Print Service Providers have been hearing about expanding their core offerings beyond ‘print only’ to many different services. These services include, among other things, marketing services. There has been a lot of discussion about the need for marketing services for years, especially as we see the increase of potential media channels to deliver messaging to meet the needs and reach of a very disparate audience. Print still offers the best bang for the buck, according to the recent Ipsos Affluent Survey. This survey projects that there are now 62.5 million U.S. ‘Affluents,’ those earning at least $100,000 in annual household income which accounts for about 20% of U.S. households, and they prefer print. These households account for about 69% of U.S. net worth. So why is this important and how does this affect the need for cross-media marketing campaigns that include print?

One example is a recent study of Back to School Deals and Promotions by Placed, an analytics company focused on consumer behaviors. The study found that consumers have the highest preference for print ads and direct mail from the store/brand, with email from store/brand coming in third. These two recent studies only continue to validate that print plays a very important but not exclusive role in driving consumer decisions. It reinforces the role that print can play in the context of a multi-channel campaign to add weight and value to the messaging.

How does a print service provider leverage a print relationship with a client into a broader marketing campaign relationship? There has been a lot of coverage on this topic in previous articles, so we are not going to discuss why you should be looking at it seriously or selling the concept to your customer here. Rather, we will look at some tools that are hitting the market that are designed to help facilitate cross-media marketing campaign production. I need to reiterate that I said ‘production,’ because ultimately print service providers are in the business of, and usually very good at, making production happen.

Marketing Campaign Management tools have been around for a long time, but have focused primarily on managing resources. However, the increase in cross-media campaigns, which have been growing in popularity at a fairly dramatic rate of late, has created a need for  production-centric tools to facilitate these new campaigns. As a result, there are a number of tools, some fairly new, that facilitate campaign production and automate that process to varying degrees. One of the earlier entries into the cross-media personalization space was XMPie, now a Xerox company. They started with UDirect and PersonalEffect desktop and server based personalization software product lines, and then added a hosted e-Media SaaS solution that tied together the personalization with PURL (Personalized URLs) implementation and campaign analysis. From there, XMPie offerings were expanded to create a more comprehensive campaign planning and execution solution in XMPie Circle. This relatively new cloud-based SaaS product was designed to give the user a functionally and visually rich Digital Storyboard to plan, visualize, and sell a multi-channel campaign using a variety of selectable tools that represent the tasks that can be used in a project.

XMPie Circle is based around the familiar concept that we have been discussing in this series, Pipeline-based process automation. If you have been following this series, you know that there are varying types of pipeline automation solutions. The earlier version of Circle used a linear pipeline that allowed planning in a sequential process. The latest version has been expanded to a much richer set of if/then/else trigger-based decisions, actions and processes. For example, if one of the target recipients goes to the PURL mentioned in the printed piece, it could trigger an email or some other action after a specified period of time. Or conversely, if they didn’t visit the PURL, it can execute a different action to help drive them there, to move beyond the simple drip campaign. The XMPie Circle SaaS solution is available in premium version that can link to the server-class solutions from XMPie (i.e., PersonalEffect); hence, only the premium versions allow for automation, content preview, or live analytics. However, XMPie also offers a free version that can be used to design and plan, but not execute, a campaign. It’s a great way to get to ‘test drive’ it as well.

MindFireInc was one of the first SaaS solutions to facilitate the creation and use of PURLs and Landing pages in personalized marketing campaigns, through its LookWho’sClicking solutionwhich uses a linear type of pipeline automation, addressing a sequential set of actions. While the campaign design tools are primarily forms-based and don’t use visual objects like XMPie does to plan and construct the program, MindFireInc customers have found it to be a successful solution. MindFireInc has focused its efforts on creating a SaaS solution that provides tools to create a fairly straightforward marketing campaign with a low barrier of entry. Like any good marketing campaign solution, a core offering is the analytics platform, an essential piece of any marketing campaign. In addition to PURLs MindFire solutions support email, QR codes, and text messaging.

The Campaign Wizard offers step by step guides that help users create new campaigns from scratch or copy and edit existing ones. They use the concept of four key Blueprints, which are working templates to structure and visualize a campaign. One of the unique things that MindFireInc has focused on is providing training and consulting resources that a print service provider might need as they grow into this new world of providing marketing services. Since its inception in 1999, MindFireInc has been busy expanding its software functionality as well as business development offerings. Its fastlaunch program, a recommended starting place for new entrants into the marketing services space, was developed specifically to address the new print service provider client with a very structured and monitored training and execution program to help ensure project success.

The last, and perhaps the newest solution we looked at was Konica Minolta’s EngageIT XMedia. It was introduced at Graph Expo 2012, but really brought to the forefront this year at Print13. Initially developed by an ad agency, and then fine tuned by KM for the marketing service provider, as a SaaS solution that resides 100% in the cloud.  It was initially designed to service casino loyalty programs in Las Vegas, and it brings all of the potential marketing distribution channels into play. You can use Email, Web pages, Text messages, PURLs and GURLs (General URLs) which can be generated on demand through the included CMS. Additionally it supports QR Codes, Social Media, and most importantly integrated print actions.

It is designed to use a pipeline process that supports if/then/else trigger actions to create very unique and flexible marketing programs. It supports real-time data feeds to deploy any of the supported actions, and real-time analytic tracking results to monitor the program success. It can track everything from email openings to Facebook likes and text message deliveries, etc. in an online dashboard. While this is a very interesting addition to the available solutions in the market, it also highlights Konica Minolta’s new and focused efforts into the workflow software marketplace.

While none of these solutions will make you a marketing service provider overnight, they go a long way toward helping you learn and execute cross media marketing campaigns that you can sell to your customer along with your printed products.

In the next article, we will look at portals and other ways to get jobs into a plant for production.

Remember, if you have any topics you think are important and would like us to cover during the balance of this series, please let us know!

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