Graz, Austria, was host to the second annual Marketing Rockstars Festival last May, and the printing industry was represented by Ricoh Europe, the only supplier or manufacturer of digital presses that exhibited. “After all of the publicity from last year’s event,” said Thomas Haas, Principal, Direct Marketing Solutions & Services, at Ricoh Europe, “and the number of big brands represented, we decided to attend this year, and it was a great success.”

Nearly 2,000 marketers attended, up from about 1,350 last year, to hear 50 speakers from companies including Google, Starbucks, Adidas, Twitter and more. Ricoh was one of 100 exhibitors with a very busy booth that featured lots of information and examples of cross-media marketing solutions, featuring direct mail. Haas also delivered a personalization master class in collaboration with Ricoh’s data analytics partner, SAS, which was well-attended. “Show organizers only expected about 1,500 attendees,” Haas adds, “so everyone was thrilled at the turnout.”

But probably the most exciting aspect of the event for Ricoh and for the printing industry was the Forbes Magazine project. Haas explains, “Forbes Magazine was recently launched in Austria, and the publisher was looking for how to present the new publication in an attractive way. Someone suggested talking to us about personalization and how we could collaborate at Marketing Rockstars. It was only a couple weeks before the event, but we were able to pull it together.”

During the event, visitors to Ricoh’s stand were able to have their photo taken by a professional photographer and receive their own personalized front cover, with their photo, of the second ever issue of the Austrian edition of Forbes Magazine. About 150 attendees took advantage of the opportunity, and both Ricoh and Forbes were delighted with the outcome and loved the traffic and buzz it created. Both organizations are also now in contact with at least 150 great prospects who got a cover story on Forbes. The covers included Ricoh Clickable PaperTM and the production process demonstrated the capabilities of PTI MarcomCentral and FusionPro.

The Ricoh exhibit had only one printer which was there to produce the magazine covers, but Haas asserts, “It’s important to understand the audience – no one was coming to the booth to see the printer. They wanted to see what the workflow looked like and how they could incorporate it into their own marketing efforts, and they were able to see one or more solutions they can use in their day-to-day business. Not all marketers are aware of what direct mail can do for them; many have grown up with digital and are focused on digital marketing. Part of our mission is to raise the flag for print. It’s a resurgent medium; and Ricoh can advise on blending it into marketing efforts in a meaningful and intelligent way. Our presence there was also a reflection of the shift Ricoh is undergoing, putting more effort into promoting the key benefits of personalized customer communications.”

The Ricoh experience at the Marketing Rockstars Festival underscores the value to members of the printing community – both vendors and service providers, in supporting events of this nature, or at least attending. Haas concludes, “Engaging with the marketing ecosystem, which consists of agencies, brand marketers, list brokers, direct mailers and more, is important and a key aspect of influencing the print volume for direct mail in the future. The key for Ricoh is managing data effectively, and how we can work with agencies and marketers to help them use data to better target the right audiences with the right messages at the right time. Ultimately, this total service includes hardware, software, a marketing consultancy and partnerships with experts like SAS to bring together a sophisticated range of integrated solutions that can benefit marketers.”