Are you tired of hearing where you should be instead of how to get there? You should be a marketing service provider, you should have ecommerce as your primary way of doing business, you should be personalizing all your printed materials, blah, blah blah…
What do all these “shoulds” have in common? They all require data. What do I mean? I mean that all this new technology is simply additional tools that allow you to either personalize your communication products and/or deliver new digital communication products.
There is nothing inherently personalized about the tools, the level of personalization is dependent on the DATA. The data is the fuel that drives personalization. Why do I call the data your water wings? Because when you’re wading into a new ocean start with baby steps – start where it matters (staying afloat) – get a grip on your data and create a plan to capture more data.
Today competing communication channels can access the data stored on Facebook via their Open Graph initiative in an automated fashion which makes it very easy for people to opt into sharing their data. The digital world is extremely efficient at collecting and sharing data because the more you know about someone the more personalized the offer can be to that audience of one. As a printer, you have a lot of data but most of it is probably locked into the brains of your employees or trapped in analog form inside your shop.
Put your water wings on starting now by becoming a data centric organization. Look at the data you have about your current customers, see what data is missing, and figure out how to structure the next job or next customer to collect more complete data. I’m a huge fan of MIS systems but they are collecting data about your business, I’m talking about collecting data about your customer (CRM systems), don’t be scared off by the expensive sounding acronym – try Highrise by 37Signals, its easy to use and the price is right. Customers aren’t going to trust you with their personalized campaigns if you have shown no abilities in promoting your company by utilizing the tools. The best advertisement of personalization and new cross media products and services is to use the tools to promote your business. Eat your own dog food first (dogfooding) and then sell the service to your customers.
Subscribe to software instead of licensing it, take those local IT resources and convert them to data experts. Wouldn’t it be nice to start billing out your IT resources on customer projects rather than viewing them as an expense? Collection and creative utilization of data will increase the value of both printed products (atoms economy) and digital products (bits economy).