Multilingual print on demand cuts costs at Owens Corning

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How do you maintain brand consistency and gain any kind of efficiency of scale when your marketing materials are done in many different languages across several business types?

This was the challenge faced by building materials manufacturer Owens Corning when it investigated reducing costs and improving delivery on educational materials, direct mail postcards and other marketing materials. Working with Xerox Corp.'s Customer Communication Services, Owens Corning recently completed the roll out of an online marketing portal. It is already seeing significant results.

"We would have a significant ebb and flow in our inventory of marketing materials [previously]," said Christian Nolte, director of strategic marketing at Owens Corning.

After moving most of the materials to print on demand, however, the company has improved fulfillment rates and reduced the need for warehouse space.

The 98 percent improvement in the fulfillment success rate enabled the company to build a collaborative relationship with its business-to-business customers, Mr. Nolte said.

Also, since the introduction of the Web portal, Owens Corning's translation costs have gone down 60 percent. This has helped the company improve brand consistency.

Thousands of retailers, such as The Home Depot and Lowe's, contractors and franchisees receive promotions from Owens Corning in 12 languages in 26 countries.

"Our customers can trust that Owens Corning is there to help them grow and prosper," he said.

In addition, the portal ensures that the Owens Corning brand is consistently applied throughout all of its markets.

"We're building a more powerful Owens Corning brand through our cooperative marketing with our customers," Mr. Nolte said.

The marketing portal launched in September 2005 at with the Toledo, OH-based Owens Corning basement finishing system franchisees. The second phase for preferred contractors was launched in early 2006 and the third phase for the strategic marketing organization went live in March. While there's one entry point for all users, customers see only the collateral that pertains to them.

Franchisees in particular have benefited significantly from being able to create print-on-demand, personalized postcards. There was a jump in response rates from 2 percent to 19 percent.

To order the direct mail, franchisees pick from approved templates, upload their company logo and then type in a message about an offer or work they've done in the recipient's neighborhood. This helps franchisees showcase their work, Mr. Nolte said.

Xerox, which is based in Stamford, CT, fulfills the hundreds of orders it receives daily for Owens Corning collateral through a digital printing facility in Toledo.

Besides reducing warehouse costs and improving fulfillment rates, Owens Corning was also looking to reduce translation costs for its marketing materials when it decided to revamp its document-management program.

"Our markets and our customers were requiring more from us," Mr. Nolte said.

Previously, every time the company released a new marketing document, it would have to be translated as an isolated project. At the time, the company worked with nearly 30 vendors for translation.

Now, customers can order marketing materials from the portal in 12 languages. Xerox outsources the translation process to one vendor, which is building a database of Owens Corning translated documents. Every new document that comes in can leverage the work that was done on earlier submissions, reducing costs and speeding up the process.


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