Posted by Sid Haas
on October 11th, 2012Vice President of Business Development
This week McCormick Place in Chicago is hosting GraphExpo, one of the largest trade shows in the world focusing on graphic arts, printing and mailing. Hundreds of vendors are presenting their latest solutions and displaying their vision for the industry as a whole.
As a trade show attendee, I was excited to see the amazing technology being put to use in the graphic arts, printing and mailing industries. But at the same time, I was struck with the contrast between previous GraphExpo shows and this year’s event.
In recent memory, companies such as Heidelberg and Agfa dominated the show — taking up thousands (if not tens of thousands) of square feet. Prepress vendors were demonstrating imagesetters followed by platesetters. Offset and web press manufacturers were flying through thousands of pounds of paper – printing amazing quality images one after another on hundred foot long presses. The trade show floor was reverberating with the tons of heavy medal equipment in operation. And attendees were mesmerized by it all — gobbling up huge press sheets full of colorful photos and perfect dot patterns to hang on their walls and share with their colleagues back at home.
This year’s show was no less exciting. Companies such as Canon and Konica Minolta dominated the show — with booths that could fit inside corners of Heidelberg booths from years past. “Prepress” vendors were demonstrating software solutions that managed data and enabled personalization. Digital press manufacturers were still flying through paper – but now EVERY image and EVERY page was unique. “Presses” have been replaced with inkjet and laser technology – some still a hundred foot long, but most not much longer than a production copy machine. The trade show floor was QUIET. The equipment was still running, but the cacophony was dramatically reduced. And attendees were mesmerized by it all — gobbling up individual pages of personalized communications to share with their colleagues back at home. They were no longer enamored with “perfect” color, screen resolutions and dot sizes. They were looking for the best way to print VARIABLE DATA at high speed and a competitive price even if that meant a slight reduction in quality from the big iron presses of yesteryear.
I was struck by the shock on our production coordinator’s face when he was listening to software and data presentations while searching for the mechanical equipment he tweaked and maintained since his youth. Gone are the days of changing gears and chains — replaced by the need to manipulate logic controllers and firmware. On the entire McCormick place floor, I was only able to find ONE traditional printing press. One. And I couldn’t even imagine who would be buying it.
But for a techie like me, it’s so EXCITING to imagine the possibilities for marketing professionals in the years to come. Throw out everything you knew about print – not because print is dead, but because it’s ALIVE. It’s organic. It’s personal. I dare say, it’s even green. And it’s changing with the times.
Posted by Sid Haas
on October 8th, 2012Vice President of Business Development
We just wrapped up the 3rd quarter of 2012 and yet just about everywhere, we’re already focused on 2013.
Internally at LKCS, we recently replaced our sales and marketing software and are in the process of overhauling our entire sales process. We’re tweaking our systems and refining our methods – but we’ve set expectations and will focus on lofty sales goals for 2013.
Our web department has undergone some upheaval – but with improved focus and new team members, they’re focusing on continued technological changes throughout the next year. Their challenge will be developing and implementing solutions around social media and responsive web design, enabling web site content to reformat and scale seamlessly across all devices from computers to tablets to smartphones.
In our design and digital printing areas, we’ve replaced our variable data platform and completed additional training to ensure that our clients can take advantage of the latest advances in personalization and one-to-one marketing. We’re successfully blending graphic design, database and mailing list management, printing and mailing with these efforts.
Our mailing department has redesigned and rebuilt a number of our intelligent inserters – completely retrofitting the mechanical components and upgrading 1970s technology to modern solid state components and incorporating custom LKCS-designed logic controllers and software. The result: unrivaled accuracy and flexibility to enhance our statement processing and direct mail solutions.
And, not to be out-done, our statement programmers are upgrading to a new version of our statement rendering software while continuing to make tremendous improvements in data integrity and processing automation. We’ve spent 2012 transitioning all clients to an enhanced processing platform and greatly enhanced e-statement solution – and we have numerous ideas for continuing to build on these solutions next year and beyond.
In 2012 we introduced our Credit Alerting and Prospecting solutions – accessing credit bureau data for our clients and turning that data into successful marketing campaigns and actionable monitoring of lending activity. We’re happy to see fantastic growth with these solutions and ecstatic to share in the success of our customers using these solutions to close amazing volumes of new loans.
And that’s just a snapshot of what’s happening at LKCS.
All of this is already being put to use as we are helping many of our customers develop their 2013 marketing plans and budgets. Let us know which of these solutions you plan to implement in 2013.
Posted by Sid Haas
on August 30th, 2012Vice President of Business Development
When I meet with our clients and discuss the marketing challenges they face, I expect to hear concerns about budget limitations, busy schedules, and even struggles between different managers or departments. But lately, a trend has been emerging. The challenges I learn about have more to do with technology than anything else.
“Our systems don’t talk to each other.”
“I don’t have the information that I need.”
“I can’t find that data in just one place. I have to log in to this system for one piece and that system for another.”
I wish I had the all-familiar “Easy Button” to help clients solve these issues. Unfortunately I don’t. And I further wish that we didn’t have the same issues…but we do. At LKCS, we work hard to integrate and connect many of our systems. But at the same time, we keep moving ahead – adding new systems with new features and benefits for our company and our customers. And, yes, we prioritize what we’ll connect and integrate at the start…and what we’ll get to “later”. Of course, “later” may or may not ever get here as we’ll move on to the next new application that catches our attention.
The fact is that for all companies — large, small and everywhere in between — today’s challenge is to connect and integrate. Great systems make this easy. And those are the ones to buy. I’ve learned to purchase hardware, software, services and other technology solutions that are designed to simplify connections to systems regardless of manufacturer or model number.
Other systems (and vendors) make this hard. There are still way too many “proprietary” solutions. Companies think that by limiting integration options, they are protecting the business they’ve built with their customers. But, in fact, I believe they are putting that business at risk. I’m happy to see others figuring this out as well. I recently had two customers tell me that they are looking for new core processing and home banking providers because of the cost to integrate them with third party solutions that they want to use. Those are massive changes for these clients to undertake – but they are doing it to improve connections and integrations.
I think of the standard 110 volt, 3-prong outlet and the myriad of products that plug into them. What if every outlet manufacturer insisted on their own plug? But they chose to standardize — and they keep selling millions of outlets each year. And we keep buying various electronic devices to plug into them without ever considering if they will easily connect and integrate.
So kudos to the companies that design products and services that incorporate ways to integrate them with other products and services from other vendors. And shame on those companies that refuse to allow it (or make it prohibitively expensive to solve a business need).
I love coming up with creative solutions to marketing challenges. And I look forward to the day that getting data from one system to another is as simple as pushing a plug into an outlet.
Posted by Sid Haas
on March 29th, 2012Vice President of Business Development
The United States Postal Service now offers a service that can help save you a bundle on your next direct mail campaign!
With Every Door Direct Mail (EDDM), direct mailers now have the ability to target specific areas for saturation mailings at reduced cost. To mail to all residents in a typical geographical area could cost as low as 14.5 cents in postage! That’s a substantial discount off even the losest standard rate postage rates.
For some of our clients, we’ve seen that we can mail larger quantities to everyone in an area at a LOWER COST than mailing a smaller quantity to a residential list.
So, if you are looking to spread your message to a wide audience, take a look at Every Door Direct Mail.
Need help? Contact LKCS and we can get you the details.