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Impact: Blending Inkjet and Data-Driven Marketing

Since its founding in 1983, Impact has been providing services in direct mail, fulfillment, data management, critical documents, e-mail marketing, creative, and print management to drive marketing communications. This article provides a brief overview of how the company’s expertise in applied technology, analytics, and production services can help its customers connect with their clients.

By Barb Pellow
Published: May 19, 2016

For many companies, the data they have on customers and how they choose to use it can be a critical differentiating factor. Today’s consumers have come to expect personalized, relevant, and timely sales offers, so this is what they respond to. Meanwhile, marketers can experience an increase in communication response rates if they successfully match their offerings to a specific need. Relevant and variable text and images have the proven ability to deliver superior results. Relevant sales and marketing campaigns rely on complex data integration, timely processing, and smaller production batches.

Since its founding in 1983, Impact (Minneapolis, MN) has been providing services in direct mail, fulfillment, data management, critical documents, e-mail marketing, creative, and print management to drive marketing. When demands for customized communications emerged within the marketplace, Impact was at the forefront of delivering these relevant communications. When the firm first started out, it was issuing mailings that were addressed to “occupant.” However, CEO Tim Johnson’s father realized that data was at the heart of quality direct mail pieces. He built a resident database file by keying in names and addresses to help direct mail customers target individuals, and the company continued its evolution into a high-end data-driven marketing partner. Today, Impact’s skilled staff members leverage data-driven insights and analytics to help improve marketing ROI across multiple marketing channels. Impact provides expertise in applied technology, analytics, and production services to help its customers connect with their clients.

Investing in the Right Technology

With the increasing focus on data-driven solutions, Impact realized that it needed to complement its analytics and customized communications with printing technology capable of producing full-color and highly variable output. Tim Johnson admits, “Our printing equipment fleet was aging and our color technology was limited. We were using monochrome and highlight color technologies and imaging onto pre-printed shells. We wanted to bring in more color work to keep up with or get in front of our competition. For us, it was never a question of why we would jump into the color inkjet space… it was a question of when. We understood exactly where the technology was going and how it was going to shape the future of our industry, and we knew it was time to take action.”

Impact’s team members began researching the best options and alternatives for inkjet technology in 2013. Johnson and his team attended the Inkjet Summit, visited a variety of end-user locations, spoke with other inkjet press owners, and participated in the thINK conference. He elaborates, “In addition to learning a great deal about the technology, our research exposed us to best practices relative to deploying it successfully.”

The Shift

Johnson continues, “We made the decision to install both an Océ VarioPrint i300 and an Océ ColorStream 3900Z. We weren’t looking for two separate presses when we began the research process and determined that the time had come to move into the color inkjet space, but that proved to be the best option for us. After Canon Solutions America prepared samples from both presses, we quickly realized that both the cut sheet and continuous feed devices could seamlessly complement one another in addition to offering great productivity.”

Although the Impact team was aware that there was now a sheet-fed option with the Océ VarioPrint i300, having both the Océ VarioPrint i300 and the Océ ColorStream 3900Z offered the opportunity to create a robust print fleet that was fully capable of next-generation output. The Océ ColorStream 3900 Z is Canon’s newest high-speed commercial inkjet production printing system, and its slimmer design provides a high level of productivity in areas where a smaller footprint is necessary. These two qualities were extremely important for Impact’s print facility needs since the company was looking to optimize space constraints while also improving efficiency.

With the ability to perform short-run as well as long-run jobs, Impact recognized the synergy and fit of having both inkjet presses. By combining the sheet-fed white-paper-in-full-color-out workflow of the Océ VarioPrint i300 with the robust continuous feed Océ ColorStream 3900Z, Impact is now poised for expansive growth today and in the coming years.

Pete Studer, Impact’s Chief Operating Officer, was primarily tasked with selecting the manufacturer to partner with for this new endeavor. He explains, “While it was not our initial path and ultimately made for a surprising conclusion, the investment in both presses was clearly the way to go. We are now much better equipped to achieve our goals of intuitively diagnosing our clients’ needs and providing them with unique opportunities. This technology will help us engage in more insightful conversations with existing customers and the new ones that we capture down the road.”

Workflow: Integral to Success

Managing production environments with a variety of IT platforms, printer technologies, and software tools into a single, centralized workflow solution is critical for service providers. Océ PRISMAproduction’s open architecture enables seamless integration with diverse platforms, equipment, and software to meet users’ needs today while also addressing future requirements. In addition to the acquisition of two production print devices, Impact invested in Océ’s PRISMAproduction all-in-one workflow and output management software. This software is helping the company manage workflow through its different technologies. Jakob Bruhnding, Impact’s Director of Business Development, reports that his company learned a great deal by speaking with other press owners. He elaborates, “Through our research, we learned that workflow processes were at the heart of making the technology successful. In addition to installing new printing devices, we implemented Océ PRISMAproduction. This was an essential ingredient for our inkjet implementation. One of the key challenges in adopting full-color inkjet printing is being able to accurately estimate printing costs. Océ PRISMAproduction helps us understand the true costs of staying competitive with other players in the market. In addition, Canon Solutions America’s Professional Services team seamlessly integrated with our GMC software to help streamline operations. It automates the entire job ticketing process to drive the print devices. Efficiency is essential in today’s market, and that’s what Océ PRISMAproduction is doing for Impact.”

As Impact began to shift from toner-based production to full color inkjet-based production, it was confronted with the many technological and process challenges that come with the transition to full-color inkjet printing. The Canon TrueSupport program helped the company to master these challenges and significantly accelerated the learning curve for Impact. Through this program, Impact gained access to a broad range of services that ensured a fast and smooth transition process. A highlight of these services was Applied Inkjet Color (AIC) training, a 5-day interactive course that covers a variety of color management concepts. Additional services included application on-boarding and testing, operator training, and media testing.

The Future is Bright

According to Tim Johnson, Impact’s expanded capabilities are making it possible for the company to capture additional revenues from existing clients. He states, “We are re-engaging ourselves as a single-source provider, and we now have a much better story to tell prospective customers about our ability to deliver full-color, high-quality, data-driven communications with fast turnaround. As an added benefit, our sales team is really excited about selling these new capabilities. They want to learn how they can onboard new clients. We’re only just beginning to realize the benefits of inkjet and the ways that it enables us to deliver an even better offer to prospective buyers. Ultimately, inkjet delivers reduced touches, more jobs, new applications, more revenues, and more profits.”

A digital printing and publishing pioneer, marketing expert and Group Director at InfoTrends, Barbara Pellow helps companies develop multi-media strategies that ride the information wave. Barb brings the knowledge and skills to help companies expand and grow business opportunity.

Please offer your feedback to Barb. She can be reached at barb_pellow@infotrends.com.


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