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Digital Velocity Podcast Hosted by Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez

23.5 Bonus Episode: Millennials in Print Podcast Interview - Erik Martinez and Tim Curtis

In this bonus episode, Alex Krupski and Jake Hoffman of the Millennials in Print Podcast, chat with Tim and Erik about the current trends in digital marketing, the interoperability between print and digital marketing, and how brands can accommodate print growth in the current market.


Alex Krupski: [00:00:00] Hey everybody. Welcome to another episode of the Millennials in Print Podcast. I am again, Alex Krupski joined by my cohost, Jake Hoffman. Today we have a special episode. A two for one special, as a matter of fact, um, we have Tim Curtis and Erik Martinez on the show today. Tim is the President/CEO of CohereOne and Erik Martinez is the Executive Vice President over at Blue Tangerine Solutions. Together they host the Digital Velocity Podcast, which Jake and I were on pretty recently.

Guys, I don't wanna take too much away from you. We kind of just kind of dive in right away with background and all that sort of stuff. Whoever wants to go first. Would love to hear more about the background for our audience and kind of how you got into where you're at right now,

Tim Curtis: All right, I'll do it. You know, I actually, going back all the way to high school, I took an aptitude test that when the aptitude test came back, I was exactly 50% left brain, 50% right brain, and I remember the counselors that were giving a test, when we went in for [00:01:00] our individual 101. They said, well, you don't really fit into any category, except there's this category here called direct marketing. Do you know anything about it? So, that was my initial entree into direct marketing.

I took a look at it, decided I wanted to be a marketing major when I got to college, and really dove head first into marketing. I graduated, uh, with a degree in international marketing. Started working in global marketing and ran country operations at a few different countries. Came back. Was in some pretty high roles for a direct marketer.

I was actually over both digital and direct marketing. So, I didn't know that you're supposed to pick one or the other. So, I actually did both. Uh, which I've done throughout my career. You know, over the course of time between agency side and client side, I was recruited to come to CohereOne, and that was six, seven years ago now, so, I've been at CohereOne. We've just been steadily growing ever since. We've got good days. We're really enjoying[00:02:00] the growth and what the future looks like for us. So, that's kind of my journey.

Erik Martinez: For me, I, uh, actually got started in direct marketing as an intern in college. So, I got this great internship right outta high school with a company called Current that is still based in Colorado Springs. Did five summers of internship with them, and then graduated right into the 1993, yes I'm dating myself, 1993 recession, and when that happened, I had to find a job and I got lucky, and one of the people I had worked for at Current had moved on to a company up in upstate New York. Got my first direct marketing job for a little catalog, direct to consumer business that was doing print address labels and things like that through the mail. Very quickly kind of moved on into another role with a company called Direct Marketing Technology.

So, for those of you that are long time catalog people, [00:03:00] you might remember Direct Marketing Technology, but they were kind of the hot service bureau back in the nineties and, uh, learned a lot about data processing and, you know, house file cleanup and all that great stuff. Then got an opportunity to work for a cataloger down in Florida.

That was back in the days where putting 80 million books in the mail wasn't a big deal. So, I spent some time doing that, and then moved on to another catalog in the, in the Chicago region. Which is actually where I started my digital marketing career as well. I ran their circulation program and started digital marketing, and that's kind of how I've gotten to where I was.

So, about 10 years ago, I struck out on my own with some help of a consultant friend. Built my own little direct marketing, digital marketing agency. Today, I'm the Co-owner and Executive Vice President for Blue Tangerine, and it's been a very interesting journey.

Met Tim [00:04:00] about, I don't know, eight, nine years ago. He was a client of mine and we worked together. So, we've had a lot of fun and stress all along the way in this journey. So, got a lot of direct mail experience going back a long time.

Jake Hoffman: So, it sounds like Tim is one of very few people on the planet that actually followed their aptitude test.

Tim Curtis: I, I am. I'm like direct ahead. I created a spreadsheet that afternoon of classes I was taking,so.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah. I'm pretty sure mine was like a garbage man was like my number one pick, so.

Tim Curtis: That's awesome.

Alex Krupski: Isn't it funny how you end up in marketing though? I mean, for me it was like.

Jake Hoffman: All roads.

Alex Krupski: Yeah. For me, it was like, I met a woman whose son worked for Red Bull and I'm like, oh, marketing sounds cool. I was like in eighth grade.

Jake Hoffman: Typically, if you're marketing, it's usually like a Red Bull type of scenario. That's where most marketers get their start. Well, one of the things that's obviously interesting listening to you guys' background is it seems like you've always kind of had this like combination a little bit. [00:05:00] Right? So, there's been this like, you got this direct in terms of like a printed piece catalog, cir planning, things like that, and this digital piece. Right? Which is really now sort of, you know, I would say in the last couple years has been that's what everyone's doing. Right? And it used to be okay, there's digital versus print, and now it seems like those have kind of aligned. So, you guys are kind of ahead of the curve on that trend at least.

Tim Curtis: Fortunately. It all sort of happened organically. I actually also worked in creative and so I really had a chance to leverage, you know, both sides of the brain. You know, at the time, if you really think about going back 15 years, things were siloed, but in the early days, you know, it was kind of an all hands on deck. Everybody was doing everything.

Jake Hoffman: Interesting.

Tim Curtis: And I just decided to keep doing that. Yeah.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. I think for me it was I always stuck to the data side. I really liked numbers. I really liked pushing bits and bites around. I'm not the creative one, like Tim is, but that digital marketing was kind of just an [00:06:00] evolution out of that technical background of moving data around is really how the first websites got built. Right?

Jake Hoffman: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: I was kind of sitting at the very beginning of that when I had a guy coding in his basement to build our first website. That's kind of how I got into the digital side because we built our first website and then I'm like, hey, let's try email marketing and you like pulled a list and put it in your Outlook, and hoped to God that some of it would get through. This is like the very first email campaign. Like, let's do an email campaign. How many do we have? Twenty-thousand. Okay. Drop it into Outlook, and it was like, oh, 20,000 emails in a regular Outlook in 2001 took like 20 hours to process. So, it was that kind of thing.

Alex Krupski: Yeah. You guys have really, you know, in just hearing about your background and seeing both your LinkedIn profiles, you've both really ran the [00:07:00] gamut of available jobs and positions in the marketing world. I mean, you both have the direct mail experience and digital just like Jake talked about. Is it more just following trends a little bit, or how did it just happened naturally. I mean, how did you get in to all that?

Tim Curtis: Well, this is my personal opinion, right? In my humble opinion. I've never felt like you could do marketing justice if you couldn't do either side because, you know, marketing is interrelated in ways, including the creative, in ways that we really can't always anticipate, and it's an art and a science.

If you don't understand the interaction interplay between the different channels, how a consumer may move between channels, you know, you may discover something, for example, on Instagram, and then leads you to the website. You could buy totally within social commerce, you could buy within TikTok, you could buy within Instagram. You know, I know I have.

For me, if you don't understand the interoperability and the interplay between all those, you're never gonna get to a point where you're gonna be able to [00:08:00] fully tackle issues like attribution or lifetime value because you simply don't know. For me, I had to have mastery over those issues, so that I could understand what was happening. So, it really, for me, was driven nothing more than, it was an unknown and I had to know it. That's how I ended up there. No grand scheme or anything like that.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. I don't think I had a grand scheme either, but it was kind of like, all this stuff was evolving and stuff needed to get done. The world was changing and it was changing very rapidly. Right. You know, it was about 2005, 2006, the internet back then, what we call Ecommerce today. The internet back then was just starting to make forays into the marketing side. Google had started to launch its ad platform. Social media was at the very, very beginning, right, and you are suddenly able to drive sales through channels other than your direct mail.

I grew up in a direct mail business. There was no broadcast [00:09:00] TV or broadcast radio. There was none of that big stuff. Right? The catalog was the main driver. So, all of a sudden we had the ability like, drive leads through paid search, and we had the ability to do retention with our email marketing programs. For me, it was more of like, this is the next thing, and it was all connected to the data, right? We all were connecting to our house files.

Tim, you work with a lot more of these internet pure plays, who they understand their data is really, really important, but they didn't necessarily have that vision of what that house file meant, and being able to control it, in the earlier days. I think today it's a very, very different world. Everybody kind of understands the value of that customer file and how powerful it can be when you have information about those customers, and you're able to use that information to build a campaign, target them, meet their needs and meet them where they are.

Alex Krupski: I think what you guys both [00:10:00] just talked about, the interoperability is such an interesting talking point because from my perspective, again, this is before I was in the industry, but it seemed like recession hits. Social media's blowing up. Direct mail and catalog space in general, took a defensive stance saying no it's direct mail versus digital, right, still more effective, all this stuff. Versus now I think the conversation is, well, it's another arrow in the quiver. It's another channel to be on, to kind of hit your ideal customer base. So, do you guys see that kind of same evolution, I guess, in the thinking between those two thoughts?

Tim Curtis: Um, it's gotten better, and I think if you go back and you look at digital marketing and traditional direct mail catalog Direct marketing. I think early on, the framework between the two sides was really established by the sales reps from both entities, and so you had SAS, you know, software sales people going after the, you know, what we would call sort of the [00:11:00] okay boomer aspect of print.

It was slow, it was cumbersome. It wasn't exact. Blah, blah, blah. You had printer sales folks who then reacted to them, and so it became an us versus them. Whereas, if you, if you go back and you take a look at the brands and people sitting in the brand seats. Yes, at the early days, you know, everything was fairies and unicorns and digital was gonna solve all of our issues. Right? There was no congestion. There was no noise with digital. The world was our oyster.

Well, reality is that wasn't the case. The reality is neurologically our brains form defense mechanisms to prevent us from being overwhelmed by digital stimuli that shut down efficacy to a great deal on, particularly the ad space became much harder to get a click. At the same time you had the direct mail side that wasn't always as sophisticated as it could be, and was at times wielding more of a blunt instrument rather than the [00:12:00] precision of a scalpel.

We got into this where it was back and forth. The informed set of chief marketing officers and senior vice presidents of marketing began to recognize that, you know what? When we start testing this out, one depends on the other. When you start to pull direct mail out, the halo effect of that is the digital comes down, and in some cases, some aspects of digital that are very, very costly come down. We've seen it as high as 72% drop when print is pulled out of the equation.

I have looked venture capitalist and angels in the face to say, if you do this, if you make these wholesale changes to your media mix without testing this, it will manifest itself in ways, both undesirable and unpleasant. In three instances, they closed. They went ahead with it and closed because the impact was so massive they couldn't turn it around. They lost hundreds of millions of dollars of their fun money. You know, the fun will carry on, but man, that is a black eye.

[00:13:00] It was all unnecessarily needlessly set up because it was sales reps from both sides that we're trying to position themselves for share of wallet when in the end, the brand needed both, but they needed to understand how to balance and leverage both to be effective. I continue to argue that we've gotta get outta that mindset. I tell every client. We come in now with our clients and a lot of them in a chief marketing officer type role, and I don't pitch digital decide. I'm a digital guy. I don't pitch digital decide, but I know how far I can run with it and where that dropoff is. When you have that knowledge, then you can make it a much more amicable relationship between the two sides.

Erik Martinez: I'm approaching it with our clients a little bit differently. Only from a standpoint that I have some clients who are historical long time catalog. The good news is they believe in the medium. What they don't know is how much do we really need, and so we've been doing a lot of testing and figuring out, hey, do I need as much [00:14:00] as I once did? Do I need as many pages? Do I need as many contacts? Where is that line that I can show you? Like, hey, we can redeploy some of your money to invest in new growth initiatives while not hurting the overall brand.

That's the key. I think what Tim's alluding to is that there are some businesses and there are some big names that just stopped mailing their catalogs and they took an immediate plummeting. They're going, what? Right, but if you do it really scientifically. You take your time and your patient and you understand what those lifts are, then you can find an exact role, and that role is gonna continue to evolve.

I know on the circulation side, not saying this is true today, but it was once true that a lot of people tried to automate their circulation. I'm always gonna mail my 24-month house file, and then I'm gonna reactivate my 36 to 48-month buyers with a special [00:15:00] piece every other mailing. And that's what we did, and there was no room for, well, how does that model need to change to meet today's needs?

I believe in a little more of a fluid circulation approach where you're analyzing your results as you're going along and saying, okay, this is what I need to do. Now, if I have got a campaign, okay. I may put some rules in around that campaign because I have specific objectives, but then I'm gonna analyze it and look at it and go, did that work and make another adjustment.

And I think today more and more people are doing that, but the implication is there's a lot more data processing. There's a lot more analysis that has to go on. There's a lot more data that you have to bring in from the outside to look at how's the digital influencing some of that activity as well? It's a lot more complicated than it used to be, but then that effect is you can get your clients into a really good spot. You can [00:16:00] get your mailers into a really good spot where they're mailing effectively and they're using whatever funds that they might be saving towards other growth initiatives.

Jake Hoffman: This is such an important conversation. I'm like trying not to add anything, cuz this is just so important. One thing I did want to talk about a little bit, Tim, and it kind of came from you. Do you think part of potentially the challenge or, you know, when you're talking about the sales influence on sort of the process and you look at what you would typically consider a direct mail salesperson. Right? I think we might have the same sort of vision of who that person is.

Tim Curtis: We probably do,

Jake Hoffman: Do you think that is gonna be changing here the next five, seven years with a lot of potentially more, I would say people being put in sales positions that have more of a background either in the digital side, that have maybe a more robust marketing knowledge. Right? So, a lot of what I would say the [00:17:00] traditional salesperson looks like, and this is true of our organization too. They're not coming in with a marketing background.

For them, I think it's a little bit of a scary unknown. Hey, if we start talking about digital while all of a sudden, we're not making what we're making. Right. Or, you know, things like that. So, do you kind of foresee that as potentially resolving some of it?

Tim Curtis: Interesting. In the last two weeks, I mentioned to you guys, I was at the Imaging Network Group Conference last week in Tucson. So, I was speaking and I remember just kind of randomly, and had mentioned something in passing and I was talking about direct mail and some of these channels, and I said something about the impact of direct mail and what happens when you mail or don't mail. And I started giving some percentages in terms of drop or, you know, when you pull direct mail out versus adding it, and this room, primarily it was sales executives and CEOs.

All of the sudden, these heads all went down and they were scribbling or they were typing, and I was like, uh, okay. Like, I need to stop here for a second, and then I started to go on and [00:18:00] one guy was like, hold on, hold on, wait up, wait up, go back, say that again. Out just a couple sentences, what I'm finding is I am being pulled in by different printers all around the country. I mean, actually internationally as well, to go in and speak to their sales team in terms of the training. Part of it's to attack some of these very, very, very deep issues.

We set up our sales teams, oftentimes with incentivization, to grab that share of wallet. The challenge is when we set up sometimes, we set up those systems, they're great. They work. That's necessary for the business, but it creates that conflict because they're fighting for a share of wallet, and so there's not really an impetus for them to understand the digital side.

So, we can be bringing them in with a little more experience, but as long as we're incentivizing them to grab that share of wallet, and it is a share of wallet conversation, I'm not gonna argue. There's a marketing budget. It has to be split. Right? The more that we get a chance to go out and speak to these sales teams, I'm agnostic on printers. I'll speak to anybody. They're bringing me in all over the place.

[00:19:00] I also chair privacy committee in Washington DC for the ACMA. So, we're shaping federal privacy legislation. We're keeping our pulse on everything that's happening with all the states and that just general knowledge combined with knowledge of the digital side. That training aspect for these salespeople will probably be more impactful than bringing in a general bit of knowledge about digital from a previous work experience.

We are gonna have to work harder. You know, and I know a lot of printers are trying to add some service sets where they're maybe bringing in a little bit of a digital component, to sort of splash things up. I, I don't know that that's necessarily going to work out super well for people, but, it's sort of the appearance of, you know, hey, we're agnostic, media agnostic,

Alex Krupski: It'd be like an SEO company buying a digital press.

Jake Hoffman: Run it.

Erik Martinez: What's wrong with that, Alex?

Jake Hoffman: There goes, there goes Erik's business plan. Way to go Al.

Erik Martinez: Dang it.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, exactly

Jake Hoffman: Well, and one of the things, interestingly enough, too, that Erik was kind of talking about where you were saying, they're trying to automate it, right? [00:20:00] Like, we're gonna do this. We're gonna mail 36-month file. It's gonna go great. Quarterly, we're gonna mail our 20, you know, where it's just programmatic, and what's interesting is I feel like I look at a sales opportunity differently.

Someone will come in and say, we're gonna drop 300,000 in the mail. Right, and you go to their customer file and you're like, okay, well, there's about 50,000 names that you could, however the math shakes out. How I've always looked at it is, the more successful that we can make them in the short term. So,, getting them at the right starting point with the right mix, with the right kind of way, to understand their attribution, with their digital channels, that's gonna make them inherently more successful and valuable in the long term.

Right. Because I think a lot of times what happens and it's, again, going back to your share of wallet, conversation. If I can sell someone half a million catalogs tomorrow, it doesn't always behoove someone to think about well, I'll just do that, and then they'll do it one time and then it they'll never do print again, cuz they didn't get the [00:21:00] results that they wanted, and you know, then it's just kind of a domino effect, and then you gotta fill that with the next one.

Or how I think I try to look at it is okay. What if I take a customer, grow them strategically over time, and all of a sudden they are at half a million, but they're able to sustain it and there's LTV and that whole other component then comes into play.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. And think about it Jake, put yourself in a position of a salesperson and you're talking to a brand about, expanding opportunities for print. Sit in that role for a second. How much more powerful is it when you're able to speak to the client's full funnel? Understanding the different media channels where digital plays in the funnel, the top of funnel awareness, the bottom of funnel conversion. Where the challenges right now in the cookieless space world. Basically the destruction of the targeting ability that iOS, Apple intelligent tracking preventions brought along.

When you're able to intelligently talk about print and the different forms of print mm-hmm and how that can fit to offset what the client has experienced [00:22:00] during COVID. Clients in some of the competitive categories had keywords jump up, up to 180% in terms of cost. You don't hear that talked a lot about, unless you were at the client and then they were talking a whole lot about it.

Yes. Print's had a ton of price increases, but it hasn't been 180% and it didn't happen overnight. So, we forget, some of these things that happen on the digital side. When you can lovingly and sweetly talk about digital and knowing its place and where it fits in the funnel, you realize it does play a very, very, very valuable role, but guess what? Here's where print can set in, and the two of them together, one plus one equals three. It's so much more powerful and you make such a strong impression and you're not that antagonizing voice in front of that brand that's doing an us versus them.

It's so much more powerful, but the only way to unlock that is education and to stay on top of some of these case studies. We do them all the time, and shame on us, we don't always, think to help others understand how to interpret those, but, that's why it's so, to me, is why it's so much more powerful, to be in [00:23:00] that sort of position and to understand what's exactly happening on the digital side for those people.


Erik Martinez: I think some of that happens though, Tim. I mean, just looking at some of the businesses we work with. Their marketing department structure also from a corporate structure standpoint, doesn't lend itself to this really, truly multichannel world. So, I was listening to a podcast and I'm forgetting which one now, but they were talking about these,

Tim Curtis: Probably Millennials in Print. Probably.

Jake Hoffman: Probably

Alex Krupski: Probably.

Erik Martinez: It probably was.

Tim Curtis: Shameless plug.

Erik Martinez: Um, it was actually in a very different context, but the key element there was that if you analyze your digital financials based on old direct mail metrics, your digital financials aren't gonna work. The flip is true. If you analyze your direct mail financials on digital only metrics [00:24:00] that doesn't work either. So, you have to have this framework and you have to have a structure in your organization for one managing all these programs and two then financially reporting what's actually happening.

Part of the problem that we're seeing is that the marketing people may get it, but the financial operations within the organization don't support it, and so you still get this battle because financially the CMO still has to report to a CFO and a president and a board that still looking at their numbers in a very isolated way. Whether they're digital first or they're direct mail first. So, I think that's one of the problems that we have to structurally overcome in the industry.

Alex Krupski: I have a question on that though. So, when you're looking, and you guys are obviously well versed at, you know, okay, we're gonna take someone and we're gonna set them up with the framework and attribution and things like that, are you going high? A lot of times what I get [00:25:00] on the print side is to say like, okay, you know, our digital is X amount. We're gonna spend X amount on print and then that's like set and then that's the whole year, and then they're gonna say, okay, well we have, you know, we're gonna do whatever we can to hit the X, you know, the a hundred thousand that our budget is because if we don't use it, then we're gonna lose it kind of thing.

So when you guys look at it, are you guys looking at it as like higher up to say, okay, our cost of acquisition is X right across all channels? Or are you diving into each one? Like, how are you thinking about that? You're calling it a framework. Is it like, you're just going high enough up or you're going into each channel and then rolling it up. How are you guys looking at it?

Tim Curtis: As detailed as possible in each channel to pull all costs together, so you know exactly what you're spending in each channel. That's the first thing. You have to pull in the cost. You can't make any broad based assumptions. The reason that most clients are in the condition they're in is because they've made broad based assumption.

So, you've gotta get down to exactly what you're spending in each channel, and [00:26:00] then the hard work begins because then you have to begin setting up the test to determine what the organic percentages are. When we figure this out, and we do measurement in any, whether it's just a traditional campaign mm-hmm measurement, or we're doing a lifetime value. Everything is incremental.

Alex Krupski: Got it.

Tim Curtis: Everything is above and beyond. We don't report on gross revenues. Again, that's how brands have gotten into the problem, the last attribution.

Alex Krupski: Exactly.

Exactly. We will establish what those percentages are, so we know as an example, what a Google shopping feed can provide and sustain on its own. We know what that's like when other channels are interacting with it, including print, and then we can begin to measure that. It takes some time to measure. You know, these are things that you have to measure and get right, but once you do and you have that true lifetime value.

Then you begin to really shift the way that you have a dollar left to spend, where are you going to spend it? Well, you know exactly where you're gonna spend it because you know exactly what that return is, [00:27:00] and you also know where you can get quick hits, but the quick hits may not be the best lifetime value. You've gotta balance that, but you have to have total and complete mastery over all the cost. Understanding what your organic percentages are by channel and the lift, the incremental lift and incremental contribution you make off of all those channels.

Jake Hoffman: And you're just doing that through testing, essentially.

Tim Curtis: Testing, we usually set it up.

Jake Hoffman: And then obviously reuse.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, we set up in a database environment. So, it's a very sophisticated data environment in order to do that, to pull in those feed, uh, everything has to be sort of crunched. Even if you aren't operating in a database environment, we will set one up for you for the lifetime value.

Erik Martinez: Well, I don't know if there's no other way to do it, but I would say there's no better way to do it with today's tools, but I think Tim's hitting on a really, really important point that I think everybody needs to understand. These data projects are really, really important, and you've gotta get a handle on your system's data, right? Because we've got lots of [00:28:00] different data sources pouring in to these types of attribution models and database environments, and that data's often very messy.

We've been working with a client now for about two and a half years on cleaning up their data environment, just to get this type of picture that Tim's alluding to. They had a big mess. They had acquired a bunch of different businesses. They finally got them on a different platform, but they moved them onto the platform all at different times. So, there's historical data that's still in old formats, and that's just one set of systems. That's not even including the other set of systems that are on the digital side.

So, not to scare anybody away from it, but you need to start the hard work of organizing that data in order to get to what Tim's talking about. Fortunately, there's companies out there that will help and, you know, CohereOne is definitely one of those companies that will help you get that process started.

Alex Krupski: Well, I think,[00:29:00] in everything that you guys have said, there's been two really kind of key points. I think that we've briefly discussed, but not gone deep enough on, that I'd like to talk about. One of them being attribution. I'll let you guys and Jake talk about that one, but I think the privacy stuff that's going on right now is really important, and I'm curious what conversations you guys are having with some of your clients right now. What are their concerns and questions they're asking about it right now and what we should know about it?

Tim Curtis: Oh.

Alex Krupski: Where to start, right?

Jake Hoffman: The history of social media? No. I'm just kidding.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. Yeah. Let's talk privacy just for a second, cause it's what's spinning up on my head at the moment. Obviously, chairing this privacy committee in Washington, you have to be very, very close to this. I'm getting updates now. I think, Connecticut is next. You know, everyone still kind of has their eyes really corely focused on Sacramento. The California Privacy Rights Act, which is now going to really amend and supercede the California Consumer Privacy Act, and I think the thing that's important to remember about these [00:30:00] acts is yes, there's a lot of legislation that's coming out, vast majority of which has not been decided in the courts.

There will be some things that I think will not be decided on the courts. I think some things that the attorney generals are setting up such as customer experience that the court is uniquely not built to rule on. It is a very subjective subject. Those are the types of things that I think, it's just sort of the whim of an attorney general.

The important thing right now is that when GDPR out of the European Union came out, it really established the baseline for understanding where and when, and by what method you received permission to market to somebody, and that really set in motion, this importance of tracking this information. Being able to answer intelligently a customer inquiry or a prospect inquiry and how did you get my information?

You know, questions such as the right to be forgotten. You know, the right to amend. Data that may be incorrect [00:31:00] or to suppress, data. So, all of that has existed, and the interesting thing is all of that has exist. On the print side for some time. You think about, you know, people who are mailing and they're put in the screamer file. Right. You know, oh my gosh, this lady never wants to receive a catalog again.

Alex Krupski: Do not mail.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. We call it a screamer file because it's like, this is the one that, you know, cooperative databases, list parental companies It's so gotta get all, and so it's sort of like a pander file that I don't wish everybody would use. A lot of that framework within the print world has existed, and so there's not really a lot of adaptation in the print channels. Other than, some of the mechanisms that you need to post online on your site to dial back, or to inform someone of how to not sell the information.

The context of these privacy laws are digital in focus. They're here. They're established because in the digital landscape, it was really a wild west. There wasn't any laws on the books. There was a lot of things that were permissible. People in general, just don't know how often and to what degree their information was shared. There have been some headlines and [00:32:00] some of them are sort of 1984ish in terms of what information was being shared without someone's knowledge. Including, in some cases, diagnosis, that were then being fed to as a file augmentation into insurance companies for prospecting purposes.

There's some real scary stuff that's going on. The biggest impact I think for brands obviously is going to be the compliance. You know, you're gonna have to make sure that you're staying compliant until we get the federal privacy legislation, passed and on the president's desk.

You know, they said postal would never get done. We wrapped up postal. That's been signed, now delivered. There's more broad agreement on the privacy landscape issue. There's the difference between the Republican and Democratic proposals are much closer than they are in a lot of other types of proposals that go through Congress. So, we're making a lot of headway and it's important that we keep focus.

I think the biggest impact really though, is what's happening on the landscape of targeting, and the efficacy of digital [00:33:00] advertising to zero in and target on behaviors that they had a hundred percent visibility to in the past that they've lost that visibility.

You know, when you guys were on our show, we talked a little bit about Facebook and the $10 billion breakup with brands that was published in The Wall Street Journal. Weel, it's only gotten worse. Since then, I was talking to a colleague and he just said their Facebook sales, that they really depended on built the business on, is operating at 10% of what it was. Just crater, and so they're trying to figure out a way to build it back up.

That targeting ability, they'll come up with some other options to zero in a little bit better on the targeting, but it's never gonna be what it was because I knew exactly what Jake was clicking on. I knew exactly what Jake was potentially carting or not carting, and then that was basically available in the open market. That's not available anymore. That's gonna have tremendous implications. Erik, what do you think? You've been awfully quiet over there.

Erik Martinez: I'm just in awe of all your knowledge, Tim.

Tim Curtis: Oh, please gimme a break.

Alex Krupski: He's enjoying the sunset. What do you mean?

Erik Martinez: I'm enjoying the sunset. Yeah.[00:34:00] No. Tim's absolutely right. Privacy is a major concern. I've been listening to the Marketing School Podcast with Patel and Eric Siu. These guys are, you know, agency guys who built some pretty sophisticated businesses in the digital world. One of the things that they've been talking a lot about lately is how this privacy component and how the consumer is now poised to take complete control of their own experiences.

They call it web 3.0, right. You know, web one was what it was back in the early two thousands. Web 2.0 was kind of this shift towards big advertisers and doing all the things that Tim just described. Right, and web three is actually putting the power back into the user, and one of the tools and technologies that's doing that is the blockchain.

You know, my brain just exploded when I listened to [00:35:00] some of these conversations about blockchain and decentralized autonomous organizations. I'm like, what the heck is that? Right? There's this movement that's gonna gain momentum as all these laws get passed. The blockchain and some of these new technologies are gonna allow each of us to have individual control of our experience and engagement with specific brands. We will be able to basically turn on and turn off whether we want to engage with a brand. What's the real implication there?

The privacy thing is just gonna be the driver, right? The reality is that the brands have to do a better job of being original, creative, authentic, and invested in their audience. Regardless of, you know, what technologies develop or emerge over the next few years, what legislation gets passed. If you are doing those things [00:36:00] today, that's a best practice within your organization, then you're gonna be well poised to adapt to the future. Otherwise you won't be.

Tim Curtis: Brands are looking for safe harbor for those dollars. When you're putting that money into Facebook and you're getting a percentage of what you used to get, you're not putting the same amount into Facebook, and so they're looking for other channels. Some have tried OTT. OTT was a big test area and that's the, basically where you're using, you know, like streaming services and you're targeting television ads to people. You know, honestly, they weren't seeing a ton of response.

The response from some of the OTT test was pretty dismal, and so brands are in experimentation mode and they are looking for safe harbors. They need to find the places where they know they're gonna get a return on those dollars. So, it sort of shakes things up and, you know, I know you mentioned attribution. At the same time brands are trying to figure this out, they're also trying to figure out that, like the last example I have, if you have a buck, you know, where am I gonna spend it?

And I go back again to say, attribution is one of those things. I've [00:37:00] spent a lot of time on the digital side, and I have got a lot of friends on the digital side that have each of them have their own unique view of attribution. Yeah, and one of my buddies, he's fantastic. He'll always be just a tremendous friend, but we argue tooth and nail, you know, if we're to bar or something like that and we're together and he will like, no, I don't have, I have the way. I have the right way to do attribution. Like, oh my God. Not again. Like, you know, bartender hit me.

At the end of the day on attribution, follow the money. Follow the money. A lot of times when people are getting into conversations about attribution and they're trying to prove their point, they're selling something. They're selling a piece of software that they believe is going to figure out the attribution. At the end of the day, it's just like the lifetime value. You have to understand the cost going into every single channel. You have to understand the organic percentage of business.

You're going to get in a channel [00:38:00] and then you have to understand the incremental lift, both in revenue and contribution dollars in the bank by each channel and the interoperability or the interplay between print. How does print affect non-branded key terms? How does print affect branded key terms? What effect does email have on the mix? When you get into Google shopping, what does that look like? Where do affiliates play? All of that.

You have to establish all that. If you're doing that, you're gonna come out with a solid lifetime value and you're gonna have a pretty good identification of where the dollars are gonna come from. If you're not chasing the toxic soup that's attribution, but you're chasing where's the best return for our money.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah.

Tim Curtis: You're going to be in a much, much, much better place, and you can get off the hamster wheel of attribution. It is a hamster wheel and it's something that everybody has an opinion on, but at the end of the day, you need to find out where your return is coming from. Answer that question first. Don't go all sexy with attribution. Figure out where the hell your money's coming from.

Erik Martinez: I'm in complete agreement with [00:39:00] Tim. There's an article in This was 2016 and the articles titled, Analytics CEO Makes a Passionate Case Against Marketing Attribution. It says exactly what Tim just said. This particular CEO says exactly the same thing. Understand your return on investment. Make intelligent decisions. Do some testing. Right? Those are the things that really matter because the problem with attribution, in today's world, it's still a set of assumptions.

Whatever lens you look at it through dictates the outcome. So, if you're not looking at it through multiple lenses and you only have that one view, that one perspective, you're gonna get the answer you want. I want to spend money in direct mail, or I want to spend money in paid search. If that's what you want, your attribution's gonna be set up to support that case.

Tim Curtis: And know what you're trying to accomplish.

Alex Krupski: That's [00:40:00] a big one.

Tim Curtis: This is something where, you know, again, it's not one of those popular things, but there may be something that if you're trying to introduce a prospect into a brand, you know what? Catalog is a better format for that than a solo direct mail piece. Testing will bear it out every single time. So, understand that even within print, you need to understand the format and the response vehicle mm-hmm . Yeah.

Erik Martinez: Oh, absolutely. I think on the digital equivalent of that is landing somebody on a product page versus a category page.

Tim Curtis: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: A category page outperforms a product page enormously. Now, there's tools you can do to make your product pages more effective, but same thing Tim just said, know where you need to get your people, get your audience to go in order to maximize your opportunities.

Tim Curtis: You know, it's kind of the world we live in. You think about the headlines and I think, you know, just, we'll just talk print for a second. The number of brands that are scrambling [00:41:00] to try to launch print, and there's no real accounting for the brands that are sitting on those sidelines because they couldn't get press time or they couldn't get paper.

Jake Hoffman: Correct.

Tim Curtis: So, the only reporting that comes back is typically what the postal service will see as injection into the mail stream, and that's not really a good measurement because there's so many players on the sideline.

Jake Hoffman: Correct.

Tim Curtis: And people are somewhat surprised at the degree to which people are bounding, but in some of these CEO and CMO forums, a lot of where people are reaching out to us is, hey, we're being told that we need to launch a catalog. One of the funniest comments came from a CEO. He had been in the business. He is a seasoned CEO. I think he said he's been in the business about 40 years.

So he's, you know, he's certainly given his time, and he says, I can't believe what I'm being told, and I had to look at my calendar to see what year it was because I was being told, I desperately need to have print and a catalog format in the mix in order to [00:42:00] really make the brand successful. And he said, I haven't heard that in 30 years from anybody, and so sure enough.

I mean, it does seem sort of anachronistic when you think about it, but the reality is these guys are under incredible pressure. The venture capitals are saying you have to continue to grow and guess what? They can't grow anymore spending what they were spending in the digital realm. they just can't do it. It's not an unlimited return. There is a point of spend where you hit diminishing returns and some of these brands are hitting it, but they're still under pressure to grow.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah. I think one of the other things, you know, not even just an injection, but how many people are currently printing that we can't accommodate their growth.

Tim Curtis: Oh yeah. Great point.

Jake Hoffman: I mean, that's another, that's another part of it. Right? So you, I mean, you could look at and say, okay, you know, there's probably another 25 to 30% of people that would increase, but there's, you know, capacity constraint.

Tim Curtis: I've got a lot of brands and I mean, a lot of brands.

Jake Hoffman: A [00:43:00] lot.

Tim Curtis: That would be printing, between 50 to a hundred percent more than they would be.

Jake Hoffman: Correct.

Tim Curtis: Because their growth and their return can sustain it.

Jake Hoffman: Correct.

Tim Curtis: Even in this environment, but they can't get the resources to do it.

Jake Hoffman: And so I think when you combine that, as well as the people that aren't, you know, it would be an interesting metric to really know, like, right?

Tim Curtis: Right. Like we talked about earlier, before the show, when you're struggling to get enough staff to run a third shift and you can't run the third shift.

Jake Hoffman: Yeah.

Tim Curtis: Those people are setting on the sidelines because you can't run it and then you may not even have paper for it. So, yeah. It's real. It's a better problem to have than no demand. I'll take that.

Jake Hoffman: I'll take, yeah, I'll take.

Tim Curtis: I'll take balance is what I would take.

Jake Hoffman: Balance would be great.

Tim Curtis: Balance for 1500. I don't get that option anymore.

Erik Martinez: Well, and this will settle out, right. We're in a really unique time. You know, everybody's tired of hearing the word pandemic, but it is pandemic driven, and our responses to the pandemic that has caused some of this, right. This will play out. This is not a forever situation.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. It [00:44:00] may play out like a kidney stone, but it's gonna play out.

Erik Martinez: Hey, one way or another it's gonna resolve itself, right.

Jake Hoffman: This too shall pass.

Tim Curtis: Yeah, exactly. Yeah.

Erik Martinez: And so everybody needs to, you know, take a pause and say, you know, put the fires of the way. Push 'em aside for a moment because yes, I, you know, it's struggle to get paper. Postage is going up. You know, the channels of the distribution are still a mess, right?

Jake Hoffman: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: Freights skyrocketing. Prices are increasing at the fastest pace than they have in 30 years. All those things are true, but there have been moments in time in history where all those things have been true too, and we survived them, and the key to surviving them is just have a plan. Keep working towards your goals. If you take that longer view, the short term, yeah, you're gonna have to be nimble and, and make adjustments, but if you keep that long term [00:45:00] view in front of you, you will reach that destination. Yeah. There'll be some choice and turns along the way.

Alex Krupski: It's interesting how, you know, we view the pandemic a little bit now. You know, we talk about how the world was put on pause, but it essentially accelerated everything too. It accelerated demand a few years ahead. It accelerated companies taken advantage of more technology and things like that too. I think it's just an interesting view to look at now, two plus years later on what the effects ultimately were the ripple effect of COVID. Yeah, here we.

Tim Curtis: Yeah. Here we are.

Jake Hoffman: Absolutely.

Alex Krupski: Well, honestly guys, I think Jake, I mean, if you have anything else. I kind of got all my questions in. we usually kick it to you guys towards the end of the show. If you had anything else that you wanted to kind of talk about, discuss, something we might have missed. Any final thoughts from you guys?

Tim Curtis: No, nothing. I think that's been missed. The only thing I would say is that, you know, the acceleration that you talked about. I think we're, we'll continue to see it for the next two years at the current [00:46:00] pace. Yeah. So, uh, it'll be interesting to see if any of these prognostications in terms of resolution of the print markets, targeting within the digital space, where we're sitting two years from now. It'll be interesting to see.

Alex Krupski: Yeah.

Erik Martinez: I don't think I have anything that's really, really crazy. I just say, keep your eye on a ball. This will settle down, and if you stick to your goals, you're gonna have a better result than if you try to react to every fire.

Alex Krupski: No, that's a great point, guys. Well, I appreciate you guys time. I appreciate our audience at home tuning in. Thank you guys for joining.

Tim Curtis: You're welcome. Thanks for having us.

Erik Martinez: Yeah. Thank you for having us. We really enjoyed it.

Jake Hoffman: Thanks guys.

Alex Krupski: Can't wait till part three when we're either on your podcast or you're back on ours.

Erik Martinez: Sounds good.

Alex Krupski: Thanks again guys.

Jake Hoffman: Alright. See you guys.

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