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United Stationers Generates Solid Response, Drives Up Sales With Web-Driven Solution

Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Press release from the issuing company

ROCHESTER, N.Y., August 20, 2003 – When United Stationers needed to differentiate itself from rising competitors in the marketplace, it employed an Internet-based solution and digital color printing to create a marketing program that enabled dealers to customize and print direct mail materials on demand. United Stationers, the largest wholesale distributor of business products ranging from office supplies to furniture, recently developed a direct marketing program called “Star Club,” composed of an easy-to-use Web-interface tool for its network of more than 5,000 dealers. The Internet-based tool, called the Marketing Auto Wizard, enables the company’s dealers to create full-color, customized mailers and brochures online, which are then printed on a NexPress 2100 digital production color press from Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG (Heidelberg) and delivered within three business days. “We wanted to offer our dealers a valuable direct-marketing program to help them meeting a variety of objectives, from adding new customers, to retaining and growing existing customers and reactivating inactive customers,” said Bob Burnette, vice president, Market Development Group, United Stationers. “Our dealers now have a powerful solution that saves them valuable time, making their marketing efforts more successful.” More than just a pretty piece United Stationers’ dealers have reported response rates of up to 35 percent since the program’s launch, and an accompanying increase in sales. Burnette added that the high-quality, color customized pieces printed on the NexPress 2100 press have helped drive this response, but the key to United Stationers success has been more than simply better looking direct mail. “The thinking that went into the program is as important as the direct mail that came out of it,” Burnette said. “We have different templates for different dealer objectives –– all of which are customized by the dealer and personalized to individual recipients. Because of this targeting, dealers can mail pieces in small quantities and then follow up by phone, which helps drive the great response rates.” In developing the Star Club program, Burnette and his team realized that dealers were too busy with daily business operations to create direct marketing programs. Whether a small, family-run business, or a $250 million per year dealership, resellers needed a way to produce timely, affordable, personalized and customizable marketing materials. The team was familiar with Web-driven customization, so the next step was to apply the concept. The Marketing Auto-Wizard program walks the dealer or sales representative through a process of selecting marketing collateral templates, identifying products from an image archive and customizing text to build promotional pieces that address specific customer needs. It provides an immediate, on-screen proof for approval. The system also prompts the dealer to submit a database of customer names and addresses, which are used to create PDF-print files for individually tailored brochures. The files are automatically routed to a server at United Stationers’ print provider, where a NexPress 2100 press produces the output. Documents are then finished and mailed to the dealer’s target customers. Prior to implementing the Marketing Auto-Wizard program, United Stationers’ marketing materials included lengthy catalogs and general direct mail pieces, printed traditionally on an offset press. Typically produced in large quantities, these items required long lead-times and allowed little customization. Efforts by dealers to create their own marketing materials were time consuming, and yielded less professional-looking pieces. United Stationers dealers now have the option of printing as few as 50 highly targeted, professional pieces that are customer-focused, dealer-specific and promotion-driven. Calling on RT Associates To implement the Marketing Auto Wizard and produce the full-color, personalized materials, United Stationers collaborated with RT Associates, a Chicago-area full-service solutions provider for digital and offset printing. RT Associates turned to Heidelberg and NexPress Solutions LLC, who were collaborating with Saepio Technologies to add its Web-driven Agilis Media Producer to the NexPress solutions portfolio. According to Bob Radzis, co-founder and president of RT Associates, the company aims to offer the newest and most advanced solutions on the market. RT Associates originally selected the NexPress 2100 press based upon its robust digital front end, which ties database information to dynamic, Web-driven document creation tools to produce high-quality personalized print on demand. As a NexPress 2100 owner, Radzis has developed a strategic association with Heidelberg and NexPress. He appreciates both companies’ solutions focus, and their ongoing commitment to researching and bringing new innovations to market. “We find that new customers are now requesting Web-based solutions and digital color print work from the start,” Radzis said. “And through this relationship, we’re able to gain new design, digital photography and digital content management work. Innovative digital solutions have become the drivers for our rapidly growing business. “Over the years, customers have been convinced of digital printing’s high quality output, and more clearly understand the value of more customized and targeted communications. Today, our efforts have moved from simply selling the concept of variable data printing to helping customers achieve their marketing goals.” “The Internet is driving new communication solutions and capabilities for commercial printers like RT Associates,” said Niels Winther, president, Heidelberg USA. “Using Heidelberg equipment, our customers have the unique opportunity to take advantage of exciting new applications –- like Web-to-print fulfillment –– just one example of the potential for the digital color printing market in years to come.”




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