In-plant Events a Hit at Graph Expo
At points, Graph Expo had the feel of an in-plant conference this week, as managers flocked to three separate in-plant events organized by IPG. They came from a variety of schools, government agencies, insurance companies, non-profits, and many other organizations, filling the seats of the meeting room.
On Monday, the first of these events was a breakfast sponsored by Canon Solutions America. Attendees heard from two speakers who discussed how they can deliver more value to their parent organizations and improve their overall performance by using online tools.
Kicking off the event was Barb Pellow, group director at InfoTrends, who discussed the rising importance of using data-driven marketing and highly personalized direct mail to increase response rates. She showed examples of effective personalized mail pieces, such as a mailing from a restaurant that included a personalized map with directions from the recipient’s house. Cross-media marketing services, she said, are critical for in-plants to start offering to enhance their relevance.
Repeating that message was Aaron Hale, of Canon Solutions America, who demonstrated a new centralized Web-based suite of tools and resources called the Performance Resource Center created specifically for in-plant managers. It features a Cross-Media Suite that enables in-plants to get in the game with a pay-as-you-go and wizard-driven cross-media production tool that does not require expensive software or extended learning requirements. Hale took the audience through the seven simple steps required to launch an email campaign, then showed off other in-plant tools like a justification calculator, an open house kit and the Performance Challenge.
On Tuesday morning, scores of in-plant managers got together again to network and listen to presentations during a breakfast meeting sponsored by Xerox. In-plant managers filled nearly every seat in the room to hear Xerox Marketing Manager Allen Lea interview a panel of managers about their efforts to transform themselves from printers into value-add partners. On hand were Cathy Skoglund, of Arizona State University; Abbas Badani, of Pennsylvania State University; Steve Priesman, of Omaha Public Schools; and Tasha Carter of YWCA of Los Angeles.
Each revealed the steps they have taken to transform their operations and shared some of their innovative projects, such as a variable data mailing Priesman sent using XMPie software to 18,000 parents in his district telling them the time and location of their children’s bus stops. Badani detailed the procurement portal he created at Penn State to streamline the print ordering process. Skoglund talked about how she uses the fact that all of the in-plant’s work is produced by ASU students to bring in more business.
Just a few hours later, managers met again for lunch, this time to hear Tom Rohrbach, of Progressive Insurance, discuss his efforts to insource the variable data and creative work that his company is currently outsourcing. In a session sponsored by Rochester Software Associates, Rohrbach shared the seven-step analytical process his in-plant is using to determine whether work can be produced cost-effectively in-house.
He and his team have taken a careful look at the shop’s existing equipment to decide whether it can cost effectively produce the outsourced work. They ask themselves whether new equipment would allow them to produce the work internally at a better cost and with better service. They also analyze and refine their cost model. Rohrbach also stressed the need for in-plants to have “champions” among their customer base to help stress the value they provide.
Many of the in-plant managers who attended these events also gathered for a luncheon on Monday hosted by the In-plant Printing and Mailing Association. Howie Fenton of InfoTrends gave a presentation revealing the results of an ongoing in-plant survey, and then moderated a panel of three in-plant managers who shared innovative practices they use to bring more work into their shops.