Web-to-Print : Hard Lessons Learned
From a technological standpoint, Western Graphics has enjoyed fairly smooth sailing. The biggest snafus occur when clients (particularly the marketing folks) try to add too many variables in the form of excess decision trees. In trying to create an advanced tool, customers can end up frustrating their satellites.
Follow the KISS Principle
"The marketing people think that if they make it all-encompassing, they can then outsource their creation," he says. "It ends up backfiring; a franchise will try to convince a store manager to spend 30 or 45 minutes to design a customized brochure or postcard, but it's just too sophisticated for them. They're not marketing people; they've got a store to manage. So, we purposely try to talk people out of building it too intricately."
Global Thinking, the target marketing division of Alexandria, VA-based Global Printing, jumped into the W2P fray about five years ago using off-the-shelf solutions, but soon became frustrated at the inability to customize. Its program has picked up considerable momentum during the past three years, and Global Thinking is now operating a couple dozen sites, providing marketing collateral and publications for the automotive, publishing and human resources sectors.
Kevin Fay, project manager for Global Thinking, notes that a number of association clients—of which Washington, DC, has a wealth—look to the printer for document publishing. It also provides the requisite stationery and business cards. About a quarter of Global's primary clients have bought into the W2P concept.
"We got into it when people started asking for it, but we also wanted something that was a little easier on us on our end," Fay remarks. "Orders can go straight into production, bypassing customer service. Now, we've created a strategy to help customers and solve their problems."
With each successful site launch, Global Thinking creates more opportunities for itself within the walls of the same customer organization. Fay points out that his firm might set up a site for the marketing department of a given customer, and then another sector within the client's business comes forward with different items to put on the site.