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Randy Seberg of dmh Marketing Partners on the transition to digital

Published on October 26, 2012

VP of Technology for dmh Marketing Partners Randy Seberg speaks with Cary Sherburne about the business and the changing nature of working with non-profits as digital forms of communication are added to print.

Cary Sherburne: Hi, I’m Cary Sherburne, Senior Editor at WhatTheyThink. And I’m pleased to be here with Randy Seberg who is Vice President of Technology from dmh Marketing Partners in Iowa.

Randy Seberg: Thanks.

Cary Sherburne: So you guys have been really a thought leader in the industry. And maybe haven’t had to make some of the painful transitions that some older companies have had to make. But maybe you could just talk a little bit about the company, and then about your production platform and your business model.

Randy Seberg: Sure. So we’re in Iowa and also facilities around the United States, two or three others. And we are in the non-profit direct mail side of the business. So we do charity fundraising, and so we’re constantly looking to solicit responses from customers or as we mail it. So our platform has been in the sheet fed web environment, but we’re making the transition to the inkjet world as a thought leader, because we’re always looking for ways to increase our viability of message and constantly increasing our data management side, and our ability to reach that customer uniquely.

Cary Sherburne: And so in terms of the production platform, then, you still have sheet federal toner, and what do you have there?

Randy Seberg: Yes. So we have offset presses and then in the sheet fed side we have continuous monochrome machines and lasers. And then we have sheet fed lasers. I have narrow head inkjet machines. And that pretty well covers the platform for us.

Cary Sherburne: Okay. And so in terms of that area, the non-profits, they have been a little bit, especially in fundraising, they have been a little bit slow to move to online, social media, and whatever. Are you helping them do that?

Randy Seberg: So we attempt to, because again it’s a little slower. But we continue to find ways to incorporate it all into mail. So how do we use mail to help social media? How do we incorporate the customers’ needs and the donor files into social media? But it’s a slower learning curve for them in this process.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah I think it’s always been so relationship based, and it’s probably a hard transition for them to think about. Plus a lot of the donors are probably older, right?

Randy Seberg: Correct, but what we’re continuing to find is that age is not the dependent question.

Cary Sherburne: Thank goodness.

Randy Seberg: Because you’ll see a lot of older folks like me or older carrying iPads and what else. So it’s not to mention just technology base, it’s more education based. What are we doing with it? And how does it help you?

Cary Sherburne: So are you seeing that transition starting to be made though?

Randy Seberg: Yeah, again slowly. It’s a slow transition. So, yes it is, but it started out as the broad casting email going to change the world, didn’t really happen. It turned into junk email. Now it’s back to targeted solicitations or opportunities, I should say, to that donor where it’s pertinent to them. So it’s all about the ability to maintain pertinent information to the person you’re sending it to.

Cary Sherburne: And then maybe using things like QR codes that can make print interactive.

Randy Seberg: That’d be correct. Make the print interactive and also just create the correct path as a print interactive to where they need to go. The donor is looking for a way to donate in a very cost effective way.

Cary Sherburne: Right, right. And so what do you see coming at you? I mean, just more of the same?

Randy Seberg: A tidal wave.

Cary Sherburne: A tidal wave.

Randy Seberg: Just in this industry right now it’s just a tidal wave of information. So the question becomes that tidal wave of information, how do you pick it apart and apply the relevant information to your business? And just as in home, how do you get all this information and how are you making it relevant. And so for us, it’s how do we help our customer sort through that information so that they can then transmit the correct information to their donors to relate their cause, so that their mission is understood and can gain traction to the people they’re getting word to.

Cary Sherburne: Through the right channels.

Randy Seberg: Through the right channels.

Cary Sherburne: At the right time.

Randy Seberg: Yeah, and that’s the challenge.

Cary Sherburne: But it’s exciting.

Randy Seberg: Oh it’s phenomenally exciting.

Cary Sherburne: That’s great.

Randy Seberg: And it’s very difficult to say how far you’re down the path, because technology keeps changing.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah, yeah. When do you get to the end? Well never.

Randy Seberg: Never, so you know, so the people ask you, “So you have it all figured out?” “No.” So just constantly learning is the key to this puzzle.

Cary Sherburne: Yeah, well thank you Randy, that’s great.

Randy Seberg: Thank you.

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