By Barbara Pellow October 25, 2006 -- Customers and prospects present unique profit potential for every business. Economic efficiencies are integral to marketing budgets everywhere. This "doing more with less" requires higher rates of return on campaigns than what was previously acceptable. Campaign management is the process of planning, managing and assessing outbound campaigns across multiple communications channels. Last week at Graph Expo there was tremendous "buzz" on the show floor about automated marketing campaign capabilities. Tools like Pageflex, XMPie, and LookWho'sClicking allow users to send the right message to the right contact at the right time--with limited manual effort involved. The near-term benefits of targeted campaigns come from the simultaneous reduction in campaign-related expenses and increase in purchase volume by customers. For the marketing department, this means improved return on marketing investment enabled by more precise targeting than is currently practiced. It is not unusual for targeted campaigns to simultaneously increase effectiveness by boosting spend from the targeted customers and while decreasing campaign expense. This swing could be worth millions of dollars to your corporate clients. Even as event-based triggers create one-to-one marketing opportunities, outbound targeted efforts will continue to be a primary means of attracting new customers in today's marketplace. Top service providers are working with customers to master 1-to-1 marketing --the who, what, when and where of making that perfect offer at the right moment. Marketing technology has made major strides, helping to bring the strategy and vision of 1-to-1 within close reach. Innovative service providers are grasping this emerging opportunity to combine vision and technology and turn it into profitability. Over the past week, I've talked with three companies that are aggressively working with clients on the following areas: * Using marketing campaign management tools to build a 1to1 communication from the ground up, including the who (campaign management and analytics), what (content and offers), when (event detection technology) and where (online and offline channels) * Delivering data-driven relevant communication that goes beyond "Dear " * Maintaining a fully closed-loop process to track campaign effectiveness and take counter measures to enhance campaigns; direct sales force leads to enhance conversions; and support marketing executives in their ability to communicate ROI. Today's Graphics Inc. (TGI) TGI was founded in 1978 as a typographical service. As advancements in desktop computing and graphic arts software grew, TGI merged with the New Jersey-based printer Master Press. Together, they transitioned into digital offset printing, making the newly formed TGI a force in the world of on-demand, full-color press runs. This move expanded the company's prepress printing services and helped to establish TGI as a major printing provider in Philadelphia and the greater Northeast region. Since then, TGI has purchased several direct imaging presses and became the first printer in the U.S. to house both a Heidelberg Speedmaster 74 digital imaging press and an HP-Indigo UltraStream variable data press. According to marketing manager Sue Fee, "Our organization has a culture of customer focus. We continually adopt technology to meet changing customer needs. Our customers wanted to blend Internet communications and direct mail and have the timing and consistency of communications well coordinated. They also wanted to understand response rates and effectively coordinate leads. We made an investment in Mindfire's LookWho'sClicking software to enable our participation in this emerging market opportunity." Today, TGI has a host of customers that are leveraging integrated marketing solutions. According to Fee, "Event management is a perfect target for our campaign management solution. We do pre-show direct mail pieces for several Fortune 500 clients to promote events. There is a link to a personalized URL for registration so we can track potential participation and do follow up. Following the show, we do the post-show mailers to both participants and non-participants with differentiated messages. We also integrate this with proactive lead generation for the sales teams." TGI is working with a manufacturer of bar code equipment that has both direct and indirect distribution. TGI conducts direct mail campaigns to build awareness of the product offering. Leads used to be routed to sales managers who forwarded them to the distributor in specific geography. With Mindfire's technology, the leads are now directed to the distributor for immediate follow up with a copy sent to the sales managers. This dramatically accelerates the follow-up process. Direct Mail Express (DME) DME, one of the most successful digital color sites in the U.S., understands that its business is marketing communications, not printing. The company was founded in 1982 by Mike Panaggio as a vertically integrated marketing service provider. His vision early on was to step out of the box and combine new technology and marketing media with innovative design to create integrated communications that are truly personalized and targeted to individual customers. From DME's inception, its focus was on the delivery of programs that would help clients with customer acquisition and retention. The firm never looked at itself as a printer. Printing was a service it needed to provide as part of the total offering for the client base it served. The real thrust at DME is working with clients to leverage data to drive business results. DME never looked at itself as a printer. Printing was a service it needed to provide as part of its total offering. The service portfolio reflects DME's commitment to customer acquisition and retention programs. Its offerings emphasize the importance of media synergy and utilization of multiple forms of media to reach a prospect or customer. At the heart of DME's business is integrated response-driven marketing communications. According to DME Chief Information Officer Greg Dean, "We have evolved to a hybrid model. We leverage direct mail and personalized URLs, but we have taken it a step further. When they link into the web site, we have the ability to provide an interactive video experience that incorporates promotion and training. It is produced in our studios. We combine that with live chat." DME services a large software firm that sells software through a distribution network. DME sends a direct mail postcard to prospects with limited information, but an enticing message to link into the personalized URL. The web site is customized to the recipient and contains pertinent information about the distributor in the region as well as video-based education about the complex software application. Once a prospect has linked into the web experience, leads are redirected to the appropriate distributor. The combination of direct mail and an interactive video experience has enhanced the quality of the prospect when the distributor makes direct contact. Dean highlighted another example where integrated marketing is making a significant difference. The Minnesota Timberwolves wanted to drive sustained attendance at basketball games by selling banks of 10 tickets. It was a very simple mailing that provided a private invitation with a link to a personal web site. The target audience was individuals that had attended one game the preceding season. 28.5 percent of the recipients clicked through to the URL. An whopping 95 percent of those referred a friend and 15 percent of the original 28.5 percent actually ordered the bank of 10 tickets. By comparison, Dean said, "We did a similar campaign for the Orlando Magic, where there was only a 1-800 call in number for the recipient. The response rate for this campaign was between 6 and 7 percent." Dean went on to say, "It is clear that multiple touch points make a major difference in response rates. Based on our extensive experience in the market, we have learned the demographics related to which audiences respond best to specific media. Because we track the response rates so carefully, we can adjust the medium or message within hours." It is clear that multiple touch points make a major difference in response rates. It's a New Process, but It's Real While firms like DME and TGI are testing technology and new ways to deliver value, they are also learning and sharing valuable lessons. Automating a bad process won't yield good results for you or your client. There are key principles associated with developing integrated solutions for clients. 1. The process starts with a clear strategy backed by good data to support it. 2. The process needs to be coherent from initial contact through service delivery. Each piece of your marketing system needs to be consistent, effective and work well with all the other parts. For instance, what good is a 28.5 percent click through rate if the website doesn't encourage prospects to request more information? 3. Messaging needs to be clean and simple to entice individuals to access the PURL. 4. Automated marketing has the ability to attract prospects, but depending on the product or service, it may require live contact. The ability to link an interested respondent with direct communications is critical. Marketing and selling still comes down to the quality of the business relationships you can forge with your prospects and clients. While automated marketing systems will help you to attract new clients, face-to-face methods to stay visible are almost always the most powerful strategy to get the word out about you. 5. Users need to be willing to create the system up front and continue to improve it. A fundamental principle of any marketing system is that you must keep testing, learning, and improving. The goal is to optimize your system. You can't get complacent and neglect to try new ways to get better, more efficient results. Your customers are striving to enhance customer loyalty, improve customer satisfaction and promote share of wallet. While the challenges in integrated campaign management are significant, graphic communications service providers need to take notice of the available technology and opportunity. The market is changing, and evolving your business to align with new market demands is essential to long-term growth and profitability.