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Observations

Are You Wasting Marketing Dollars?

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Are You Wasting Marketing Dollars?

Many marketers are wasting their time and money but don’t even know it.

Digital marketing is getting much of their attention and for good reason. The Interactive Advertising Bureau reports that U.S. Marketers spent $42.8 billion on digital marketing in 2013, which includes social, email, mobile, display advertising and SEO. Advertising Age expects spending to increase to $76.6 billion by 2016. That’s significant growth, but it represents just a part of overall marketing budgets.

According to a recent Gartner study, U.S. companies spend an average of 10.4% of revenue on marketing with roughly 25% spent on digital marketing activities. So, while much of the attention and some of the spend has shifted to digital, traditional services, including print, still command a significant portion of many budgets.

According to the NAPL, a leading U.S, printing trade organization, in 2014 customers will spend over $80 billion on commercial printing nationwide, almost twice as much as on interactive. It’s critical that businesses spend these funds wisely but doing so is more difficult than it seems.

Printing has always been a complex industry and adoption of digital technologies has made it even more so. Today, the U.S. commercial printing industry consists of over 35,000 firms specializing in a variety of technical areas including sheetfed offset, heatset web, forms, digital printing, wide format, publications and quick copy to name a few. Yet with the increased focus on digital marketing, many agencies and corporate marketers no longer have staff with the expertise to effectively manage all the forms of print they buy. Printing is often treated as an afterthought, but given the significant dollars spent it shouldn’t be.

Lacking in-house resources, some believe that working directly with a printer is the best way to buy these services but that’s often not the case. Printing firms make significant capital investments in their facilities and have a vested interest in keeping that equipment busy. Most will match projects with their equipment, leading at times to gross inefficiencies. Bidding to multiple printers doesn’t assure that any of the selected shops is best suited for the project either.

Properly sourcing and managing printing today requires deep industry knowledge, years of experience and extensive contacts. But since this level of print expertise is not a core competency at most firms, another option is becoming increasingly popular. The professional print management specialist.

A print specialist works to efficiently outsource their clients’ printing work. They understand the industry and have built networks of pre-qualified and fully vetted providers. Unhindered by plant and facilities, they can bid and place work with the printer best suited to produce it efficiently, getting quality results while saving money. By combining the spend of many firms, they also gain the buying power to negotiate deeper discounts than many firms can manage on their own.

So what is the best solution for managing print purchasing within your firm or agency? The answer depends on your annual spend and whether you have the talent in-house to manage it efficiently. Auditing your print expenditures, internally or through a third party, will provide the insights needed to make an informed decision. Then you’ll find that:

1. You’re currently buying printing efficiently. Congratulations, keep it up.

2. You’ve identified significant potential savings. If savings offset the cost, consider adding an experienced print manager to your staff or outsourcing to a professional print management firm.

3. You’ve identified moderate savings. If savings will not support hiring then consider engaging a print management consultant or or contracting with a management firm.

Ben Franklin, American patriot and printer, wrote the famous line that “a penny saved is a penny earned”. Since printing still represents a large part of many marketing budgets, it’s worth the effort to make sure you get the most from every dollar spent. Your bottom line will thank you.

Mad Men and Burgers

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Mad Men and Burgers

One of the fun things about the popular series Mad Men is that it often references real brands from the period being portrayed. In a recent episode, Peggy is assigned to lead the pitch for Burger Chef, a popular hamburger chain in the 60’s and 70’s with restaurants across the US. When I saw this, it really hit home and brought back some memories. My Dad worked on that brand for years.

Growing up in the 70’s, I remember driving with him to visit Burger Chef restaurants across the Northeast. His company produced point-of-sale, premiums and other collateral for the chain so he’d visit the stores to see that materials were merchandised correctly. At times we’d have so much Burger Chef stuff in the house that it felt like the “Burger Chef” and “Jeff” were members of the family.

After seeing the brand on Mad Men, I did some research. In the late 1970’s, the Burger Chef chain was owned by General Foods and had over 1,000 stores across the US, second only to McDonalds. However, in 1982 GF management decided to divest and sold the chain to the parent company of Hardees, which subsequently rebranded or closed stores. The last Burger Chef restaurant dropped the name in 1996.

While the history is interesting, what really struck me is the devotion to the restaurant that continues today. Google “Burger Chef” and you’ll find numerous tribute sites and social media pages dedicated to the brand. Many of these sites feature materials that my Dad’s firm produced back then. It takes dedicated fans to hold onto packaging, premiums, displays, etc for almost 40 years!

Indeed. It’s a good reminder that, in a digital world, there is still a place for traditional advertising and promotion. We are still physical beings who need to connect with the tangible items that surround us.

While digital ads disappear, printed advertising and promotions can stick around for a while. Sometimes for a very long while.

The Year of Making Things Happen

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The Year of Making Things Happen

Wow, 2013 sure flew by and it’s been quite a ride. Starting a new business, or restarting it in our case, can be daunting so I just like to thank my family, friends, clients and colleagues for their support. Because of you, ImpressionsDP is off to a strong start and we look forward to great things in the New Year.

Restarting the business was a good opportunity for reflection since much has changed over the past decade. When we founded i3 Marketing in 2002, digital marketing was in its infancy and the major social media networks (Facebook, Twitter) didn’t exist yet. Since that time, marketing has been turned upside down; new channels and tools came online, older ones evolved and the pace of change continues to accelerate.

How do you structure a business that will help clients effectively navigate today’s environment? Rebooting gave us some time to think about that.

“An idea can turn to dust or magic, depending on the talent that rubs against it”.
– Bill Bernbach

While marketing tactics have changed, one constant that remains is the need for results. Marketers are great at planning but they often need help executing those ideas effectively. In other words, their plans must be turned into actions that deliver on the desired goal. That’s why we’ve chosen to refocus on providing tactical marketing services, or helping clients turn their ideas into the “magic” that delivers across digital and print media.

But this article isn’t a sales pitch and the lesson learned here is not just about marketing. Periodic reflection is a valuable exercise that applies equally to life and business.

We often have personal and professional goals that will take significant time and effort to achieve. Five years ago, I decided to get an MBA and spent the next three years pursuing it before graduating in December 2011. It was a long stretch but the toughest part of that journey was getting started. After that, while the program was still difficult, once I changed the inertia the rest of the time flowed (remember, a body at rest tends to stay at rest and a body in motion tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an external force).

The dawning of a New Year is a great time to reflect on our individual goals, what we’ve achieved and what’s left to do. Do you want to build a business, learn another language, parasail in the Caribbean, earn a new degree or get a pilot’s license? Whatever it may be, have you started it yet? If not, why not?

Most worthwhile pursuits take time and effort to achieve so forget about immediate gratification. Anything we can get with little effort is usually of no lasting value. Find something that gets you fired up, map out a plan and get to it!

“Vision without action is daydream. Action without vision is nightmare”.
– Japanese Proverb

Let’s make 2014 the year of making things happen!

And whatever your pursuit, best wishes for happiness and success in the New Year.

 

Six Things I’m Not Thankful For This Thanksgiving

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Six Things I’m Not Thankful For This Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is the time of the year when we reflect back on all of our blessings. I have a great life and much to be thankful for but in the spirit of the holiday let’s briefly take the contrarian view and consider six things that I could easily do without this year.

  1. Impending Winter: What can I say, I’m a summer person. Three months of sitting by the fireplace is nice but I’d rather be at the beach.
  2. Miley Cyrus: She’s gotten way too much “exposure” lately. Please make it stop!
  3. Technology Overload. I’m a gadget freak so don’t get me wrong, I appreciate how technology empowers us and enjoy working with my various devices. But I also remember when we could completely disconnect and enjoy the simple pleasures of life undisturbed. I try to strike a balance between the two but it’s often frustrating. Perhaps an island vacation with no Internet or cell coverage would take care of this and #1 too!
  4. Meeting Overload: Yes, they’re a necessary evil. But do we really need to have a meeting to plan the meeting about the meeting?
  5. Obamacare: Whatever your politics, the bungled ACA rollout affects us all. The current system is broken, but instead of correcting it, this failed launch virtually assures that political wrangling and the associated media coverage will continue. Other countries have figured this out, our politicians probably will too. But until then, we’ll be subject to talking heads of all political stripes debating ad nauseum. Ugh!
  6. Thanksgiving Store Openings: C’mon, do you really need to open up on Thanksgiving evening? Give your employees a break, the customers will be there bright and early and ready to spend on Black Friday morning.

I suspect that many of you could pass on some of these things as well. Is there something that you could do without this Thanksgiving? Please share it with us.

And unplug, unwind and have a great holiday!

 

A Fresh “Return” to Tactical Marketing

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A Fresh “Return” to Tactical Marketing

ImpressionsDP is a brand new venture but it’s a return to basics for me.

I began my career in the graphic arts industry and have worked with some great companies and people on a variety of projects over the years. But time moves on and my beloved graphic arts industry changed dramatically as the old techniques gave way to digital design and image processing. Those who couldn’t adapt left the industry and those who remained needed to develop new skills and expertise. Since then, the industry has enjoyed a renaissance in capability and quality that is truly remarkable.

While this shift was happening it became clear that it was time to expand my horizons. Digital technologies have always fascinated me so was only natural to learn about the new channels that were displacing traditional print. Over the past decade, first at i3 Marketing then Mesa Integrated, I’ve had the opportunity to work extensively in a variety of these digital communications channels including web development, social media, SEO/SEM, email marketing and PPC advertising.

Recently I also learned how truly effective digital communications can be by earning a degree online through Penn State’s excellent iMBA program. With it’s focus on management and corporate strategy, the program underscored how effective communications, whether digital or traditional, must be aligned with overarching goals and objectives. While a seemingly common sense approach, it’s surprising how often this is not the case.

Communications often fail, not because the idea is flawed, but because no thought is given to execution or that implementation is not appropriate. The POS display that retailers refuse to put up, the brochure that cannot be distributed, the web site that captures no leads. The list goes on and on.

That’s why we’re creating a new kind of agency. ImpressionsDP is a tactical marketing agency understands communication strategy and how to effectively and efficiently implement it.

The best ideas are useless they’re put into action — ImpressionsDP knows how to get it done.