And the Award Goes to. . .—Sherburne
In November, for the third year in a row, I had the pleasure of judging the DICE Awards. DICE, the Digital Imaging Customer Exchange (www.dicegroup.org, formerly the Indigo Customer Exchange), has been around for more than a decade and just reached the 300-member mark. The group has expanded beyond owners of Indigo presses to owners of any digital press, and secured sponsorships from both Kodak and Xerox in the process.
For me, the DICE Awards are the highlight of the DICE meeting. Users submit items in a number of categories and submissions are judged by a panel of three industry experts on a variety of criteria. This year, there were five categories of entries: Best Personalized Customer Acquisition, Best Personalized Customer Retention, Outstanding Self-Promotion, Best Use of Digital Printing, and Excellence in Digital Printing. Based on the ranking of the judges, a VDP Extraordinaire award was also given to the “Best-of-Show” single entry that best represented the sophistication and power of one-to-one marketing—regardless of the purpose.
My favorite category is always self-promotion. It is exciting to see how enterprising print service providers are using their own technology in creative ways to get their message out. There were 24 entries in this category from 18 companies. They ranged from standard capabilities brochures to calendars, books, posters, holiday cards and postcards.
The winning entry was submitted by Seattle’s Revolution Inc., and was by far the most creative entry I have seen in the past three years. It was a board game called “Get Revolution” that is customized for each client and includes their specific business challenges, represented both in the game and in the game pieces, which often represent the customer’s key competitors. The game is packaged in a box that looks as though it could have come from Parker Brothers or Hasbro, and includes images of the sales rep and the target customer’s logo.
The construction of the game in and of itself is impressive, but the process for deploying it is where the power lies. The process starts with a letter to the customer, is followed up by sending the game to them—minus the board. When the salesperson calls on them in person, he or she then brings the board to complete the process.
While Revolution’s President and CEO Bob Bass indicates that the company has rolled this out on a limited basis so far, the results have been terrific. Bass indicates that the concept and the implementation elements came from a brainstorming session he held with his team. This is obviously a complicated and somewhat expensive piece to produce, but if it results in the acquisition of even one large customer, it is well worth the effort.
Second place was secured by Vertis Communications with its Sushi self-promo piece. It was packaged in a large red box reminiscent of Chinese or Japanese take-out, packed with red tissue, and containing several items, some printed and some not (i.e., chopsticks), with a Sushi theme and tying the messaging back to Vertis’ capabilities.
The imaging was beautiful, and considering that we were undertaking the judging from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., I was ready to run out and find the first available Japanese restaurant, and oh, by the way, perhaps send the business for my next direct mail campaign to Vertis.
Third place went to DME of Daytona Beach, FL, for its Me-Marketing 365 calendar. This was a highly personalized and attractive calendar that served two purposes. First, it puts the calendar—and DME’s name—in front of the customer for the entire year. And, secondly, it is a visual demonstration of the type of highly customized piece DME could, in turn, produce for the client to send to its customers. In fact, it was also entered in the VDP Acquisition and Retention categories.
Sadly, there were still entries that were capabilities brochures heavily focused on equipment lists, with too many pictures of buildings and presses. The judges were in agreement that, while the quality of the printing was exceptional, the content was off the mark in today’s very different print buying environment.
Whether you produce digital printing, offset printing, or both, there are many ways to creatively promote your business that leverage the hard work you have done (I hope) on developing a cohesive marketing strategy. Turn your team loose in a brainstorming session like Bob Bass did and see what you come up with. As they say in the advertising world, whatever you generate needs to “break through the clutter” and be relevant and meaningful to the target audience.
It should also demonstrate your capabilities in a way that resonates with the recipient. To be honest, most of today’s print buyers—marketing professionals and others—could care less about what your building looks like or how many presses of which type you have.
They are interested in how you can help them achieve a return on their marketing investment. They want to know how you can help them achieve results and justify their marketing budgets. They want someone who understands their business and demonstrates a proactive approach to helping them address the issues that keep them awake at night. (For more of what chief marketing officers are looking for, refer to my column in the August 2006 issue of PRINTING IMPRESSIONS, and let that guide your self-promotion strategy.)
While customer conversations may turn to your equipment configuration at some point, it is not the hook that will engage them with you from the get-go. That is, unless you are dealing with a traditional print buyer who is primarily concerned with finding the low-cost provider. Otherwise, turn the creativity of your team loose and see what can be developed. PI
About the Author
Cary Sherburne is a well-known journalist, author and strategic marketing consultant working primarily with the printing and publishing industry. She is a frequent speaker at industry events, a regular contributor to industry publications and has written three books, available through the National Association for Printing Leadership (www.napl.org). Sherburne can be reached at Cary@SherburneAssociates.com.