The direct marketing landscape is an ever-evolving, dynamic business. The need for speed and precision in reaching the right customers with the right information at exactly the right time has never been more crucial for a brand’s survival.

 

In a recent interview with Ashley Roberts of PI World, American Litho President Mike Fontana reflects on the drive to work strategically to achieve higher relevancy and ROI on behalf of our clients. It’s all about boosting the one-to-one connection with each brand’s customers, delivering the real-time information they demand.

 

Print and omnichannel campaigns produced with new digital equipment that has just hit the ALitho production floor will help our clients meet and exceed their goals in 2017. Our investment in Hewlett-Packard’s latest 4-color, high-resolution imaging heads and our new Ricoh digital press – one of 3 digital production systems now in house — will help us surpass the record 1 billion mail pieces produced and shipped for ALitho clients this year.

 

Here’s an excerpt of Mike’s conversation with Ashley and PI World.

 

What do you think are the top of mind issues in the direct mail marketing space right now and moving into 2017?

Today’s marketers have to pinpoint the right channels to reach consumers in real time – a job made harder because the channels open to us are always evolving. Brands and marketing teams have to be faster and more flexible than ever before. Many are surprised and excited to see the data that prove direct mail’s lasting value in improving consumer engagement and ROI. There are things that print can do that other media just can’t match, and knowing how to make the most of print in the total mix is the challenge in front of every marketer right now.

 

What are some challenges that your company is facing in the direct mail space and how are you targeting those issues?

American Litho has grown rapidly since 2002, and in that time we’ve challenged ourselves to learn everything possible about creating maximum direct mail efficiency and impact for our clients. Proving the value of print in the overall mix has never been more crucial. Our strategy has been to create a full circle of services in our 300,000-square-foot plant, offering deep expertise in data management, analytics, print format analysis and optimization, postal optimization and of course, the most advanced print production capabilities. This means a whole team of experts is looking at every campaign that comes in the door, saying, “How can this be done faster, better, and with greater cost savings from start to finish?” That approach has saved millions for many of our clients while cutting cycle times and increasing customer engagement and sales.

 

How have things like VDP and big data affected your company in the direct mail space?

Having accurate data is the key to personalized, one-to-one marketing, especially in the direct mail space. This is why we have built significant in-house data management capabilities — so that messages can be refined and targeted at the individual customer level with accuracy and impact. We’ve had especially great success with retail grocers using big data and VDP — and through testing, measuring, and refining, clients have improved customer loyalty by up to 30% and seen significant gains at the bottom line.

 

What are you doing to differentiate your offerings from your competitors?

Our focus is on providing integrated solutions. Right now we are partnering with clients to plan and launch powerful print-to-mobile campaigns. With our new Integrative Mobile Technology, we are able to add invisible code to any direct-to-consumer mail piece or any in-store print display so that customers can scan anywhere on the printed surface to receive product info and promotions in real time. This fulfills a crucial need, since research shows that shoppers, especially Millennials, want up-to-the-minute information via mobile devices, but only 7% of all retailers say they’re ready to deliver it. We’re closing that gap with IMT.

 

Are you adding any capabilities or are you making any major investments in your direct mail capabilities in 2017?

We are proud to have produced and mailed nearly 1 billion mail pieces in 2016. Staying ahead of our clients’ expanding needs means that we never stop looking for ways to improve all we do making significant investments in equipment that give us additional digital capabilities and efficiencies throughout our operation.

HPC-800 Color Heads at American Litho

For example, we worked with Document Data Solutions to build a custom print system, which involved a significant investment in HP’s C-800 4-color heads, capable of imprinting variable data at 600 x 600 DPI quality, 800 feet per minute, and adding the ability to seamlessly stitch an 8.5-inch image, in-line, at the stitchers or in the lettershop. With a special focus on the hybrid approach, every page can be personalized at high speeds.

The recent addition of a Ricoh C9100 cut-sheet printer has expanded the company’s digital production capabilities even further.

This, along with IMT and other print-to-mobile and print-to-web offerings, means we’re heading into 2017 ready to handle even greater volumes with stronger bottom-line results for clients countrywide.

Read the full article in PI World.

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