A Digital Marketing Manifesto
An open letter to the printing industry and letter shops…
For years, those of us who make our living producing transactional, marketing, loyalty and other types of printed communications have been hearing our days are numbered. It was obvious to everyone that it was just a matter of time until everything would go digital, hence paperless. However, what nobody considered was the possibility that printing would go digital too! Well guess what… It did!
As an industry it is important to recognize that we are at the beginning of this journey. The real disruption is still ahead. We are operating in an environment where physical mail and the digital marketing channels are rapidly converging. We may actually be at the start of a printing Renaissance in which opportunities exist for those with vision. More importantly, we need to recognize that print is no longer constrained by static content instead now a piece of paper is essentially a blank digital canvas.
For those who haven’t thought this through to its future state, we are starting to get a glimpse of the power created when you combine a well designed mail campaign with a carefully coordinated multi-channel digital marketing plan. Add to that technology such as Augmented Reality or a PURL and suddenly a piece of mail is the gateway to a digital experience.
Using these new tools can and will increase response rates dramatically. How dramatically depends on a multitude of factors which will include everything from the data analytics techniques used to segment the names to the dynamic content and business rules used to drive the offers. The bottom line… this isn’t your Dad’s direct mail! Nobody can afford shotgun blast marketing anymore.
With ever increasing costs in the supply chain, print service providers need to recognize that survival will depend on their ability to evolve into a full service marketing provider. Return on marketing investment (ROMI) is the new boss! The game has changed. Postal optimization and lean manufacturing while important are now table stakes. The future is data analytics and dynamic content management combined with a multi-channel marketing strategy that drives new levels of response as well as higher ROMI. There are of course many more things to consider which I will discuss in future blogs.
However, if you are still wondering if you should jump into the digital print arena or are thinking of digital print as a sort of offset replacement strategy without embracing true variable content or 1:1 possibilities, your prospects will dim quickly in the next few years. Those who can only produce static print or remain strictly a print service provider will experience further commoditization of their services, reduction in their margins and erosion of their volume.
Here is a beautiful but concerning truth… Print is not dead, mail is not dead but printers that do not embrace a digital future probably will be!
Dave Johannes is the Executive Vice President, Strategic Initiatives, at Moore DM Group, Tulsa, Okla. Johannes is a veteran of the industry with a passion for digital technology. He is also a recipient of the Graphic Communications Association Innovator Award. Johannes' personal business philosophy is: "Success depends on a shared understanding of both the opportunity and the risk for all parties, followed by collaboration to achieve the shared goals."