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Not a cloud in the sky…

At Xploration™14 in March we had several sessions on the cloud. Fortunately I was able to attend a couple of them and came back with more questions than answers as to how vulnerable Xplor would be if the cloud suddenly disappeared.

My conclusion to my brief sixty second assessment, we would be in deep trouble depending on the length of the outage and the ability of our provider to get us back up. Xplor’s email system is in the cloud as well as our event registration, website and members hub, which is just about all of Xplor.  We backup our database but if the rest goes down it is still a really big  problem.

Wozniak Agrees?

In further researching I read an interesting article the other day by Steve Wozniak regarding the cloud that made me think. In the article he stated “The more we transfer everything onto the web, onto the cloud, the less we’re going to have control over it. With the cloud, you don’t own anything. You already signed it away.”  Read the article.

The term that really caught my attention was You already signed it away.”  Yes, that is what we often do when we check that terms and conditions box in addition to absolving the provider of most if not all liability.

The Need to Ask Questions

What if your cloud provider goes out of business, is a victim of hackers or cyber terrorists. What are their safeguards? How do you get back up and running?  How do you recover? What is their liability?

Xplor as an organization is going to be asking the three vendors that control our “clouds” these questions.

So how does your organization handle the cloud and the people you entrust with your information?

What if there was not a cloud in the sky? I am curious to hear your views.

 

 

Dear Occupant, We Are Raising The Bar!

If you are old enough to remember receiving direct mail addressed to “Dear Occupant,” you will certainly remember the astonishment and wonder when you received your first piece of “personalized mail” – Dear (insert your name here).
Over time the level of text personalization increased to include things like the company you worked for, the city you lived in, etc., and we all felt connected in some way. We were not just an “occupant” but an individual.

That was the late 80‘s, early 90’s if I recall correctly.

Today, receive a piece of personalized mail and you are typically less than impressed. In fact, you probably may even ignore it unless it is something out of the ordinary, like your name spelled in the sand on a beach, or in the clouds against a blue sky. There is still a WOW factor to the innovative use of personalization. However personalization and the WOW factor have to be relevant. A catchy piece, plus a good offer to the right person, equals a winner for the Brand.

In 1999 Harry Quadracci of Quad Graphics wrote, “We are in the Age of Advertising. Baby Boomers, now in their peak spending years, have a lot of buying power, and there’s going to be a lot of advertising to get that dollar. The best way to harness that buying power will be through properly promoting the brand… and the most effective media for brand promotion will continue to be ink on paper. It’s The Brand, Stupid, it’s The Brand!”

Mr.Quadracci was right in 1999 and remains so today, “it is the brand” and the decision makers of the brands who require results. Sending out 100,000 pieces of direct mail to “Dear (insert your name here), hoping 2-3% produce results is no longer what the brands are looking for or need. Sending out 50,000 innovative pieces, to the right people with the right offer drives double digit results. If you are a printer I am not saying you need to be a “marketeer” – but you do need to understand what your customers may ask you to print. (Everyone familiar with augmented reality?)

So as a printer, what is interactive print? (I personally believe it could be the Renaissance of direct mail) What do the brands need? How can you be part of the opportunity?

There is a great deal of opportunity for those who get it. To get it you need to reach out to different places and spheres of influences.

I invite you to add Xplor to your sphere of influences and join us for Xploration 14, March 25-27th in Orlando Florida.

Visit http://xplor.org/upcoming-events/2014-annual-conference

RR Donnelley Buys Consolidated – Survival or Growth?


Early in my career I fantasized about the possibility that 100% of the businesses in the world, their economic output and profits were all the efforts of one person. Seems a bit farfetched but I always deemed it plausible.

Some of the United States most influential industrialists like Andrew Carnegie and Rockefeller had that dream, although those dreams were eventually dashed by anti-monopoly laws.

The Monopoly of Print?

When I heard of the acquisition of Consolidated Graphics by RR Donnelley I certainly was not surprised. Donnelley with a $3.26 billion dollar market cap acquiring a smaller entity with a $617 million dollar market cap. Each company has very respectable “revenue per employee” numbers in a very competitive market with $182,188 and  $197,919, Consolidated having the edge.

A quick look at their websites reveals complementary technologies and product offerings.  Both companies have lots of locations with Donnelley being more “global” with about 40 overseas locations.  A great fit.

Survival or Growth?

So what is RR Donnelley buying? Customers, technology, unique products, people resources or a corporate culture? Maybe all of the above. I am sure there are many that are simply saying it is part of the natural evolution happening in the industry of consolidation due to a shrinking market.  From the outside it certainly looks like this might be the case.

Appears to be the old “survival growth strategy” when a larger company in a declining market buys up smaller companies. Larger company experiences incremental growth and the industry goes on to fight another day. (Remember microfiche and the Anacomp buying spree?)

Not playing monopoly … Just smart business

My guess, is that RR Donnelley is not playing monopoly with the acquisition but is catapulting their evolution as “distributors” of information. It is about content and the delivery of that content utilizing a variety of channels that are instigated by print.

If you look at their websites there certainly is overlap but there are also plenty of differences which represent opportunity and growth. These two forward thinking companies are simply engaging in smart business and are well positioned for the future.  (Kind of like owning both Boardwalk and Park Place)

Survival, growth, monopoly or smart business. What are your thoughts?

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Addressing The Address Issue

No Address …. Really?

After coming back from Print13 I began my “post-tradeshow/event” ritual. It is the same for every trip I make:

  1. I go through everything gathering every scrap of paper whether it be business cards, receipts, brochures, etc. from my five day trip.
  2. I sort expense receipts by day, business cards with and without notes, notes from meetings and information that I want to read and review.
  3. Do my expenses
  4. Follow up on any action items I may have noted on business cards.
  5. Pass along business cards to be put in my database
  6. Follow up on any notes I have taken
  7. WRITE personal notes to people I met

I know personal notes are a dying tradition but I really think they are powerful and but I am starting to understand why fewer people write them.

I collected 31 cards from 16 different companies of which 12 individuals from six companies did not have a mailing address on their business card. That is 37% roughly of the companies.

Why do people do this? Do they save that much space?  So I go to their website and 4 of the 6 companies do not have their address under the “contact us” tab.

I sent them an email, requested their address and mailed them the note despite their best effort.

Can anyone tell me why you would not have your address on your business card or certainly some place obvious on your website?

Is Multi-Channel Marketing Just Another Spray and Pray?

Last week when I was in Haiti I had an interesting conversation with one of the people in our group about the whole subject of marketing and in particular the best way he could solicit funds for his not-for-profit organization.
He shared that he had researched the concept of multi-channel marketing and was keen on the idea of trying to communicate with people using different channels to increase the odds of his success. His logic followed conventional wisdom that if he puts his message out utilizing different channels that one of them would stick, prompt some type of response and increase donations.

As we talked more I began to wonder if multi-channel marketing was becoming the new spray and pray.

Spray and Pray

In the old days of direct mail the terms “spray and pray” meant you sent “x” number of people a direct mail piece and a percentage would respond. Acceptable response rates were 2-3% and as technology and demographic targeting became more prevalent exponential increases in percentages of responses were realized.

More relevant and targeted marketing, generating fewer mailed pieces, with a higher response and better ROI have replaced the spray and pray method.

Is Multi-Channel Marketing the New “Spray and Pray”?

I have children so I understand they will respond to a text faster than a phone call. Call your child, wait for it to go into voice mail (if they have one) and then text them to get an instant answer. Text messaging as a channel works. For others it is Twitter, LinkedIn, some Facebook (although kids are leaving it since their parents discovered it!) and there are still many who value their walk to the mailbox.

One would think then it would be all about the channel.

What Could Multi-Channel Marketing Be?

I attend a lot of conferences, participate in a lot of Webinars, and I have seen some great multi-channel campaigns that were works of art. They not only relied on the delivery channel but the message associated with each type of media. They capitalized on the attributes of each channel as well as the various senses they triggered. They were an “ongoing message” designed to engage, engrain a message and drive different calls to actions. Different messages using different channels.

Maybe it’s not just the channel, but a combination of the channel and messaging

Confusing? Yes? No? Not sure?

I guess everyone’s definition of multi-channel marketing is a bit different. Some simply take the same information and send it out using different channels and others make it an engaging experience.  If it works, who is to say it is wrong.

Back to Haiti! As we continued to talk he realized that the delivery channel was important but so was the product, story line, design and demographics of the recipients. (He is not a marketing guy just someone who want to raise money to help people.) Since we had a whole evening with no TV, little light and no internet, we decided to plot out a campaign that included video, pictures, social media presence, etc. etc. It will be interesting to check back with him.

It all boils down to the right message, to the right person at the right time using the right channel(s).

Come and Hear for Yourself …. Are We There Yet?

I invite you to attend the complimentary Xplor at Print13 breakfast session entitled “Are We There Yet? A 2013 Multi-Channel Communications Industry Perspective” moderated by Matt Swain of InfoTrends.

The panel will feature end users who have provide multi-channel communications to their customers. They have been there and will share their successes and failures.

For more information or to register please visit: http://xplor.org/upcoming-events/xplor-at-print-13

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A Printer Who Won’t Take An Order

Many of my blogs talk about the future of print and the other opportunities that may be out there for the “masters of ink” to grow and expand their business. I came across something that is a bit on the fringe but it is print per se and has an unlimited number of applications.

While doing some research on printing technologies I came across hydrographic printing, also known as water transfer printing. Never heard of the process, maybe you have, but it did peak my interest and so I spent a bit more time checking it out.

Video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADq96RGRf00

Now the icing on the cake. I go to the Hydra Imaging website and right across the page it says “Until we fit our present contracts, we will not be taking any new orders.” WHAT?????

I am thinking there has to be an opportunity here. What are your thoughts?

By the way, here is the website that is not taking orders:  http://www.hydroimaging.com/index.html

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