Posts tagged Digital Asset Management

Are You Using Digital Disruption to Move Your Business Forward?

Disruption 250x219 Are You Using Digital Disruption to Move Your Business Forward?In his new book Digital Disruption, James McQuivey, a Forrester principal analyst, explains that technological advances are creating opportunities for more people to meet more customer needs than ever before at lower costs– and that is the essence of digital disruption.

While some businesses have been digitally disrupted, the ones listed below have been completely transformed by the digital age of media that has evolved over the past 20 years.

  • The music business (YouTube, iTunes)
  • Banking and insurance (online banking, photo deposits, digital signatures)
  • Photography (film is nearly extinct)
  • Retailing (bricks and mortar are now optional)
  • Travel agencies (Orbitz, Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak)
  • Newspaper and magazine publishing (online subscriptions)
  • Telecoms (home phones are going extinct, VOIP)

According to McQuivey, digital disruption is about to completely change how companies do business. Digital tools and digital platforms are driving the cost of innovation down to nearly zero, causing at least 10 times as many innovators to rush into your market while operating at one-tenth the cost that you do.

This is one reason companies are hiring or stealing the brightest digital innovators in the marketplace like Jeff Hammerbacher, data entrepreneur, who was one of Facebook’s first employees and who is now the co-founder of Cloudera (a Silicon Valley software start-up).

IT, app and software geniuses are in demand today because of the need for companies to protect themselves against digital disruption. Companies needed the brightest and future-forward thinkers on board to retool their businesses to stay ahead of the just-in-time needs of their customers.

 

3 Ways Your Company Can Stay Ahead of Digital Disruption

Ever-advancing technology forces any company from a lube shop to an international airline to leverage technology to speak one-on-one with its customers and deliver competitive costs, convenient services and products that exceed their expectations.

Personalize Your Interactions. Using well-oiled and captured data enables you as a savvy marketer to send customer communications that are relevant and personalized. Whether you use highly personalized email or variable data print pieces your marketing can be extremely targeted. Consumers welcome personalized offers. They love that you know their likes and market accordingly. Are you using data-driven marketing to optimize your appeal to individual customers?

The Need for Speed. Real-time interactions separate the amateur from the pros in marketing and product delivery. Just look at Oreo’s response to the Super Bowl blackout as lesson #1.

Integrate and Automate. If you haven’t already integrated your marketing channels and platforms, you’re already at risk of digital disruption. Get all your customer contact points talking to one another seamlessly and then tap the power of marketing automation to extend your reach and shorten the time to market. Using sales force automation tools and your CRM (customer relationship management) system you can marketing in a trigger based fashion for maximum customer engagement.

If this post frightens you, perhaps it should. Talk to any CEO or CMO and ask them about their top concerns with the business and chances are disruption and marketing effectiveness will be in the top five. The good news is there are industry experts and talent on hand to help you transform and deliver. Unfortunately this is an endless process.

 

Everything You Wished You Knew Before You Built Your CRM Database

crm, architect, building, customer relationship management, database, dataBusiness databases have moved beyond name, address, city, state and zip. Today’s savvy customer relationship management gurus capture purchase history, lifestyle, lifecycle, and lifespan info that enables them to engage, re-engage, and even dis-engage (that’s a fancy word for fire) customers when necessary.

Customer information that goes deep and reveals the lifetime value of that customer is imperative to long term business growth.  To capture and record this data, a good software package is needed, but selecting the appropriate tool can sometimes be confusing. There are a ton of SaaS (software as a service) solutions that may make sense.  Look into Salesforce.com, Sugar CRM, or Microsoft Dynamics.  Plus, don’t forget to study industry specific packages.  Be wary however of forcing the sales process to fit the CRM system.  A good CRM solution should be flexible enough to fit your processes.

 

Who Should Manage Your Database?

It depends. If you’re a small business with a seasoned marketing person on staff, you probably can manage it in-house. The bigger your customer base the bigger the task.

The job of the database manager is to (1) build or buy a database that can capture and contain the needed data fields you wish to monitor (2) modify the database to add new areas of interest or products as your business grows (3) backup the system regularly (4) update customer info, purge customer info or initiate re-engagement campaigns as customers go dormant.

The best B2B relationship management (CRM) databases will allow you sophisticated functionality like multi-level SLA support, customer satisfaction surveys, timer-based escalation rules that are driven by complex criteria and automated issue re-assignments.

Your CRM system should also allow you to integrate with other software tools like your ERP or software, business management solution, website software, email tool, and even your accounting package.

 

What is the Most Important Data You Must Know or Might Forget to Collect?

A good customer database includes these four basic areas:

  1. Financial: Revenue generated from the customer’s transactions.
  2. Demographic: Describing customers in terms of their personal characteristics, such as age, sex, professional activity, etc.
  3. Geographic: Describing customers in terms of their physical location.
  4. Psychographic or Behavioral: Describing customers in terms of their preferred activities and actions.

A great CRM database plan allows you to collect and monitor competitor price, market share, and product features. It also allows you to collect data on the number of customer transactions, stores visits, and why they leave.

As you can see, you must plan well to collect the metrics that will guide your business. Businesses that don’t have a good database system or customer relationship management system are at a disadvantage in today’s world. Google’s Chief Economist, Hal Varian, once said that “Datarati are companies that have the edge in consumer data insight. There has been and will continue to be an increased focus on data analysis as companies continue to invest in measuring social media, understanding customer value and modeling customer behavior.

 

What Should You Do With the Data?

Put it to work! The information you have gathered can be used to a great advantage. Look at what Amazon does with the data it collects as you shop their store.  Each time you search for items Amazon tracks and knows what is of interest.  Then, when you return, you are presented with items most likely to interest you.  That level of data capture is huge in working to drive a business.

Other organizations use that data to personalize their direct mail with Variable Data Printing (VDP) a method of printing personalized promotional material using your database. The effect of customers seeing their names and preferences in promotions can give you a higher response and purchase rate. This response rate has been estimated to be as high as five times greater than with traditional static advertising.

 

Building or Buying a CRM System

There are so many great systems available, it’s really not necessary to reinvent the wheel. However, shopping for the right one for your business can be daunting. So much like going to Consumer Report for research, you can go to CRM Vendor Comparison and download the 2011 CRM Vendor Comparison Chart that shows 40 hours of research and a comparison of 30 CRM systems that range in web application prices from $40 to $100 per month for usage rights.

Once you pick and install one, staying in sync with your customers’ buying habits through their lifecycle and creating alerts to build that relationship can steady your company in poor times and send it through the roof in peak times. It is important to be aware of clients who are increasing their spending, as well as those who are coming back less and less. In such cases, the database can create an alert to cue marketing to develop a bounce-back campaign.

Knowledge is power. Storing it in a pliable database gives you power and strength. Why? To compete, you will need to know more about your customers and use the information to talk, engage and interact with their customers more often and more meaningfully in new and innovative ways (including dynamic content, blogs to social media networks).

If you don’t talk to your customers in an engaging, intelligent way, your competitor will.

 

Marketing Management & Execution Solutions: So What Do You Call Them?

Reading a dictionary

Searching for the right words to describe the marketing automation, management, or exection systems you're looking for? Maybe we can help.

**This is a re-post from Mail Print’s early days of blogging.  Our readership has grown quite a bit since then, so I wanted to resurrect an early post.  Enjoy!

Marketing Asset Management. Print Automation. Marketing Automation. Communications Portals. Distributed Marketing. Web-To-Print. Confused yet?

Wouldn’t it be nice if everything fit in a nice, neat package that is easy to understand and explain?  In the world of marketing communications management, many people would think the above terms all mean the same thing.  I actually think they don’t.  I think there are so many terms because each means something a little different:

Marketing Asset Management:

Focuses on creating an online library of digital marketing assets such as logos, templates, stock photography, videos and radio ads  for use by centralized marketing staff or a network of remote users.

Distributed Marketing:

A term coined to define organizations that have many local markets that are marketed to differently, whether marketing strategy and execution is controlled by a central marketing department or the local stores and locations.

Web-to-Print:

The ability to order printed materials through an online printing management system. Typically, this reduces a company’s inventory waste and improves the customization available on the printed pieces.

Communications Portal:

A central repository for ordering and downloading all types of marketing communications and assets, including email, logos, direct mail, radio commercials, fliers, buck slips, etc.  Marketing Communications Portalsare very useful for distributed marketing organizations.

Print Automation:

Eliminates human intervention in creating printed pieces.    This could be obtained via a web-to-print application or communications portal that also employs print automation, or could be a standalone system that creates printed pieces automatically based upon data streams and live data feeds.

Marketing Automation:

The process of triggering marketing communications to a specific individual or audience segment without human intervention.  This differs from print automation in that the automated marketing campaigns could include email, direct mail and other channels, by themselves or combined.

I’m sure there are many more terms and buzz words that I haven’t noted here. Just like any rapidly advancing technology solution, new terms are created every day.  The most important thing to understand is what you really need in a solution, regardless of what it is called.


Will Augmented Reality Make Direct Mail the Bomb?

Augmented Reality and DIrect MarketingToday reality isn’t always wysiwyg (what you see is what you get). We have reality, virtual reality, alternate reality, digital reality and now augmented reality.  This great new tool may be on the way to helping marketers get their clients to experience a new level of reality and help drive engagement and hopefully revenue

Augmented reality is a digital layer over the real world that you can’t see with the naked eye but can see with the camera on your smart phone or computer, according to Vivian Rosenthal, founder of New York City-based AR start-up, GoldRun. Get a glimpse of Rosenthal’s use or AR in this promo (an invisible pop up store) for AirWalk sneakers.

You experience a tiny sampling of AR when you watch a televised football game. The yellow first down lines aren’t painted on the field itself, but inserted digitally to enhance your viewing experience.

A Boeing researcher introduced AR in 1990. By 2008 it was a $6 million industry and expected to grow into a $350 million industry by 2014.

 

AR is Legalized Steroids for Direct Mail

The movie Avatar used AR in its integrated marketing campaign to launch with Avatar teamed with Coke Zero. Movie buffs could hold their Coke can with the Avatar symbol in front of their webcams and interact with parts of the movie on a “visceral” level.

Don’t be fooled into dismissing AR as all fun and games, it offers an entirely new avenue for engagement and in particular direct mail, according to the February issue of the U.S. Postal Service’s Deliver magazine. The cover and feature article in this issue featured black and white artwork that came to life, movement, and color when you held your smart phone over the graphic after downloading the recommended app.

Taylor, one of the largest direct mail printers in the nation, used AR as the star attraction of its trade booth at the 2011 Direct Marketing Association convention in Boston. Visitors were given a postcard and sent to a special website to unlock the encoded graphics and information. Art Calamari, who manned the booth, said he watched hundreds of attendees share the technology and message with hundreds of other attendees – turning a direct mail print piece into a word of mouth brushfire.

Imagine making your direct mail even more interactive and relevant like some insurance companies have by sending out postcards with agent photos and a neat graphic that changes weekly when scanned just like a rotating billboard. The selling point is helping consumers hold on to that print piece longer as well as being moved further down the sales pipeline as the information changes.

 

AR is a Magnet for Millennials

Research shows that if the messaging and the experience are not engaging, and do not create brand desire, Millennials may just move on to a competitor. Millennials are defined as those born in the 1980s, whose lives revolve around being constantly connected to technology.

One successful augmented reality iPhone app that attracts Millenials is Le Bar Guide. Using GPS data, the technology locks onto a location serving the popular Belgian beer, Stella Artois, by populating the phone with directional arrows pointing users to the nearest pub that serves it.

 

Can You Afford Augmented Reality Marketing?

According to Rosenthal, AR campaigns can be as inexpensive as $5,000 and as high as $100,000. She compares costs with full-page magazine print ads, which start at $100,000 in major magazines based on cost per thousand readers or as high as $400,000 for a one-page ad in the coveted Sports Illustrated issue.

As part of a vacation promotion for Snow Mass Ski Slopes, three-dimensional renderings necessary for the AR campaign ran approximately $10,000.

Regardless, the spend definitely can be tied to customer engagement, acquisition, and retention thanks to the measurability of the interactivity and technology.

If the numbers work and the medium directly aligns with your target market, then executing an augmented reality campaign can both bring home the bacon and establish your company as an innovation leader.

WYS Is Not WYG in Email Marketing

Things aren’t always as they appear. Perception is not always reality. What you see is what you get.

variable data printing, email marketing

Be sure your email messages are hitting the bulls-eye.

We’ve heard these phrases before. But do they always prove true? Of course not.  And especially when it comes to direct marketing

The acronym known as WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) describes a system in which the content (text and graphics) that’s displayed onscreen during the editing process appears exactly as it would when printed or displayed as a finished product, whether that be a printed document, web page or slide presentation.

What you see is not what you get. WYS is not WYG. In email, anyway.

Whatever software you’re using very well could try to emulate the end result in order to get as close as possible to WYSIWYG. However, the biggest benefit of WYSIWYG is the ability to be able to see exactly what you are producing.

When it comes to email, be aware that different email clients serve emails differently. What you think you may have designed and are sending out may not actually be what your audience is seeing.

Some applications offer multiple WYSIWYG modes with different levels of realism, such as:

  • Composition mode—in which you can see something that’s somewhat similar to the end result, but with additional information that’s useful while composing, like section breaks, and uses a layout that is more conducive to composing than to layout.
  • Layout mode—in which you see something very similar to the end result, but with some additional information useful in ensuring elements are properly aligned and spaced, such as margin lines.
  • Preview mode—in which the application attempts to present a representation that is as close to the final result as possible.

However, it’s important to note that 67% of email users have their images turned off. Yes, you read that correctly:  a whopping 67% … turned off! (source: Marketing Sherpa, 2010)

So how can you ensure your email is still hitting the mark with or without your images?

Try out these tips:

  • Use email preview engines/emulators to give you an idea of how the email will look for different recipients
  • Prepare for the inevitable: “images not displayed”
    • Put as much text as possible in the code, not images
    • Add alt tags for any images
    • Create a text-only version of your email

Take a look and see what you can do to ensure your message is getting across and looks good in the process, no matter how it’s viewed. As a last resort, if you absolutely need your message to reach your target with the proper images/design displayed correctly, consider mailing a physical piece. There’s something to be said for tangible items. And with everyone getting inundated with email messages these days, it might just serve as a welcome surprise …

Assessment Guide: 10 Questions to Uncover Ways to Increase Marketing Efficiency

marketing efficiencies, variable data printing

Is it time to evaluate your marketing routine and dispose of obsolescence?

Last Week we discussed the results from a CMO Council Research entitled “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimal Marketing Supply Chain“.  This overview pointed out four key actions marketers could take to Obliterating Obsolescence:

While those are basic strategies any business can employ, we also know that before going down that path it makes sense to do some straightforward self assessment.  Spend some time with the questions below and answer openly and honestly.  As a marketing leader you are always looking for ways to ensure your organization gets better and better.

Marketing Operations Self-Assessment

  1. What inventoried items have become obsolete?  Why?
  2. What regular processes do members of your marketing team do that are wastes of time and skill set?
  3. If you could change the way you buy ads, deploy email, manage printed materials, trigger direct mail, hire talent, create copy, or plan your next move, what would that look like?
  4. How could you streamline your workday?
  5. What marketing processes have failed in the past?
  6. Do you ever cross your fingers, hope, and pray that nothing goes wrong when deploying a campaign?  If the answer is yes, it goes on the list.
  7. Would it improve your results if marketing campaigns could be deployed faster?  If so, what does an ideal timeframe look like?
  8. Is the work flow in your department planned, or hap-hazard?  How about between departments?
  9. What have you done more than twice this week?
  10. If you could waive your magic wand and have everything in your marketing department run smoothly and perfectly what would it look like?  What technology would be in place?  What people would you have on your team? What results would you be reporting to your superiors?

I personally love question #10.  Question #10 allows you to create the perfect world and once you can envision that world you can start to impact the day to day reality.  Spend lots of time on #10.  Create a real vision for what you can do and start chipping away.

My daddy always said if you don’t know where you are going then it doesn’t really matter what road you take.  Question #10 is where you are going AND what road you will take depends on your resources and how you answered questions 1-9.

Now comes the challenging part.  If you aren’t sure what your answer would be to #10, call us.  At Mail Print we have helped many companies realize great results implementing new marketing technologies and procedures that they didn’t even know were possible.  Read below about a nationally known, multi-million dollar company that has utilized a Marketing Asset Management system to unify their marketing message and cut-out obsolescence.

Ferrellgas Thumb Assessment Guide: 10 Questions to Uncover Ways to Increase Marketing Efficiency Ferrellgas, a Fortune 1000 energy provider, needed to manage marketing for their 900-plus locations more quickly and efficiently. In addition, they needed to increase the speed of their direct mail marketing production to ensure their time-sensitive messaging reached customers on time. Learn how Mail Print’s Marketing Communications Portal helped Ferrellgas reduce management time by 300 hours per month and speed production times from 10 days to 24 hours.

What’s your Role in the Marketing Supply Chain?

integrated marketing, marketing management

Find money in your Marketing Supply Chain by getting rid of obsolescence.

Research entitled “Mapping + Tracking: The Optimized Marketing Supply Chain” by the CMO Council, depicts a threatening picture of inefficiency and waste in the Marketing Supply Chain. This post summarizes this great research.

As marketers seek to provide the timeliest and freshest content to customers and prospects alike, old, over-ordered or un-utilized materials tend to be stored, destroyed or ignored, left to occupy costly space in offices and warehouses. High levels of waste can generally be attributed to limited access to material usage information, a lack of visibility into the operational process, and a general lack of forecasting and operational rigor. All of these factors combine to create an epidemic of waste that can be summed up most accurately as obsolescence.

Obsolescence is not excessive ordering of un-used collateral. Excess materials are merely a visible symptom. In fact, it is what cannot be seen—what is behind the scenes and invisible—that makes an indelible impact on marketing effectiveness and can derail, detract or damage the customer experience.

The shelf-life of marketing consumables and promotional materials has never been shorter or more challenging to manage. Marketers are spending billions of dollars producing, warehousing and shipping marketing literature, packaging, documentation, point-of-sale displays, premiums, giveaways, signage and hand outs. How well this portion of Marketing Operations is managed and controlled can materially impact go-to-market effectiveness, as well as the optimal use of marketing dollars in creating business value and competitive advantage.

The Ramifications of Marketing Supply Chain Inefficiency

There are two key aspects to investigate while discussing impact of obsolescence: the impact on budget and the impact on customer or prospect experience. Marketers admit to the criticality of content, yet 51 percent also admit to having sent out old materials containing out of date content. Why you may ask? For a small few, warehousing error (2 percent) can be blamed. 61 percent did not have new materials ready in time and 23 percent of marketers did not know that irrelevant, old material was sent. Are these marketers not interested in the customer or prospect experience? Or could it be more likely that they are without the tools and processes they need to get the visibility they desire?

Staging a Priority Shift

If content is constantly updating and changing to deliver the most relevant and timely information to prospects and customers, why are marketers not applying more rigor to managing the flow of these critical elements within the supply chain? Most simply do not view the reduction of obsolescence as a key priority (50 percent). As one marketer stated, “Waste is just taboo as a can of worms. To open it holds little reward and no compensation, so there is little motivation to start down this road.”

Yet transformation is on the minds of savvy marketers dedicated to operational efficiency and effectiveness. Additionally, there are very real strategies and opportunities to engage that can work to streamline the Marketing Supply Chain.

Obliterating Obsolescence

The opportunity lies with marketers to transform the Marketing Supply Chain operations and make significant strides to reduce obsolescence and in turn, redeploy budget that was once wasted on out-of-date materials.

  1. Leverage digital printing strategies – including Print On Demand (POD): Digital printing technology has come of age, enabling economic production of all quantity ranges. Smaller production runs result in a lower total cost of ownership by reducing capital investment in inventory, storage charges, and waste. A POD strategy can further reduce costs by eliminating inventory, storage, and in-bound freight costs. POD also enables more current and customizable content through the application of Web-to-Print and variable data printing (VDP).  Marketers can send personalized messages with up-to-date content, and eliminate the fear of materials with out of date or off -strategy content being stockpiled in inventory.
  2. Cross-Functional Collaboration: Marketers are working more closely with cross functional teams in finance, sales, procurement, warehousing and operations to better forecast and eliminate over ordering. Far too many marketers indicate that orders tend to revolve around a “cost per piece” target or guesses at utilization levels. Through collaboration across various functional areas, marketing will be able to better forecast, monitor and manage Marketing Supply Chain operations.
  3. Go-Green to Gain-Green: When it comes to the reduction of obsolescence, the more impact made on waste reduction, the greater the green-gains. Obsolescence creates an environmental impact that goes beyond paper.  A lack of process, visibility and measurement in the Marketing Supply Chain often necessitates rush ordering which creates additional shipping, handling and logistical demands that all impact emissions, natural resources and carbon footprint. By applying a clear strategy that is focused on reducing obsolescence, marketers can transform the Marketing Supply Chain into a greener operation that optimizes spend and operates as a global green steward.
  4. Bringing in the Big Marketing Supply Chain Brains: If you are not good at developing process, bringing in a partner or business process consultant is certainly a valid option.  As with all self-improvement programs, you should first start by taking a hard look at yourself.  The first step in the process is to identify where marketing operations can be improved.  By completing a self-assessment, you’ll identify your marketing process hiccups and what you could be doing if those hiccups were streamlined or eliminated. From there you can decide if you can tackle the improvements yourself, call in strategic sourcing or consult with a partner outside of the company.

Marketers must begin to look at individual symptoms of inefficiency with the Marketing Supply Chain in order to optimize budget allocation, operational management and delivery of the customer experience. Obsolescence is a serious challenge to marketers as they looks to maximize budget and operations. The good news is that a streamlined Marketing Supply Chain is possible. In these critical times where customer engagement is top of mind and budgets are restricting, waste and unchecked obsolescence are no longer issues left to other departments or hidden in a marketing closet.  It’s time for marketers to take action.

Watch our post next week for a Marketing Operations Self Assessment Guide – 10 Questions to Help in Uncovering Opportunity for Efficiency in Marketing Operations.

Overcoming the Fear of Losing Control to Field Sales and Marketing

"free puppy with purchase" marketing message

"Free Puppy with Every Purchase." Great offer or a bad case of brand deconstruction?

I have to start with a quick story… I used to work for a corporation with over 10,000 locations world wide. Some of the locations were corporate owned, some were owned by franchisees. My role was in corporate marketing and my responsibilities included franchise marketing. The member of our creative services team who was responsible for reviewing and approving the franchises’ self-created marketing materials sat adjacent to my office.

I still giggle every time I think about the “creative” language she utilized many times a day to describe what she received to review: distorted logos, misspellings, horrendous color combinations, and my all-time favorite offer: “Free puppy with every purchase!”

Technology has advanced rapidly to make the management of marketing materials faster, easier and more controlled for companies with distributed locations, marketing staff and field sales. The solution that is central to improving the quality of branded communications comes in many shapes and sizes and has many names like: marketing asset management, communications portal, print on-demand, web-to-print, and digital asset management.

For organizations that are still concerned that a marketing communications portal will be destructive instead of constructive, let’s look at some of the biggest fears:

Big Fear 1: My brand and brand message will be distorted.

All good communications portals come with the power to give you the brand control you need, while making the user feel like they have great customization abilities.

Big Fear 2: There’s a lack of quality data and mailing lists at a local level.

This may be true, but you can help them obtain new lists. Even better, hook-up the data and list service you want them to use. You can even program in targeted tools that enforce best practices.

Big Fear 3: They (the field, location, and marketing managers) will spend too much.

If budget isn’t controlled by the franchisee, or location level budgets are not in place, expenses can be monitored and limited through your marketing portal. Spending limits may be set by order, user or location within the communications portal.

Big Fear 4: After investing in a communications portal, it is not utilized and doesn’t produce a positive ROI.

This is the opposite problem to number three above, and the problem most likely encountered when implementing localized marketing. This problem has to be addressed before you implement a communication portal. Conduct user testing with the proposed tool before buying. Make sure your users can easily understand how to navigate the system and know exactly what to do. Next, plan out an implementation and user adoption program to encourage interaction with the communications portal or asset management system. And although this is common sense, after you implement the communications portal, the old way of doing things has to be eliminated. Aberdeen Group recently released research on Print On-Demand that proves the positive impact it has on ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment.

Big Fear 5: They aren’t savvy enough to know what to do.

Even an easy-to-use system doesn’t make up for the lack of marketing expertise required to conduct local marketing initiatives. Or does it? If the system can be set up to support best practices and be specific enough that the localized marketer or franchisee knows exactly what to do, even lack of marketing know-how can be overcome.

Empowering Your Most Devoted Marketers: Your Local Representatives

Up to this point, this entire article has studied negative things that can happen when marketing is conducted at a local level. I have also worked for a franchise owner and seen thousands of franchisees and location managers in action. Who takes on the most responsibility for each location to be successful? It’s the local manager, sales person, franchise owner, and each and every employee associated with that location. Sorry corporate, it is not you.

The unfaltering commitment that these individuals possess to make their business a success is enormous. For companies to not take advantage of that from a marketing perspective is a detriment to the success of the company and franchise owner.

If you don’t give marketing control, you don’t get motivation for success by the very people who interact with the customer each and every day. Individual locations always feel their market situation is different, their competition is different, their employee base is different, and so they need to feel that they can control the marketing and sales approach to be different, even if it is not.

With the right tools, a communications portal being the main one, you can give your locations and franchisee all they need to conduct relevant, localized marketing, while keeping the control you need to build a consistent national or world-wide brand. So what’s holding you back?

Catalog Marketing Delivered On-Demand: An Interview with Jason Kort

An effective catalog has been proven to increase sales, both online and offline, by countless sources.  Throw in variable data, variable imagery, on-demand printing and image generation, and an easy ordering interface, and you have a sales and marketing dream come true.

Jason Kort, Director of Marketing for Redemption Plus

Jason Kort, Director of Marketing for Redemption Plus

I recently had the chance to talk with Jason Kort, Director of Marketing for Redemption Plus, a leading distributor of incentive and redemption merchandise.  You may know them as the inventor of the “World’s Largest Whoopie Cushion.” Redemption Plus is no doubt a very fun business focused on delivering all the wonderful toys, games and prizes used by family entertainment and educational franchises nationwide.

Jason recently led the implementation of print automation and variable data technology that is improving the catalog that is essential to their business.  Here’s a portion of that interview:

How did you recognize that you needed a different process for producing electronic and hard copy catalogs?

JK:  There were really three areas that were driving me crazy:

  1. It was taking too much time to create and produce a catalog and the instant we printed one it was out of date.
  2. It took 10-15 minutes for our sales reps to send our catalog to individual prospects.
  3. It was too hard for our customers to determine what they wanted to buy from us.

What was the biggest challenge to implementing an automated printing and digital file delivery system?

JK:  Variable data and print automation were new to us, so figuring out exactly what we needed and what we wanted to do was the biggest challenge.

What advice would you give other marketers who are changing to an automated variable data catalog?

JK:  This is really like an IT project.  Make sure you thoroughly define what you need and scope it out like an IT project.

Could you summarize the biggest benefit your personalized, on-demand catalog system has brought to Redemption Plus?

JK:  I’d love to narrow it to one, but I can only get to three:

  1. The time it takes my sales reps to order catalogs has went from 10 minutes to 30 seconds.
  2. We never print a catalog that is out-of-date due to the real-time integration with our product database.
  3. It’s easy for our customers to quickly access the types of items they want to order, which has led to an easy increase in sales.

Easy and relevant are the words that come to mind when describing this new tool Redemption Plus has created. Kudos to Jason and his team! To read more about Redemption Plus and their dream-come-true print-on-demand catalog, read the case study.

So how are the variable images and information used to create a personalized catalog?

Here are some visuals of the new and improved Redemption Plus catalog.

Click on the thumbnail images to view larger, with variable information circled.

Personalized catalog cover

On the catalog cover, customer information and the date are personalized.

Variable catalog interior pages

Inside the catalog, products are customized based on current items in the database. Pricing is specific to the end-users’ mark-up requirements.

Variable data catalog personalization

Sales rep information and photograph is automatically included.

What Jelly Teaches About User Adoption of Marketing Asset Management

57302955 300x300 What Jelly Teaches About User Adoption of Marketing Asset Management

Providing too many options in a marketing asset management solution may create a decision process that is too intense and complicated.

Years ago, Columbia professor, Sheena Ivengar ran an interesting consumer test.  She set up a “free samples” table in a super market and proceeded to test the difference between sampling 6 jellies Vs. sampling 24 jellies.  The net result: when 6 jellies were presented, 40% of the shoppers stopped to sample, and 30% bought jelly.  While 60% of the shoppers stopped to sample from the 24 choices and only 3% actually bought jelly.

So we like the shopping experience, but struggle to make a decision when faced with too many options. I buy that.

So what does that have to do with Marketing Asset Management user adoption?

Users of marketing asset management systems are frequently distributed sales forces, marketing departments, franchises, retailers or local stores.   They use these systems to download logos and ads, and create brand-controlled, yet customizable marketing materials.

Having many options creates a great “shopping” experience and initial usage, but if too many customization options are given, over time the users may become stressed by the system.  This results in fewer ads being downloaded, fewer email and direct mail campaigns being initiated, and ultimately a decrease in the amount of marketing done by your users or locations.  Even worse, they may instead go outside the approved system and create materials that are not within branding standards.  All this can happen simply because designing or creating the marketing materials is a taxing decision process.

When this logic is applied to companies who utilize an online ordering application for marketing asset management and marketing automation, a hypothesis begins to form:

When it is important that users repeatedly use an asset management system, having too many options decreases the frequency with which they use the system.

At this moment I have no facts to prove this hypothesis, but it is something I have witnessed for the past six years working with our communications portal. I am not hopeful that I can convince a client to perform a test and actually share the results as this is not a measurement that marketing departments are interested in proving out.  So for now, we just have to be wise marketers and consider the decision process of the user when establishing how many “jellies”, asset or options are the right amount for an online marketing asset management system.  And by all means, if usage of your asset management system is declining, consider testing the number of assets and options you provide your users.  You may find that less is more.