Protecting data is of the utmost importance for any business that handles personal information, especially for those of us with healthcare or financial services customers. It is our job to protect your PHI – personal healthcare information.
Data breaches seem to be as common as catching a cold, as more and more organizations succumb to the acts of hackers. Sadly, 60% of data breach victims are small- to medium-sized businesses as they are at the greatest risk for attack.
With that being said, it is more important than ever to safeguard sensitive information such as email addresses, addresses, social security numbers and health records... just to name a few. This is why Mount Vernon is SOC2 certified and in 2019 we will become SOC2/HITRUST compliant. In addition, our parent company, RRD, has secure facilities that can meet your needs in various areas around the country. This compliance means we will have strict security measures in place to protect any personal information that we handle.
The Mount Vernon staff – all of us – are required to go through special training to make sure we follow very specific protocols for handling sensitive communications. The print shop also has to meet rigid HIPAA standards to obtain the certification.
When it comes to protecting sensitive data, here are some tips that you need to consider, both in a partner and for your own safety.
1) Create a culture of security-minded employees: Educate your employees to be mindful of security practices so they become automatic, no matter what the project entails. For example, locking your computer when you’re away from your desk. It seems basic, but it’s effective. This is yet another reason why our entire staff goes through the certification process.
2) Control access to personal information: Only give access to the team that needs it. Set up safeguards like limited access to certain areas of the building, shredding overages, etc. Taking the right precautions will allow your business to be HIPPA compliant, avoiding an audit by those who enforce it, like the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR).
3) Network access: It is tempting to use networking tools such as peer-to-peer file sharing and instant messaging, but those should be used with extreme caution. Wireless signals should operate in an encrypted mode so only the intended recipient can pick up the signal and access the sensitive data.
4) Strong Passwords help: Although passwords can’t stop hackers, they are everyone’s first line of defense and have the ability to slow down or discourage an attack on data.
5) Protect staff’s mobile devices: If employee devices cannot support encryption, don’t use them. Be sure to set up strong access controls for phones too.
I’m glad that other segments are cracking down on the handling of sensitive data as well. Organizations like unions, and the finance and insurance industries, are also requiring a higher level of security compliance when searching for communication partners who are SOC2 compliant. The bar has been raised.
The next time you are looking for a solution provider to handle sensitive data, check to see if they have security measures in place. I can assure you we do!
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
Consistent branding builds customer trust and creates loyalty. This is why many companies choose to use branded promotional products like logo wearables, writing materials, trade show giveaways and really, anything else you can think of. I’ve even seen drones adorning company logos given away (and no, unfortunately, I didn’t win one).
There are many benefits of having promotional material on hand. Just to name a few…
Creating loyalty – Customers and prospects will remember your brand long after that trade show or event when they use those branded items over and over. Whether it is a cool pen, the newest phone accessory, or a cleverly designed battery charging stick. This is your chance to get creative! Be sure to tie in that giveaway with your company products and services, or to the event itself to boost retention.
Budget-friendly – Using promotional products as a marketing tool is probably easier on the budget than most people realize. When you consider other methods of advertising, this one is more cost-effective by far. People tend to hold onto these types of gadgets or wearables for months to come, keeping your brand top of mind.
Lead Generation – Promotional products play a major role in generating leads and they potentially have the power to convert visitors to loyal customers. The key is to pick an item that will add value, or fulfill a need the prospect didn’t even know they had. Hint: Including a concise call to action with prospects by encouraging them to visit a landing page can also help you gather useful data.
Easily boost brand visibility – Promotional items can do the marketing for you. With little effort on your part, they provide brand visibility. Sometimes they even get passed onto others (think pens or stress balls). Choosing the right promotional item is important if you want consumers to use them for months to come. Be sure to check out the latest trends when you’re on your quest for the perfect giveaway that is relevant to your business.
At Mount Vernon, we are equipped to operate like an extension of your sales team. Not only do we offer promotional products – basically anything under the sun – but we can also store and fulfill those materials any time you need them. Our digital storefronts ensure that our customers can print (or select something from storage), fulfill and ship their marketing materials with just a few clicks to anywhere in the U.S., or across the world.
Our attention to detail and reporting gives customers peace of mind that promotional items and collateral alike will be delivered correctly and on time, not to mention helping customers to keep a close eye on their inventory.
Sourcing our vast network via RRD, we can provide you with the best solutions and prices. But we know it doesn’t stop there. Our customer service team and sales reps are available with a quick phone call for questions or concerns about your order.
Give us a try the next time your plan calls for promotional items and collateral. We’d love to set up a meeting with you!
Photo by Don Agnello on Unsplash
The more things change, the more they stay the same. It seems that many retail giants are adjusting their marketing strategies to include print, bridging the gap between digital and physical printed material.
Amazon printed a 70-page toy catalog for this Christmas season. The catch is that in order to see a price you must go online to the Amazon website. Omnichannel marketing at its best! The catalog has a very distinctive retro look, designed to appeal to previous Toys “R” Us shoppers. What’s more, some toys shown will have their own QR code, so browsers can instantly scan and shop. Digital versions of the catalog are also available on Kindle and in PDF format online.
Walmart and Target are also jumping on the print bandwagon by substantially increasing their catalog content, along with increasing in-store toy selection. This is all to get a piece of the $3.3 billion toy market.
Target is also releasing 22 million gift catalogs slated for both in-home and store distribution this holiday season, with 15% more toy pages compared to 2017. Consumers will have the option of scanning items with the Target app to find out more detailed information, and to get exclusive deals.
Using print to create a brand experience
Restoration Hardware is famous for printing large 15-pound books. Why do they do this? Partially because only about 20% of their products can be found in-store, and because their strategy is to inspire consumers with hundreds of images enticing them to reach for their device to place quick online orders. The brand doesn’t get the same result with email campaigns, or pay-per-click ads.
Clearly, print catalogs and online activity are not always separate experiences.
Catalogs have been proven to be the first step in the buying journey. This post from Workfront cites a Kurt Salmon study on catalog trends that says 86% of women aged 18-30 have purchased an item after seeing it in a catalog. This also provides evidence of why retailers are migrating back to print as part of their integrated strategy.
Browsing a catalog certainly creates a different shopping experience than browsing a website. Turning pages more easily engages customers, invoking brand loyalty and brand recognition more than just browsing the Internet.
Personally, I see the value of being able to turn the pages on beautiful printed material. It’s too bad that more websites aren’t laid out with an experience-driven design like traditional catalogs. In fact, many publishers have gone to a model that includes more overall interactive content.
Omnichannel marketing is crucial to retailer’s success and the catalog is just one more component that leads shoppers to a particular brand.
As retail continues to explore different channels from e-commerce to traditional brick-and-mortar, the catalog is most likely here to stay in one capacity or another. It may be smaller and arrive in a more targeted mailbox, but it is certainly still effective.
Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash
This year there has been a lot of discussion, and even a task force assigned by the President, to review what the USPS charges to ship packages. This assessment has prompted the postal service to propose another price increase in the hopes of bringing in much-needed revenue, while still keeping them competitive. (Ouch.)
If the Postal Regulatory Commission approves it, the proposed increase will begin on January 27, 2019. And if it does go into effect, here is what you can expect both for yourself and your business:
- Proposed 3.9% increase on priority mail express
- Proposed 5.9% on priority mail
- 10% increase on first-class stamps
This comes in combination with proposed a 9.3% increase on service for packages weighing over one pound and a 12.3% increase on lighter packages.
With that said, now is the time for marketers to get busy planning their next direct mail campaign BEFORE the USPS price increase goes into effect early next year.
Since Mount Vernon has an in-house mail department, this topic is near and dear to our heart. Even with a postage hike, we’ll work with you to figure out the best ways to reduce your postage. Our customers’ mail projects are verified in-house and because of our industry expertise, we can offer all-in-one solutions, from consulting to printing to mailing. This means we can easily manage many different types of direct marketing campaigns.
Photo by Samuel Zeller on Unsplash
Many of our customers are familiar with the quality of an offset press, but they sometimes question the quality when it comes to a digital press. So I thought I would take this opportunity to talk about our recent expansion of 4-color inkjet web capabilities – sure to capture your customer's attention like never before. Our new technology enables relevant messaging that drives results. Think next level inkjet web.
These new presses — Screen Truepress Jet520 HD and ZZ — feature:
- Four-color variable imaging at near offset print quality
- Ultra-fast RIPing of high-volume data
- The world’s smallest droplets
- Resolution of up to 1,200 dpi
Truepress Jet520HD High-Definition Inkjet Web Press
Accurately Reproduces Lines
The Truepress Jet520HD Press is so detailed that it brings color to life. What sets it apart is the unique printhead technology. It places the world’s smallest droplets of ink exactly where dots are required as the paper moves through the transfer system. The maximum resolution of 1,200 dpi provides detail smaller than .10 of a point. You might not know what that means, but I can assure you that it results in sharp, eye-catching finish without ink spread.
Really Fast, High-Volume Data
This press features an enhanced workflow system providing more production benefits:
- Automated job and color management
- In-RIP imposition, JDF communication and PDF/VT support
In a nutshell, even with high-volume variable data and high-resolution images, print quality can be maintained without compromising productivity.
Defect Detection Saves Time and Money
The JetInspection System performs a comprehensive, real-time inspection of variable images across all pages, with control coming directly from the operation panel. Using a camera to capture barcodes and optical character recognition fonts, it decodes and produces the inspection results. It also checks for missing dots, color variations and improperly output text.
Truepress Jet520ZZ Inkjet Web Press
If your project requires consistent high-quality and accuracy, then the Truepress Jet520ZZ is a solution that can print up to 190,000 colorful pages per hour.
Better, Precise Printing with Single-Pass Production
The unique single-pass multiple-head array allows extremely high printing precision. With short distances between the inkjet printheads, the colors, and the media, we can ensure exceptional color-to-color registration for your project.
Smoother Reproduction with Four-Tone Printing
The Truepress Jet520ZZ delivers cleaner, smoother printing due to its four tones per dot. Compared to the two tones common in standard high-speed inkjet printers.
Fastest Processing Speeds with Smart Variable Data
This inkjet press minimizes the RIP processing load delivering high productivity. A function built into the press automatically recognizes and assigns reusable elements to a background layer. This simply means no reRIPing, significantly improving processing speeds for large volumes of variable data, since only the altered portion needs to be RIPed.
These innovations are offering our customers personalized marketing campaigns with faster turnaround times and quality beyond ordinary high-speed inkjet printing.
One retailer increased its ROI by 14% after incorporating highly-targeted 4-color print into a campaign. Watch the video to see more.
If you want to know more about our newest additions and how they’ll produce your boldest direct mail campaigns yet, let’s get something on the calendar.
Through the years, as our industry has changed, our company has evolved to keep up with the technological advances. Specifically, we know the value in offering our clients a full host of marketing solutions that today’s companies demand.
With the help of our parent company RRD, we can help you optimize engagement with your customers: online, offline or even onsite. In addition to our usual print services, we offer solutions that drive results. Consider these three “i's” when planning your next campaign, regardless of the partner you choose (but hopefully it will be us!)
- Inspiration – Backed by our parent company, our content management and creative services offer consistent branding with tailored customer messaging. Mount Vernon has access to intelligent content libraries that are dynamic across multiple formats. We love telling meaningful stories to help your marketing inspire and create an emotional connection with your customers.
- Interaction – Highly targeted direct marketing that drives response is realized with our data-driven marketing approach and our cohesive channel execution across the customer experience.
- Insight – Our team harnesses data to promote sophisticated mining and to support predictive analytic techniques. We map customer journeys and uncover critical motivators through primary research. This is critical to reaching the right targets.
In a nutshell, we gather insights that drive inspiration and create meaningful interactions.
If you would like to create some meaningful interactions with customers and/or prospects, we are happy to help you take on that challenge. Contact me to learn more.
Photo by Garidy Sanders on Unsplash
Say it out loud - tangible. It’s a good word, right? I like things that are real and that I can touch (and no, it’s not just because of my industry). I know many others who agree with me, especially millennials. I know from firsthand experience because I have two of them. Maybe that’s why I praise direct mail so much. In a world of digital fatigue, my kids LOVE getting mail addressed to them.
Direct mail cannot be clicked away. It has a certain “shelf life.” And, it truly does fit into the omnichannel world. There are plenty of good examples of direct mail helping to integrate online marketing with offline. Consider using direct mail to point millennials to your social media channels or send them compelling offers.
Why? Because 82% of millennials sort their mail, determining what to keep – advertising mail, coupons, and promotional flyers – as opposed to only 76% of non-millennials, proving that direct mail is an important way to reach them, according to the study conducted by Summit Research and published by the USPS.
Millennial consumers have digital experiences that are dominated by a constant rotation of devices and screen time filled with commercial and editorial content, instant messages, alerts, pop-ups, and so on. If you are reading this blog, then you can probably also relate.
The easiest way to cut through the noise is to transform data and digital intent into tangible media delivered to their home. Your engagement will go up because people simply pay more attention to offers in the mail versus digital pop-up ads that flash before their eyes. As a matter of fact, digital ads are viewed as intrusive, but direct mail is not.
A reported 67% of millennials prefer to shop on e-commerce sites, often researching online before they buy no matter where they purchase. What’s more, millennials are emerging as heavy coupon users. Getting in front of them early in the research phase is key. So don’t skip paper in your quest to reach your audience.
No matter what the age of your target, the customer experience is key to great omnichannel marketing. Keep these pointers in mind while you are working on your tangible piece:
- Every customer is different. Give them convenience with multiple ways to respond to your offer for the best ROI.
- Keep the cadence for customers the same, independent of what channel they respond to by creating a workflow that accomplishes this.
- Ensure that your all of your touch points have a consistent look and feel and tie-in to each other.
- Personalize your marketing as much as possible for the best engagement.
We’ve come full circle and it is time to once again engage people in an environment free of distractions and noise. If you need pointers for designing your next direct mail or omnichannel campaign, we are here to help!
Until then, excuse me. I’ve got mail.
Photo by Brian Patrick Tagalog on Unsplash
2018 has been a good year for the print industry and we look forward to seeing where technology will take us in the coming years.
If you’re like me, then you probably know the GDP is up this year for both the U.S. and Europe. This means improved optimism for consumers and small businesses alike. This translates to growth for printers and suppliers as well.
You can see the positive growth reflected in this Global Trends Report by drupe, conducted earlier this year. They surveyed more than 700 printers, 40% of whom said they feel “good” to “positive” about their business. Even better, 56% of 200 suppliers in the survey felt the same way. Results were more optimistic than they have been in a long time.
When it comes to print trends, both high-speed production inkjet and electrophotography (a dry photocopying technique) have made quite an explosion. They are the most widespread processes in use today. When it comes to functional printing, digitalization has had the biggest growth, with 60% of respondents reporting that more than half of their business is due to digital print jobs.
So what does it all mean? For starters, it probably means unforeseen capital for investments for a lot of us!
Your first investment should be in inkjet technology, which has markedly evolved in the last two years to be able to do some impressive marketing by applying high-quality images on a range of rich substrates at high speeds. This gives marketers plenty of creative personalization options with savings for direct mail, packaging, labeling and 3-D printing.
For example, the Mount Vernon flex mailer project provided this well-known food manufacturer customer with an effective, low-cost packaging solution – producing 20,000 mail-ready product samples in just one day.
By now, most of us have experienced personalization either as a consumer or a marketer, and whether or not you think it is creepy or cool, it is here to stay! It is our job to make it powerful, and use it as an opportunity to mix digital and print, delivering the best experience for the end consumer. Inkjet printing makes this possible and it is a must if you want your print business to grow.
Our digital inkjet webs are running on a regular basis. I look forward to seeing what inkjet technology evolutions will deliver in the future. And if I can help you figure out how to utilize our web to maximize impacts with your clients, just send me a note.
Photo: Courtesy of Markus Spiske of Unsplash
Delivering a good product in a timely manner is a must in the print industry. So much of that equation depends on the people who literally deliver the finished physical product.
This is where Hugh Price comes in. Employed by Mount Vernon for 26 years, he is the main driver in our shop and spends most of his days on the road.
Here is where I’d like to brag a little. This is the seventh employee spotlight that I’ve written since we started them last fall. If you added up all of the years of experience these seven stellar employees have at Mount Vernon you would get more than 207 years! Let that sink in … that is commitment and knowledge that we really value. This is why I love to share their stories.
Hugh gets his greatest satisfaction from seeing and communicating with customers while he is making his many deliveries around the Baltimore and Washington D.C. regions. Even though he spends most of his days in traffic, he truly enjoys what he does. As you can probably imagine, delivery schedules are constantly changing but Hugh always finds a way to make it happen.
When I asked Hugh about his proudest moment at Mount Vernon, he smiled and responded that is was when he realized he had met his best friend for life. He has also made many other great friendships over the past 26 years. (Retaining hard-working employees who know and trust each other has always been important at Mount Vernon.)
Although the evolutions in the print industry certainly capture Hugh’s attention, he is happy that logistics have remained a constant and an important part of customer satisfaction.
Hugh has been married to his wife Kimberly for 21 years, and he enjoys spending time with his children, Hugh Jr. and Porche. In his spare time, he enjoys flying radio-controlled airplanes and watching the Oakland Raiders play football
We thank Hugh for his many great years of service – and for putting up with D.C. traffic!
Marketing and print campaigns, as we know them, have become more active experiences for consumers. Being a marketer in the information age means that you need to be prepared to offer customers an “experience,” and focus less on static and non-interactive (passive!) old-school methods.
The use of augmented and virtual reality is growing by leaps and bounds – predicted to be a trillion-dollar market – with expected revenues of $692 billion by 2025 according to Citi GPS.
Savvy marketers who provide consumers with an opportunity to augment their surroundings with a tailored experience that enhances their lives can expect to make a big impact and build loyalty. Done right, you can play a valuable role in your customers’ lives by helping them access information to products and services they need at the right time and the right place.
Retailer Ikea did this very well when it introduced the Place app last year, allowing customers to see exactly how furniture items would look and fit into their homes. That’s a pretty awesome way to provide value and convert sales.
I mentioned three cool ways to use AR in my June post, but I wanted to provide a deeper look into how customers can use AR combined with print.
AR elements can be added to your printed pieces, providing a cool new way to interact with postcards, business cards, catalogs, billboards, magazine advertising and more. Adding this element of interest means that the recipient may hang onto it longer and possibly even show it off.
AR in magazines:
The New Yorker Magazine provided readers with some fun by making their front and back covers come to life through the use of smartphone and tablet cameras. Readers were able to immerse themselves into the image, existing in the art itself, engaging them in a new way.
Print ads within the magazine can also be highly effective when they are combined with AR-powered apps. The creative possibilities of AR in magazine ads are truly unlimited and you can expect to see much more of that as the technology becomes more affordable. There is proof that AR significantly increases interaction. You should definitely consider this technology as you plan how to spend your marketing dollars next year.
AR through billboards and signs:
If budgets allow, go big! Volkswagen incorporated AR into their print marketing in a huge way. Billboards in Canada were used to tease the launch of the new Beetle by encouraging passers-by to download the app. Once that was complete, pointing the phone at the sign allowed them to see the new Beetle burst out of the billboard through their screen showing off the new car.
Bus shelters or train platforms are also popular places for advertising. Why not offer something fun to do while commuters are awaiting a ride. This tactic can turn a common poster or vehicle wrap into an unforgettable and entertaining experience.
Although this example is purely digital, it is too good not to be shared because it shows the power of AR. Pepsi Max used AR advertising at a bus shelter in London to shock and delight commuters. Unsuspecting victims who thought they were looking through regular glass (with a Pepsi Max logo) were surprised when they saw tigers coming toward them, alien ships in the sky, and octopus legs popping out of manholes. As you can imagine, consumer engagement was extremely high. That’s an unforgettable experience!
These examples show us that AR technology is on track to become even more seamless in the near future to combine our virtual and physical worlds. Marketers need to ensure they are prepared to take advantage of what AR can do, excite customers and propel their brands.
Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash