Cary Sherburne and VP of Marketing Mike Dane discuss Ricoh's view on the rebirth to paper in a multi-channel communication market.
Cary Sherburne: Hi. I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink.com and I'm here with Mike Dane who is the Vice President of Marketing in the US for Ricoh. Welcome.
Mike Dane: Thank you very much.
Cary Sherburne: So, you know, we hear a lot about the analog to digital transition and, you know, print is dead or paper is dead. Well, Ricoh, you know, you guys depend on paper a lot. So what’s your perspective on that?
Mike Dane: Yeah, that’s a great question. And I think, you know, if you would believe every forecast you’d say we’d probably be out of business right now because paper would have been dead a long time ago. And I think in many respects, as we see in 2011, paper actually has died in one case. But fortunately for all of us, it’s actually been reborn and it’s been reborn in a much more interactive way. And previously, I think, when you look at multi-channel communications, when you look at interactive marketing, paper was really on the side and it wasn’t part of the ecosystem, it wasn’t part of the multi-channel discussion; it was kind of the old way of doing things.
What’s happened, and I think 2011 has really brought this to bear, is paper has become part of the interactive landscape. It’s become part of the multi-channel marketing mix in a very equal way with the other channels, and it’s through advancements like QR Codes. You know, a 2D Barcode provides a way for a person to interact with paper that they’ve never been able to do before. And for a marketer, it’s actually provided a way to engage a customer, a potential customer, in a way that they haven’t been able to do before in the form of paper. So paper has become really a portal in a sense through the components like QR Codes, like augmented reality, a portal for us to interact with and mix in paper with the overall marketing offering. For us, that’s been instrumental. For our industry, it really is, it’s like adrenalin.
Cary Sherburne: It’s transformative.
Mike Dane: It is very transformative and it’s fortunate to see what’s happened. I think we’ve reached the tipping point in the industry where people are now recognizing paper as a very valuable asset and not something that’s archaic and disappearing, but something that’s been reborn. And for all of us that’s great.
Cary Sherburne: It’s interesting. We used to talk about scanners as being the on ramp to the Internet. Now when you think about paper, whether it’s in the form of a bill that you get that’s got a QR Code, you know. Maybe that QR Code goes to some customer service announcement that’s important or maybe it goes to a video, you know, it could be anything.
Mike Dane: Yeah. And I think if you look at what’s inside of that, and this isn’t new in 2011 but it’s becoming more and more relevant, and that’s the use of data and managing data. And not just acquiring data, but being able to effectively use data to provide the relevancy to the content that you’re delivering to your customers. So that piece of paper really becomes a targeted one-to-one, you know, document that goes to a customer, that engages them in a personal way, that can then provide an experience interactively into your web-based resources, your digital resources, that can create that interaction.
And so for marketers, more than ever before, managing data effectively, knowing what to do with data and how to create that relevant experience for our customers and potential customers is critical to our success.
Cary Sherburne: Now one of the things, you know, through the joint venture with IBM and InfoPrint Solutions which is now obviously part of Ricoh, and you guys have done a lot of thought leadership work there, and you call it precision marketing, right?
Mike Dane: Yes.
Cary Sherburne: And working with the CMO Council and so on. So that whole idea of making the communication relevant and the, you know, if you’re doing transpromo, for example, the communication is relevant, it’s your statement, right?
Mike Dane: Yes.
Cary Sherburne: But how do you make the rest of the stuff that you wrap around there, you know, be a revenue-generating source for the biller or, you know, whatever, and make the ads or the communications relevant?
Mike Dane: Yeah. The offers that—and this is really where it’s the difference between having data and managing data, and when you manage the data effectively you’re able to create the relevant offers for your customers that are going to compel them to action. Because there’s a difference between putting an ad on an invoice and calling it transpromo, and putting information on an invoice that’s relevant to what the customer’s buying patterns have been or what their anticipated future buying patterns might be, areas of interest, and engaging them and compelling them to take action.
So it’s not just about hey, I can put an ad on an invoice now; I’m doing transpromo, isn’t that great. No. It’s about having a relevant ad, a relevant offer on that piece of paper and providing it at the right point in time where the customer may need a purchasing cycle or a purchasing decision and engaging them. And so whether it’s a QR Code, or it’s an ad on a transpromo invoice, it’s got to compel action because that’s ultimately, at the end of the day, we are after revenue with what we’re trying to do. So we want to drive that end-user to perform some action.
Cary Sherburne: And, you know, it’s kind of interesting because you talked about purchasing patterns and, you know, as you collect the data being able to refine how you communicate. I have a female friend who spends more time in Home Depot and, you know, Pep Boys than she would in, you know, some boutique on Rodeo Drive or something. I mean because she’s into motorcycles and racing cars and things. And so when she gets something too fru fru, I mean it’s just like throw that away, you know.
Mike Dane: Yeah, yeah. And that’s the relevance of it all.
Cary Sherburne: You can’t just say she’s female, she must like Rodeo Drive, you know.
Mike Dane: That’s so true, that’s so true. And that’s why—and we have the ability now if we do it effectively to manage at that individual level. We have the means to capture the data and we have the means to process the data. You need the talent on your staff to be able to do that, and you need to have the thoughtfulness as a marketing leader to be able to say I’ve got to get to that individual. I know enough about them to get to them. I can’t just paint with a broad brush because all people, whether it’s all females or all people in Chicago, it has to be the individual.
Excellent interview and interesting perspectives on the rebirth of paper! Will be sure to share with our contacts!