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Digital is Dead – Google chooses to “Print”

Digital is Dead – Google chooses to “Print”

Don’t start getting all your ads off the internet yet– they are still worth something. But be advised that digital does not always work as well as you think. Even the elephant in the room who’s been telling everyone for the past 10 years that online advertising is the best way to get customers has recently come to the realization that the new Ink and Paper method is worth engaging to attract new customers when the old Digital way does no longer do the job.

google's direct mail piece

This morning I have opened up my POBox to find an envelope with Google’s logo on it and my address plus FSC logo which is fashionable now. Inside was a 4 page postcard printed 4/2 on a 100% recycled paper and a business card sized 14pt card with rounded corners printed 4/4 digital with a variable code on one side and most likely AQ coating (it definitely looks like a shell card because the AQ coating goes only half way on one side to ensure that the variable code can be imprinted at any time). What surprised me though was the fact that there was no QR code on the card. Google actually wants me to type the 29 character URL into my browser and then type the 24 random character code to get a credit for my Adsense. Although, for me this is a little too much work I’m sure there may be others who will jump on this direct mail offer. Good for you Google. I’m sure others will follow realizing that Print is still King, for local businesses.

Can Augmented Reality help print?

Can Augmented Reality help print?

Wallpaper Magazine has recently released an experimental version of their magazine – still ink on paper but with an incorporated QR code which when scanned by a mobile telephone camera or a webcam connects to the magazines server, activates a specific program and begins displaying digital images on top of the actual image being viewed in the mobile device. Amazing stuff. Now I’m not about to run to the newstand to pay for a copy of the magazine just to see this in action, that’s why I asked the title question if this will help print. I figured I’ll use technology to show off technology. So, below is a video capture of what happens when a webcam scans the magazine’s cover page off the iPhone. Enjoy.

Make it Personal. Make it Count.

Make it Personal. Make it Count.

viThere is a full spectrum of services that are needed to create VI (variable imaging) documents: Design and Composition, Data Processing, Data Conditioning and Quality, RIP and Print, Fulfillment and Response Tracking.
While some print providers will keep the entire process in-house as a way to drive additional revenue, most printers will opt for just one or two pieces of the process. It’s important to have a working knowledge of each step of the process.
Let’s take a look at the various steps.

Design and Composition
Design and layout are critical success factors in 1 to 1 marketing. That’s why ad agencies and graphic artists are sometimes hired to complete this stage of the process. Their skill and expertise in branding packaging and presenting marketing messages is invaluable.
The creative process for 1 to 1 marketing does have its obstacles. Unlike designing documents for offset presses, careful consideration must be given to the placement of static versus variable information. Graphic artists should have a good understanding of database and printing technology. They should also understand the Limitations of the software and hardware they’re working with in order to successfully design a 1 to 1 document.

Data Processing
Data segmentation and analysis are the most important activity in the development of a full color, variable information documents. In the world of databases, there are two categories: Customer Transaction Files (CTF) and Marketing Customer Information Files (MCIF or MCF). These two databases are very different. CTFs are data- bases created from transactional data such as purchases or invoices. They have complex data formats, non-relational structure and contain Lots of customer codes that have minimal use in marketing programs. They are used extensively by service bureaus in transactional applications, but in this case the mainframe-type data is
cleansed (see data conditioning), formatted in the production workflow and flowed into a fixed template. Due to the complexity and difficulty in setting up applications with images and graphics with this data, CTFs are seldom used for marketing communications applications.
In stark contrast to CTFs, Marketing Communications Information Files are composed of demographic, geographic and psychographic (buying preferences, predisposition) information, relational, and contain critical data for development of customer loyalty, cross-sell and competitive knock-out programs, such as timeliness and frequency (RF) purchase behavior.
The process begins with the development of a “pure” MCIF database or one that contains selected data from the CTF (i.e customer refer-ence numbers). The final MCIF has two database components. One of these is a contact database containing customers, prospect and possibly channel partner information. The other database in the MCIF is a content database. Images (high-and low-resolution), graphics, and text blocks used for the application are stored in this database. If the program is variable, than the database may be quite extensive and large in MB size. When taken together, these two databases are referred to as an Integrated Marketing Database or IMD.
Once the MCIF database is linked, meaning that specific customers or groups of customers are associated with specific variable data content, a wide variety of 1 to 1 applications can be created using this Integrated Marketing Database.
Data Conditioning and Quality
To improve the quality of data found in databases, incoming data should be separated, corrected and standardized. Corrected records then must be matched with existing records. Once the existing records have been identified, consolidation can take place and the “cleansed” data can be uploaded for permanent storage.
It’s crucial that once conditioned, the data is updated on a regular basis, otherwise it is worthless. Accurate data can lead to a high response rate, while inaccurate data con potentially work against the seller by alienating customers.
Database technology is advancing rapidly and with the right vendor, a company can get their data in shape in a relative short period of time.
There are many elements to fulfillment. In many cases it’s the final stage of the 1 to 1 workflow for the print shop – if, of course, the print shop chooses to handle the entire workflow. Like other pieces of the workflow, the fulfillment stage can be outsourced using a specialist.
Some 1 to 1 documents may be combined with stock pieces like brochures, requiring shrinkwrapping or envelope stuffing. During the fulfillment stage, bar codes and glyphs may be added to the face of the 1 to 1 documents for automated packaging and mailing purposes.

Response Tracking
Responses can be requested by return card, 800 numbers, e-mail, serial numbers captured on coupons. The response data should be captured and updated in the database. Most promotional programs consist of multiple parts. The next step cannot be achieved if the database is not updated.
Measurement is a staple of any good 1 to 1 marketing program… it’s only natural. Because the targets are so specific it’s easy to track customer response rates. In fact, measurement is a strategic element of most data quality and conditioning activity. Knowing and recording who is buying what and why is new customer data that is fed back into the system for use in the next VI campaign.
There are five categories of VI documents – distinguished by the amount of variable information contained in the document and the overall document design. Let’s take a look at the various categories most often associated with VI printing.

E-Z Personalization
The effectiveness of a personalized document is primarily based on the increase in response using customer-specific information versus a generic communications approach. For many marketing programs, this rise in response can be achieved with the inclusion of a person’s name, a company name or industry reference, signature, logo, and/or a change in one image or graphic on the page.
When the complexity of variable information on a document involves 1 to 3 elements on a page, we refer to this as “E-Z Personalization”.
Typically these documents use a simple template with fixed-size areas for insertion of variable information. Each of the variable elements is the same shape and size so they can be placed in designated area(s) in the template. Data may be Web- or marketing database-driven.
Applications in this category include personalized direct mail letters, simple mailers, custom postcards, customer-specific newsletters, targeted presentations, and various types of communications with demo-graphic references.

Versioning is more complex than E-Z Personalization in some ways and easier in others. A versioned job is one that contains specific variable information for a group of customers that is a subset of the total universe. For example, catalog printers may section thousands of prospects into groups based on intelligence gleaned from list company demographics and psychographic profiles. Although the names are known and the materials are personalized, the variable information elements are not changed for every customer, rather each group receives the same documents.
Although the variable information does not change for every record other than the name and address, these applications usually involve major changes in variable information content, including large text blocks, graphics and images, among the groups.
Versioning jobs create variable sections or pages and store them ready to print. By matching the correct template or version with the correct target criteria, a document is created focused on the target audience. It is a highly effective means to target specific audiences based on age
groups, income levels, ethnic groups, languages, and other criteria. Typical versioning jobs include catalogs, insurance policies, newsletters, auto manuals, and multilingual flyers.
1 to 1 Marketing Communications
According to a recent Rochester Institute of Technology study, over $60B in annual revenue is generated from print jobs in this category. Marketing communications is a catchall phrase for the multitudes of print communication that is distributed every day. 1 to 1 marketing communications is the term used to describe materi¬als that are personalized or customized to a specific audience.
Imagine starting with a template that includes elements associated with corporate brand identity only. The rest of the template is wide-open – ready to be filled with variable text, graphics and images. The amount and type of variable content on a page can vary greatly with these jobs. Typically, the job contains sev¬eral variable text blocks, some with name and address information, and others with customer¬ targeted messages. Additionally, the material will have one or more variable images and/or graphics selected for that customer. Although the page layout can change in highly complex 1 to 1 projects, a condition known as a floating template, in most cases the page can be thought of as a fixed template with variable content areas. The latter makes it easy to set up a project and produce 1 to 1 communications as needed, pro¬vided there are no changes in the criteria and variable content used to construct the job.
There are a myriad of communications that fall under this category and offer personalization opportunities. They can be divided into three major classes: a) Direct Marketing, including letters, postcards, reply cards, self-mailers, notices/buckslips, packets and coupons; b) Advertising/Promotion such as flyers, data sheets, ad sheets/inserts, brochures, booklets, folders and posters/signage; and c) Catalogs, including business, industrial, consumer, specialty, dealer, distributor and mail order.

Personalized Web Fulfillment (PWF)
The Web offers an increasingly effective way to interact and learn more about customers. Soliciting and capturing valuable customer intelligence and using that information to create personalized documents is becoming a key element in building high impact marketing communication programs. Using the Web to capture customer preferences or fulfill customer requests for product or service information is not only an effective way to build and maintain a sophisticated database, it is also very cost effective.
The process for Personalized Web Fulfillment documents begins with the development of an Integrated Marketing Database (IMD) of contact and content information.
Contact information could include customers, prospects or channel partner data. Content information includes variable text, graphics and images. For each contact record in the IMD, there are references to the variable content that is used to create marketing materials specific to that contact. Once the IMD is set up, 1 to 1 applications can be created from an application template, which identifies the location of static and variable information.
Typically, the PWF architecture is a fully auto-mated system in which the Web site server is determining what content a customer or prospect should receive based on their specific data inputs to the site. In these cases, the Web site sends down a database file containing either the actual data that was entered or “pointer data” that identifies the variable infor-mation content used for the 1 to 1 communications. Typical jobs for Personalized Web Fulfillment include Web-enabled channel co-op marketing programs, product cross-sell Web site fulfillment campaigns, personalized travel itineraries, custom catalogs and brochures and other highly targeted fulfillment communications generated from queries for information, details, options or accessories.

Every day millions of pages of transactional documents are printed and mailed to customers around the globe. These statements, invoices, confirmations, receipts, and notices, to name just a few, are by definition variable in that each is directed to a specific individual or household. These documents are typically mailed to customers in envelopes together with other printed materials as separate pieces. The transactional documents are immediately removed from the envelope and put aside for action, which in some cases may be based on the ability of the document to send a clear, concise mes-sage. The remaining literature is quickly glanced at and in many cases discarded. This is where the opportunity lies.
With the new capabilities of digital color engines, transactional documents that included black and white or highlight color graphs and charts can now be striking full-color graphics that grab the reader’s attention and make it easy to understand the importance of the message. For example, colorful usage graphs for utilities companies demonstrate the value of a seasonal payment program. These graphs and charts are created “on the fly” a condition known as data-driven graphics.
Additionally, revenue building marketing messages such as cross-sell services and other “promotional” offers can be integrated into the body of the transactional document using variable full-color images, graphics and text; hence, the term “promotional/transactional communications.”
The importance of this emerging category of dig¬ital color printing has not been lost on financial, insurance and automotive companies, which are presently using sophisticated segmentation to build pyramids of customer audiences based on lifetime value (LTV) metrics. Once the hierarchy is developed, highly targeted, 1 to 1 marketing programs are created for the various LTV groups. In some cases, promotional/transactional docu¬ments are developed in black and white, high¬light color and full color based on LTV. In other programs, only the full color customers receive documents with images and graphics. And in many cases, all customers are mailed full-color transactional documents with personalized text and customer-specific images. Whatever the program, it is clear that this category of printing will continue to grow and generate significant ROIs.

*Based on Xerox Profit Through Personalization

Print salesman – an unpaid employee

Print salesman – an unpaid employee

Choosing a print sales rep is not easy. There are hundreds or even thousands of print sales reps roaming the streets of Toronto trying to get your business. As a print buyer you must select a sales rep whom you feel most comfortable with but at the same time who will provide you the service and product that you need in order for your company to be successful. A sales mentor once told me to add to a quotation letter the following sentence: I will be your unpaid employee. That’s exactly what a print sales rep is, an unpaid employee. And just like you interview all your prospective employees you should also interview print sales reps. The great thing about finding a sales rep is that you don’t have to post any ads, they call you. All you have to do is give them ten minutes of your time for an interview. Here is a list of qualities, which Margie from has put together and which I have expanded upon, that a print sales rep should have:

•    He exudes professionalism which means he is an expert and has high standards of work ethics, morals and motivation – a person you can count on.

•    He has a lot of experience in the printing industry which means he can advise you on how to produce your project efficiently and economically.

•    He listens more than he talks and he asks you questions about your print jobs, like “Tell me how this piece will be used,” and “Is this piece part of a larger campaign?” and “What matters most to you about this project?” which means that he is not just an order taker but a business partner interested in your success, always gathering information to generate creative ideas for improving your projects and business.

•    He knows something about your company and your industry which means he understands your challenges and works to make your job easier.

•    He shows you samples that are not only beautifully produced, but they relate in some way to your needs which means that he understands your needs and your project’s requirements.

•    He is clearly going to be a resource for you and your firm, not an order taker.

•    He keeps in touch during the production of your job which means your stress is greatly reduced and you can focus on your other tasks.

•    He keeps his word or at least gives you a heads-up if, for example, deadlines are in jeopardy which means that you always have enough time to adjust.

•    He takes responsibility when appropriate, and doesn’t finger point which means when problems arise you can count on him to ensure that your delivery times are not jeopardized; and that he works in your best interest.

•    You can tell he’s someone you’d like to do business with for a long time because he’s not just a supplier but a business partner helping you achieve your goals and be successful.

•    He explains terms and technologies you don’t understand and keeps you current with new trends in printing which means that you become more knowledgeable, you are able to have better communication with other print suppliers and you are able to make more informed decisions.

•    He knows lots of other service providers who can complement work his firm does which means that you always get the best care and the best product and that he cares about your success.

•    He doesn’t bad mouth his competition which means that you can trust him and that he does not only care about his own self-interests.

•    He’s a high-energy person which means that when you need something done quickly you can depend on him getting it done.

•    He’s someone you’re happy to refer to your peers because you know that they will receive the same type of satisfactory service that you are receiving.

•    He keeps you calm during production, no matter how stressful it gets which means that you can sleep better at night knowing that you will get through the project alright.

•    He’s someone whose calls you always take which means he does not bore you with the same question “Can I quote on something?” but rather has something interesting to share with you.

•    He’s your ‘go-to’ resource which means that you can trust him that the information he provides you is always beneficial.

Latte Art Printing

Latte Art Printing

Next time you take your customer for a latte make sure you have your logo file saved on your stick and handy because you may be able to impress him by handing him his mug with your logo printed right on the foam. That’s right. An engineer in the US has developed a process of using inkjet printing technology using cartridges filled with caramel sugar to print on top of your latte’s foam.
latteartsmallThe inventor of the latte printing machine is Oleksiy Pikalo. An electrical engineer who specializes in embedded systems programming. Using off the shelf products, parts purchased on eBay and books on inkjet technology he put together a machine that, after some experimentation, created various vector images on coffee. As the printer did its magic a friend recorded a short video and posted it on YouTube. The video generated several thousands of views daily. The company’s website states that 327+ printing machines have been preordered already.
Possible applications: coffee shops, restaurants, caterers and event planners, weddings, reunions, birthdays, sales meetings. I wonder if people will actually drink their coffee or will they take pictures with their mobile phones and send them off to their friends?

5 Steps to Unaddressed Admail Success – a guide prepared by Canada Post

5 Steps to Unaddressed Admail Success – a guide prepared by Canada Post

Canada Post and Graphic Monthly Canada have released a report on “the most powerful advertising mediums going: direct mail”. Here’s a summary of this report:
Why is direct mail the most powerful advertising medium?
67% of Canadians prefer to receive ads by mail
18% prefer email
1% prefer phone
14% prefer other mediums

5 Steps to successful unaddressed campaign

Step 1: Managing Costs
The largest chunk of cost in direct mail is the number of pieces that you will be sending. But there are other costs that can be managed:
Creative: Make sure the layout meets specifications.
Copy: The point of direct mail is to get a response, therefore, make sure there is a compelling reason to action and the action is easy to engage.
Photos/Illustrations: Use stock photography rather than expensive custom photos.
Order Placement: (this is if you are doing this by yourself rather than letting the printer manage this for  you) Canada Post offers Full Electronic Order Entry, Partial Electronic Order Entry, Manual Order Entry, each will cost you a little different.
Mail Preparation: mail needs to be bundled and put into boxes or containers, according to CP specs.
Transportation to CP: if you are doing a large mailing targeting a large geographic area you may need to deliver to multiple CP locations to save or you may deliver to one CP location and let them distribute it for a per piece cost.
Volume Pricing: If you are planning to do over 100,000 plus mail drops over the next 12 months it’s a good idea to call Canada Post and look into volume-based discounts.
Mailing Costs: stamp cost depends on number of pieces being mailed and weight of the piece. CP’s price sheet.
Step 2 – Identify the target delivery routes
Good targeting drives as much as 60% of a campaigns success. Unaddressed Admail gives you many delivery routes: either a single route, a neighbourhood or the whole nation.
CP offers a variety of tools and services to help plan the target routes for your campaign:
Residential and Business Counts and Maps – this tool gives you the number of houses, apartments, farms and businesses for delivery routes across Canada. You can even search by postal code or letter carrier walks.
GEOPOST PLUS – This tool is similar to the above but a lot more sophisticated. It will tell you what your customers in a specified route look like (age, income, how much money they spend, what they buy, what do they read, watch and do); for businesses it will tell you number of employees and annual revenue.
Step 3: Design and Format
If you’re thinking of running an unaddressed admail campaign it is important to sit back and think things through really well. We all get unaddressed admail in our mailbox. Try to remember a piece of mail that grabbed your attention. Was it small? Was it large? Did it involve some sort of tearing to reveal the offer? Was it in colour? Black and white? All this is very important because we get tons of ads in our mailbox. You want to make sure that yours stands out.
Canada Post’s size specifications give the designer a lot of room to come up with imaginative mailing pieces but there are limitations. Consult your printer to make sure that the design will fit into CP’s specifications.
Step 4: Getting it Delivered
Before your piece reaches your target audience it must be delivered to Canada Post. The only way that Canada Post will accept your mailing is when it is organized in equal-sized bundles and inserted into CP’s approved containers. Paper work must be submitted with the mailing together with a sample of the piece. Talk to your printer about this.
Step 5 Measuring the Results
Many factors play a role in the success of an unaddressed admail campaign including: what is being promoted, who is targeted, the offer, time of year and even the state of the economy. Direct marketing is not simple. The key to success is constant learning and making adjustments which means that it is necessary to have in place some sort of tracking mechanism.
Here’s a brief personal example: Last year a barber in my neighbourhood distributed postcard-sized flyers to mailboxes within a radius of his shop. The information on the postcard: Name of the barber shop and address on top of a picture (can’t recall what the picture was). I don’t know how successful his campaign turned out to be but I personally don’t think it went well. First, there was no offer and no incentive for me to keep the flyer which means no way for him to track the response rate. He could ask everyone coming in whether they saw his postcard but from personal experience people will say ‘yes’ to such a question just to give a reply.