Digital production systems can help you save costs, improve efficiency and get to market faster. Four industry experts discuss how marketers can get started with these bottom line-boosting tactics
EVP & COO, QuantumDigital
There are a few digital production tactics businesses can use to improve efficiency, save money and reduce time to market.
One way is to take advantage of Web-to-print portals to streamline the creation, distribution and fulfillment of approved marketing materials and support documentation such as sales and branding guidelines, process documents and approved marketing collateral. Through these portals, such items can be made available to associates within days rather than weeks. Additionally, because approved materials are centralized in one location online, businesses can be assured that their associates are accessing and using only the most current version of marketing materials available. This reduces instances of obsolete collateral and waste.
Another digital production method that provides high value is on-demand digital printing. Compared to traditional offset printing, the process of preparing files for digital printing is automated and does not require lengthy procedures like color separating or generating plates and screens. This translates to savings of money, resources and time. Additionally, because files are rendered via software programs, variable data may be introduced to projects. With this powerful technology, every single printed piece can be unique, personalized for each individual recipient. Relevancy for your customers equates to increased response rates and ROI for you.
Finally, there are some innovative demographic geo-targeting tools available that can accurately pinpoint where a marketer’s perfect prospects are located. Marketers start by describing the specific demographic characteristics of their ideal customer, then, identify a specific mailing area. These tools, like MapMail for example, search sophisticated sets of data from verified national mailing lists to find prospects that match qualities the marketer is targeting. Using such tools allows marketers to be very targeted with direct mail campaigns rather than relying on an ineffective “spray and pray” method.
Understanding the tools and services available to you is the first step to improving efficiency, saving money and reducing time to market. Leveraging the power of digital production tactics like the ones described above will give you a competitive advantage and bottom-line savings
Software that searches across mailing lists help print stay on target and sent accurately
Chairman, Gabriel Group
Today’s marketers – whether in the commercial or nonprofit worlds – are looking for ways to market more selectively, get to market faster, and to put the best practices of one-to-one marketing into profitable action. We are among the printers that recommend and provide technology, including automated workflows and business intelligence, as well as a proprietary Web-based marketing resource management platform that helps reduce client costs throughout the entire marketing process.
Through a fractional ownership model, marketers effectively “own” a piece of a highly sophisticated marketing engine on an as-needed basis, without the investment in equipment, software and staff.
For example, an international biotech client with 6,800 employees in 35 countries estimates that Web-accessed digital workflows have reduced marketing costs 25% annually for three consecutive years.
We’ve come a long way from the days when a simple change of address required setting type, placing it on a board, making film, approving film, making proofs, approving proofs, making plates, getting the press set up, and running a press check to make sure that only the address, not the colors on the graphics had changed. Now a change can be made with a few keystrokes with the assurance that only the change will change – there are software tools to measure and assure color consistency from run to run. Multiply this across list selects, variable letters and one-to-one postcards to further present the point.
Other cost savings include staffing requirements. Today’s digital workflows are so well-organized and orderly that it dramatically decreases time spent ordering, customizing, tracking, proofing, press checking and tracking materials.
Reduced warehousing costs are also saved in digital workflows. Materials sitting on warehouse shelves are gathering some very pricey dust. It’s not just the cash tied up, but the cost of the space and the people and systems who manage it.
Most importantly and least used is improved business intelligence — digital workflows track and account for all kinds of costs, usages and activities. This is valuable business intelligence, providing clues to a whole range of issues.
A printing partner with established digital workflows can help speed production
The convergence of software-as-a-service (SaaS) and Enterprise 2.0-based collaboration technologies has brought the next generation of project management applications to the forefront. This helps marketers execute their projects on time, on budget and with the right quality.
At OrangeSprocket, we use an online project management system from Clarizen. This provides team members with an easy way to share knowledge, be in sync and ensure that everyone is on the same page. By leveraging team collaboration and a SaaS delivery model, the next generation of project systems provides a significant advantage for companies in completing their portfolio of design projects on time and increasing their competitive edge.
There are some ways these tools help design marketers need to consider in order to save costs, improve efficiency and get to market faster.
Most marketing projects require multiple people collaborating to make the project happen. Now imagine dozens of such projects all needing to be pushed through a team of limited capacity, with each team member working on multiple projects simultaneously. Without a clearly defined plan, tasks are likely to slip through the cracks and delay projects.
A good project plan is a starting point. If there are any surprises, the manager creates a revised plan and communicates the new plan, schedule, dependencies and due dates to team members. This process alone can become a huge drain on time, especially when it is repeated on multiple projects and takes time away from other responsibilities.
These tools help the team stay on the same page. One of the biggest reasons that design projects are delayed is because team members are not on the same page. The project manager must ensure that each team member clearly understands their tasks, schedules and dependencies and that they are on the same page with respect to project specifications, revisions and assumptions.
Finally, the ability to always view anup-to-date report on the status of a given project frees many hours every week froma project manager’s schedule for higher value-added tasks.
Online project management systems help all stakeholders stay on the same page
Manager, DM Solutions, InfoPrint
The challenging economy is forcing consumers to spend less, sending marketers scrambling for solutions that drive results on a shrinking budget. The CMO Council’s recent Routes to Revenue study suggested that 60% of marketers polled will implement more personalized, relevant campaigns, and 45% were determined to do a better job of cross- and up-selling — driving improved financial results with the existing customer base. But exactly how should a marketer go about implementing these campaigns to ensure optimal and maximum results?
Transpromo, the combination of must-read documents with customized, targeted promotional materials is a strong and proven strategic choice for 2009, because it transforms a traditional cost center into a revenue generating opportunity. To ensure that direct mailers and marketers reach their targeted audience with relevant communications, they need to first take a hard look at the current information they hold on each customer or group of customers.
Strong data analytics play a huge first role in the implementation of transpromo. After the content has been analyzed and processed, a document composition team must step in to ensure that the new mailing is different enough to stand out to the customer, while retaining the look and feel they are used to. This is a very fine line to walk so as not to alienate recipients, which is why proven and intelligence document composition tools are so vital.
After this is all completed, will it actually work? Yes. In fact, it has helped two of the world’s largest brands increase sales and delivered an impressive ROI. Both Best Western International and one of the top five leading US cable companies leveraged full digital personalized color statements to build on their bottom line. Overall, both companies saw incremental cost savings, incredibly improved efficiency and impressive results that fell right in line with their overall campaign objectives.
Transpromo is one proven tool for delivering personalized, relevant customer communications than enable revenue generation and customer retention. Today’s digital technologies and software are strategic to enhance and improve all aspects of marketing, delivering results in today’s tight economy.
Successful transpromo requires strong data analytics and document composition