Create Compelling Strategic Communications to Grow Your Business
I’ll respectfully dodge that question, but I’m more than happy to discuss what the future holds for those seeking to create compelling strategic communications that run and grow businesses effectively.
Stuck in the Past
In fact, our industry is more exciting and dynamic than in the more than 30 years that I’ve been working in it.
When I go to conferences or gatherings, I’m hearing about new ways of creating and distributing print and digital communications that were hard to imagine just a few years ago.
But the bigger surprise is actually how few organizations understand the dramatic changes that are taking place — and how to use them to their economic advantage. The magnitude of the change reminds me of the transition from letterpress to offset printing. Offset was adopted slowly, but it is the industry standard today.
What’s so interesting is that in the age of mobile devices, paper communications are making a serious comeback. As it turns out, many people still have a preference for certain types of paper communication that they can hold in their hand.
The Power of Inkjet and Digital
Today, inkjet and digital printing are, hands down, the best way to manufacture paper communications that are beautifully rendered, completely personalized, and highly cost effective. That’s happened because technology has revolutionized how we design communications, capture information, process it, and manage the ongoing interaction. The quality and speed is every bit as good as offset printing.
At the same time, inkjet and digital printing can be combined with behavioral data to anticipate consumer needs and preferences. The result is a powerful new way to create an intimate, relevant conversation with consumers.
One of the key drivers of this new model of communicating is the ability to transfer and manipulate enormous amounts of information and data from clients. That expertise is critical to producing communications that are highly relevant.
Until very recently, organizations were constrained by how much data they could process. Now, the pipes have grown so much bigger that larger amounts of data can be moved quickly, efficiently and securely.
However, technology and data are only part of the story. What makes all of the magic possible is process optimization that controls the process from start to finish.
More Flexibility than Ever
Let me give you an example.
In the past, there might have one or two different versions printed on each run. The only personalization possible would have been a name, and address. Everything was printed in monochrome or at best spot color. Remember the ‘breakthrough” moment when we could use variable messaging?
Fast-forward and everything is on the table. Every image, every sentence and every dot on the page can be customized for each communication. Process optimization governs how one-off communications or full campaigns are executed in real-time. Even the channel can be optimized.
The result is a new breed of highly relevant communications that deliver much greater response rates. And, the relevancy of the communications generates a more favorable view of the brand because consumers can see it speaks to them and isn’t a piece of junk mail.
Previously, changing the message required hundreds of different of versions and press runs. The manufacturing process had to be stopped. The lack of efficiency was just part of the standard operating procedure. The cost and time were significant.
In the new digital world, you can have three variations or 3 million variations. It’s all in one version from a process management standpoint. All the communications are produced in sequence at the same time. The resulting efficiencies are as one should expect — accelerated time-to-market and lower costs.
With the right combination of technology, data, and process optimization, organizations will achieve their goal: influencing the behavior of their recipients and build loyalty. The opposite is also true: Only by combining all three elements will organizations benefit from the economics of this new model.
As in any industry, change comes slowly and then all at once. Right now, we’re in the midst of a paradigm shift that will seem very obvious when we look back five or 10 years from now. There are a lot of diamonds to be mined looking ahead.
John Berger is senior VP of marketing at Business Ink and has more than 30 years of experience in marketing, business and operations development, and strategic partnership initiatives.