According to PwC’s Global CEO Survey, in 2014 only 36% of CEOs believed that their marketing and brand management was in a position to “respond to transformative changes”. Which means that, for most, agile marketing is still an aspiration. But that has to change.
The quickening pace of business, sudden shifts in market conditions, and the ever-increasing adoption of technology can conspire to make planned campaigns irrelevant before they’re even launched. Add to that new competitors or innovation in the marketplace, or an unforeseen crisis or PR disaster, and an ability to be nimble is critical.
So, marketers are striving to emulate their IT development peers. Focussing on customer-centricity, at the same time as adapting quickly to unexpected changes, many think that only the digital channels can keep pace. But skills and technology in the print and mailing space mean that a 24-hour turnaround is now achievable with direct mail too;
In the early 90s the term “Lights out” was coined by IT professionals whose dream was for computers to look after themselves, without human intervention. Thirty years on and sophisticated printing equipment and practices have caught up so that 7-days a week, and around the clock, production continues driven by campaigns and demand, rather than by shift patterns or working schedules.
“Without human intervention” shouldn’t be confused with “without human skills”. An ability to let the technology take care of itself relies on it having been specified and programmed correctly in the first instance and, critically, having a raft of well trained and experienced staff that deliver the data, production and fulfilment expertise.
Personalisation and 1:1
Litho/offset printing meant long print runs were necessary to be cost-effective. Early digital paved the way for shorter runs and personalisation and now, state-of-the-art HP Indigo technology is capable of delivering, where necessary, a totally unique piece of mail for every recipient. This at a quality indistinguishable from traditional print, without both the set-up times and prohibitive expensive.
Automatic production batching makes for intelligent scheduling which slashes waiting and turnaround times, keeps costs down and timescales (however tight and unforgiving) met!
Excellent API integration ensures that online ordering, where utilised, segues in to the production workflow seamlessly so that there are no glitches, hitches or missing data to not only cause delay but negatively impact the mailing output.
Marketers have always understood the effectiveness of mail and, for that, have forgiven it its relative lack of speed. Now, as nimble and responsive as the other channels, they don’t have to.