Heidi Tolliver-Walker is former print industry magazine editor and long-time industry analyst, content developer, author, and blogger. She has written for the industry’s top publications, research companies, and private companies for the past three decades — so long that she still has an AOL address, which she signed up for back when AOL was still cool. You can reach her at [email protected]
“Enhancing the Print Customer Connection,” a new report from NAPCO Research/Canon USA, 2021, finds that print quality and customer service may not help printers hold onto customers the way they think. Print management, tracking, and reporting tools may be equally or even more important.
Round-up of key data points from WTT’s lunch-and-learn “Interactive Print in the Real World: What’s Really Working?” The data reinforce why AR is not an up-and-coming technology, but rather one that is already here—and a force to be reckoned with.
Merkle’s Q3 2021 Media Insights Report looks at the fundamental changes brought to the U.S. economy by the COVID-19 pandemic—changes that remind us that, even once the U.S. economy is back at full steam, it may not look exactly like the economy that existed before the pandemic.
We’ve been hearing that print is going interactive for years, not just with QR codes, but with technologies such as augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and near-field communications (NFC). Some of the applications are truly astounding, but are they relevant to the printing industry at large? Heidi-Tolliver-Walker looks at some examples of how “interactive print” is relevant to commercial printers.
Even as CMOs’ 2020 marketing budgets were being slashed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, CMOs were hopeful that those budgets would bounce back in 2021. But Gartner’s just-released “CMO Spend Survey” tells a different story. Not only are budgets not bouncing back, but they have dropped to the lowest level in the history of the survey. Is there any good news for PSPs in here?
To what extent is this industry merely talking about relevance-based personalization and to what extent are we actually doing it? Insights from Who’s Mailing What!, a national database of direct mail, raises some interesting questions.
As the U.S. economy continues to bounce back, “state of marketing” surveys are giving conflicting pictures. One says marketing budgets are falling. Another says they are rising. What to make of this conflicting information?
Paper and packaging companies are not only consumers of natural resources, but they are striving to be protectors of them, too. Here are five “feel good” stories about how members of the paper industry are doing their part.
Until recently, growth and excitement around augmented reality (AR) has been limited among printers since the barriers to entry were high, and other than for SnapChat filters and niche applications (such as gaming), few consumers were using it. Even as AR experiences became more robust and effective, they required an app, and marketers found that people don’t want to download apps. Now AR has developed a symbiotic relationship with QR Codes, and that changes everything.
Why has one QR code usage gain traction when others haven’t? What lessons can we learn from it? Can QR code use be turned into further print work, even if the code itself “steals” certain types of business?
Recently, Keypoint Intelligence released data from a new vertical market survey that reflects how a classic concept—unboxing—has become today’s news. No company illustrates the power of unboxing more than Apple.
For many printers and their clients, QR codes offer many opportunities for improved customer engagement and better customer service. But for some industries, they could actually represent the potential for lost business for printers, too.
The Who’s Mailing What! Database contains an astounding wealth of information about direct mail. The database is growing by leaps and bounds, currently containing more than 130,000 mail pieces and with 13,000 mail pieces added every 30 days. Because these mail pieces are searchable, you can slice and dice the database any way you want—by industry, by sub-category, by search term, by color, by mailing format, and the list goes on.
Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, a recruitment firm specializing in the printing industry, shares his insights on the challenges of maintaining the pipeline of skilled workers into the printing industry, along with some of the solutions and opportunities that a good staffing agency offers.
It’s rare that a survey is the bearer of truly good news, but the recent consumer attitudes survey out of McKinsey is one of them. Here are seven nuggets of good news from the survey that should make the grass a little greener and the sky a little bluer this morning.
A new Shoppers.com study finds that Americans are more likely to boycott a brand due to their political positions than they were one year ago. So be careful how you post, share, and comment on your social media pages. You could be driving away potential customers.
How careful are you with sharing information about your company, your sales practices, or your processes and technologies in public, thinking, “Nobody knows me here”? Could you be giving away compromising information without realizing it?
If you were asked to come up with a list of ways that QR codes can be used in marketing, how many could you list? Could you come up with at least 10? As QR codes see a resurgence, being driven by everything from the COVID-19 pandemic to USPS postal promotions, it’s time to take stock of how they are being used, as well as the opportunities that are being missed.
This is the third in the series about what can be done to keep the pipeline of new talent flowing into the printing industry. In this article, we look at the relationship between the graphic arts schools (or lack thereof) and the local printers and the profound impact this has on the pipeline.
Following up on last week’s article on the current state of high school and trade school graphic arts programs, what can be done to keep the pipeline of new talent flowing into the printing industry? Has anyone asked the teachers of high school graphic arts programs on the front lines? Here is a selection of responses to a query about what can be done from their perspective...and they had a lot to say.
Jeff White, director of development for the Print and Graphics Scholarship Foundation, solicited insight on the dwindling pipeline of skilled labor from the teachers of graphic arts programs at the high school level. The results reveal why printers can’t wait for someone else to fix the problem.
Do you have a client who seems to be doing everything right in its direct marketing campaigns, yet its metrics are not what they should be? Before the client pins the blame on you, they might want to check two potential culprits that lie between the campaigns and the sale: the website and the call center.
Who’s Mailing What! recently released its report “18 Direct Mail Trends for 2021,” with predictions from leading industry experts about what they are seeing on the horizon for this year. First on WMW!’s list is “more sophisticated personalization.” But what, exactly, does “more sophisticated” mean?
We all know that content is king. Connect with your audiences using the right content and you’ve got engagement, attention, and sales. But that’s if you are sending the right content, and one survey shows that in the B2B market, there is a disconnect between what buyers need and what marketers are sending—and a big one.
There are lots of reasons to encourage your customers to beef up their in-store signage and displays. Great marketing. Safety and regulatory compliance during COVID-19. But did you know that really good signage can also make your customers less price-sensitive?
Consistently, surveys show that giving back to the community increases a brand’s favorability among buyers. Never has this been more true than during the pandemic. That’s why stories like “Mactac Gives Back” resonate so deeply.
Customer product reviews are a powerful tool in e-commerce, and positive reviews often make the difference between someone making a purchase or not. Those reviews are in the public domain, so why not use them in print marketing, too? This company did.
Even if printers are not in the market for a new marketing automation system, tracking the new and updated features of available platforms provides insight into where marketing is going and what they (and their customers) need to watch, both now and in the future. One such change is the increased use of AI to speed and simplify the identification and understanding of customer journeys. As COVID-19 ramps up and consumers tighten their belts (again), the timing couldn’t be better.
Direct mail retargeting is starting to go mainstream. In this post, we look at some key supporting data for growth in the direct mail retargeting market and the approaches used by three printers offering these services.
Gone are the days of evaluating campaigns largely in terms of response rate, conversion rate, and dollars per sale. When we read case studies, listen to webinars, and browse industry coverage, we see a wider range of marketing metrics being used than ever before. It’s no wonder that 90% marketers now see measurable results from their personalization efforts.
The way B2B buyers make purchases is changing, and PSPs and their customers must change along with them. But it provides opportunity, as well. Results from the latest DemandGen “B2B Buyer Behavior Study.”
B2B buyers are using more pieces of content in their research than in prior years. This means more things you can print and distribute digitally for your customers. But exactly what types of content do they see as valuable enough to register for and for which they are willing to provide information about themselves and their companies?
Many print companies have reinvented their business models and service offerings to overcome the challenges presented by the pandemic, but not every printer can develop a new proofing solution or create 100% automated, touchless production. But that doesn't mean that you can’t make changes that improve your ability to weather the pandemic and set yourself up for success. Heidi Tolliver-Walker offers some tips from an organization outside the printing industry.
Is the COVID-19 pandemic fueling a rise in the use of QR codes? Yes, and for a simple reason—they provide a safe, touchless way to communicate between businesses and their customers. We see this anecdotally, but data from a recent poll by MobileIron support this observation, as well.
As it has become clear that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be deeper and longer than many expected, printers have an important question to ask: What differentiates the companies that thrive during a recession and those that do not? In this Part 2 on this topic, we look at two additional examples of printing companies that have invested and innovated their way to success.
As it has become clear that the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be deeper and longer than many expected, printers have an important question to ask: What differentiates the companies that thrive during a recession and those that do not? In this article, part 1 of two-part series, we look at the research and the first of three examples of printing companies that have invested and innovated their way to success.
When you get a chance to learn from someone else’s mistakes, take the opportunity while you can. In a document titled “Top 10 Mailing Mistakes,” the United States Postal Service offers four examples of mistakes in formatting and design that rendered the mail pieces of four real-life marketers unmailable.
The U.S. Post Office’s Informed Delivery service offers a free interactive campaign feature. But just because it’s free doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think it through. It’s a great opportunity. Don’t waste it!
When clients are used to traveling for press checks of color-sensitive documents, then a global pandemic severely hampers business travel, how do you continue to meet the needs of those clients? You create a brand-new proofing solution. At least, that’s what you do if you’re Continental Web Press.
DemandMetric and PFL have released their 2020 “State of Multichannel Marketing” report, a survey of 600 marketers on their use of multichannel marketing and coordinated marketing efforts. This is the second year that the companies have paired up to conduct the research, so we look at some highlights of the year-over-year results.
If you are engaging with print buyers, you know that the process looks very different from the way it used to. Just ask Maeghan Nicholson, marketing manager of Suttle-Straus, a large commercial printer just outside Madison, Wis. After a wide-ranging conversation about changes in the process, here are three takeaways.
When you are helping your clients select the target audiences for upcoming campaigns, are influencers on the list? We hear more and more about “influencer marketing,” but how does it work? Should you be helping your clients do it?
Dr. Anthony Fauci’s trading card is the TOPPS Company’s best-selling card of all time—and a product of the ruthless efficiency of the company’s production workflow. What lessons are there for the rest of the industry?
During times of crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers look to brands to provide leadership. It’s not enough to provide great products, great prices, and great service. Consumers are looking to brands to have a social conscience, as well. This look at statistics collected by Engage for Good provides a number of lessons for both printers and their customers.
Marketers are anxiously awaiting the world to “return to normal,” but what does normal look like? Even when consumers start buying again, there may be radical changes in product categories, segmentation, and product positioning that will outlast the pandemic. Do your clients know what they are? Are they prepared to adjust to them?
Growing data repositories, fractured data management, and the need for automated solutions to extract actionable insights are among the top challenges seen in the data of Salesforce.com’s sixth annual “State of Marketing Survey.”
Just because certain types of personalization have become easier to implement doesn’t mean that the human element isn’t important. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever. Software makes it easier to spit out “personalized” documents, but the people behind those documents still have to think.
As the U.S. economy begins to gradually reopen, marketers are wondering what consumers are thinking. Do they intend to return to shopping as normal? Are their feelings about their favorite brands changing? How do they want marketers to interact with them in these new and changing times? An April 2020 survey from Influence Central provides some insight.
Most companies understand the value of data in driving their marketing campaigns. The problem is, most marketers don’t understand or trust the data they have. In fact, when data contradicts preconceived beliefs—the very time data is most important—companies often dismiss the data and go with their guts instead. So what good is it?
Multi-touch campaigns aren’t just for direct mail and email anymore. Internet search company DuckDuckGo is using the power of coordinated billboard messaging to communicate a more complex message than we typically see on billboards and taking OOH messaging into new territory.
Today, Millennials outnumber Boomers in the US population, and Millennials and Gen Zs are said to account for more than one-third of the workforce. When we are talking about Millennials, we are talking about us. Is it time to start talking about Millennials differently?
Your print shop is still open and you don’t want to lay off or furlough employees unless you have to, but the work isn’t flowing in like it was. How can you justify keeping them on? One of the answers is to see this as an opportunity to invest in strategies that will pay off in an even stronger, more profitable workplace for everyone long term. Here are five ideas for starters.
Part two of Heidi Tolliver-Walker’s interview with Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, a job placement service for the printing industry, about opportunities in a post-COVID-19 environment. Kahn describes opportunities for the right candidates to make lateral moves into new areas, such as changing market verticals or applying skill sets to new printing sectors.
What is the secret to keeping customers from switching to a competitor with lower prices, faster curbside pickup, or a coupon that drops at just the right time? Motista, a provider of predictive intelligence, thinks it has the answer. Customer affinity. A look at the conclusions and data from its two-year study.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that QR codes may be on their way back. In a recent post, I gave two examples of where QR codes should have been and weren’t, and now I’m going to give two examples of where QR codes weren’t, but now they are and why.
A look at the conclusions from “Market Trends 2020,” a new report from Chief Outsiders, a network of top CMOs. The bottom line: We have become accustomed to marketing being driven by buzzwords like “customer engagement” and “focus on the customer,” but those things now must be tied to real, measurable company growth.
If customer experience is king, then maybe we need to stop making fun of QR Codes and take them more seriously, especially with the growing reliance on cellphones for both in-home and out-of-home interaction and with so many situations in which AR and NFC just aren’t practical. Two lost opportunities for customer engagement tell the tale.
I recently interviewed an executive at a large print shop, and in that conversation, we discussed the role of direct mail during the COVID-19 pandemic. With direct mail becoming increasingly sophisticated and printers investing in both printing and finishing equipment that enables more creative pieces, we discussed how now is actually a great time to be sending mail.
Consumer attitudes toward packaging are changing. Even as packaging becomes more upscale, more marketing-oriented, and more engaging, consumers exhibit growing wariness about its environmental impacts. What is the industry doing about it?
Printers are considered essential businesses. Are they still hiring? How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting placement for essential printing jobs? Arnie Kahn, president of PrintLink, provides some insight.
Fun collection of direct mail fails that represent the kind of classic mistakes we see on a regular basis. While these examples are funny, there is a serious message behind them. Know your direct mail fails... and don’t let your clients repeat them!
What will be the long-term impact of the COVID-19 lockdown on the printing industry? There are three possibilities: It will shift even more communications to digital channels as marketers reduce their direct mail spend during the lockdown and keep it that way; direct mail volume will remain unchanged; or direct mail could see a resurgence as marketers and their customers develop a newfound appreciation for the channel they’ve been missing.
As the world reels from the impact of the coronavirus and the increasing scarcity of critical medical equipment like masks, gloves, and ventilators, the 3D maker community is stepping in to do its part. Do you have a 3D printer? Join the movement.
According to new research from Printing for Less (PFL) and Demand Metric, marketers are not always using the most effective channels, even when they know what they are. Instead, they use the channels they know and are most familiar with. A look at some intriguing data on channel use and channel effectiveness, including types of direct mail.
Today I received a marketing letter that was an interesting twist on the use of faux handwriting to make a communication feel more personal. But instead of the handwriting being on the front, it peeked through a window on the back.
According to new research, marketing technology does more than make marketing automation easier. It results in higher response rates and higher ROI. A look at a study from Printing for Less (PFL) and Demand Metric.
Reports like Resonate’s “State of the Consumer Report” provide valuable insight into buyer types and how to understand and segment them in ways that help you develop great targeted copy. But before you can develop personalized or targeted content, there is a more fundamental question to ask. Once this question is answered, your targeting and personalization efforts will have maximum success.
According to data from Evergage/Research International, marketers are starting to “get” one of the most fundamental values of personalized experiences. Yes, personalization drives immediate sales, but more importantly, it creates better customer experiences and higher customer loyalty, which drive better ROI over time. The shift from a short-term to a long-term perspective is great news for everyone producing personalized campaigns, whether they are doing online personalization or not.
When we think about creating relevance in marketing communications, we think about personalizing based on traditional factors such as demographics and past purchases. But the principle of “liking” adds another useful dimension to the equation.
Data insights and expert testimony tell a powerful tale: a nonprofit’s “thank you” letter matters more than many people might think. Get it right and donors feel great and are motivated to keep giving. Get it wrong and they disconnect. So get it right!
Collection of print case studies showcasing how print can be used in ways that most of us have never considered. While many case studies showcase the high-end “most clients can’t afford this” kind of possibilities, these show the use of simple, traditional techniques in ways that make you stop and say, “I wish I’d thought of that!”
To find out what consumers really think about channel preferences, the CMO Council surveyed 2,000 consumers in English-speaking countries across the world. The takeaway? Understanding, tracking, and responding to consumers’ channel preferences has never been more important.
Where are retailers along the curve of personalized marketing? What is the ROI? What works and what doesn’t? These were some of the questions Liveclicker wanted to answer with its report “Driving Value with Advanced Personalization.” The takeaway? Basic personalization isn’t enough anymore.
In the past, surveys have shown that people are willing to provide their personal data in exchange for personalized experiences, but new research from the Advertising Research Foundation (ARF) shows that this willingness is changing. What’s going on?
What happens when you show people they can save time by holding their phones up to a black-and-white graphic and connecting directly to a website? I’m having the opportunity to watch it happen in real time.
Will augmented reality finally gain widespread adoption in print and digital marketing communications? When will it move beyond enterprise applications, gaming, and social media? To find out, ARtillry Intelligence worked with Thrive to survey 2000+ U.S. adults.
When you think of promotional products, what comes to mind? Branded hats and pens? Tote bags? Many printers may not see these items going with their clients’ high-end image, so they may not give these complementary offerings a fair shot. But promotional items can also include high-end luxury items used for C-level executives, influencers, and corporate events. Some, like this company’s products, even offer the trendy element of sustainability.
If you want to grab immediate attention with direct mail, make the mailer look like something other than a traditional letter. Mailers often use envelopes designed to look like USPS Priority Mail, Air Mail, or UPS or FedEx packages. But do some efforts cross the line?
NAPCO Research has released a new report on the use of personalization in direct mail. The report finds that marketers are evenly splitting their campaigns between personalized, segmented, and mass mailing approaches and that highly personalized campaigns are seeing increases in response rates up to 17% in certain market verticals.
Study by Iterable looking at the marketing strategies of “top retailers” vs. “fastest growing retailers” during the two-week period between Black Friday and Cyber Monday. The results? The fastest growing retailers were more focused on “near sales,” less likely to send promotional emails, more likely to re-engage abandoned cart shoppers, and less likely to use multiple channels to do it.
Are “magic” subject lines really magic? Or are they only magic for certain people? Are you tracking who is responding to which? If you know which customers respond to which tactics, you’re way ahead of the game.
According to the Small Business Administration, 89.0% of all businesses in the United States have less than 20 employees. What are the primary goals, challenges, and marketing tactics of these companies? This survey from Taradel provides some insights.
WhatTheyThink is the global printing industry's leading independent media organization with both print and digital offerings, including WhatTheyThink.com, PrintingNews.com and WhatTheyThink magazine versioned with a Printing News and Wide-Format & Signage edition. Our mission is to provide cogent news and analysis about trends, technologies, operations, and events in all the markets that comprise today’s printing and sign industries including commercial, in-plant, mailing, finishing, sign, display, textile, industrial, finishing, labels, packaging, marketing technology, software and workflow.