Missionary Work: Sharing the Gospel of Digital Print By Noel Ward, Executive Editor April 9, 2007 -- Jeff Hayzlett, Chief Marketing Officer at Kodak's Graphic Communications Group has long been a passionate advocate for the entire print industry. In his present role he is often called on to speak in front of a variety of different printing organizations and at many industry events. Yet while the information he shares at these events is invariably interesting and valuable to the attendees, he is, to a large extent, preaching to a congregation that already understands what he is talking about and is often doing the very things he encourages. Unlike most other print industry execs, though, Hayzlett also makes a point of reaching out to audiences that have a vested interest in print, but to whom the process of putting information on a page is anything but a top of mind concern. This "missionary work," as I think of it, is vitally important in an age when print must aggressively compete with other media and when users of print are not aware of how technology continues to keep it an extremely relevant media choice. After all, if those of us who make our livelihoods in this industry don't speak up for it, no one else is likely to do so. To learn some of the details behind this approach, I talked with Jeff to fill ODJ readers in on Kodak's outreach. As our customer's customers understand the many benefits of digitally driven print communications, they will seek printing partners who provide these services. ODJ: Jeff, thanks for taking the time to talk with me today. It's always a pleasure! Since you've become CMO at Kodak's Graphic Communications Group you have taken the unique approach of speaking to groups not just within our industry but outside as well. Often, these are people for whom print is just one part of a process, and an often invisible one at that. Tell us about some of the organizations you've spoken to and what you are talking to them about. JH: A team of us within Kodak speaks almost weekly at seminars and conferences outside of the print industry. The audiences run the gamut from CMOs and other c-level executives to brand marketers, advertising agency representatives and others who make decisions about marketing communication programs. Some of the organizations and events we've presented to include The National Postal Forum, Direct Marketing Association, the CMO Council, the National Center for Database Marketing, the Business Marketing Association, the American Bankers Association, and THE Conference on Marketing. These are just a few examples of speaking engagements in the U.S. alone. We are doing similar outreach to organizations and events around the world. These sessions provide a perfect opportunity to deliver a message that all of us at Kodak feel very passionate about--the enduring value of print as a highly effective marketing medium--to the people who make decisions about marketing expenditures. We want them to think about print as much more than ads and collateral and expose them to techniques such as variable data printing that can be used to reach highly targeted audiences with messages that break through the cluttered communications environment. Depending on the audience, topics we cover include the advantages and benefits of TransPromo communications, personalized and versioned documents, and short run color applications. Regardless of the specific subject, though, it always falls under our umbrella message about the power of print. We want them to think about print as much more than ads and collateral ODJ: That's quite a line up of organizations and range of topics. It seems like you're doing a lot of very active "missionary" work! But while you've long been an advocate for the industry, you run marketing at Kodak GCG. Why are you doing this? How is it a better investment in time and money than talking with industry groups who are still not doing all they can with digital print? JH: It's clear that Kodak is developing a reputation as the Ambassador of Print and we could not be more proud of it. Printers everywhere, and especially Kodak customers, love it. While I have a real passion for it, we have a number of people who are very active in industry associations and spend a great deal of time talking with printers about the ways that digital printing can help grow their businesses. Many of us in the GCG's marketing group, myself included, also devote as much of our schedules as possible to meeting with customers and prospects and talking about how getting into digital printing can complement their current services of, if they're already into it, new applications and services that can take their digital printing to the next level. You're right, though, that we spend a considerable amount of time in front of audiences that don't buy printing equipment but do make decisions about which communications vehicles to use as part of their marketing mix. And it's more than just speaking engagements. We frequently participate in articles about new opportunities to maximize communications programs with print in magazines that are read by marketers and decision makers. Our intent is to create end user pull. As our customer's customers--in this case, corporate marketers and agency representatives--understand the many advantages and benefits of digitally driven print communications, they will seek printing partners who provide these services. Ultimately, we hope that our outreach to printers and marketers about the power of digital printing comes full circle and helps facilitate a meaningful discussion between the two about building effective marketing communication programs. This is all about printers thinking differently about the business that they're in--it's much more about serving as providers of marketing communications services than vendors that put ink on paper. Marketers are increasingly going back to print, with more than 50 percent of the average marketer's spend going to print. ODJ: Why do you think your counterparts at other print industry vendors don't seem to do much of this same kind of outreach? JH: It's not my place to comment on what competitors may or may not be thinking or doing. I can only comment on Kodak's activities. Kodak's role in becoming the lead evangelist for the power print is clear and appropriate. Marketers are increasingly going back to print, with more than 50 percent of the average marketer's spend going to print. And, Kodak's technology currently touches more than 40 percent of the commercially printed pages in the world. Perhaps this, and our unabashed pride of print, are the reasons we have been so accepted as the leading ambassadors in the industry for the use of print. Plus, we have a host of marketing tools, services, workflow and equipment that we provide to printers who want to grow their business. It's a real winning partnership and we are extremely proud to highlight the great work our customers are doing. You just get excited thinking about the things we do with our customers and can't help but want to go out and tell others! ODJ: So that leads to some questions about the people you talk with: First, how do they react when you start telling them about how print can still be an important element in their customer communications programs? JH: The good news is that few marketers have abandoned print. Sure some of them went away during the wild dot com times but they are coming back. They recognize print's unique ability to reach prospects through traditional advertising, brochures, direct mail and other tools. Today marketers are faced with customers that want relationships with their brands. In fact, customers will make decisions about selecting services or products based on their perceived value due to those relationships. Print is the ideal solution for establishing a bond between brands and consumers because it's personal, customized, targeted and measurable. That's especially true when print is integrated with new media. So, marketers aren't skeptical that there is still a place for print in today's technology driven communications world. We do find, though, that we still have tremendous opportunities to educate marketers on all of the new things they can do with print and demonstrate how these new applications achieve results. These folks are overwhelmed with all of the communications vehicles at their disposal today--far more than any other time in history. It's all of our jobs to make sure that we're telling print's story. ODJ: What kinds of questions they are asking? JH: The questions I'm most asked are around ROI. Marketers want to know what kind of response rates, sales increases and other metric driven results they can expect from, for example, direct mail that incorporates personalized information and color. Of course, we have impressive data to share with marketers about how tailoring communications to each recipient significantly increases awareness, response and sales. That's when Kodak really has their attention. As part of the ROI discussion, marketers want to know about the costs associated with producing personalized, versioned and other digitally printed pieces as opposed to traditional static materials. As the discussion progresses, we may be asked about databases and the other nuts and bolts of what goes into creating a personalized print campaign. Kodak gives our printers the tools they need to engage in those conversations. ODJ: Which types of applications are the most interesting to the people you talk with? JH: Again, it depends on the audience. For some, the idea of adding personalization and color to direct mail pieces is a new concept. For others, creating different versions of a catalog based on demographic, purchasing habits and other customer data captures their attention. TransPromo communications--adding promotional messages to bills and other transactional documents--generate a lot of enthusiasm. With industry statistics showing that consumers spend 46 seconds with bills, marketers appreciate the unique opportunity to deliver promotional messages to this engaged audience. And what always is of interest is how these revolutionary printed materials can integrate with a company's online and other marketing efforts. Marketers and agencies know how difficult it is to reach consumers today and want to be sure they take advantage of every touch point. We make sure they know that print can extend the value of every other communications tactic, from online to broadcast to wireless, in their mix. ODJ: What can digital print providers take away as a lesson from your work to these different groups? Should a print provider being talking to such diverse audiences in an effort to educate them about the potential for digital print? It's all about how print--a preferred form of communication for generations--continues to thrive in the digital era JH: Absolutely. Digital print providers need to be at the forefront of advocating to marketers and other decision makers about the power of print to improve their overall marketing communications program. They'll find receptive audiences who want all of the information they can get their hands on about how they can make their marketing dollars work harder for them. We have to remember that for many marketers and agencies, all of this is still relatively new. Some segments of marketers have adapted to new ways of communicating more quickly than others. We need to make sure we're evangelizing for digital print on behalf of our industry and customers as much as possible. ODJ: Whom should they be talking to? And what should they be saying? JH: Digital print providers should talk to chief marketing officers, marketing managers, product managers and others who are responsible for making or influencing decisions about brand communication programs. As for the message they should deliver, it's all about how print--a preferred form of communication for generations--continues to thrive in the digital era and provides marketers with unprecedented versatility, creativity and flexibility to reach their customers and deliver results. Please offer your feedback to Noel. He can be reached at [email protected] See More Exclusive Articles