Commentary & Analysis
Implementing the Killer Application
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: August 25, 2003
– Part II By Barbara Pellow Over the past few months, I have been investigating techniques for developing a profitable digital color business. Early on, I discovered that the profitable digital color business communications providers are focused on the “killer application” that incents their customer base to use digital color variable data programs again and again and again. It is simple to use Internet-based templates that put marketing power in the hands of dealerships, agents, franchisees, or remote sales reps to help them grow and expand their business with a more personalized message. Dealers, resellers, and franchisees want to customize materials and campaigns to meet their own needs while the brand owners need to protect brand image. The key challenge for printers today in implementing these solutions is building and supporting the information technology infrastructure to deliver these more complex solutions. Gail Ludewig, President This past week, I had the opportunity to interview Gail Ludewig, President and CEO, and Jim Constantine, V.P of Sales, from TotalWorks Inc. in Chicago Illinois. TotalWorks was founded in 1927 as a typesetting shop. TotalWorks has been in the high tech communications business longer than anyone could expect. Constantine said, "We bought our first mainframe computer in 1966. Management, at the time, recognized that computers would eliminate a lot of human interactions within the typesetting business." TotalWorks entered the 1970s with its mainframe and database-driven typesetting tools in place. Ms. Ludewig understood that the long-term future was in managing the data for customers. TotalWorks’ traditional market was the creation of catalogs for industrial manufacturers and distributors. The company saw an opportunity to repurpose and reuse pictures and copy for catalogs, flyers and brochures. Since 1989, TotalWorks has provided a powerful outsourced integrated enterprise publishing solution that combines digital asset management, project management, content creation and output through a simple, cost-effective easy-to-use interface. Jim Constantine, VP of Sales While it still provides a significant amount of “traditional prepress” services, TotalWorks is an Applications Services Provider (ASP), meaning the company provides all the functionality and more of a software package via the Internet, so that users do not need to load anything on their servers, integrate with existing systems or train people. In talking with Ms. Ludewig, her primary role is assisting customers with infrastructure and implementation. She commented, “Did you know that for every dollar a company spends on software an additional four to six dollars is spent on implementation, integration and training? This is where we see TotalWorks adding value.” The Target Market Totalworks has taken a focused approach in developing its application tools and utilities. The application emphasis is on solutions that support industrial manufacturers and distributors. Ace Hardware is a great example of the type of customer TotalWorks serves. Totalworks is collaborating with Ace Hardware on an automated publishing solution for the creation of highly targeted store promotional flyers. Totalworks provides a Web-enabled utility that allows the Ace Hardware stores to have control over product selection, pricing, design and other variables in creating monthly promotional flyers. The store logs onto a secure Web site, chooses the Ace-approved promotional elements, and generates flyers that reflect the appropriate store location and design elements…all properly formatted. Ace Hardware directs the actual print output, routing the output function to the printer of their choice based on total job attributes. However, TotalWorks has built in Print and Fulfillment services that an individual Ace Hardware store may choose to use thus creating a truly start to finish online capability. The benefits of this software infrastructure to Ace are clear. » Improved Workflow » Faster Time to Market » Unified Messaging » Consistent Branding » Real-time Repurposing » Increased Targeted Marketing Capabilities » Increased Customer Loyalty » Enhanced Productivity » Increased Profitability » Significant Top and Bottom Line Savings » Reduced Cycle Times » Secure Environment » Expanded Delivery Opportunities Ludewig says, “Totalworks is not designed to be all things to all people, and we are great at everything internally. Our focus comes from the knowledge we have developed on repurposing content over the last 75 years. We selected the industrial manufacturing and distribution segment because there is a strong need for repurposing content in that world. When you look at data and images, there is less than a 25% change from year to year. This market segment has a strong need for reusing content.” Additional Totalworks clients include BlueCross/BlueShield, Imagination Publishing, EGS/Appleton and United Stationers. How TotalWorks Delivers Results TotalWorks focuses on content creation, content management, project management and support services in the delivery of customized marketing materials. Content Creation TotalWorks’ Publishing Pro2 lets users download, manage and repurpose materials to better target specific customers with pre-approved images (copy and related SKU information) throughout the entire enterprise. This means sales and marketing teams anywhere can quickly create highly targeted catalogs, fliers, sales presentations, promotional materials, CDs, DVDs and any other print or digital document from their personal computer desktops. In 1927, TotalWorks was typesetting producing pages for output using ink and paper. TotalWorks is not a printer, but its application software lets users prepare output for printing on traditional offset and digital print technology. Ludewig told me, “ In today’s multi-channel marketing environment, it's paper that is driving the customer to the Internet, and the associated increase in sales and profits. The design intent for TotalWorks Publishing Pro2 Content Production Solutions is to help marketing and creative teams generate sales and marketing collateral better, faster and with less expense.” TotalWorks blends its knowledge of traditional print technologies with a strong understanding of the best ways to deliver information digitally. In addition to the creation of print streams, TotalWorks helps its clients create, design and produce: * Online Catalogs * DVDs * Online Newsletters and e-Zines * e-Mail Coordination & Target Marketing Content Management Constantine stated that the benefits of a TotalWorks solution are clear. “We have helped customers achieve an 80% decrease in cycle times and lower their cost by 40% and more. This is made possible by our ability to manage, better than anyone else, all of the ‘stuff’ our clients need to create their sales and marketing collateral materials.” Regardless of what constitutes the format, images, technical information, copy, price files, pages or documents, it is TotalWorks’ objective to manage it and make it available to clients securely, online, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Project Management TotalWorks tries to streamline project management through online Soft Proofing tools. Customers have indicated that the system can reduce average proofing cycle times by 50% and TotalWorks Page Tracking tools lower cycle times by as much as 80%. Support Services The company has blended its software tools with a full portfolio of support services. These include: * Photography - Digital and traditional studio photography and location shoots * Full-Service Creative Staff capable of a broad range of design assistance. * Print Management – The print management team works with a national network of printers to manage each job and ensure that customers get timely delivery of products * Fulfillment Services - TotalWorks will coordinate complex marketing campaigns from design concept to mailing the piece to customers and prospects, even helping clients purchase the right mailing list to maximize the success of strategic marketing initiatives. So What’s in it For the Commercial Printer???? Using an Application Service provider such as TotalWorks, printers can leverage the infrastructure provided by the ASP to increase print volumes. The ASP implementation offers a way for companies to outsource almost all aspects of their information technology needs. TotalWorks handles the information technology infrastructure for content creation and management, and will support the print service provider in managing the project as well as in customer support. TotalWorks charges clients an initial fee to get the specific application up and running, and then a per-piece charge for each piece generated using the system plus a fee for any associated fulfillment. TotalWorks is also focused on ensuring the highest levels of customer service. As digital color becomes more affordable for both printers and their customers, “time to market” in the development digital collateral management systems will become critical. For the print service provider, the ability to “rent” ASP infrastructure as opposed to building and maintaining the system themselves offers the opportunity to accelerate profitability. I asked Ludewig how a printer could engage TotalWorks to deliver a total system. She indicated that today, she works with an established network of printers to produce output from the system. In selecting print partners, TotalWorks looks for firms that emphasize value and not price, and that have a similar culture when it comes to exceeding customer expectations. She also said, “We would be delighted to partner on a confidential basis with any printer looking for the right infrastructure to deliver results. Printers have typically not come to us with opportunities. But when they do, we will work with the printer to close the deal and successfully implement the campaign.” There are clearly several options available to printers today to develop and deliver Internet-driven marketing collateral programs. While early adopters of digital color have built their own solutions with an array of software tools, the option of working with an ASP provider is clearly a time-to-profitability alternative. The benefits for the digital print service provider are the same ones I discussed in last month’s article: * The printing firm gets a “time-to-market” advantage versus investing its own capital to build a solution over years. There is immediate access to a system that has been proven and tested with the experience of the multiple users. * The printer aligns itself with a business partner that has experience in the space – and can “talk the talk” of marketing executives * The printer saves dollars by not investing in all the IT, database and Web infrastructure, as well as template composition skills, and the ongoing maintenance of a proprietary solution * The delineation of revenue streams is clear. In the case of TotalWorks, the ASP receives a fee for creation of the proper infrastructure and levies a per-piece charge for the pages generated, while the printer receives revenue from printing, kitting and fulfillment. A digital data driven template solution is clearly the “killer application” for digital color. The key factors for success are identification of the right customer; building the value proposition; and implementing a system. With today’s technology, or partnership relationships with ASP providers, the solution is more easily within reach than ever before.