By Barbara Pellow April 26, 2006 -- Marketers are facing tough challenges, including tighter budgets and shifting business models. Meanwhile, CEOs are demanding that marketers provide better measurement and visibility across the company to justify marketing spend. CMOs are challenged to reshape, restructure and re-skill their organizations. Marketing groups must now fill the pipeline with predisposed prospects, optimize customer value, and be accountable for demand generation and market differentiation through integrated, multi-channel campaign management. This requires competencies and knowledge in business analytics, database management, strategic planning, digital marketing, field sales, channel operations, and financial modeling. Multi-channel marketing is offering customers more than one way to buy something From a definitional perspective, multi-channel marketing is offering customers more than one way to buy something -- for example, from a Web site as well as in retail stores or over the phone. Advocates claim that in addition to offering the customer more options, multi-channel marketing allows a business more opportunities to interact with its customers - each channel can help promote the other channels. Since Web site and phone-in mail orders collect information about the customer that a retail sale may not, these channels make it easier to develop mailing lists for future promotions and branding campaigns. At least one study says that customers of multi-channel companies spend 30 percent more than customers of one-channel companies. According to a February 2006 CMO Web-Smart Survey, WebTrends, "Over 56 percent of the marketing executives said that the web was either the hub of their organization's marketing strategy, or that it would become the hub in the next year." The survey also reports that marketing executives and their organizations are not very savvy when it comes to their collective knowledge of online marketing trends, strategies and technologies. The web was either the hub of their organization's marketing strategy, or that it would become the hub in the next year This past week I talked with David Trombino, CEO of TecDoc Digital Solutions. He looked at the challenges faced by the CMO and saw it as opportunity for TechDoc Digital Solutions. From a strategic perspective, Trombino concluded that as he re-engineered his business model, the value proposition TecDoc Digital would deliver was business results via multi-channel marketing solutions. He also realized that he needed to "walk the talk" and was going to use multi-channel marketing to build his own business. TecDoc Digital was founded in 1972 as a communication business called Grafacon, Inc. Grafacon was an early adopter of the on-demand business model and the first company in Massachusetts to purchase a Xerox DocuTech in the 1990s. As its on-demand business, primarily the production of technical and educational documentation in those days, began to eclipse its traditional commercial consulting and printing work, Grafacon changed its name to Technical Documentation Publishing. In 1995, the current owners of TecDoc purchased the company from its founder, Harry Rogers. IKON purchased TecDoc in 1997 as part of a strategy to build a worldwide print on demand network and TecDoc became the Boston hub for the company's Business Document Services division. In February of 2005, IKON made a decision to leave the offsite document services business. On March 23, the former owners of the business, David Trombino and Paul Marinelli, reacquired the assets of the company. During 2005, the duo invested heavily in updating and expanding its software and hardware infrastructure to bring the latest in web-to-print, 1:1 marketing and high speed digital color to its customers. While the company had had tremendous success with the delivery of on-demand technical documentation, training materials and publishing materials, Trombino realized its long-term success would be linked to adding more value to marketing support services. To that end, TecDoc Digital is aggressively going to market with a concept it calls Customized Cross Media Communications. The company is blending the power of print and the interactivity of the web to help marketing executives provide high quality communications that provide measurable results and returns. The easiest way to explain TecDoc Digital's offerings is to share examples of the multi-channel campaigns being deployed to drive its own business. Trombino decided that an initial target market for his service offering was the agency/graphic design community. Sixty percent of the registered attendees for the PINE (Printing Industries of New England) sponsored Graphic Communication Day fit the profile of customers TecDoc Digital was trying to reach. TecDoc put together a promotional campaign for that event that started with a three-part direct mail campaign to pre-registered show attendees leveraging the rich graphic capabilities of XMPie in order to drive prospects to the booth. 25 percent of the individuals receiving the mailing actually did come to meet with Dave and his team. From there, the focus was squarely on follow-up with a follow-up campaign linked to the prospect's interaction with TecDoc at the show. The messages included everything from "Sorry we missed you" to "Thanks for visiting with us". This direct mailing piece pointed the recipient to a personalized URL (pURL). The mailing list was used to automatically generate pURLs for each individual (record) in the mail file. Mail recipients were invited to learn more--on their own terms--by visiting their pURL. TecDoc used MindFire software to automatically generate customized VIP Landing Pages that integrated and expanded upon the direct mail message. TecDoc also used this interaction as an opportunity to survey prospects and gather additional information that would help TecDoc fine-tune follow-on communications. The hook to get prospects to complete the survey was a drawing for an iPOD. Using Mindfire's integrated analytics, TecDoc could then track its results by individual responder. If the prospect requested a follow-up, the request was automatically routed to an Account Executive's e-mail for immediate personal follow-up. Through this campaign, TecDoc blended high quality direct mail with a customized, interactive web session that resulted in direct contact with a qualified lead, and the lead telling TecDoc precisely what they wanted the next step in the sales process to be. TecDoc blended high quality direct mail with a customized, interactive web session that resulted in direct contact with a qualified lead The results from the follow-up campaign were outstanding. 15 percent of the recipients visited their personalized URL. 47 percent of the 15 percent, or 7 percent of the total mailing, completed the pURL survey session. 69 percent of the 47 percent, or 5 percent of the total mailing, requested a meeting, webcast or sales call within 30 days. Trombino said, "The easiest way for us to communicate our value proposition is to use the technology in our own marketing campaigns. We know that simply selling digital printing is too limiting in today's market. The digital service provider of the future needs to help customers grow revenue and deliver true ROI. And that is exactly what we are focusing on." He went on to say, "The combination of customized, relevant direct mail messaging with PURLs and the ability to track campaigns on a real-time basis and immediately redirect leads to a sales rep differentiates us in the market as a company that provides measurable results, and the capability to lift our customers revenue and profit" There will be increased pressure for greater accountability including the need to prove how marketing spending translated into growth and profitability The Bottom Line As the economic power shift continues to move from producers of products and services to consumer, the role of marketing, particularly on-line marketing will also grow in importance. Corporations at the highest levels are recognizing the huge influence the combination of improved target marketing and the web have on every aspect of business. As direct marketing and the web continue to gain momentum, there will be increased pressure for greater accountability including the need to prove how marketing spending translated into growth and profitability. There will also be continued effort to optimize performance of campaigns and continually improve how marketing campaigns perform. Trombino has recognized that these are times of great change in the world of multi-channel marketing and is positioning TecDoc Digital to play a key role in helping his customer base successfully drive that change and success in their organizations.