the resulting coupon at the tradeshow booth.  All participants who entered received a note pad and were included in a drawing for one of four iPod shuffles. The response was quite overwhelming – over 280 people completed the survey and visited the DHS booth during the tradeshow.

Takeaway point: People like to get stuff – no matter how small.  Give people an incentive to respond to your call for action.  And then reward them for doing so.

Jason explained that not only was this campaign successful based upon the objectives outlined above, it proved valuable for obtaining additional information that will be used in future educational outreaches to childcare providers.

So, as True Confessions in the marketing world continue to evolve, don’t be afraid to try something new.

Next up, Hot Dog Mike shows his success with Something Blue.

image

Paul Strack, CustomXM

@pstrack