Commentary & Analysis
Taking Aim at the No -Profit Market
By Barbara Pellow February 8,
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: February 8, 2006
By Barbara Pellow February 8, 2005 -- The most successful small businesses understand that only a limited number of people will buy their products or services. The task, then, becomes determining, as closely as possible, exactly who those people are, and 'targeting' the business's marketing efforts and dollars toward them. Refine your products or services so that you are NOT trying to be 'all things to all people. Document service providers can build a better, stronger business, by identifying and serving a particular customer group --your target market. In parallel with clear identification of a target market, you must refine your products or services so that you are NOT trying to be 'all things to all people. Become a specialist! This past week, I had the opportunity to interview Brad Weiner, President of One to One Gulfcoast located in Venice, Florida. His organization has clearly demonstrated the ability to "take aim" and deliver the right products, services and solutions to meet the needs of the non-profit market. He shared with me the lessons he's learned about a focused approach to building a business. The Background One to One Gulfcoast thrives on the power of personalization for the non-profit market. Co-founded by friends Brian Weiner and Dana Place, the business was born in Venice, Florida, in October of 2003. Brian and Dana were not strangers to the world of digital on-demand printing. In 1992, the partners co-founded Noalart Graphics, Inc., one of the first all-digital, demand-based printing companies in New England. Noalart was an early user of Xerox DocuTech equipment and owned one of the first Xeikon digital color presses. Brian and Dana built a strong business primarily serving the Boston high tech market. They provided an array of print-on-demand services with an emphasis on technical documentation, color document production, marketing collateral, one-to-one direct mail pieces, and books. In June of 2000, Brian and Dana sold their business to American Reprographics. I realized that in my next business venture, I wanted to focus on adding knowledge to communications. As Brian and Dana formulated their next business venture, the team wanted to leverage lessons they had learned from the past. Brian indicated that he wanted to ensure that his focus was on adding value to print. He said, "On demand printing isn't enough. I lost one of my long time technical documentation clients at Noalart over a tenth of a cent per page. I realized that in my next business venture, I wanted to focus on adding knowledge to communications." Identifying the Right Target From a vision perspective, Brian and Dana wanted to offer innovative products that increased communications impact and response through the use of personalized text and graphics. They wanted to provide the tools to leverage customer knowledge to increase loyalty and retention while utilizing printed pieces that employ everything from simple personalization to 100 percent variable content. In developing its business model, One to One Gulfcoast looked for potential customers that had good data. With that in mind, Brian and Dana decided that One to One Gulfcoast's primary focus would be the non-profit market. It was a market segment where targeted campaigns could be very effective. According to Brian, "Some of the most data intensive organizations are non-profits. Non-profits tend to know a lot about their donors, and donors tend to select non-profits for personal or philosophical reasons. You can reach these donors with a knowledge-driven campaign and improve both response rate and the level of donation." The Value Proposition The value proposition One to One Gulfcoast brings to the non-profit market is a simple one --delivering the non-profit markets improved response rates combined with higher giving levels. Brian said, "We needed to demonstrate the value One to One Gulfcoast could have on the non-profit market. In order to succeed, we needed to be credible. We had to tell a "before and after" story that talked about the difficulties that non-profits experienced before they worked with us – and what we helped them achieve." We decided we were going to only swing for home runs and aggressively went after the biggest non-profit organizations. To reach the target market and establish credibility, Brian and Dana needed to integrate into the local community and reach out to the major market influencers in the non-profit segment. Brian, Dana and their respective spouses became active in local organizations and built a strong network of friends and contacts. Brian said, "We understood the local market and pursued opinion leaders in non-profits. We decided we were going to only swing for home runs and aggressively went after the biggest non-profit organizations. We could leverage our success with them across the non-profit segment to grow our business." One to One Gulf Coast has proven to clients that it can deliver value to the non-profit segment. Direct mail has long been personalized with the recipient's name, but the material inside is rarely customized to the individual. Most of these documents are sent out in large volumes and response rates are measured in fractions of a percentage point. One to One Gulfcoast goes way beyond simply inserting a recipient's name and address into a letter. Its strategy employs known data about the recipient such as race, age, past donation history and geographic location, weaving this information into the body of the letter along with the graphics each recipient is most likely to respond to. One to One Gulfcoast has generated excellent overall response rates–-in some cases 6 to 19 percent, says Weiner. Recently One to One Gulf Coast did a campaign for the Out-of-Door Academy (ODA), the second largest privately held school in Florida. The ODA conducts annual giving programs to fund operational needs that are not covered by tuition revenue, which only pays a percentage of the cost of educating a student. ODA turned to One to One Gulfcoast to boost the effectiveness of its direct mail campaigns. The bottom line was that through effective communications, The ODA Annual Fund reached its financial goals three months early and set overall new records for revenue and participation. There was a 42 percent increase in donations over previous years. One to One Gulfcoast has generated excellent overall response rates–-in some cases 6 to 19 percent The translation of One to One Gulfcoast's value proposition into very specific results is getting the attention of decision makers in the non-profit market, not just in Florida, but across the United States. The Right Products and Services With a well defined target market and a clear value proposition, One to One Gulfcoast built a product and services model to meet client needs. According to Weiner, "To deliver results, we need to manage the entire campaign process. One to One decided to offer a full slate of services from copywriting to design to data personalization to high quality digital production. We do it all internally." From the perspective of software, One to One Gulfcoast is leveraging XMPie technology. In building direct marketing applications for ODA, the company used the uDirect module to develop fully personalized integrated marketing campaigns that consisted of letters, postcards and phone-a-thon postcards. According to Weiner, "XMPie can produce powerfully-personalized, visually-rich 1:1 communications that get each individual's attention and result in significantly higher response rates to direct marketing programs. It integrates with Adobe InDesign, and it is easy to use." The most compelling message from Brian Weiner is the need to focus and differentiate your business with knowledge about a specific target market. Weiner said, "We are using Océ? CPS 900 and 700 digital presses. The consistently high quality is the reason we made the selection. When print quality isn't an issue, it makes it easier to sell the value side of our business." The Future…A Model for Success Probably the most compelling message from Brian Weiner is the need to focus and differentiate your business with knowledge about a specific target market. Today, 20 percent of his revenue is sourced from print. Eighty percent is the result of the ability of One to One GulfCoast to add value to the business results in the non-profit market. While the initial geographic focus was on the Florida market, Weiner sees the ability to scale the opportunity across the U.S. In wrapping up the interview, Weiner said, "With our focus on the non-profit market, I really feel like I personally am doing something meaningful. I am helping important causes increase donations at a reduced cost."