Savvy print providers are looking to expand their services beyond printing. As they do, many are viewing cross-media marketing as one key growth area. In cross-media marketing, print is augmented and enhanced by other media, such as social media, QR codes, augmented reality, and others to garner optimal results in marketing campaigns. The best campaign efforts are those that mix an array of media, but allow for accurate quantification of results.
We tracked down some of the most skilled practitioners of this emerging art form and talked to them about the type of media they favor, how they sell clients on cross-media campaigns, and why and how they track and report results to their customers. Best of all, we asked them to discuss their top cross-media marketing campaigns, and explain what made the campaigns work.
There may be no one better at cross-media marketing than Little Rock’s CustomXM, which topped the Cross Media Marketing category at the 2012 NAQP Print Excellence Awards. CustomXM, which began in 1966 as a traditional offset printing company, is today a direct marketing services firm that also provides print services, says president Paul Strack.
The company got into cross-media marketing around 2005 with variable data printing and PURL campaigns. “With the continued advancement in digital printing, we saw the opportunity to, in one print run, deliver multiple messages to an audience without having to change the print stream,” Strack says. “In addition, we could deliver more relevant images and messages. That was our pitch at the time: connect with your audience with a more relevant message.”
Over time, CustomXM has improved the way it handles cross-media marketing. “Today, it’s not enough to put their name in bold print; people have become used to the customized piece,” Strack says. “You have to know something about each of your customers before you can talk to them with customized messages. Now we’re using variable cross-media to gather that information and learn about our clients’ customers. Once we learn about them, we can come back with more customized and relevant messages.”
Lakewood, CO-based Raven Printing is another business getting attention through the use of cross-media marketing. The company launched what owner Tim Ballinger calls “a full-blown marketing company” called R5 Design and Marketing at the start of this year.
“We do a lot under that umbrella, including building desktop websites, mobile websites, branding identity, email marketing with our own email marketing platform, and PURLs,” he says, noting R5 serves healthcare providers, country clubs, higher education entities, and small to medium-sized companies.
“When we talk to customers about the true cross-media campaign, we talk about creating noise in the market,” Ballinger says. “Printing and mailing have been the same for a long time, but we talk about incorporating technology into the mailing process. To do that, you must have a real good database. We coach [clients] not to expect massive results in a cross-media campaign if you’re not pulling from your internal database. The most important consideration in a successful campaign is your data.”
Because many clients and prospects aren’t familiar with cross-media marketing, presenting an effective sales message takes some planning and finesse. When CustomXM was just beginning to initiate cross-media marketing campaigns, one sales technique rarely failed to wow Strack’s audiences of clients and prospective clients. He would walk into a meeting and hand each person attending the meeting a notepad with his or her name on it. “You appeal to people’s egos that way,” he says.
Today, Strack and colleagues hold what he calls “lunch-and-learn” meetings. “We invite clients and prospects in for quarterly lunch-and-learns at the local chamber of commerce, and we talk to them about the new technology available,” he says. “We use a cross-media campaign to invite people to these meetings. It involves direct mail, email, social media like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and some phone calls. And it includes PURLs as well.”
Another company that uses cross-media marketing to sell its own cross-media services is Papergraphics, a Temple, TX, company launched in 1972 by Elwood Smith, father of current partners Doug and Dennis Smith. The company switched from general print provision to quick printing in 1980, and now provides printing, desktop and mobile websites, and multi-channel marketing, says Doug Smith. “We use a campaign featuring Facebook, LinkedIn, a blog, and QR codes promoting our own business,” he says.
Meantime, Raven Printing’s R5 Design and Marketing created awareness for its cross-media marketing efforts, while also supporting a worthy cause. “For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we did a combination of direct mail, with an email follow-up, had a list of 1,000 people, and the goal of recipients liking our company on Facebook,” Ballinger says. “We had 200 likes on Facebook, so 20 percent of the people we sent it to liked us. And for everyone who did, we donated one dollar to breast cancer research. For every one who gave us a positive comment, we donated $5. The result was 39,000 people saw Raven Printing on Facebook in the month of October.”
Unique, Memorable Campaigns
Well-conceived and executed cross-media marketing campaigns can be very attention getting. Here’s a case in point. CustomXM is now in the middle of a campaign for a small Arkansas liberal arts college. It is a cross-media effort on behalf of the college’s annual recruiting effort and involves a multi-wave campaign to reach thousands of high school seniors across several states.
The first salvo is a highly personalized direct mail piece, including a PURL that asks recipients for more information about themselves, and that entices response by offering those who do respond entry in a drawing for a free iPad. When a student responds and completes a survey online, the college is immediately notified.
“The beauty of the cross-media campaign is this,” Strack says. “Those who reply get a new direct mail piece encouraging them to make a visit or finalize their application, and it is customized to them based on the curriculum they are interested in, their extracurricular interests, and even the music download service they use. It does include augmented reality that allows them to scan a photo on the direct mail piece, which loads a video showing the college president screaming as he rides a zip line across campus.”
Results have been tracked and reported, and the college must be happy. Applications for admission since August are up 76 percent over the same period last year, Strack says. Moreover, accepted applications have risen 50 percent.
A simpler but also very successful campaign has recently been undertaken by Papergraphics. Called “Reaching Central Texas,” the campaign combines QR codes, mobile marketing, and desktop websites with direct mail, Smith says.
The first step is a mailed flyer with ads for a dozen businesses, from quick serve restaurants to car washes. Each features a QR code, which takes recipients of the direct mail campaign to that company’s mobile website. Scan the QR code for a sandwich shop, and a page comes up on the mobile phone with directions to the restaurant, a phone button, and address.
The direct mail pieces go out to every household in a specified Zip code via Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM) from the USPS. “We mailed out 10,000 pieces a month for three months,” Smith says. “Customers can track how many coupons they get back, and we can tell how many hits overall went to their mobile site, how many people visited specific sites [of the businesses on the flyer], and if a QR code was used to get there.”
Keep This in Mind
Among the most important considerations those new to cross-media marketing must remember is the educational aspect, Strack says. “You have to educate clients and prospects on how all these cross-media channels can be effectively used,” he says. “Some work better than others.”
Often it’s difficult to say which of the different mediums work best. “You can say it’s just direct mail, the Web, or email, but you don’t know until you ask,” Strack says. “The combination of tools allows you to do more and also measure results more efficiently, making future communications even more effective.”