DME Delivers With Innovative Programs — Michelson
MICHAEL PANAGGIO may not be a household name in traditional printing circles but—as founder and CEO of DME based in Daytona Beach, FL—his company is a trendsetter in creating cross-platform marketing programs that marry variable data digital printing with Internet-based communications. Operating four Xerox iGen3 digital color production presses, more than a dozen monochrome laser printing systems and four offset presses, Panaggio doesn’t think of himself as being a printer when describing the $100 million business that’s predicated around targeted, one-to-one direct marketing.
Customized direct mail printing is just one arrow in DME’s quiver to provide its well-pampered clients with personalized marketing strategies. Newer weapons are the company’s sophisticated Web operation that hosts more than 700 Websites; its state-of-the-art video studio that produces streaming media clips for personalized URLs (Websites); as well as an around-the-clock, 72-seat call center.
Considering how much of DME’s business a single marketer can represent, it’s also noteworthy that the company isn’t interested in having clients sign contracts. “You don’t ever want a customer to feel locked in,” Panaggio said during an interview for this issue’s cover story. DME’s ongoing database work and testing are what keep customer and vendor tied together after a program is launched. In addition, not having a contract keeps the DME team always looking for incremental improvement and not resting on its laurels, asserts the company exec. Besides, by definition, a contract expires, which only encourages a client to ask for RFPs at that point, Panaggio contends.
Just as progressive is DME’s approach to keeping its 600+ “team members” challenged and excited to come to work every day. The company is situated on an 11-acre campus complete with employee perks such as an exercise facility (including a full-time athletic trainer), a commissary where workers who have been with the firm for at least five years get their breakfasts and lunches for free, and even a hair salon. A concerted effort is made to move staff around within the company to accommodate individual career aspirations. Women have prominent roles, including Panaggio’s sister who serves as COO and another female exec who heads the mail shop as examples. “We consider staff as our Number One customer,” Panaggio enthuses, followed in importance by DME’s clients and strategic partners. Along the same vein, he counsels other companies to support, not thwart, their internal entrepreneurs (innovators). Reward your hardest-working employees and create workplaces that can serve as your most important marketing weapon, he adds.
DME is also innovative when it comes building outlets for its marketing services. For example, the company is branching out into creating what it calls marketing clubs to offer controlled distribution products. “Instead of doing marketing for others, we create the (print) product ourselves and then recruit the organizations that fit within that segment,” explains Larry Oliphant, president and CEO of sister company DME Sales Systems. Rather than securing one client in a given market, DME signs on several non-competitive suppliers and then creates a custom direct mail piece geared toward their common audience. It’s a win-win: the clients all save money and increase sales, while DME generates more revenue and maintains ownership of all of the data. “We’re going to launch five of those in the next 12 months,” Oliphant reveals. “We will have our own distribution of 15 to 20 million pieces of mail.” Just one more way for DME to push the envelope when it comes to direct marketing.
Mark T. Michelson