Commentary & Analysis
Web-to-Print Product Spotlight: MarcomCentral
Twenty years ago when we described the function of marketing we would have started with terms like “creative” and “messaging.” Then we would have talked about distribution channels for getting these creative assets and messages out to the target audiences, primarily consisting of print, TV, and radio.
By Jennifer Matt
Published: February 4, 2015
This article is sponsored by PTI as part of WhatTheyThink's Print Software Product Spotlight series. In preparing this article, the WhatTheyThink Print Software Section editors conducted original, in-depth research on the company and product. This Product Spotlight describes what the editors feel are the company and product’s strengths in the marketplace. PTI reviewed the final article for accuracy but had no editorial control over the content.
Twenty years ago when we described the function of marketing we would have started with terms like “creative” and “messaging.” Then we would have talked about distribution channels for getting these creative assets and messages out to the target audiences, primarily consisting of print, TV, and radio. It’s2015, when we describe the function of marketing we are using a whole bunch of terms that have been made up in the last five years: marketing automation, marketing resource management, digital asset management, local marketing solutions, personalized sales and marketing, and sales enablement. The language isn’t the only thing that has changed; clearly the tectonic change in the field of marketing is the introduction of the online/digital channel as the overwhelming focus of marketing efforts moving forward. Technology is now a primary tool of marketers. The Gartner Group predicts that by 2017, the CMO will outspend the CIO on technology!
Printers have been servicing marketers for decades. Today those marketers are shopping for technology and the choice they make can have a huge impact on their overall marketing spend. Many technologies on the market today have been built primarily for the online world with little attention to or support for offline marketing options like print. The data clearly shows that a combination of marketing channels (print, online, events, social, etc.) is what delivers optimal results. MarcomCentral by PTI Marketing Technologies was built for print; its roots are in leveraging the online world to make print easier to access, distribute, and personalize. MarcomCentral has now expanded its reach to include the digital marketing activities that compliment print in an overall marketing program. MarcomCentral is showing up in the competitive mix of marketing automation software tools; see NG Data’s recent study of the Top 50 Marketing Automation Software Tools. In addition MarcomCentral ranked best in all four categories in Gleanster’s Benchmark Report: Marketing Resource Management (MRM).
Printers’ customers are shopping for technology; you simply cannot run a marketing organization of any size today without the help of technology tools. Traditionally, the print industry has narrowly defined web-to-print as a way to allow your customers to buy from you online. MarcomCentral is a tool that enables you as a printer to become the platform provider for your customers’ marketing efforts. This strategic play, when properly executed, can embed you with your customers in a way that providing print services alone can never do. The fact that MarcomCentral competes in the “marketing tools” space is an advantage to printers who are utilizing MarcomCentral. The customer’s perspective is you made the investment on their behalf and you can provide much more than just quality print services.
The online channel has introduced an unprecedented ability to integrate virtually everything. Marketing is now an integrated, trackable, science. You can no longer offer isolated tools or assume that your solution will be performing all tasks in a business workflow. Specialization has become the name of the game. MarcomCentral has taken a very strategic approach to integrations, in particular, integrations that help the marketer. The print industry has often focused too much on the integrations that help the printer, failing to understand that the primary user of the platform is their customer (the marketer).
In the last five years, MarcomCentral has completed integrations into Salesforce (CRM), Birst (analytics), Marketo (automation) and ExactTarget (E-mail). So instead of thinking that MarcomCentral can perform the entire marketing business process, PTI decided to sometimes embed MarcomCentral into a platform like Salesforce where the sales team is working all day every day. Or in other instances, they embedded Marketo and ExactTarget into MarcomCentral so customers could easily manage print and e-mail in the same interface while additionally offering Business Intelligence and analytics through Birst, all within MarcomCentral. The integrations make it easier on the marketer because multiple systems now work together as if they are one system. As a sales representative interacts with marketing assets stored in MarcomCentral, that activity is captured in the CRM (Salesforce) against a specific prospect who is in a specific sales process. This greatly increases the efficiency of the sales team who isn’t wasting precious sales time looking for marketing assets. The tracking of asset utilization by specific sales resources and for specific prospects gives marketing great insight into which marketing assets are working for whom. The integrations enable marketers to do more with less people, track all their activity, and have more time to iterate on their programs based on what the analytics teaches them.
MarcomCentral is print-centric at its core, it has been developing for many years now so the functionality is mature. Personalized print is vital to keeping print relevant in the modern marketing mix. Generic messages in any format have proven to deliver less than optimal results. MarcomCentral’s vast experience in supporting personalized print has resulted in a set of tools that support virtually any personalized print scenario. The key is to make sure personalized print is enabled side-by-side with e-mail, landing pages, banner ads and SMS, so that as marketing programs are developed, print plays a role. Only technology will enable print to remain in this mix, physical products have a logistical burden that digital messages do not. We need to make the physicality of printed materials be a premium and worthwhile offer in the overwhelming abundance of digital messages.
As print continues to evolve in the digital world, printers will need to adopt tools that make their customers’ lives easier. MarcomCentral supports print, understands print, has integrated with the popular print MIS solutions, and delivers files seamlessly into print production workflows. Print support is expected, however, MarcomCentral’s differentiation is their move to make the toolset more attractive to marketers through strategic integrations with best of breed sales and marketing tools and support for the growing set of tools utilized in a modern marketing mix.