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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

16 The Power of Print in the Digital Age - Alex Krupski and Jake Hoffman

This week on the Digital Velocity Podcast, Alex Krupski and Jake Hoffman of Millennials in Print Podcast join Erik and Tim to discuss how print can be a champion in marketing campaigns in the digital age.

In this age of information, print marketing might be overlooked when compared to digital, but Jake explains that digital and print should work together to create the most effective marketing campaigns. He says, “print and digital were like, not friends. They weren't cool. It was either like, there's a digital budget and there's a marketing budget. Both shall never overlap, and now we're starting to see sort of this  awakening of oh wait, there's things that print does really well, but they have to be combined together to really generate almost the best of both worlds.”

Print should be another valuable tool in marketing strategies. Alex explains, “I think it's always, more arrows in the quiver, right? I always say that one. The more channels that you're present on and the more channels that you're marketing to people on, ultimately, the more effective you're going to be. Print, just like social, just like email, just like your website, just like a commercial on TV, is a channel for you to market on it. It's another arrow in the quiver. It's another way for you to reach out to people you might not have before.”

Listen to this week’s episode to learn more about how print can make your marketing campaign skyrocket.

About the Guests:

Alex Krupski - Alex Krupski is the Marketing Coordinator at Arandell Corporation and co-host of the Millennials in Print Podcast. Alex has 7+ years of experience in digital marketing and business development that he uses to catalyze organizational change and growth. His primary responsibilities include the management, development, and execution of Arandell’s day-to-day marketing and communication strategies, as well as to support Arandell’s nationwide sales team in their efforts to develop new print business.

Jake Hoffman - Jake Hoffman is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing for Arandell Corporation. In his role, he works with numerous brands on launching, improving, and accelerating direct mail growth through the print medium. He is the co-host of the popular print podcast Millennials in Print which is aimed at changing the stereotypes that exist surrounding the print industry as well as inspiring the next generation of great marketers to consider a career in print. Recognized by Printing Impressions as a rising star in the industry he is at the forefront of evolving individuals’ perception of print.


Erik Martinez: [00:00:00] Hello. Welcome to this edition of the Digital Velocity Podcast. Today, Tim and I are going to speak with Jake Hoffman and Alex Krupski from Millennials in Print Podcast, and they're joining us today to talk a little bit about their experience coming from the digital marketing world to the print world and some of the challenges and opportunities that they see. So, gentlemen, welcome to our podcast today.

Jake Hoffman: Thanks for having us. Looking forward to it.

Alex Krupski: Yeah. Thanks.

Erik Martinez: Just to get in a little bit of your background. [00:01:00] So, Jake is currently the Director of Sales and Marketing for Arandell Corporation. In his role, he works with numerous brands on launching, improving, and accelerating direct mail growth through the print medium. He is the co-host of the popular print podcast, Millennials in Print, which is aimed at changing the stereotypes that exist surrounding the print industry, as well as inspiring the next generation of great marketers to consider a career in print. Recognized by Printing Impressions as a rising star in the industry, he is at the forefront of evolving individuals' perceptions of print.

Alex Krupski is the Marketing Coordinator at Arandell Corporation and co-host of the Millennials in Print Podcast. Alex has seven-plus years of experience in digital marketing and business development that he uses to catalyze organizational changing. His primary responsibilities include the management, development, and execution of Arandell's day-to-day marketing and communication strategies, as well as to support Arandell's nationwide sales team in their efforts to develop new print business.

So, [00:02:00] gentlemen, tell us a little bit about yourselves.

Jake Hoffman: Al, why don't you start?

Alex Krupski: Sure. Well, again, I appreciate you having us on the show today, first of all, Erik and Tim, and I mean, you kind of crushed my background already. That sounded pretty great. As far as a little bit more about myself, come from a digital background. Worked in business development for a little bit as well, where I still did some digital marketing stuff and found an opportunity with Arandell to come to the print side of the world, which I was unfamiliar with, and bring a little bit of my digital knowledge to an old industry, frankly. It's an old industry. It's been a great experience so far. Personally, I don't know what else to say. I love sports and I love craft beer. That's all you really need to know about me.

Tim Curtis: True millennial in print.

Alex Krupski: Exactly.

Erik Martinez: Okay. What's your favorite beer and where did you drink it last?

Alex Krupski: Favorite beer of all time is New Glarus Moon Man. Not Spotted Cow. Although, I love Spotted Cow. Last time I drank it, I think three days ago. So not [00:03:00] too long ago.

Jake Hoffman: I was pretty certain, he was going to say this morning, but that's good.

Erik Martinez: For breakfast. I was walking through the airport at Raleigh-Durham this morning at five o'clock and the bar was open and there's people drinking beer, and I'm just sitting there going, I hope you really are just finishing your day, not starting your day that way. So, Jake, tell us a little bit about yourself.

Jake Hoffman: My name is Jake Hoffman. Prior to working, kind of, getting my career in print started, I was actually working at a large marketing agency doing like experiential campaigns and I was doing digital project management there. So, definitely took an interesting path into getting into print, but yeah, I've been in it for I think I'm coming up on six years now. So, it's been really cool working with brands all over the country and kind of getting hands-on with their campaigns and how they're integrating print in their marketing mix.

Erik Martinez: Hey, did you guys hear that? print is cool. Thank you. That's from a millennial [00:04:00] folks. That's from a millennial. Hey guys, before we jump into the meat of our conversation today, can you tell us a little bit about that transition from digital to print? What brought you over to the dark side of the moon?

Alex Krupski: Well, first of all, I've known Jake for a really long time. So, when I was looking for something new, I think as all good conversations start, we were probably at a bar after work and he was saying, you know, there's this great opportunity at Arandell to kind of really start to build out a marketing team.

 You know, I was a little hesitant because I didn't know what it'd be like working with a friend, but we met, and everything kind of just fit. The stars aligned, so. As far as print goes, I just saw it as a really cool opportunity to learn something completely new and completely opposite of what I had been learning, you know, and what I had been working in. So, it's been a tremendous experience doing both sides of marketing.

Erik Martinez: What about you, Jake?

Jake Hoffman: Yeah. So, from my perspective, I had family ties kind of in the print industry, so I had [00:05:00] no intention of ever being in the print industry and of course, got bamboozled into it. I would say too even, probably the first two years of me being in the print industry, I was kind of like one foot in one foot out, and then I just kept crushing on the print industry a little bit and I think once you're in it long enough, there are these great components of print and then there's these areas of print that, you know, really need to get worked on and improved, and I'm in it now. Both feet all the way in.

Erik Martinez: Tim and I started on the print side of the world and have moved over into digital, and, you know, Tim's kind of swung back into the print and I still dip a toe into the print arena on a pretty regular basis. So, I know what that experience feels like as well, just from a slightly different angle.

Tim Curtis: I still have clients where I'm doing consulting on their digital ecosystem and, you know, helping them with some strategy and sort of being the source of truth, I guess you could say when they need someone to offer some advice. One of the things that for me, you know, I was very, very deeply [00:06:00] involved and deeply entrenched in the digital side and had been there for quite some time, and then came back into an area of print that was important to me, but it was important to me from an integration of the print and the digital side. Alex you've most recently came to print and we were chatting about this before we started the podcast, what was your biggest surprise?

 You know, you're sitting there with Jake, you're having a beer and you're discussing the print industry, right? There's probably all sorts of things running through your head and then you get into that industry, and so I guess the question is what's been the biggest surprise for you in that, about the print industry?

Alex Krupski: You mentioned, you know, we kind of talked about this briefly before. The biggest thing, though, for me, kind of the sticking point for me in joining the company was just really who print clients are. I mean, I had no idea coming in, and as soon as they mentioned in the interview some of the brands that we work with and some of the incredibly recognizable brands that we work with from brick and mortar to even just Ecommerce, and starting last few years.

It's [00:07:00] insane the number of clients that are out there that do print that are that big, you know, and I just didn't, I didn't have any perspective on that. I thought it was purely a digital world at that point, too. Now looking back, I know that it's not, and I think the other thing that struck me was how collaborative the print industry is as well even amongst competitors.

We've been to a few trade shows over the years and of course, competitors are always going to have a little bit of edge against each other, but in going to shows and being a part of these meetings, it's pretty incredible the amount of effort people put in to help each other out when they need to. I mean, every busy season we're working with competitors on an occasional basis is when we need a favor and when they need a favor. So, I didn't have that experience in the digital world whatsoever.

Tim Curtis: No, no, no. It is very unique, and decidedly, not something you find digitally. I would, totally agree with that. Jake, what about you? You had just a few years start on Alex in the print industry, but still, you know, it's relatively recent history we're talking about here.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah, [00:08:00] definitely. There's a sort of like interesting thing where, and I've said this many times, but it's almost like the print industry doesn't know how to market itself. It just knows how to market the people that are using print in this super like weird and unique way.

So, one of the things that I found really appealing was that it seemed like the industry as a whole just needed like some fresh blood, ideas, a different perspective, and I think there were so many people that had worked in the print industry or the same company with no outside influence for 40 years.

So, it was almost like, hey we're doing well. We're making money. Like, things are great, and even interestingly enough, too, like coming from the digital side, one of the things that I always thought was super interesting, it was when I first got into the industry, it still was like print and digital were like, not friends. They weren't cool. It was either like, there's a digital budget and there's a marketing budget, both shall never overlap, [00:09:00] and now we're starting to see sort of this awakening of oh wait, there's things that print does really well, but they have to be combined together to really generate almost the best of both worlds. So, that's the other part of it. I think that I've seen happen recently.

Tim Curtis: It feels like we've got the world pre-COVID and then the world post-COVID. It all changed so dramatically. You know, I do a lot of speaking and public speaking and one of the things that I've incorporated in a lot of my speaking engagements is the fact that if you look at pre-COVID and post-COVID, what you'll find is that it's not necessarily that new trends were created. There's some, but for the most part, what you're looking at is an exponential acceleration of trends that were already in place.

Could you order food online before? Yes, you could. Were a lot of people doing that? No, they weren't. Behaviors have changed because we were forced to do it, but those trends were there and print has not been isolated from that. You know, [00:10:00] print, in many respects is experiencing a resurgence, not necessarily because of something that print did. Jake, to your point, not because of some great marketing that the print industry did, and I don't even know what the print industry is. I guess there is one, but I haven't found its headquarters, so, but you really think about that.

And some of our conversations we've had, you know, sitting back and watching these last two years, talk about the view from your perspective. You know, you're coming at this from a veritable who's who in the print industry, and you're going to have an interesting perspective. I'd love to hear what your thoughts are once the pandemic set in and how that affected you.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah, absolutely. It's interesting because what you're saying too, where you almost have to step back and look. You almost forget sometimes when you're so in it day today. You're like, this is what it is now, but you almost have to step back and really take like a bigger look at the picture.

So, one of the things that I would say is if you looked at when [00:11:00] COVID was happening when it was still kind of like, what is this thing? We're not really sure. All of a sudden print, like just kind of stopped because I don't think anyone really understood like, were people are going to be able to come into the stores, if we were using like a store driver, for example. Are we even going to be able to get product? The world almost just kind of like took a big deep breath. In print, everyone kind of stopped and was like, we don't know what's going on, and so then all of a sudden, like everyone started canceling projects, paper.

Everything got turned upside down, and then I think what happened was there was like a realization or okay, maybe what we initially thought this virus was going to be, maybe it wasn't, you know that, and then everyone said, okay, well, now there's all this money in circulation, consumer demands through the roof. So, then to your point, the trends were just pure gasoline, right?

I mean, no one could have predicted the rebound, the amount of [00:12:00] demand, the consumer demand, the money in the system. So, then every brand in the country that's going through this unparalleled growth is like now is the time, right? Now is when we need to generate as much new business, as much new customers, and so, yeah, I mean, the market just kinda got flooded and there's a finite amount of print capacity and there's a finite amount of material to be printed on. Now we're in this point of where there was so much access in terms of schedule, paper. Now we're completely flipped the other way, where there's not enough paper, there's not enough print time. There's not enough capacity in the industry. So, it's been kind of a little bit of a whiplash effect, is what we've experienced.

Tim Curtis: There's a lot of misconceptions and there's certainly some voices that are adding to the misconception and I don't always understand the rationale for that, but when you look at COVID and you look at how brands had to shift very [00:13:00] quickly into a direct selling environment. If you have had access to clients' boardrooms the last several years, which I have, you will find that there were a number of conversations simultaneously going on at a lot of these headquarters and that debate was about, do we lean fully into the direct to consumer marketing and have a go at it, or do we continue to put effort into the brick and mortar and the traditional model that we've been following?

What happened with COVID is it absolutely took the oxygen out of the room. There was no conversation left. It was full boar direct to consumer, and in order to do that, in order to handle the amount of goods that were now coming through Ecommerce channels, the strain on the paper supply, the pulp supply. Really what we're talking about here is pulp is getting absorbed into packaging, [00:14:00] and the amount of packaging that people have had to use. You do have a finite amount of available resources, and so much of that has been shifted into packaging because now people are operating with much larger Ecommerce engines, many more customers.

So, there's just not a lot of this print sitting around, and then you add in some of the geopolitical instabilities. You've got strikes in Finland that have been going on and on, and it doesn't seem like there's going to be any resolution to that soon. Europe's in crisis. North America is in crisis.

There's just not enough paper to go around, but this is the consequence of a rapid acceleration of an Ecommerce structure. It just simply is the by-product of that. There's nothing Arandell did, you know, that caused this crisis. There's nothing the mills did necessarily that caused this crisis. It's just simply you have a lot more demand coming through those [00:15:00] channels, and at the same time, I don't know if you guys have some of these stories, but the same time you have this sort of a steady, whisper and conversation in the retail industry, and some of the hottest brands were hearing from colleagues at other brands that they're starting a catalog, and they're starting some solo direct mail pieces to go along with that. Which seems a bit anachronistic, right? You know, here we are, at the time it was 2021, now 2022, and we're talking about a method of selling that has been here for well over a hundred years. Surely you guys are getting some of those same kind of stories.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah, definitely. I think one note that I would make on the supply chain and it was explained to me in a really great way, and it kind of like turned the light bulb on for me a little bit. So, if you look at basically, and when we can look at it from like a pulp standpoint, right?

So, [00:16:00] there's X amount of pulp that exists, and you can either take that pulp and make it into packaging, or you can take an and make it into a graphic grade. So, what's interesting though, is if you follow the trend of like print demand, right? It's sort of a linear equation where if it goes down by 4% a year annually, and that covers things like newspapers and all these different things, right? But what happens is if you take a paper machine and convert it to a packaging machine, you're not taking a linear amount that the demand is falling. You're taking huge chunks of available capacity out of the industry.

So, you're not saying, oh, we're going to just cut the paper by 3% to match the falling demand. You're taking massive chunks out of the supply. So, there's this imbalance in the equation, right? So, you have a supply that's going the opposite way in giant chunks of demand being taken out to facilitate the packaging needs. That kind of turned the light bulb on in my head cause I'm like, well, why don't they just [00:17:00] take a portion of it and can't really do it that way, so.

Tim Curtis: It's insane how much packaging has been required and, you know, you have other evolutions occurring, right? You have packaging, particularly food packaging, which is moving from plastics into biodegradable paper product and that demand is also placed on top of that and you have some big brands trying to do this, trying to get commitments from some of those various same mills, just, you know, can we make this switch? So, yeah it really is sort of a bit of a perfect storm, but it's all a part of this landscape. It's all a part of this landscape, but I think people who maybe are not familiar with print or not realizing just how successful people are being with print right now. I would say definitively, we are seeing you know, response rates and contribution at levels I'm not really sure I've ever seen before. Certainly, [00:18:00] from, you know, my colleagues in the industry who are older, they have seen, you know, going back a couple of decades, but I've not seen this level of success. So, it's just interesting to see it, you know, and hear a little bit from your perspective being someone who you know, is really putting ink to paper for so many of these clients.

So, I was referencing in our lead-up The Wall Street Journal article this last Saturday and the article was entitled, Inside Facebook's 10 Billion, with a B, Breakup with Advertisers. We talked a little bit about this landscape and what's transpiring is brands beginning to see a degradation in performance. In particularly, they're seeing it in the Facebook, Instagram area of social, and a lot of that is tied to privacy changes. Apple's move very, very aggressively to shut [00:19:00] down the sharing of information and the advertising is much more imprecise than it was, and so brands are seeing numbers just crater.

Apple has, in this move for privacy, they have dealt a $10 billion blow to Facebook in a relatively short amount of time. This is just the beginning. Google's gonna follow suit with Android and it's just a matter of time for all these things. Are you guys hearing anything like that from your clients? I know you're probably having more print-centric conversations with clients, but what are you hearing them say?

Jake Hoffman: It's interesting because I think what you said, they are print-centric conversations, but the reason why we're talking about print is because of all the things that you just listed. So, you've got brands that have historically relied on Facebook, Instagram to generate new business. Just because Apple comes out with a new privacy policy doesn't mean that that changes the amount of new customers that they need, you [00:20:00] know, the new revenue, things like that. They're kind of like, well, where else can we turn?

Tim Curtis: Where else go?

Jake Hoffman: Yeah. Where else do we go, and it seems like a lot of people are turning to print and you cited that earlier too. I'm seeing historic level rates of performance in print. Again, the real challenge and the real sort of struggle that we deal with is, we have customers coming to us like, hey, we want to grow our print volume by 40 percent because of the Facebook thing and all these other things, and it's like, well, we're not infinitely scalable, right? I mean, the real shame, and again I don't pretend to know or have the answer to this, but print has to figure out a way to become scalable. It just does. You're going to basically be faced with, well, no marketers gonna want to slash their budget. So, then they're just going to reallocate the funds back into digital, which isn't getting them what they want. So, yeah, it's a bit of a vicious cycle right now for sure.

Erik Martinez: I mean, I've been having this conversation with a number of clients and one of the things we're trying to do [00:21:00] with a couple of our multichannel, very diversified clients is take their print program and make it a lot more strategic. I don't know as much about some of these new brands that Tim's team is working with, but I can tell you the brands that I'm working with now, one of the beautiful things about print has always been at segmentation capability.

Jake Hoffman: Correct.

Erik Martinez: Digital was really behind on that capability until the last four or five years, and now you can hyper-target anything. So I feel like the way to scale your print today is really more about segmentation and targeting within your own files. Very similar to how we do it in a digital world.

What I'm seeing is when we look at the data, and Tim probably has more of this than I do, but when we look at that relationship between a print and digital buyer and where they overlap, [00:22:00] we see huge performance gains. Lifetime value. We see higher frequencies, higher AOVs, longer retention versus the siloed, you know, the people who don't interact as much, or at least that we can't identify.

We feel like everybody is getting some kind of digital touch. It's just a matter of how much and what their preferences and purchasing. That digital-only customer, that group of people is really hard to retain because they have so many dang options.

From a brand perspective though, the other thing that's driving all of this, so going back to the scalability thing, is as the cost of print goes, it's still not going up at the rate, and Tim and I've talked about this, it's not going up at the rate that your digital costs are going up.

Tim Curtis: Not anywhere near it.

Erik Martinez: Not anywhere near it. So, we recently [00:23:00] have been working on a two, this has been going on for about two years with one of our clients. Started out as a lifetime values project. We turned it into an ROI project, which I knew would end up leading to an attribution project. Okay, and the problem with attribution, as you know, is a set of assumptions. The data tells you only a part of the story, but you have to filter it through different views, but one of the really crystal clear things that we see is the group of people that get catalogs and come in through a paid search channel, they're actually driving less and less ROI as a percentage against any other group. Think about that. Google's over here saying, Hey, spend more money with us, and oh, by the way, we're going to automate everything, so you're going to have to spend more money with us in order to get better performance.

Tim Curtis: And you won't have visibility. [00:24:00] Yeah.

Erik Martinez: You won't have visibility. Yet, we're seeing decreased ROI on that overlapping group of people, because the costs are going up at a skyrocket, and let's be honest, they're driving a ton of people in.

The nice part about print, even though the cost may be going up, I can really target exactly who I want to reach. I know how often they spent money with me. I know what the probability of them spending money with me again and I have complete control over that budget. So, I think, doing more print today is probably not real practical cause you can't get the paper anyways, but we can do more with our print by mining our databases more effectively, and what we've got to do is bring those things together.

Alex Krupski: I think what I'd add to that too, If I could, is today's consumers are smarter and more savvy than they've ever been too. Which I think definitely translates to declining digital ROI, I mean, ultimately. I'm not here to bash [00:25:00] digital. I still love digital, but today's consumers know to go right past lot ads. They know exactly what they look like. That's, I think, where digital needs to adapt a little bit better as well is, not hide the information because we're all aware of privacy and things like that, but they need to make it more engaging.

Erik Martinez: Well, it's kinda funny that you said that. Just spent the last couple of days at a client and we were talking about the concept of hyper-targeting. This particular brand is a brick-and-mortar retail brand first. They built a really nice direct-to-consumer business. Their largest retail store and their direct-to-consumer business are about the same size, but the direct-to-consumer only represents 20%, whatever that number is for them. I know what it is. I just can't say, but we were talking about how do you approach the market? Do I go and hyper-target everything down to these teeny tiny audiences. I may be getting exactly the right five people, but five people isn't [00:26:00] scalable.

Where print, I can take that five people and I could probably expand that audience and then I can contact them on a regular basis. The only digital medium that you can regularly do that with, well, you can do this in a number of different ways, but the most common one is email marketing, right? It's got the most commonality with what we do on the print side. So, my argument to them was you really need to promote your brand and you need to promote your brand in the two or three, maybe four channels. where your customers primarily are and print is a participant in that process.

Jake Hoffman: I can't disagree with anything you just said.

Alex Krupski: I think it's always, more arrows in the quiver, right? I always say that one. The more channels that you're present on and the more channels that you're marketing to people on, ultimately, the more effective you're going to be. Print, just like social, just like email, just like your website, just like a commercial on TV, is [00:27:00] a channel for you to market on it. It's another arrow in the quiver. It's another way for you to reach out to people you might not have before.

Erik Martinez: Do you think that print being one of the quote traditional channels, and print is a lot of different things. We're very familiar with catalog, but there's lots of great postcard programs, and tri-fold programs, and you know, specialty mailers, and saturation mailers. There's lots of cool things that can be done in the print medium. Do you think that the traditional medias will also continue to see a resurgence? So, we're talking about print specifically, but I'm thinking of above and beyond that.

Alex Krupski: I think you potentially could and what that ultimately looks like. I'm not sure, but I think the reason that print is seeing this resurgence, and especially with COVID and the education of consumers in the marketplace, but it's that they can view it at their own leisure, ultimately, and I think the data points to that as well. That when people have the opportunity, when they get a piece of mail or a [00:28:00] catalog or anything, you know, it's not in their face, it's not in their personal space. It's, yeah, I might set some my table for a week or two, but eventually, I'm going to have to look at it and throw it away purposefully, whereas you can just scroll right past an ad on Instagram or anything else. So, I think the fact that you can view it when you choose to, I think it's huge for people, and the data points to that.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, just going to say a couple of things. When I look at clients who are hitting on all cylinders. They're really performing well. They're seeing a positive incremental contribution and return on their marketing efforts, and we're able to establish, for example, what organic percentages are, and then, what is the incremental lift from adding a channel, such as a catalog or a postcard or something like that to the mix, but the most successful programs have print in them. A lot of them are brands that you would never suspect would have print, [00:29:00] but they're viewing print as a very important brand piece.

It also drives sales. They're very serious about it driving sales, but they recognize that print is a digital champion. Print is not isolated from the digital. Print is actually, in specifically catalog format, is one of the strongest elements you can put in place for your Ecommerce ecosystem because the type of format of print is better suited for prospecting efforts. The type of content that's presented, you're better able to merchandise.

You know, the dirty little secret of digital is it's still largely a product detail page world. In other words, you're looking at one product. Yes, you have suggestions across the bottom, but it's largely a product detail page world. Print blows that up, and when you look at the lifetime value, as Erik alluded to that earlier, you do see some of these channels, the [00:30:00] PPC and particularly in the shopping, they're very fickle customers. They come and they go. They're not built on longevity.

So, yes those channels form an important part of a brand's ecosystem, and we're not here to say it doesn't, but you do have to understand the lifetime value and the contribution. Email is always at the top when it comes to lifetime value. The challenge for email is it's not scalable. You can't just infinitely scale your email program. Email's a tough one. You really have to work on email to bring people in and to lower that churn rate. Print, you still have some scalability. Now, if we were talking two years ago, you'd have infinite number of scalability.

Jake Hoffman: Right.

Tim Curtis: You know, now it's a little pressed, right, but when we're at the point, and this is I'm going back to this article, I actually laughed out loud when I read this line, Facebook or Meta, as they're now calling themselves. I don't know if anybody's really following that, but that's what they're calling themselves now. Their [00:31:00] position is trying to encourage customers to opt into data sharing. Let me know how that works out for them. It just blows my mind. Facebook built their empire on knowing intimate details about everything about everyone. They were completely unchecked. Google for the same part. all of that's been fueling their algorithms. Don't let them tell you it's not.

Then all of a sudden Apple comes along and makes the intelligent tracking prevention and absolutely changes the game and has dealt a body blow to the digital advertising industry. When you talk to them behind closed doors, they're all concerned. There's not a lot of solutions that they can put in place that can mitigate the damage that the move for privacy has come from, and this privacy, yes, part of it is fueled from privacy legislation around the country.

Now we've all heard of GDPR in the EU. We've all heard of the California Consumer Privacy Act. Now we have [00:32:00] the newly amended California Privacy Rights Act, which is going into place. You have it in Virginia. You have it in Colorado. A number of other states are moving it along in this legislative session, but at the end of the day, all of this stuff is moving forward because the privacy conversation has been largely centered around digital because the largest culprit has been digital.

With the advent of AI, there's a lot of concern about ethical questions related to how much information should someone have and how can they run that. On the print side, we're just not getting that. We don't get that level of detail, nor do we really want it for making decisions, but you can really perform well. you know, let's face it, this is going to be rough the next couple of years for brands to try to navigate through this.

Jake Hoffman: Definitely, and I think, you know, kind of touched on it earlier too, there is absolutely the ability to segment based on data and infrastructure [00:33:00] within your own customer list, whether that's first-party data, whether you're relying on third-party data, but the industry has been around so long, there isn't going to be this resurgence of legislation to come in and, because to your point, we're not getting to such a granular level where we're starting to understand intimate details about someone from a printing campaign standpoint. It's more about understanding sort of like cohorts, or segments, or preferences in sort of a broader stroke. Which to Erik's point, lets it become scalable, right? I'm not taking five people that I know intimately and mailing them five intimately different things.

One of the super interesting things about this, and this is one of the things that kind of always was a little bit head-scratching to me and it's one of the things that printers have sold for a long time, and it's a dirty little secret about this whole thing called variable data, right? We're going to create one-to-one pieces and that they're going to, it's never taken off. [00:34:00] It's interesting because that was going to be the big print technology revolution. We're going to be one-to-one and it's interesting because it's almost like we built the technology expecting customers and brands to just openly embrace it and just great we're going to use this. They're still versioning, right?

Erik Martinez: Jake, we, we did do it. You have your name and address on the label. We accomplished it.

Jake Hoffman: Completely variable. One-to-one piece.

Erik Martinez: Completely variable. Every single one is a different address.

Jake Hoffman: Yes, everyone is a different address, but with their unique birth name. It's like and that one kind of, I think demonstrates the larger, like how print is really looked at and valued at a brand level, right?

Tim Curtis: Yeah. You know, a lot of brands that have tried to get into some of that variable data, you know, they've realized that you know, you need to have uniformity of your creative [00:35:00] assets, as an example, and they have shot different pieces or different products, they've shot them differently and it looks like a mish-mash. So, then there's the practical aspect of when something can be done variably, oftentimes when you take a step back and look at it, it's off-brand or the presentation value suffers, and so you just don't see the performance lift.

Erik Martinez: But don't you think that also translates to digital where you are hyper-targeting and it seems incredibly relevant, but it's also incredibly creepy?

Alex Krupski: I was just going to say that.

Erik Martinez: It's incredibly creepy. We're not going to talk politics in the big sense, but the way politicians advertise to their various audiences, you can see that hyper-targeting and the inconsistency in message from one target to the next. Like, if you really rolled up all the messages, you can't do [00:36:00] it, that inconsistency. You can do it to a certain extent because that's all people want to hear is what they want to hear, But when we're advertising and we're trying to deliver value to our customers, we can't really be that inconsistent. We have to define who we are.

Jake Hoffman: That's such a great point, and I think to Tim's earlier point, you know, talking about like a catalog. To me, that's one of the greatest mediums to tell your brand story, right? Here is 24 to 32 pages where you can actually lay out exactly what your brand, it's almost here's your truth. Here's my brand truth. It's on these pages and you're either going to associate with that and create a deep connection with that, or you're not. That's, I think, part of the reason why print as a medium, I would say has a certain loyalty that customers feel when they receive that type of work.

Erik Martinez: Do you guys know how many ads a day the average US consumer receives?

Alex Krupski: Is it [00:37:00] 52? Throwing it out there. More than that?

Jake Hoffman: I think it's like 1500.

Tim Curtis: I think it's 7000.

Erik Martinez: It is just over 6,000 different ads a day, and in some cases, they have measured up to 20,000 different ads a day. So, think about, and what print does differently than digital is that ad, once it's printed, it's the same thing. When put it on your kitchen table and you may ignore it for a little bit, but as you're walking by, you're seeing that cover and it hasn't changed on you, right? When you go to a website that is ad-driven, every single second something's changed, every single second. So, how do you build brand awareness when you're in the sea of constant change? How do you stand out? I think that's honestly one of the biggest challenges on [00:38:00] the digital side that where print has a distinct advantage. A distinct advantage in staying power versus any other medium that's out there.

Alex Krupski: And not to mention everybody's mailbox is less full than ever too.

Tim Curtis: You know, I put myself in the brand shoes every day, as I go about my work. You know, and so right now, what are they doing? They're shifting money into Google. They're shifting more money to Google. There's a question mark as to whether or not that return's going to be there. They are seeing those costs, as Erik alluded to earlier, they are seeing those costs rise quickly. I've had some clients who on, you know, key competitive brand terms and product terms have seen prices raise upwards of 180%. That's truly inflationary pricing and it's just not sustainable, right? You just can't do that.

So, they're peeling off. They're doing some test budgets. They're trying OTT. They're getting into television, seeing how that could play out. There's more targeting capabilities now [00:39:00] than ever. They're putting some money into Snap. They're putting some money into TikTok, Pinterest, as an example.

There may be some return. It's skeptical about some of those platforms. Some of them have a better digital system than others. A lot of brands are turning to Amazon to begin to fill that void because so much of the search, 70% now of the search begins on Amazon, not on Google or Bing So, you know, you're really talking about the rules of the game-changing and the challenges of operating in an Amazon environment are very well-documented. You know, you are essentially slowly writing your mortgage ownership over to Amazon every single year that you work with them. It's just the way it works.

So, yeah, I mean, brands are struggling with where to put those dollars, and when they hear colleagues in the industry talk about how well the print's performing for them, it does cause them to sit up and listen, and that's really, what's been driving all these [00:40:00] new players in the market. Just a ton of brands coming out of the woodwork, trying to start a print program.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah.

Tim Curtis: You know, what a time to do it, right?

Alex Krupski: know, what's always funny to me is, you know, obviously the, quickest way it seems to scale is just invest the money in some new advertising platform. What about reinvesting in your organic brand and taking advantage of free channels. Maybe hire a new team member or a few team members with some of those advertising dollars to just create organic content for you to slowly build that brand. I think that should be part of the conversation more often. I'm sure that it is. It is just funny to me that that doesn't seem to be the thing that people look at.

Erik Martinez: It's funny that you say that Alex because we have been doing some studies around this and the one thing I'm seeing, you just talked about those organic channels, those are the ones when you look at the ROI and the lifetime value, show the highest return, and yet they're the most ignored [00:41:00] within because they're hard. It's hard to optimize in those organic channels, but I think you're absolutely right. Invest in those places. Capture a little more of that ecosystem for yourself and widen your funnel.

Tim Curtis: Yeah.

Alex Krupski: It takes a hell of a lot of patience.

Tim Curtis: Take some of those dollars, put it into SEO. Put it into new content that feels SEO. Have a technical audit of your site done. Really begin to do the work, and Erik you're exactly right, it takes effort. We're at a point where people tend to fold those tents pretty quickly when they run up against any kind of resistance or it's going to be hard to do, and man now SEO and that organic is more of that long-term play, but you know, your point, that traffic coming in on organic just far outperforms, you know, those quick kids that you're getting in from your traditional paid media sources.

Erik Martinez: And just so everybody knows, SEO isn't just limited to Google or Bing. Today, lots of platforms need optimization. [00:42:00] So, your social channels play a factor in there, right? You can go and optimize those and you don't have to spend a dime to do it. You can build forums. You can do things like what we're doing, right? You can educate your audience or your customers about what you're really good at. There are lots of really cool organic channels and I think that's a fantastic point that people should be investing in themselves. If you have nowhere else to put your money, invest in those long-term strategic things that build the platform of your brand over a long period of time and you'll get dividend after dividend. The brands who do it, have a lot of staying power, whether they be big or small.

Tim Curtis: I'm curious, you guys are so close to a lot of this stuff within print and where things are going, what's your prognostication, or what's your forecast of print for the next 12 trailing months? What do you see happening?

Jake Hoffman: [00:43:00] Based on our schedules, we still think it's going to be a rocket ship. We don't foresee anything significantly changing in the next 12 months. Even in 2023, I think we're still going to be because I think what's happening too, is some of those whispered conversations between retail brands are starting to get a little bit louder and a little bit louder.

It's interesting, right? Here's sort of the other thing that I think is interesting to experience is a lot of first-time direct mail customers, whether that be a postcard, whether that be a tri-fold, whether that be a catalog, right? The majority of first-time print buyers, once they set up a campaign correctly and it's running, they want to expand it immediately. Meaning you could have one client that's going to do one job, but then they get the results of that and then they want to do four jobs a year, and then the four jobs become eight jobs a year, and then they want to experiment with different formats and things like that. So, there's sort of [00:44:00] this interesting thing where, and you touched on it, right? You've got all of these new brands coming into print. Well, if 90% of them continue, 95% of them continue, but they just keep expanding.

Alex Krupski: It's funny how, at least within Arandell, our sales pitch, when I started just a few years ago was, due to consolidation in the marketplace amongst our competitors was, here's what we can do for you, and here's what you're getting on top of it. Let's sell as much as we can to two years later, whoa, whoa, whoa, we can't exactly do that. Well, we're going to try and do what we can do to the paper shortage and everything. I think it's just another example of how quick the environment can change even for print in just a few years due to COVID and other reasons as well. It's just funny to me and looking back. Your guys' conversation reminded me of that, about what we were trying to do with our own message and how that needed to change so quickly in such a short time.

Erik Martinez: So, as we start to just wrap up this [00:45:00] conversation, I'm just curious, if a customer came to you today and said, hey, we would like to start a print program. We've been a digital-only agency, or we were born in Amazon, whatever that story is. What's your advice? What do you tell them about how to get started? That's part one of the question. Part two is for those who've been in print for a really long time, what do you tell them as well?

Jake Hoffman: Yeah. So, if it's a new customer, there's probably three things that I always do. One is, what's your data, right? What is the database with which we're going to be using to determine this campaign? Is it just an email list and then we're appending name and address is? Do you have a name and address? What does that look like cause if you don't get that right, it doesn't matter what we print, how well we print it, how good it looks, how much thought goes into the creative. If it's not going to the right people [00:46:00] or it doesn't get there at all, no one's going to buy. So, I think that one of the first foundational pieces is understanding, okay, what are we using, right? Or what criteria are we using from a data perspective to determine who we are and aren't mailing to? We're not going to go back and mail your customers from a decade ago. That doesn't make sense. So, that's kind of, I think, the starting point.

The second thing that I always try to get them thinking about is what is the point of this campaign? Are you trying to do acquisition? Are you trying to just grow brand awareness? What is the marketing function that you want the catalog or direct mail piece to play into your mix because how we target what the creative looks like is going to be different depending on what segments we're trying to go after?

And then the last thing is always trying to set the expectation that here's what you can expect in terms of results in a timeline because a lot of times, I think first-time print customers, right? They're thinking they're going to [00:47:00] drop something in the mail and it's just going to go bananas and then they're just going to come back a month later and order another 500,000 pieces, and we're going to mail that and it's going to keep scaling. So, some of it is just managing the expectation to say that catalog or direct mail print has a longer tail, so your sales cycle was going to be longer.

Eighty percent of the transactions are going to happen within the first 30 days, and then you kind of manage that, and some of the segments we're going to mail are going to perform, some of them aren't. We're going to take those learnings and continually refine them. So, it's a little bit of like setting the foundation to say, okay, here's where we need to start, but also managing the expectation to say here's what we can expect as a starting point and we'll build from there.

Alex Krupski: So, a little bit of patience because you're saying the first 30 days where they're expecting digital channel, the first 30 seconds.

Erik Martinez: What you mean you can't step up to the plate and hit four home runs on your first four at bats in the major leagues? Is that what you're saying?

Jake Hoffman: I mean, it's been done. It's been [00:48:00] done.

Erik Martinez: That's kinda crazy. If someone does that this year, I am buying everybody a round a beer.

Jake Hoffman: Well, and yeah, and I think the other thing too, there's a lot of learning, and so a lot of my responsibility I feel like is like a Sherpa. Like we're going to climb this mountain together, but you should really consider following in the expert's footsteps. Meaning like you don't have to make the mistakes that I know you're going to make because we can avoid those. So, part of it is even like picking sizes, right? Historically, what we've done is send a hundred thousand samples to someone. They're not thinking how do we optimize a sheet and what's a good size and what's going to mail it effectively and efficiently and so there's all these things and I think some of it is you want to take as many of the decisions out of it as possible, so it's just focusing on the creative, focusing on the data. Leave us to execute is I think the appropriate step, and then again, as you get more and more under your belt, then I feel much more comfortable if you want to change your format a little bit if you want to change creative, if [00:49:00] you have an understanding of mailable name and address and the processes that go into making sure that it's the rule, but out of the gate, trust your print partner.

Erik Martinez: Crawl, walk, run is one of the phrases I love to use.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, cause they don't have the internal knowledge pool. You have to educate them on the entire cycle because there's no context for them when they're coming into print, all these new brands.

Jake Hoffman: Not even a little bit. Tim, I know you're familiar with a web retargeting solution, and that I think is a really good starting point. It's something I've used quite extensively when first-time mailers are coming to me and saying, Hey, how do I get started?

The reason why I really like that is it's very programmatic in nature. Once it's set up, it's kind of set up, and then it's tweaking, right? There's not a very intensive creative process from the product that we're using. The data's kind of already being scraped and managed for them. They're not pulling their lists. They're not doing segmentation, things like that it's already being done. So, [00:50:00] that is a solution that I've used very frequently in bridging that digital to print gap.

It's a good way to get someone in without giving them everything, and then from there scaling up. There's like the, okay, we can start there, moving to like a self-mailer, whether that's a tri-fold double gate. And then to me sort of like, okay, you've grown up a little bit, crawl, walk, run, right? Running is when, okay, now we're going to do a fully-fledged catalog. What does that look like? The investment dollars are obviously going to be significantly more, timelines are longer, creative processes are more intensive. So, yeah.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, we do something very similar. We do have a lot of people and we're having a lot of brands come to us right now and they want to start with the big piece. Let's go, you know? I think almost every client, we have a top of funnel approach, which is typically that larger catalog format, and then we have the bottom of funnel conversion approach, which is really going to be that programmatic option. Yeah, we manage those very closely, whether we're putting [00:51:00] some advanced, more sophisticated elements into that that will also feed into their digital programs.

So, it's a well-oiled machine that can work, but it just takes a little bit of time and a lot of education to get them started, but the programmatic option is a great one to get started if they need to get their toe wet. That's probably the best way to explain that.

Erik Martinez: All right. Well, there was a second part to that question, which was, what do you tell your existing clients today?

Jake Hoffman: Refine. I think what happens is typically brands get into, hey, this is working, so we're just going to keep doing this and not looking at okay, how do we segment? How do we continue to evolve? How do we create unique print offerings? How do we keep AB testing? Things like that, and then I think what typically happens is you'll have a long-time successful cataloger do the same thing for three years and then they slowly start to see response rates decline. So, then they [00:52:00] slowly start to cut circ and then it just becomes this vicious, cycle kind of race to the bottom, and then all of a sudden they cut their catalog program and then their sales plummet, and then, it's how do you rebuild that backup.

Erik Martinez: Partially because they've never measured the halo effect of their catalog.

Tim Curtis: No, no, never.

Jake Hoffman: A thousand percent, yes.

Tim Curtis: I've seen companies close. We've had clients close that have not measured that halo effect and have made drastic changes to their media mix and they couldn't overcome the impact of those poor decisions. It's real.

Jake Hoffman: We all know the major examples, right, of catalogers that all of a sudden cut their catalog program and they're filing for Chapter 11. There's a lot of examples of that, but...

Erik Martinez: Is there any last thought that you Jake or Alex would like to leave the audience with before we conclude our conversation?

Alex Krupski: No, I can't really think of any. I think we covered a lot. I just wanted to thank you guys again. Jake, I don't know if you have anything, but [00:53:00] I appreciate being on the show, to begin with.

Jake Hoffman: No, this was awesome. I think it was a great conversation when we can kind of cross different disciplines and marketing mixes and it's always awesome to get your guys' perspective on, you know, what we're doing and vice versa. So, no, I just thank you for the opportunity and it's been a great conversation. So, hopefully, it continues.

Alex Krupski: I felt like I got back to my digital roots for a second there too. It's always nice to go back.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, you did. There was a little a little twinkle in your eye.

Erik Martinez: Oh, yeah, that's what that was about.

Tim Curtis: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: Well guys, thank you so much for coming on. I think this was a very helpful conversation and honestly, I think the biggest challenge for all of our brands is to have a healthy mix of media options that they're considering and using, and not just pouring all their money into Google or pouring all their money into Amazon, or pouring all their money into print. Quite frankly, that's not a strategy that works.

Jake Hoffman: I wouldn't recommend that strategy either.

Erik Martinez: You've got to have a healthy mix of [00:54:00] these different media in order to maintain success. So, thanks again for coming on the show. We appreciate it. I'm Erik Martinez from Blue Tangerine.

Tim Curtis: And I'm Tim Curtis from CohereOne.

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