Companies that are successful at developing a communications plan to acquire and retain customers are generally those that have discovered the value of integration—that is, combining different communication methods into a single cohesive mix. There is no one ideal communications channel that optimizes reach, frequency, message focus, target specificity, and cost effectiveness. Each channel has its strengths, balanced by the complementary strengths of the others.
Recently I had the opportunity to interview Steven Amiel, senior VP, Strategic Content Imaging and John Mahoney, VP of sales and marketing, The Mahoney Company. Both firms are focused on partnering with their clients to offer a full range of marketing communications and campaign management services. Their emphasis is on the development of a powerful and persuasive image with consistency and continuity that catapults their clients to the top of their respective industries.
The services provided include the delivery of Web-based, cross-media solutions that allow resellers, retailers, and direct sales forces to easily create and distribute customized output from print ads, direct-mail with list procurement, product literature, e-surveys, and e-newsletters. They are migrating into the new age of printing by delivering integrated marketing communications services. The goal of this article is to give you a starting point to expand your digital business.
Strategic Content Imaging
UNIMAC Graphics, a full service commercial printer located seven miles from Manhattan, saw a need to provide a one-stop-shop for its customer base. The company was created with the merge of Union Graphics and MacNaughton Einson Graphics, and has over 100 years of experience servicing major agencies, financial services institutions, publishers, and pharmaceutical and health care companies. A number of clients were looking for complimentary services that included digital printing, pre-press, and large format printing, so UNIMAC formed a new division, Strategic Content Imaging (SCI), headed by Burt Scherman.
SCI has grown 50 percent per year for the past three years and will be moving to a 90,000 square foot facility in New Jersey this year. According to Amiel, "I attribute our success to our ability to identify customers and markets that place a high value on our work. We clearly focused on a specific bull’s eye—the 50 million dollar to two billion dollar company or division with multiple products sold through multiple distribution channels." SCI’s view was that this customer base had a need and appreciation for integrated cross-media campaign management and the blend of services offered by the combination of SCI and UNIMAC.
With the lines separating data, print, and fulfillment services beginning to blur, SCI saw a need to support pre-press, print, and fulfillment models, as well as dynamic communications needs across multiple channels. The company developed a unique value proposition that featured the benefits of an integrated model, fewer suppliers to manage, better cost efficiencies, improved time to market, and most importantly, a better marketing ROI.
"Web-based cross-media application support was an essential component to the product mix. As we looked at options in the marketplace, we chose Cierant, in Connecticut, whose product line includes Web-based applications for the customization and delivery of print and email campaigns, online surveys, and e-commerce, as well as tools for automating the development of sales proposals and price quotations," Amiel says. Cierant was an ideal partner for SCI, and on August 3, 2005, Cierant and SCI announced their intent to merge operations.
SCI’s flagship offering is called Strategic Targeted Electronic Print Solutions (STEPS). STEPS is an Application Service Provider (ASP) Web-based cross-media marketing suite that enables a sales channel to both execute and measure customized, local campaigns quickly, simply, and economically.
STEPS is an integrated suite of user-friendly applications that allow the local sales rep or distributor to execute multi-channel marketing campaigns. SCI has taken this one step further through the incorporation of SalesMaster, an integrated sales automation tool that incorporates presentation, quotation, proposal, and resource library tools. SalesMaster provides the tools to generate informative proposals that help account reps win that next big account, including a Proposal Builder, Quote Builder, Presentation Toolkit, and ePitchBook.
While STEPS has only been a key service offering for SCI for the past 12 months, the company already has 18 major corporations using the service to support their distribution channels. Amiel states, "This breadth of service has had a major impact on customer loyalty and puts us in a category where only a few vendors can compete."
The Mahoney Company
VP of sales, John Mahoney, says, "Our objective is to enhance our customer’s business by delivering the right information, to the right audience, at the right time." The Mahoney Company works with its clients to do more than just speak to customers—the goal is to ensure that customers are heard.
The Mahoney Company combines hands-on knowledge and leading-edge technology to provide solutions for campaign design, database preparation, improved message effectiveness, and increased marketing ROI.
The company was formed in 1986 in Silicon Valley as a COPYMAT Franchise. In 1990, the firm bought its first Xerox DocuTech and became a leading provider of high tech software manuals and documentation.
In 2001, PDF emerged as a pervasive industry standard. Electronic distribution became the rule rather than the exception, and B&W digital printing rapidly became a commodity. According to Mahoney, the company quickly realized the need to revamp its business plan to both survive and thrive. "We wanted to participate in a market space that was value oriented, versus price sensitive. We concluded that we never wanted to be in a commodity business again," Mahoney states.
There are varying statistics in the market surrounding value added services, but estimates are that for every dollar spent on print and finishing, there is another six dollars spent on ancillary services. The Mahoney Company decided that participation in the larger revenue opportunity was a strategy for success, and that meant providing marketing communications services.
Not unlike SCI, The Mahoney Company recognized the implications of the Internet for cross-media communications. It established a partnership with L2 Solutions for a Web-based direct-mail and brand management system using Fuse, a Web-based service through which distributed sales forces, resellers, and enterprise agents securely access branded collateral and the tools to create and order personalized communications. By centralizing the management of the brand assets, marketing teams have the ability to control branding and messaging throughout the enterprise and facilitate local implementation. Fuse can produce direct-mail, Web landing pages, email content, and data integration from a single platform.
"The combination of our digital capabilities with Fuse makes our customers look at us as an invaluable resource. It establishes customer loyalty and provides an annuity revenue stream from repetitive marketing campaigns," Mahoney says.
SCI and The Mahoney Company epitomize the new age of printing, with marketing communications services. They demonstrate how companies that track the market closely heed the many warnings about the dismal future offered by providing commodity printing, and they adjust their business models to help customers produce integrated marketing campaigns that deliver an improved ROI will excel in the new age of marketing communications services. Those that choose to ignore pervasive industry trends and warnings will face even greater challenges.