Printer/Call Center Alliance Aims to Improve Marketing for SMBs
By George Miller
GRAND BLANC/FERNDALE, MI—July 26, 2006—In a recently announced strategic alliance, Contact Results Inc. acts as the front end of a marketing operation that encompasses all forms of customer contact, including phone, fax, email, and printing and distribution. Behind Contact Results is Allied Printing Co., a service provider offering offset print production, digital print production, data management, mailing, warehousing and fulfillment, and program management.
The alliance is significant more for its contact center genesis than its marketing scope. “We are marketing support that comes from a contact center perspective. As a contact center, you must value every opportunity to touch the customer—you must value the contact and get the most out of it,” said John “J.R.” Robertson, president and one of two founding principals, in an interview. “It’s important to be able to do it all.”
Contact Results chose Allied Printing because of its scope of services. “Most printers are either a printer, a mail house, a distribution house, etc. Allied was the only one that brought all the functions together,” said Robertson. “And they have figured out how to do the data management across different services. It made sense to go with Allied because I didn’t have to figure out how to do it,” said Robertson.
He admits to experiencing a bit of a culture clash in partnering with a printer. “The contact center industry wants weeks—even four to eight weeks—to launch a campaign,” he said. “These guys [at Allied] want to do things in 48 hours. We’ve got to be able to go faster to keep up with them.”
Would it make as much sense for a printer to ally with a call center if the printer wanted to expand its business? “Bringing it to a true strategic partnership means developing a new overarching mission,” said Robertson. “It’s more than just a way to sell more print.”
The Contact Results/Allied Printing alliance targets small to mid-size businesses. People view such businesses as the little guy who will take care of them, said Robertson, which is an edge they have over their big-company competitors.
The technology to help them take advantage of this competitive edge isn’t all that expensive or difficult, says Robertson. “But everyone is looking offshore to save money.” He is looking for the small to mid-size business clients who are willing to spend “a little more” to make it worth their while. “Those are the kind of clients I want.”
Robertson and company co-founder Jim Tisdel are long-time business acquaintances. Two years ago, Tisdel was president and chief executive at customer analytics company InterSight Technologies, which provides the data analytics behind Contact Results marketing campaigns. Tisdel still holds that position. Robertson at that time was at a company called Contact Center Optimization doing consulting work, when clients began asking him to do the work that he had advised for their businesses.
He decided to do so, but admits to another motivation: “I’m appalled by the way big companies take me for granted and don’t want me as a customer. I want to fix it.” He and Tisdel formed Contact Results in July 2004.
Since then, the company has varied in size from a high of 20 employees to as small as the two co-founders providing consulting services. In partnership with Allied, the count is about 75.
He describes the company as “national, with a focus in southeast Michigan now.”