Today’s chief marketing officer (CMO) faces the conflicting difficulties of new channels of distribution; a 24/7 global economy; pressure to deliver identifiable ROI; and the need to deal with rapidly advancing technologies that are changing the face of marketing. Marketers must more efficiently and effectively segment their markets; attract new customers with continuity campaigns that cultivate engagement; support multiple channels of distribution with comprehensive materials aligned to the specific channel; identify cross-sell and up-sell opportunities; and maximize the lifetime value of the customer.
GDS Rises to the Challenge
While some graphic communications service providers fail to understand the role they could play in meeting the challenges faced by the CMO, New York City-based Global Document Solutions Corporation (GDS) readily offers solutions in this area to its customers. Established in 1906, GDS delivers consultative customer service and technology-driven solutions to help clients output innovative, cost-effective, and mission-critical communications.
As GDS assessed its services portfolio, it saw the disconnect between the needs of the CMO and the ability of organizations to implement solutions for multi-channel marketing. In a report entitled Select & Connect, published by the CMO Council, marketing executives indicate that the number one barrier to achieving marketing effectiveness is complex and costly data and system integration requirements.
Creative graphic communications service providers like GDS realize that developing solutions to address specific pain points of CMOs can result in business expansion.
Defining the Right Product
A product strategy involves figuring out what your customer wants and inventing or creating a product/service offering that differentiates you from your competition. A prospect or existing customer will eventually buy if they believe a product will meet their needs and perform as expected. The dynamics surrounding product offerings are changing dramatically in the graphic communications world. Printing companies are clearly investing in the latest digital technologies and will continue to do so over the long term. It is also clear that the ways in which companies compete and differentiate themselves are changing radically. In addition, graphic communications companies traditionally driven by a product-centric strategy—selling print—are beginning to shift their focus to service—or product/service-centric strategies.
After analyzing customer needs, GDS realized that a marketing solutions focus was critical to its long-term business direction. The company decided to deliver a fully integrated multi-channel marketing Web-to-print portal that gives organizations the ability to compose, customize, and distribute their marketing documents. The result was an internally-developed product/service offering called empowerDocs. This solution enables GDS customers to maintain consistent messaging and content while allowing users to personalize and localize marketing collateral in accordance with predefined guidelines.
The system was designed so that marketing organizations could design templates for marketing literature and collateral. The templates—with special sections reserved for personalization and customization—are posted online, where authorized users can access them through the empowerDocs portal. Users can log on to create, proof, approve, order, and track their materials using just a few simple screens. They can request that materials be delivered in hardcopy or electronic form. In addition, campaigns can be multi-channel multi-touch. The offer is typically presented as a link to a personalized URL (pURL). The campaign’s mail file is used to generate pURLs for each recipient. These pURLs are then woven within the direct mail piece, along with other variable data.
When the recipients type their pURLs into a browser, they arrive at personalized Web pages populated with copies, images, and offers based on customer data. pURL Web pages can be as simple or advanced as the needs of a marketing program dictate. From there, the measurement and reporting of results begins.
Sage Software decided to partner with GDS and leverage the empowerDocs solution. Based on the GDS empowerDocs platform, the Sage Print-On-Demand Portal enables business partners to customize document content online through a series of guided steps as defined in the required document workflow.
The Sage Print-On-Demand Portal solution provides integrated document distribution capabilities that allow consumers to optimize distribution strategies. The system enables Sage Business Partners to generate documents personalized for mailing or email distribution as well as bulk shipment. Each distribution module minimizes expenses through integrated sorting routines and comparison of best-cost methods based on user requirements. Consumers can maintain individual distribution data or draw from system-stored data based on user access privileges. Real-time distribution expense data—including online co-op fund management—is reported to the user prior to order fulfillment.
Managing the Process
The Sage Print-On-Demand Portal provides a document management workflow that offers access to real-time data and management reporting tools. The procurement process utilizes a standard shopping cart workflow for payment. Payment can be managed via credit card or allocation of pre-set funds. It also has integrated routines that let Sage Business Partners appropriately apply co-op funding.
GDS Response Management
The Sage Print-On-Demand portal leverages pURL technology to automate the fulfillment process. GDS places a personalized Web address on each direct mail piece, making it easier for the partner’s prospects to respond. As prospects respond to accept the partner’s offer, the portal captures each visit and emails instant sales alerts to the partners. The Sage Print-On-Demand Portal also produces and distributes a personalized fulfillment kit associated with the partner’s order. The Web address loads a personalized Web page with further information on the offer which reinforces the call to action. The pURL also validates critical contact information about the partner’s prospects.
GDS Response Management captures information, which increases the number of qualified leads over traditional marketing. Client lists, Web visitors, and other statistics are available for download in CSV formats from the portal.
To reach customers and prospects with an effective presentation of the company’s capabilities, GDS decided to use the tools it is selling to customers and prospects to promote itself.
GDS partnered with Magicomm to create a campaign to educate customers and prospects about new GDS capabilities through an open house event. Magicomm provides integrated direct-to-customer solutions designed to increase revenue opportunities, reduce costs, and improve brand awareness.
The initial mailing consisted of a postcard mailer using variable imaging and personalization. The mailer indicated that like fine wine, GDS can help clients customize to perfection and invited the recipient to an open house and wine tasting.
The mailer had a pURL that linked to a landing page. The offer to click through was enticing. It was a link to register for the event and receive a customized bottle of wine. The landing page gathered relevant information about the prospect or customer. The survey also asked a simple question regarding the areas of interest the organization might have that relate to the services GDS could provide.
Respondents were asked to select from four wines and two styles of wine labels. They could even name their winery. There was a follow-up thank you note, and of course, the bottle of wine with a private label for the participant.
The New Value Proposition
With focus on accountability, multi-channel marketing is gaining momentum. There will be more focus on accountability and the ability to prove how Web-to-print and multi-channel marketing campaigns translate into growth and profitability. Marketers need solutions that will support distribution channels in a 24/7 global economy, deliver identifiable ROI, and help them sort through media options and alternatives. Success with marketing executives will be crucial to the profitability of your business. These are times of significant change in marketing, and graphic communications firms can play a key role in driving that change.
GDS understands that its customers are striving to enhance customer loyalty, improve customer satisfaction, and promote share of wallet. Graphic communications service providers need to take notice of the available technology and opportunity. They need to develop the right product and service portfolio. The market is changing, and evolving your business to align with new market demands is essential to long-term growth and profitability.