128 posts categorized "Variable Data Printing"

From the Corner Office – “What’s coming for 2011 & VDP Web?”

December 08, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 8:41 AM

2011 promises to bring continuing change at a pace that shows no sign of slowing.  The economic and political landscape continues to be remade and uncertainty abounds.  Political considerations include corporate and personal tax insecurity, “Do Not Track” legislation on the web and a floundering Postal Service struggling with relevancy. A new Congress suddenly bent with the most populist agenda in recent memory is about to convene.  How will marketers react?

Here is how we see the coming year.  There will be continuing pressure on justifying the value of print and traditional media channels while at the same time a vague call for change and more social media.  The trend for firms of all sizes to hoard cash and maintain a war chest for contingencies will continue while the tax and inflationary issues sort themselves out.  At the same time, industry consolidation will increase as investors pressure firms to show growth despite the environment and that war chest of cash starts burning holes in pockets.

VDP Web will continue to focus on the providing the best platform to handle any direction the market takes.  Whatever the next big thing is, regardless of what it is, VDP Web is built on a unique provider model to adapt.  In 2010 the buzz was all about QR Codes and if I knew what the 2011 and 2012 buzz would be I would be sitting on a beach in Maui rather than contemplating the first winter snow. 

Our basic principles remain unaltered.  VDP Web will add features that provide value and ease of use across multiple channels.  We have added powerful and elegantly simple tools for the inline production of QR Codes, JQuery and JavaScript for powerful  variable pages and “if-then” functionality, and much more.  Whatever comes, we’re ready.

The entire team at JFM is looking forward to working with you, your teams, your clients and your stakeholders in 2011 and beyond.

Best Wishes – James Michelson

VDP Web & Social Media – JavaScript and JQuery

December 01, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 8:39 AM

By Eleanor Heins

The marketer’s challenge is to be able to distribute information across multiple channels as widely as possible with minimal effort.  A natural next step would be the ability to add social media functionality to landing pages.  We now offer the ability to “like” and “publish” landing pages and “retweet” the link for your friends to receive the offer. 

This can potentially expand your distribution methods many times over.   Allowing people to send an offer through their own channels will cost less for you, and grow your list exponentially with no direct effort on your part.

For a sample of this in action, look for this ability on our holiday mailing, coming soon.  Not on the mail list?  Click here.

How is it done?  JavaScript, JQuery and HTML

I’ve heard of Javascript. What is it again?
Definition: JavaScript and is an object oriented scripting language that emphasizes interaction between JavaScript and HTML. It simplifies the creation of animations, communications to server requests, document transversing and event handling. JQuery is the most popular JavaScript library used.

Great. What does that mean?
Implementing JavaScript/JQuery takes a rudimentary knowledge of html and a few conditional statements, such as “if-then” statements. This method allows users to create conditional questions and display variable content with the same functionality used to make a slick accordion menu or an image slideshow. With Javascript/JQuery, it is very easy to show/hide different sets of content based on information in the data file. In this manner one can custom tailor the content on the landing page for each prospect by changing text, images, movies, and even surveys. The options are endless.

Why not just use a form to create the conditions?
VDP Web decided to open our platform up to Javascript/JQuery because it gives us a single solution for nearly limitless functions. Conditional questions, variable content, animations and visual effects are all possible, keeping the control of scope in our clients hands. Complicated rules based forms can be limited in scope and can require quite a bit of extra training for an end result that is centered around a single function and does not make use of anyone’s existing skill set. We also knew that a large portion of our clients already had staff in house that either knew enough JavaScript to work with the system or were in the position to learn. JavaScript and its many reference libraries such as JQuery are either already known – or really, really easily learned – by pretty much every web designer out there. 

It was time to put the creativity back into the functionality instead of relying on a form that tells you what you can and can’t do with your landing page.

Enhanced QR Code Generation Available in VDP Web

November 17, 2010
Posted by Joshua Driver at 1:19 PM

JFM Concepts has just announced additional QR Code functionality to further enhance its industry leading VDP Web® cross media marketing suite.  The creation and implementation of QR Codes, with a seamless integration into reporting, allows immediate and easy coordination of Personalized URLs (PURLs), SMS-Text, Unique 800#s, static landing pages and more.  A complete integration of response mechanisms avoids data silos and fragmented work environments that isolate data and complicate coordination.

 

According to John Fager, JFM Concepts’s Chief Technology Officer, “The new print-ready QR Code functionality in VDP Web allows one-click generation of an infinite number of QR images that are automatically tied into reporting without the need for an additional platform.  The export database is formatted for easy implementation to any print driver.”

 

Since 2004, JFM Concepts (http://www.jfmconcepts.com) has developed and executed national cross media marketing strategies for direct clients, traditional agencies and commercial printers. Campaigns include broadcast and print media, direct mail, SMS-text, email, PURLs (personal URLs) and variable data landing pages with surveys and opt-ins.

VDP Web and James Michelson in new PODi Webinar

November 11, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 12:04 PM

VDP Web® is proud to announce a new webinar from PODi featuring James Michelson from JFM Concepts, “Cross-Media Strategy: Keeping More of Your Customer’s Marketing Budget” on November 16th at 12:00 pm EST.

Originally scheduled for last month, this extremely popular topic should be on your calendar for November! How does print fit into your customer’s total marketing strategy and how can you increase your share of their marketing spend? Find out how to tap into your client’s marketing budget by generating more leads for them and creating activity that puts more ink on paper.

With case studies for Harrah’s, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, & CyberChrome, James will present a practical guide to using cross media applications (SMS text, email, unique 800#’s, static web pages, & Personalized URLs) that do both.

Also see James at the 2011 PODi AppForum January 31st until February 2nd in Las Vegas, NV.

Key Takeaways include: How to get a larger share of marketing spend; The top 5 tactics printers can use to deliver both new leads and more print; and, where direct mail fits into the marketing mix.  Marketing Service Providers – owners, upper management, sales & marketing pros should attend.

Cross Media Automation – Not for the Faint of Heart

October 27, 2010
Posted by Joshua Driver at 1:56 PM

By Joshua Driver

Recently, I was on the phone with a valued client and we discussed the latest automated technologies for cross media integration.  There are numerous platforms that can execute messages across various channels, automatically, but who is really doing this right?

With the economy and buyer behavior being as predictable as Lindsey Lohan’s rehab calendar, marketers are looking for ways to automate targeted messages over direct mail, email, social media, and more.  This can help reduce long term internal resources, but there is a significant upfront investment: You have to prep your data, beef up your content and implement a manageable segmentation and rules strategy.

A male colleague of mine received a postcard that proudly proclaimed, “For Women Only.”  The piece was urging him to try out the latest in feminine products.  There is no short cut for keeping your data clean and accurate, for targeting appropriate prospects and for creating good content.  If your content and data isn’t up to a certain level, automation will not benefit your organization.  If you send blatantly inappropriate messages, it will damage an existing relationship.

Data has a shelf-life.  Things change.  People change.  Often what our internal database tells us about a customer may not be entirely accurate.  It takes a savvy marketer to deliver the right message at the right time.  Marketing automation can certainly increase productivity and returns, but with challenges involving technical knowhow, data accuracy and content relevance, it falls short of being truly effective for most organizations.

Much like goal setting, you must set initiatives for the short, medium and long term.  It is imperative that you are continuously reviewing the data, and how your technology is segmenting this.  Take the time to gather survey responses and reevaluate future campaigns.  Be prepared for content changes and rule revisions throughout the year.

Take Away:
Before you jump on the automated marketing technology band wagon, be sure to evaluate the premium cost of not only the solution but also the heavy internal lifting that will be required to get your strategy, data, content and touch point rules in place.

Software Costs driven up by sponsorships? You bet they are...

September 28, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 10:21 AM

Is a software provider you are considering in bed with every trade show and industry media outlet on the planet?  Do their paid search words cover the internet in all sorts of odd places?  Are they a Platinum Sponsor of VDP SnoozeFest 2010 and Cross Media Boondoggle 2011 in fabulous Maui?  If so, consider for a moment the high cost of sponsoring and exhibiting at these events. 

Who is really paying for all this?  The massive marketing expenses that these events and sponsorships entail are simply built into the cost of the product.  As we approach another large industry tradeshow, I have to stop and ask myself about the costs incurred and the value generated for the end user.

We believe that these funds should be spent on customer service and product development, not on dunnage, airfare, hotels and hefty sponsorship fees. Even firms lavished with venture capital don't have have unlimited resources.  Exhibiting at one major show buys a lot of customer service hours.  Which would you rather have – a demo by a hired "host" on a $4000 rented plasma TV or domestic phone support available on demand with quick turnaround on custom projects?

So the next time you are wandering through the aisles of flashing lights and cheesy contests and giveaways, ask yourself a few questions.

1. Should a software as a service firm really need a booth and high pressure sales people to educate prospects?

2. Is there anything going on at this software booth that my entire team couldn’t better appreciate during a webinar?

3. And Finally, who’s Paying for all this?

The answers are pretty clear.

New Study Shows Direct Mail beats Email

September 16, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 7:48 AM

Here is the meat from from an recent article in Targeted Marketing that proves something we have konw all along.

"In a very recent study titled Finding the Right Channel Combination: What Drives Channel Choice, ICOM, a division of Epsilon Targeting, surveyed over 2500 U.S. and 2200 Canadian households, specifically targeting consumers in the 18-34 year-old demographic. The study found that these consumers overwhelmingly prefered—by two to three times—to learn about marketing offers via postal mail and newspapers, rather than online sources such as social media sites

Examples among merchandisers include 62 percent of this age group prefering personal care product offers coming in the mail while only 22 percent prefer online. Food products? 66 percent want the offline approach versus 23 percent for online offers. Over-the-counter medicine? 53 percent versus 21 percent."

For years the United States Postal service has reported that online sales were significantly higher when combined with direct mail and this study helps confirm that fact.  Remember the mail moment:
GraphicMailMoment2 
  
Such online giants as Google and Zappos advertise via direct mail, and if they need traditional marketing channels to drive traffic, chances are you do too.  Remember to drive all your marketign channels to a landing page to start a two way conversation and collect data.  Purls on the direct marketing peice will help improve repsonse rates and assure the prospect sees the correct content.

Graphic_diagram_crossmedia


Capitalizing on the Postal Service Price Increase

August 23, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 6:44 AM

After several quarters of mounting losses, the Postal Service is once again ready to raise rates across the board.  The reaction from direct marketers was immediate and clear – volumes will fall and the shift will be toward online channels.  If it was not already hard enough to convince the CMO to spend on direct mail, the problem just got that much harder.

How this helps Marketing Service Providers

To capitalize on this challenge, offer to assist your clients with developing an email marketing list.  A simple plan that has been successfully used by many MSPs follows:

Step 1
Add a landing page with opt-in to every customer communication and touch the client makes

Step 2
Offer an incentive on the landing page for the client to opt-in and provide an email address.  For B2B applications exclusive content works well and for B2C applications discounts and coupons are effective.

Step 3
Use the collected opt-ins for direct marketing with both direct mail and email.

To price a project like this, consider doing it on spec and charging per lead and follow up.  We have never met a CMO that won’t pay for a qualified lead and an automated follow on program.  Since landing pages are available with VDP Web for only $40 there is virtually no risk.  Typical prices for leads can run from $3-5 for small consumer goods to more than a hundred for auto loans, insurance, and mortgages.  For not for profits consider a percentage of the donation.  The possibilities are endless as overburdened marketers look for automated, but cost effective, ways to do their jobs.

Know thy Customer!

August 20, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 2:42 PM

Followers of this blog know that we are pretty merciless when it comes to bad direct marketing.  AT & T has joined the ranks of shame with this brilliant effort.  The following letter arrived in a generic white envelope and if I was not always on the lookout for the next great pitch it probably would have ended up in the trash.  Unfortunately for AT&T, I read it.
Att
 
I was going to add more commentary, but let’s skip to the chase.

Take Aways

• Only make relevant offers to the target audience and clean your data to make sure you know who you are talking to.   Never offer as “new” services (in this case 800#s and international calling) that the client already has.  The will feel poorly treated and unappreciated.  If you tell us that we are a high volume firm, we expect more.

• Provide a call to action and response mechanism on every piece.  Never make a prospect go looking elsewhere for a way to buy.

• Use multiple channels to offer choice to your customer – They may prefer another channel.  Use PURLs, landing pages, and the web to enhance the customer experience.

• If AT&T can’t use a campaign specific 800# to track response by offer then they should quit marketing.  Seriously, you’re the PHONE COMPANY.

• Personalization works:  “Dear Long Distance Business Customer” ?  Come on, that was lame in 1975.  We have a sales rep. We know her name. Why is this letter not from her?

Conclusion

Before marketing, analyze your data in order to provide a relevant and personalized customer experience.  If you offer a marketing product (in this case web and telephony) use it in every single piece of marketing, every time.  There can never be any reason that justifies ignoring these rules.

PS – Anybody have the number for Verizon? 

"James Michelson of VDP Web talks about measuring ROI from specific marketing channels" by What They Think

August 04, 2010
Posted by JFM Concepts at 6:15 AM

After a presentation at PODi's 2010 AppForum, James Michelson was interviewed a second time by What They Think. Check out the video here:

James Michelson of VDP Web talks about measuring ROI from specific marketing channels

Transcript:

WhatTheyThink Video - Published on July 27, 2010

 

This is James Michelson from VDP Web, the Principal there.  One of the things we’ve had the most interest in during the AP Forum is how, as a commercial printer, do we really look at and how do I get into the sales process.  What are the challenges that become and what’s preventing our customers from really getting involved in cross media, in Pearls, in leading pages, in variable data?

Well, we found that in a lot of the case studies that are presented, there are all these different parties involved.  You have information systems and information technology and the agencies and all these other people that come together to pull that.  Well, the challenge is, how do I sell that group?  And would it be better for my sales process and my bottom line if I could look at it and go to one person and make a decision and that one person who makes a decision I can provide all the different services that they need?
 

Now, if we have access to data from IT, great.  If we can get creative from their Marketing Department or their agency, terrific.  But as the printer, if you can say to one decision maker, “Hey, I can take care of all of this for you, we’ll handle the process from soup to nuts…” then you can make it work.  One example is from a printed static piece, Harrah’s was launching a new – and we figured we were in Vegas; this is probably a good example.  We’re launching a new casino vote in Chicago, and what we’d like to do is we’re going to print these flyered pieces.  Terrific.  Well, let’s put on a test-to-win and a unique 800 number, and a generic landing page.  So, from one sales process, by adding those three collection mechanisms, the printer was then able to launch follow on direct mail campaigns, follow on collateral campaigns so they’ve got multiple runs of ink on paper from one print sale.
 

The other thing that does is now, that commercial printer is in charge of the data stream.  All that data is collected is sitting at that commercial printer’s location and they have control of the marketing process.
 

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JFM Concepts is a full service cross media marketing technology firm featuring the VDP Web® PURL and cross media marketing platform. JFM specializes in creating variable data cross media marketing technologies with Personalized URLs for commercial printers, marketing departments and agencies of all sizes.

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