By Courtney Saba
When it comes to a print provider’s revenue, marketing collateral retains a large portion of the average shop’s sales. However, the latest technologies enable marketers to become more creative. Digital print providers take advantage of manufacturers’ innovations to improve revenue potential.
“Digital has opened up a whole new world to marketers, and by default, printers,” states John Fulena, VP, production printing business group, Ricoh. By taking advantage of digital printing technologies and tools that address data-driven marketing, print providers can grow their business and ultimately address the latest marketing demands.
The benefits of digital print, including just-in-time production and variability, provide advantages marketers can leverage. From small print for pays to large commercial shops and in-plant operations, the next-generation of marketing collateral applications bring in profit potential. Additionally, technology trends, such as augmented reality and quick response (QR) codes offer a truly unique way to generate attention and track results.
Marketing collateral is typically a primary application offering for print providers.
“Formally called precision marketing or TransPromo, today’s digital print tools—from new types of substrates and color inks to color and ink management software and variable data print (VDP) applications—allow printers to create unique content for their clients that in turn help them better engage with their customers,” says Fulena.
Jacob Shamis, AMS market development manager and high-speed inkjet solutions, HP Inc., says this application is one of the primary staples for digital printing. Because of this, marketing collateral solutions are one of the main applications for revenue generation on digital production equipment.
The latest digital presses allow shops to print virtually any job, any way that a customer wants it—allowing printers to change personalized content on the fly or print multiple pieces at once with only slight variations in font or imagery. “Add on variable data applications and print providers can help clients customize each piece of marketing collateral to be personalized for different customer segments. Digital print technologies allow this to happen quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively—thereby helping printers grow their own business while maintaining both their and their customers’ bottom lines,” says Fulena.
Brands and enterprises look to marketing collateral to communicate the latest relevant information to internal salespeople, retailers, or directly to consumers to drive their services, SKUs, or products into the marketplace, notes Shamis. Digital provides the ability to do this on demand, quickly, and in exact quantities.
“Marketing loves the fact that they can update collateral at any time to reflect changes in the product or service—logo changes, seasonal changes, or anything on that document during its lifecycle in the market,” says Shamis. Digital print capabilities also allow marketers to test market designs, discount levels, images, or wording before putting a final product to market. “Once in the market, with digital it’s very easy to add geographic information like geo maps, addresses, or phone number information for stores or even door-to-door driving information. If a brand or enterprise deals directly with the consumer, they can utilize consumer data to create marketing collateral that becomes extremely relevant to the customer,” says Shamis.
Marketing collateral helps brand managers stand out. “If used wisely, brand managers can implement tactile printing that adds another layer of uniqueness to the application using HP Indigo specialty printing effects. One can also add specific inks and coatings that can really help emphasize the message and combine it with a specific design,” says Shamis.
Fulena points to the importance of color management when it comes to marketing collateral applications. “Whether you’re going for that perfect bright lemon yellow that will capture your brochure reader’s attention for a moment longer, or a client wants the be sure that the red stripe on their business card matches the red stripe on their company brochure identically—that is where a print provider’s color management software and expertise is important to help ensure accurate color reproduction.”
Marketing applications represent an application type that the scope of print providers can leverage. While smaller print for pays may serve smaller-scale customers compared to their commercial counterparts, the goal and opportunity remains the same. Similarly, in-plant operations can shine with on demand print and new technologies.
While any print provider can sell marketing collateral applications to customers and prospects, smaller shops tend to cater to different size brands and companies that are in the sweet spot of selling, production, finishing, and turnaround time. “In many cases, the limiting factor is bandwidth in shop versus the application. Now, smaller shops can always implement a Web to print (W2P) technology to help automate many of the steps. At the end of the day, a billion dollar company needs marketing collateral and the local bakery, florist, and retailer do too,” offers Shamis.
Fulena adds that smaller shops may be providing 2,000 pieces of marketing collateral for a client, where a larger commercial printer might work with a company that needs 20,000. “The difference lies in the level of customization needed and the uniqueness of the piece,” he says, explaining that every sized print provider looks to digital solutions that can maximize the customization and multi-channel capabilities marketers now want, without compromising quality or cost savings.
In terms of the in plant’s take on marketing applications, Shamis sees them utilizing just-in-time printing and VDP as two anchors to their justification for investing in digital print. He says that typically, the ability to control the amount that is required to be printed for any given division or business group is very important. Many in plants operate as a cost center, so controlling waste and obsolescence is of utmost importance in their daily existence.
Fulena says in plants face the challenge of competing with the rise of commercial print. “This is especially true globally, but it is becoming more of a competitive issue in the U.S. as digital printing equipment has changed the printing arena.” He adds that many in plants use digital print equipment for marketing materials much in the same way commercial printers are, but their goal is to use the tools available to demonstrate why marketing material production should remain in house or be brought back in house.
For example, many in plants are bringing in color printers and color management tools to expand their capabilities and the types of materials they can print. “With Caslon and Company predicating color to grow nearly 800 pages in the next six years, in plants that formally did little with color printing are incorporating both hardware and software upgrades to meet the color demand and remain competitive. In addition, many in plants are looking at why marketing materials have been pushed to commercial printers and adopting new variable data, W2P, color management, campaign management, and more applications to help bring that collateral work back in house and keep it there,” says Fulena. “In some respects, it can be easier since the marketing departments are requesting these services in house.”
Many in plants now market themselves internally to other company divisions or groups to educate them on what digital can offer, including special inks and creative substrates that make prints stand out. “Think about an in plant that actually packages their own product. Digital gives them the ability to dynamically decorate their product packaging, change it to seasonal or casual events, or even test market designs effectively and efficiently. Data-driven printing allows in plants to use internal data sources to create highly relevant content for their customers. A great example is a university print shop that would create freshmen student acquisition brochures using college graduation data to drive alumni gift giving,” offers Shamis.
One of the benefits of print is that it’s tactile, a physical sense that cannot be replaced by electronics. However, technology is available to enact a bridge between the physical and virtual world, and these solutions are making their way into marketing collateral.
Josie Stein, marketing communications manager, XMPie, suggests that as digital printing technology advances, capabilities like QR codes, VDP, personal URLs (PURLs), and near field communication and augmented reality (AR) are really opening up new opportunities to make marketing collateral stand out. These elements are designed to grab the attention of the customer, and as Stein says, “are essential elements for engagement and action.”
“Digital and mobile technology has created a shift in consumer behavior and most marketing scientists now agree that an integrated, multi-channel approach that includes a variety of touch points—printed mailed brochures, email, QR codes—will generate better results,” says Fulena. He offers the example of a company that wants to drive prospects to their booth at a trade show. The marketing effort might lead with emails, followed by a brochure highlighting the booth location at the show. They might also have a website within the email that leads to a page that describes the company’s presence at a show, as well as a QR code in the brochure that leads to the company’s core product pages for additional information.
QR codes provide an excellent way to connect physical print with the limitless nature of the Internet. By placing these elements on marketing pieces, such as brochures and posters, interested parties can pick up a piece of printed output and scan it on the spot for additional information or even a special offer. “The information should be relevant and timely, which may ultimately influence their purchasing decision,” suggests Stein.
To entice prospects to take the extra step and scan a QR code, special offers—outlined on printed marketing collateral—are promoted. Stein offers the example of one of its clients, Latcham Direct—a print service provider that wanted to showcase its own capabilities. The company utilized XMPie’s PersonalEffect cross-media solution to orchestrate its marketing campaign, which kicked off with the distribution of Christmas cards featuring personalized images, text, and PURLs that directed customers to a site where they could choose a charity that Latcham would donate to on the recipient’s behalf.
To further allure recipients to visit their PURL, the option to choose a gift was offered. Gifts included a personalized box of chocolate, a handmade icing snowman, or a calendar, which would be delivered by a Latcham sales team member. “In the end, Latcham achieved a 53 percent response rate, along with many inquires for potential projects, and over $2,030 raised for three local charities,” says Stein.
Fulena sees many print providers using their technology to produce their own high-quality brochures, business cards, and signage to showcase what they can do for their clients. “Marketing their marketing capabilities so to speak,” he says.
“Print has always been a static medium. By using new technology, it can now take on new characteristics,” says Shamis. He believes the use of data is becoming increasingly important. “In North America, education, diversity, and technology has rapidly evolved over the last couple of decades. That drives the consumer to demand how they consume information now and in the future. Items like VDP, QR codes, and AR help the static page convey more to the consumer. AR could help educate a student who is learning new scientific information, as illustrations like a circulatory system can come to life and animate on your smartphone or computer. QR codes can launch a video to better educate a consumer on the spot about their product. Embedded RFID, microprint, or specialty inks could help in the tracking and counterfeiting of products. All of these new technologies have their place and applications now, but with some of the very creative printers and marketers—the sky will be the limit,” he predicts.
Knowing the importance of cross-media campaigns, many print providers recommend a blended approach to their customers when producing marketing collateral, demonstrating how a brochure and business card with QR codes can enhance touch points to customers. “Those same print providers are incorporating variable data capabilities into their offerings to provide a customizable approach to the printing of large-scale marketing pieces,” says Fulena.
Digital print technology goes after a few distinct market segments, including books and manuals, direct mail, photo printing, transactional, and collateral. Marketing materials are needed by nearly every organization, and therefore represent prime revenue-generating opportunity. To move from a commodity stigma, digital print providers can take advantage of the latest technologies—such as PURLs, AR, and QR codes—to impress. dps
Aug2016, DPS Magazine