Cross-Media Marketing Gives Print New Life

For years, folks have said the print world is becoming extinct, and that it certainly would have no place in such 21st century initiatives as cross-media marketing. In fact, just the opposite is true. Not only is print vibrant and alive, but it’s often the very foundation of the fast-growing cross-media market.

As a print service provider, you will find there are secrets to success in the world of cross-media marketing. Among them are learning from others’ triumphs and tribulations, partnering with those already in cross-media but not skilled in print, creating consistent and seamless campaigns, looking to existing customers first for business, and selling customers and prospects on using the approach by means of cross-media campaigns promoting your own company. Try all these tactics, and you’ll fast be on your way to success in cross-media communications.


Orchestras, Not Instruments

Cross-media should be seen not so much as a product but as a wholesale shift in the types of services companies offer their customers. Moreover, it must always be firmly focused on meeting customer objectives, says Lisa Cross, associate director of InfoTrends. “It’s not just, ‘I can do a PURL,’ or, ‘I can do a QR code,’” she adds. “It is about offering a broad array of tools to support marketing-type services. In other words, it’s not about playing a single instrument, but conducting an orchestra.”

Consistency is the key, adds Kate Cook, marketing manager with Caslon, the management arm of PODi. This, she says, helps printers “who want to win through digital printing,” and who have cross-media marketing as a major initiative.

“I’ve seen too many examples of landing pages that looked nothing like the direct mail piece containing the URL to get you there,” she continues. “The branding may be completely different or the offer may not be there. With cross-media, you’re creating an experience, and it’s far more difficult to get them into that experience if it’s not seamless. If you’re encouraging participation in social media, make sure that if you are sending them to Facebook, your cover design on Facebook incorporates the same elements as your printed piece.”

Another key is selectivity in the cross-media marketing channels used, Cook says. Many have the tendency to throw the kitchen sink into a campaign. But it’s smarter to be selectively focused on your target market and desired outcome. “Also, be sure you’re looking beyond direct marketing,” she says. “If you know your customer or prospect is launching a mass media campaign, look for opportunities to tie in print.”

Direct marketing using cross-media delivers the growth graphic communications providers need, and the results marketers crave, adds Shelley Sweeney, vice president of data processing service bureau and direct mail segment, Xerox Graphic Communications. Three changes in the landscape are fueling its growth, she says. First, more consumers are using “always on” electronic media. Second, the media landscape is varied and complex. And third, marketers are facing an increased demand to show return on investment.

“Direct marketing campaigns that use digital media, such as email, the Web, and social media deliver great results,” Sweeney says. She adds that the Direct Marketing Association reports that for every dollar spent on direct mail, an average of $15.40 is forecast to be generated in revenue across industries. “Graphic communications providers must understand that this is a conversation about getting more data to make it more relevant, therefore increasing revenue. Campaigns that utilize cross-media are trackable, and with the right tools, results can be presented in real time.

“Understanding print and design is mandatory. But more important, the top providers understand their customers’ sales and marketing programs, and recognize areas of opportunity from their customers’ points of view.”


Identifying Resources

When it comes to finding resources, Cook urges beginning the process by looking internally. In many cases, software already being used has elements enabling printers to execute fairly advanced cross-media campaigns.

“Talk to and learn from others who have already entered that space,” Cook says. “I can tell you what’s going to work all day long, but most people want to see an example of what works, not only for them but also to share with their customers. Another thing that’s really important is to not just learn what worked for others, but what didn’t. That will save time in learning what doesn’t work.”

Sweeney agrees that learning from the experiences others have gained can be a terrific way to become more adept at cross-media marketing. “Great case studies with documented, measurable results are key,” she says.

“Xerox has a wealth of case studies through their 1:1 Lab marketing program. All are from the end customers’ point of view and demonstrate the power. Additionally, many of the cross-media software platforms have tools that allow you to get results real time, such as the uProduce Marketing Console from XMPie. The [ability] to get the results quickly, review the analytics, and make recommendations or changes is very powerful.”

For her part, Cross says that because there’s no one association that covers cross-media or integrated marketing, companies need to go through the associations representing different channel types. These include the Mobile Marketing Association, Direct Marketing Association, American Association of Advertising Agencies, and the Content Marketing Association. “Follow the trends through those associations,” she says. “You can go to trade shows, attend webinars on best practices, and follow your competition to see what those competitors are doing.”


Marketing Cross-Media

When it comes to marketing these services, it is essential PSPs not only fully grasp the value of what they‘re offering, but also sell that value to customers, Cook says. PODi members aren’t just selling products and services, they’re selling value, she asserts.

“Another thing to consider when entering this new space is the idea of partnering with another entity already in the space, and offering that other party the print component,” she says. “A lot of agencies and service providers focused on the digital space may have not explored the print, which can really be the heart of the campaign or serve as its starting point.” And as the provider of that print, a PSP may be in a very important position on the team, she adds.

Of course, one of the most effective ways to market cross-media services is to use your marketing abilities in a cross-media campaign targeted at your own customers. Says Cross: “If you design your own cross-media campaign, number one, you can show customers what you can do, and number two, it’s a learning experience for everyone in your organization. And third, you can document what you were able to do for your own company. There have been a number of printing companies very successful [with this approach].

“I know of many printing companies that use lunch-and-learns to get out the word, and use their own cross-media services to promote those events.”

To effectively market, print service providers need great stories, Sweeney says. It can be an example of a campaign they themselves implemented, or one provided by Xerox or other sources. “Make sure it’s measurable, [and] applicable to the industry your client is in. Offer to ‘test’ a campaign for your end client,” she recommends. “Proving it works will change your relationship with your end client. You will become the valued marketing consultant they need.”


Who are Good Prospects?

The best prospect for a cross-media campaign is any one who reaches out to a consumer market, Cross says.

Cook has a broader assessment. “Any current or prospective customer can be the ideal prospect,” she asserts. “It’s all about identifying their needs and selling the value. And that’s where it’s really important to be equipped with case studies to demonstrate the impact it has for others on their vertical markets. It’s always easier for customers to take that next step if they can relate to another person’s success.”

Sweeney argues it’s always best to start with current customers. “Understand their goals of the marketing campaigns they are conducting,” she says. “And not just the response rate goals, but what they are trying to do. For example, higher education clients want to increase enrollment in their honors programs or sports teams want to increase ticket sales. By working jointly on the end goal, a cross-media campaign can deliver amazing results.”


What’s Ahead?

What will be critical to success in the years ahead is learning how each new application that’s introduced can complement print, Cook says. “We’ve heard for years and years print is done. But we keep finding over and over that print is the foundation for many of these cross-media applications.”

Adds Cross: “I think [cross-media marketing] is going to grow, and I think print is going to continue to be a strong player in the mix.”