Ricoh has commissioned Smithers Pira to create a series of whitepapers. These look at opporunities for Print Service Providers to open new worlds in a number of key market segments.
Whitepapers available now:
Ricoh has commissioned Smithers Pira to create a series of whitepapers. These look at opporunities for Print Service Providers to open new worlds in a number of key market segments.
Whitepapers available now:
After 11 frenetic days of meeting with our customers, listening to their needs and challenges and showcasing how our range of products, solutions and services support our clients’ needs, I want to take a moment to reflect on our drupa 2016 adventure.
Our theme for this year’s drupa, ‘Open New Worlds’ was developed to focus on the opportunities and challenges that our customers see in their sphere. What we wanted to let our visitors know was that no matter their size, sector or ambitions we can help them build from their strengths, creating more opportunities for them to grow and evolve. Welcomed in our theatre, customers, press and industry analysts enjoyed hosted tours to experience this first hand.
On the product side, we presented the latest versions of our cut sheet printers including the Ricoh Pro™ C7100 series and the Ricoh Pro™ C9100 series. In the continuous feed sector we put the spotlight on our newly enhanced Ricoh Pro™ VC60000 high speed inkjet platform. Live demonstrations of these in the Commercial Print, Direct Marketing, Publishing and Corporate zones, and in our lean manufacturing Smart Factory, highlighted the innovative applications, quality output and the broad range of services our presses offer.
Many of our clients agreed and signed on stand deals. Among the sales we celebrated were a Pro C7100 for Cicero, and Nationwide Print who chose MarcomCentral to support production on its new Pro C7100. Cicero also ordered a Pro C9110 as did Magneet Communicatiecentrum, Ecograf, Datum, Deltor, Impremta and CFH Documail – to name but a few of our clients trusting our technology to support their growth.
We were also very excited to celebrate the sales of our Pro VC60000. EDC was our first customer in Eastern Europe, while Adare ordered two lines and CFI opted to add a second. This latest addition to our portfolio is gathering market momentum, as our clients learn and embrace how its combination of productivity and high quality can help them be more cost effective and profitable.
We had a very busy industrial print zone, where we showcased the powerful opportunities offered by additive manufacturing, industrial inkjet printheads, direct to shape coding and marking as well as branding product decoration.
To add to that, we announced our entry into the vibrant signage market, by adding EFI VUTEk flatbed printers to our portfolio. The decision builds on the success of our large format portfolio of print production solutions.
There was a lot of discussion surrounding the overall theme of drupa 2016. Connectivity was a topic that ran through the show like a red thread, for all solutions and in every sector. Many of our visitors were looking for software and services that will enable them to connect and integrate different workflow streams and production environments.
In our Studio, many visitors discovered the capabilities of our TotalFlow portfolio including TotalFlow Cloud Suite, and learned how they could improve productivity, add value and open up new opportunities.
Finally, it’s important to remember that an event like drupa is only as good as the people who make it happen. It’s been a real pleasure for us all working with colleagues to make drupa such a powerful event. We couldn’t have made it the success it was without all the hard work that people put in. Ricoh really is a company that is driven by passion and dedication, and where imagine.change is not just a brand, but an expression of the talent and commitment of our team.
In this area, we will show why the rejuvenation of Direct Mail is such a great digital printing opportunity and why seamless integration across the full range of multichannel communications is so important.
These are just some of the samples we are planning to show. Look out for more surprises at the show itself !
Ricoh’s direct marketing and critical communications workflow solutions harness the power of direct marketing for a more profitable future.
User groups … I’ve done a few in the last 30 years.
Big ones and small ones, graphic arts ones and other ones, national and international ones.
So I was pleased to organise Ricoh Europe’s first Commercial Print Council.Which took place in the Ricoh offices in Staines on Thames (near Heathrow) UK, last month, when 15 clients gathered, representing eight companies from six countries.
Not only was there close interaction with Ricoh on the technical product level, but there were also three external speakers, each with their own specific topics.
Ralf Schlözer from Infotrends, the analyst company, looked into his famous crystal ball to give insights into opportunities for digital print in the commercial print market.
Print technologies are becoming more diversified: but not all technologies will be in reach for every printer.
His conclusions were:
Enrique Parilla from digital publishing company Lantia gave a privileged view on how he established his company as a publisher-printer-software developer, handling the publishing business in a completely different way from how traditional publishing companies do.
That’s very much the story of today’s graphic arts: printing companies are not in the business of selling print, they’re in the business of selling impactful and meaningful communication!
He used the following interesting analogy: in 19th century America, companies selling ice for refrigeration were big business. But … they didn’t realise in which business they were in. They thought they were in the business of selling ice … when it was actually refrigeration they were selling. So when the electrical refrigerator was invented, it wiped away the ice business. That’s very much the story of today’s graphic arts: printing companies are not in the business of selling print, they’re in the business of selling impactful and meaningful communication! In trade book publishing for instance, publishers are not selling books but stories!
Next time you drink your G&T on the rocks, do ask yourself: ‘in which business you really are’?
Ulbe Jelluma works for Frysk, a B2B advertising agency, specialising in serving international clients (in the graphics, industrial, financial, pharmaceutical, telecom and automotive industries). He started with an attention grabbing statement: ‘Beauty is in the eye of the beholder … And it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye!’
…agencies today consider print as an application in the total communication mix
Ulbe explained how agencies today consider print as an application in the total communication mix. He highlighted some new print applications all driven by the generation of emotions in using print. He also showed some examples of ‘different devices, same content’ or how the advertising industry is using an omnichannel approach to push its message.
Another example was of ‘existing content, different application’ with books that are printed in Brazil for the public transport authorities, serving as a ticket and a planner at the same time as being a reading book. Or what to think about a plasticised newspaper that can act as an umbrella, in a country such as Ecuador ‘where it rains a lot’?
All creative examples of how print is being used in many new and different ways.
So Ricoh Europe’s first Commercial Print Customer Council featured a series of diverse speakers with a broad spectrum of experiences, insights and predictions to share. For me, though, there was a common thread.
It was the sheer resilience of print as many different players in different markets explore its unique characteristics to keep it as relevant now as ever.
When there is financial turbulence, it is often said that ‘cash is king’. Similarly, these days, when brands are challenged by fast changing consumer preferences the message from the marketing community has become ‘content is king’.
Over the last few years there has been a massive shift in marketing budgets into Content Marketing. So what is Content Marketing and why has it suddenly become king?
According to Forbes magazine:
You can tell if a piece of content is the sort that could be part of a content marketing campaign if people seek it out, if people want to consume it, rather than avoiding it.
Relevant and valuable information in the form of infographics, videos, web content, podcasts, books and customer magazines are all examples of Content Marketing. Often concentrating on lifestyle issues with useful information on subjects such as recipes, holiday tips, and home improvement advice.
And it is on the rise because increasingly marketing-literate consumers are rejecting standard selling messages from brands. In order to get their attention and respect, switched on marketing departments are generating content that will engage on a more emotional level.
The Content Marketing Association reports that 70% of British marketers are using Content Marketing, highlighting the top three most effective uses as:
Further, having grown as a share of brand communications budgets by a net 25% in each of the last two years, it now makes up 21% of this total budget in the UK.
For a Print Service Provider, the surge in Content Marketing from your clients can be viewed as both a threat and an opportunity. An apparent threat because, typically, brands that use CM spend less on print and direct mail than brands who don’t do any CM (source; Content Marketing Association). However, print is a medium that is particularly well suited to displaying and showing how to navigate around content. PSPs who understand the true value of print in this context can start to develop relationships with a new breed of marketing agency – the Content Marketing agency. They specialise in content and customer engagement and are increasingly playing a central role among brands’ roster of agencies. Now is a good time to identify and approach the leading agencies in your market.
A further opportunity is in the increasing investment in Marketing Resource Management systems to administer content and assets efficiently. Some marketing departments have invested in their own systems, but many others will prefer to outsource that responsibility. As the number of marketing communications assets these departments own expands, in the form of print collateral, web and mobile material, videos, merchandise, etc., they need a reliable partner who can create, manipulate, manage and distribute them as needed. Ricoh’s cloud based MarcomCentral solution manages and customises marketing material across entire organisations enabling PSPs to support their clients’ brand control and asset distribution with anytime, anywhere access.
Content Marketing has quietly captured a leading role in the minds and wallets of marketers across Europe. It is a phenomenon that shows no signs of abating as brands recognise that valuable content can be the key to customer engagement and loyalty. For the PSP who doesn’t want to get left behind, now is the time to understand how to take advantage of this situation. Both through positioning the unique properties of print; and having a marketing resource management system that can improve your clients’ marketing supply chain, now, when the content they have is probably growing at an unprecedented rate.
The Marketing Rockstars Festival in Graz, Austria this month was not the kind of event that would normally grab the attention of Europe’s Print Service Providers. After all, it was designed firmly for the marketing industry; attracting nearly 2000 marketers from brands and agencies, tempted by the mix of superstar marketing speakers from, for example, Google, Starbucks and Adidas, and the 100 exhibitors with their marketing-oriented offerings.
So why should PSPs show an interest in an event like this, where the marketing community gathered to learn and talk about current marketing issues? Well, Ricoh was a key partner of the Marketing Rockstars Festival and it was very clear why this, and similar, events, are so relevant to the professional printing industry. It is, put simply, because it is at this type of forum where marketers collect information and insights, gain inspiration and ideas. Including on crucial questions such as how do I make my campaigns more successful, which channels should I be selecting, how do I integrate different channels effectively? Where does print fit in? And who can support me?
It is the marketing departments, advised by their agencies, that decide the shape of the marketing activities you will often be fulfilling in part at least through print. So the impact on the production printer of decision-making gatherings like this is profound.
Ricoh’s stand was a busy one, as visitors explored how data can be cleansed and analysed, the process of consumer profiling and segmentation, the benefits of our Precision Marketing consultancy service and how Clickable Paper can bridge the printed page and the online realm. All in the interests of helping them achieve impressive returns on their marketing investments.
The fact that people could walk away with a personalised front cover of what was only the second issue of Forbes business magazine in Austria, complete with their own face on it, drew many marketing professionals to us. They saw at first hand how our marketing asset management and variable data solutions – MarcomCentral and FusionPro – work, and they benefitted from our expertise in harnessing data to create powerful, omni channel campaigns, with printed direct mail at their heart.
Exploiting the richness of data was also a major theme of Thomas Haas’ presentation. Our Precision Marketing Principal explained how the intelligent use of data can transform the impact of marketing campaigns, and how Ricoh can provide the expertise and solutions to help marketers make this happen. With direct mail often the hero channel thanks to its unique properties.
Ricoh will continue its dialogue with influencers in what we sometimes call the direct marketing ecosystem. Particularly with brand owners’ marketing executives and their marketing agencies. Talking to them about integrating print into communications, about harnessing data for first class results and about the power of Clickable Paper interactive print technology. It’s about raising their awareness and understanding – building demand for the direct mail and direct marketing services that our progressive production printing clients can deliver and add value to.
We have recently conducted a survey among British marketing agencies and marketing departments to find out more about the future of direct mail (or ‘advertising mail’, as it is often called in Great Britain). Together with the British DMA (Direct Marketing Association), we invited both marketing agencies and companies to share their view on this specific communication medium.
The results of this survey have been released as a report (called ‘Mail Matters’, published on March 25th by the British DMA) and those of you who are interested in the details are more than welcome to download the study using the following link:
The report was full of useful findings, e.g. that the majority of respondents still consider direct mail a trusted and effective medium (which it is) but a minority of respondents is concerned that direct mail may be considered as ‘junk mail’ (which it is only if you don’t make it relevant for the recipient!). A conclusion was that the so-called ‘Digital Natives’ seem to have acquired relatively little knowhow about the production and use of direct mail, so that they concentrate on online marketing activities.
However, most of the respondents can still be considered ‘loyal fans’ of direct mail although the research revealed that they are expecting more from the medium (and, in the case of agencies, from their clients). One of the barriers for more successful direct mail obviously is the ‘lack of data and data analytics’. The data, however, is already there … but it can seem difficult to fully harness, so let’s have a closer look at the issue of analytics:
In recent months more and more focus has been put on how much value ‘analysing Big Data’ could bring. Despite the fact that ‘Big Data’ has become a marketing buzzword and that many decision makers are unsure of exactly what Big Data is, a whole industry has formed to help marketers to identify the best target groups and create customer profiles.
Starting with ‘Big Data analytics’ might at first sound like David’s fight against Goliath (also known as the data monster). A marketer will learn that consumer data is stored among multiple databases and that the format and content of the databases heavily depends on the application (CRM, sales database etc).
In order to get a full, 360 degree view of your customers an immediate task is to consolidate the data from those different data sources (basically ‘copy’ all datasets into one big Excel or .csv file). Once you have done that you will be confronted with the fact that one and the same customer’s data occupies more than one database; in other words, you have found ‘duplicates’. A deduping exercise is therefore needed. In addition to that, important data fields like the gender (which determines the salutation) are not always filled, foreign names are not recognised correctly or the address is written with many different variations.
So a first small, but very important, step in data analytics is ‘data cleansing and data enrichment’. Don’t think that this must be a manual process. As long as you can transform the data from the different sources into one and the same format (e.g .csv-files) you can use appropriate tools. Such software comes with built-in intelligence (and algorithms) to understand which data belongs to one and the same customer. Most of them come as a SaaS (software as a service), run by European companies following the strictest EU data privacy laws (Ricoh is currently developing such a tool with an authorised RiDP = Ricoh Development Partner). Large corporations might prefer local installations and regular local updates and upgrades.
My recommendation is to take ‘data cleansing’ and ‘data enrichment’ seriously. Today’s tools can not only improve the quality of your general data but can also check whether email addresses are valid or if GSM mobile phone numbers are still in use. The cost of this first small step (data cleansing and data enrichment) is relatively modest. More good news is that such state-of-the-art algorithms to clean your data can be built into all your existing (and future) web forms so that no bad data will find its way into your databases.
Once your general data quality has improved, you will be ready for true data analytics. Ricoh and alliance partner SAS can ‘calculate’ the likelihood of your customers buying further products or services (called predictive data analytics), so that you can concentrate your focus and improve the effectiveness of your actions.
So: mastering the (big) data monster should start with small steps, with ‘data cleansing and enrichment’ at the beginning of the list. After that, getting full customer insights using data analytical software should be second. Once you have created customer profiles and target groups, talk to us so that we can combine your data insights with our dynamic document composition tools to create the truly personalised pieces of customer communication which can make direct mail so successful.
This process actually is what we call ‘Precision Marketing’. Learn more about Ricoh’s Precision Marketing practice on YouTube and see e.g. how retailers can benefit from data-analytics and mail.
Your opportunities are endless! Let’s take the first steps together…
It is fair to say inkjet’s ability to conquer the complex playing field of comercial print faced initial doubts from some quarters of the graphic arts market. But just months after announcing the Ricoh ProTM VC60000 continuous feed production inkjet platform, we are now getting a clear idea of how rapidly the market is opening up.
The possibilities are very exciting!
Every fresh conversation we have presents new opportunities. We can see that inkjet presses are frequently replacing web-fed presses for applications like direct mail, books and newspapers, and that there is a growing volume of true commercial print applications going on these presses as well. This is due to the increased quality, flexibility and productivity offered.
Our clients agree.
Zalsman, a leading Dutch media and graphics company, believes inkjet will help it continue to grow and thrive.
Hansaprint, part of the Nordic TS-Group, is discovering new markets.
Parajett, in Sweden, says inkjet is the future when it comes to assuring high quality production.
All have invested in the Ricoh Pro VC60000.
Zalsman chose the press to help it continue to combine craftsmanship with state-of-the-art technologies to harness the potential of Big Data cost-effectively. Hugo Verlind, Director and co-owner, says the business can now offer clients a brighter, better and broader offering.
Jukka Saariluoma, Business Unit Director for Hansaprint, says that from day one clients will benefit from higher print quality and a wider variety of substrates. In the long run, he states, the greatest benefit for end users and for Hansaprint is the ability to produce new and innovative products. Initial focus will be on loyalty programmes, direct mail, transpromo, transactional and books. Jukka predicts that there will be a significant shift of volumes to inkjet both from offset and toner printing.
Parajett can often be found at the forefront of market evolution, and Anders Persson, CEO, is confident that the new press will deliver the quality and performance expected. It will also enable Parajett to print with ink, rather than toner, on a wider range of stock, particularly heavier substrates.
Inkjet is not going to stay in its corner. It’s coming out fighting!
As the true potential of these presses, including their capability, productivity and profitability, are better understood and harnessed in the day-to-day production environment, we will learn even more. In turn, as our knowledge grows, we can help clients create a highly effective mix of services that support the demands of an ever-changing end-user landscape.
While the technology is creating a new print production vista, our view of the horizon ensures that we are able to help clients make the most of every new dawn. That is why we believe the Ricoh Pro VC60000 will become a pivotal investment for companies looking to develop and enhance their services.
(This article originally appeared in Whattheythink European Printing Industry Coverage from WhatTheyThink.com)
A new way to look at mail
Mail has changed. It is not just an effective medium to reach people – it can drive them online in big numbers
This week the British Direct Marketing Association (the DMA) held an event – Mail Matters – in London, to share the results of some research sponsored by Ricoh. It revealed some fascinating insights into how the brand owners and their agencies who commission, design and coordinate direct mail campaigns feel toward this marketing channel.
Many research studies into direct mail as a part of the marketing mix have demonstrated very clearly that direct mail holds a special place in the hearts and minds of consumers. Its uniquely tangible properties help to generate an emotional response that other media struggle to match.
Most research has focused on consumer attitudes and behaviour. This new research though looks for a different perspective. Direct mail just doesn’t happen unless both brand owner and their agency together make it happen. So, while the consumer picture is relatively well documented, the research told us what these other vital stakeholders, the marketers and agency decision makers, think about it.
The Mail Matters research we sponsored told us that while the well known, young ‘digital natives’ in their agency roles are naturally completely at home in the digital marketing arena, it seems that many are not yet fully switched on to what is possible with direct mail, or advertising mail as it is sometimes called, today. For example a strong majority of respondents described both better personalisation and image personalisation as innovations that would enhance the effectiveness of mail. As we know, however, this functionality is a long established feature of direct mail, but it becomes more exciting as a result of the possibilities generated by the smart use of data insights.
Encouraging mail recipients to go online is a key goal the research shows, and there are many technologies to facilitate a smooth transition from the paper page to the online world. Ricoh’s interactive print solution, Clickable Paper is one of the newest. What the research suggests is that some marketers and agencies are either persisting with the limited functionality of QR codes or not deploying any bridging technology at all. It is also worth noting that 72% expect more innovation to integrate print with digital media; and I am sure that this will be a big part of the future of direct mail.
Very positively, there is a powerful core of respondents who trust direct mail in their campaigns because of its proven effectiveness and strong ROI. And while postage costs may be a barrier to some, the returns available are clearly the decisive factor for many others. And at Ricoh we believe this group will grow as the communications and commercial factors in favour of direct mail in the mix become even more compelling. For while data analytical techniques, such as those available through Ricoh’s Precision Marketing service (for example the MarkSim market segmentation tool which was used to analyse this research), are enabling better segmentation and more accurate targeting, direct mail production is becoming more cost efficient. The latest high speed inkjet systems, like the ground-breaking Ricoh ProTM VC60000, are bringing a new level of print quality to complement their well understood variable data capabilities. And at the same time Ricoh’s new cut sheet devices, the ProTM C 9100 and ProTM C7100 series, bring new levels of capability in terms of media range and special effects, ideal for direct mail jobs that demand impact and stand-out.
So, at Ricoh, we are seeing a new dawn for direct mail. With marketers and agencies alike moving toward greater understanding and harnessing of its power, coupled with the technology available to enhance response and optimise cost efficiency. It’s an exciting time to be in the direct mail field. For alert print services providers in particular, who can seize the moment, helping their clients fully capitalise on the opportunity and the technologies available now.