Print in a Multi-channel World --Sherburne
Hi, it's me, just checking back in to see whether you had the opportunity to read my first column in the November issue of Printing Impressions. Did you have a chance to try out the direct mail program I outlined, designed to reduce the number of expensive and often ineffective cold calls your sales professionals are making? If so, let me hear from you. Sharing your successes may encourage others to take advantage of similar approaches and will be a tremendous help to the industry at large as we all work to find our way in the digital world.
Is print dead? This question has been coming up repeatedly since the 1970s when Xerox and others were predicting print's demise. And yet, we are still here, though the overall numbers for the industry have not been stellar. We are a resilient industry and have overcome many past obstacles. What we are facing now, however, is a very different competitive situation.
Most of us are no longer simply competing with the printer(s) down the street. We are competing globally, and we are facing non-traditional competitors, as well. Customers have more alternatives than ever before for getting their message out. They can send millions of e-mails at virtually no cost. They can leverage their Websites to engage potential customers. There are blogs, podcasts and other new means of communication that seem to emerge almost daily.
Marketers are still voting for print with their dollars—by some accounts, print still represents two-thirds of marketing spend. But print is growing at single digits while alternative communications are growing at much faster rates.
So what can we do to help ensure that print remains a viable means of communication and has a healthy future, and what does that have to do with marketing, anyway? Many years ago when I was in sales with Xerox, I had a boss who was fond of saying, "If you are going to be successful in sales, you have to eat your own dog food." In the case of Xerox, we used our own equipment to produce proposals and other materials that helped our sales efforts by showing customers what could be done.
In the case of your business, you can show customers how print plays an important role in a multi-channel communications strategy by using a blended approach in marketing your own business to them.
Last month at an industry event in Las Vegas, I had the pleasure of hearing one of the true entrepreneurs of our industry speak. Michael Panaggio founded Direct Mail Express (DME) in 1982 in Daytona Beach, FL. He has grown DME from a startup employing seven people to a fast paced, continuously expanding, vertically integrated marketing company that currently employs more than 550 associates and will reach $100 million in revenues in 2005. DME offers both offset and digital printing, mailing services, database management, creative services, three customer interaction centers, and a Web hosting operation that hosts more than 700 Websites as well as personal URLs (PURLs).
In working with his customers, Panaggio and his team help customers determine and develop the right medium delivering the right message to the right audience, using a blend of telephone (through the customer interaction centers), mail (print!), the Internet and multimedia. In attracting new customers for himself, Panaggio uses the same approach, integrating the media to deliver a centralized cross-media campaign.
There were about 150 people in the audience of this event, and before most of us even escaped Las Vegas, Panaggio's team had established PURLs for all of us. Once I logged into my PURL with my e-mail address, I was presented with a personalized page that displayed a video presentation about DME, a downloadable PDF of the slides Panaggio presented, information about the value of PURLs in the marketing mix and links to information about DME. It also offered me the opportunity to refer a friend to have their own PURL created, to "share the wealth." And within moments of logging in, I received a personal e-mail thanking me for visiting my PURL and reminding me to explore the options DME offers.
Want to check this out? Send me your e-mail address and I will refer you so you can see your own PURL in action.
According to Panaggio, "One-to-one direct marketing is the single biggest entrepreneurial opportunity ahead of us. The direct marketing/Web combination is gaining a much bigger share of market spend…you have to get into PURLs if you are going to do direct mail. To not do it is just plain dumb." He also added, "The key to our business is not the paper, not the print; it is the ability to track results." And he spoke about how PURLs help make that happen.
Having achieved the $100 million mark, Panaggio's stated objective is to build a $250 million company, and I have no doubt he will achieve that goal. How? By eating his own dog food—by turning the tools and expertise he employs so successfully with his customers to the growth of his own business.
So how can you get started in your quest to expand your own marketing efforts to both grow your own business and educate customers about the powerful role print can play in a multi-channel business communications strategy?
Where to Start?
For many of us, getting started can be daunting. But here is another piece of Panaggio advice: Simple is useful. Start small and test a variety of options and approaches. Track your results to see how you are doing. And these days, the good news is there is no need to build everything yourself. There are many options for buying or partnering to gain access to the expertise you need, and it is more affordable than ever before.
Here's an example: Constant Contact (www.constantcontact.com) is a do-it-yourself e-mail marketing service that claims more than 40,000 small businesses and associations as customers. You can get started for as little as $15 per month or take advantage of their 90-day free trial. Who couldn't afford that? The service provides a range of professionally designed e-mail templates and step-by-step instructions for how to "create eye-catching e-mail campaigns." Try it out, but be sure to blend your campaigns with printed components. After all, that's the message we are trying to get across here—how print can work together with alternative media to be more effective than any one medium alone!
Not only will this multi-channel market approach deliver results for your business, it will be the best way to show your customers how you can help their business communications be more effective.
See you next time. In the interim, please, share your stories. I would love to hear them.
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.