Our blog posts are designed to keep our audience up-to-date on the latest information on the happenings at Mount Vernon and the printing industry overall. Check back often for updates and browse the different categories for new information.
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
There are many different reasons why consumers choose one brand over another, but the more you can do to appeal to them on an emotional level, the better your chances of gaining loyal customers.
Here are four tips to help you positively impact a customer’s buying journey as they travel through the funnel.
1. Personalize Your Message – I can’t encourage that enough. No matter if your audience is in-store or online, the expectations of a personalized experience is becoming higher and higher with every touchpoint.
People love to see their own name in print or on a product. Coca-Cola does a great job of creating an emotional connection by personalizing – depending on what part of country you are from – their soda bottles and cans with your name or even your favorite sports team. Consumers like to feel as if something was made especially for them, and this example hits it out of park.
2. Provide Excellent Customer Service – 83% of consumers prefer dealing with a living, breathing human being when it comes to customer service issues, even on digital channels, says research from Accenture. Never forget that your customer support team is the front line of your company, and they have a large role in driving customer loyalty. More than half of the people surveyed say they have switched to a competitive brand due to a poor customer experience.
3. Help Protect the Environment – Taking a stand on environmental issues can not only help the planet, but also in getting a leg up on the competition. Consumers have been taking notice when companies engage in corporate responsibility that results in better business practices. In fact, consumers admittedly pay more for products and services delivered by brands that are committed to positive change in our environment. It’s a win-win for all.
Operating under the RR Donnelly umbrella, Mount Vernon has the support of making wise business choices to help sustain our environment. Just like our parent company, we strive to continuously improve global Environmental Health and Safety (EH&S) performance. Our shared policies include protecting employees and the environment, whether it be reducing the quantity of emissions, developing opportunities for recycling and pollution prevention, or using paper and other resources more efficiently. Every day, we reduce, reuse and recycle in our printing facility.
4. Loyalty Programs are a Must – There is no doubt that loyalty programs affect shopping habits, no matter what you sell. If you want to ensure customers keep coming back, a well-designed loyalty program is one of the best ways to do that. The most successful programs include a point system, like airline miles or hotel points, where customers earn and redeem points in a repetitive manner.
Also, 93% of consumers agree that they are happy with loyalty programs when communications are relevant. Collect good data through sign-up forms that allow you to get to know your customer. Use this data to reach out during life events – a wedding, a new baby, or a birthday – with targeted direct mail campaigns.
Today’s ever-evolving environment for marketing communications can be convoluted and complex. For a good decade digital mediums were the hot marketing approach, but recent technology innovations – and an omnichannel marketing approach – show how digital + print can work together like two peas in a pod.
There are tons of studies out now (digital fatigue, millennials resonating best with print, etc.) on how marketers should take advantage of the unique experiences offered by both digital and print to successfully reach their audience. Ironically, the same programmatic automation that revolutionized the digital advertising industry has made its way into a channel that many said was left for dead. Yes, PRINT. These old and new school tactics are merging to create distribution, advertising, and other new opportunities for marketers.
If you haven’t tried cross-target programmatic marketing, I urge you to check it out because the targeting is very precise and the ROI will have you smiling. Programmatic ad buying alone is a hot topic with eMarketer forecasting that it will total upwards of $78 billion by 2019. But, here is what makes the cross-target programmatic marketing different, and work so well:
- Cross-targeting ties public IP addresses to real-world market segments
- Ad buys are not based on website cookies
- Your online ads will be delivered to only known recipients
- Offline and online cost per response will be lower than if they were executed individually
- This type of automated technology can even gather and analyze data and draw insights to improve your campaigns
This type of marketing is precise because we start with your customer files, scoring models, and other demographics keys that describe your best customers to create the segments. Then we link a physical mailing list, or target list, to consumer public IP addresses. After your audience is served up a digital ad, it gets followed up, usually within days, by a direct mail piece that has a strong call-to-action.
This is cool: The direct mail pieces can be dynamically rendered to include custom text, images and layouts based on your segmentation. So not only is the targeting precise, but it is personalized to the recipient. See why this can be so powerful?
So if you browsed online for a new slow cooker, and then a few days later received a coupon in the mail for that exact item, you may be inspired to actually buy that product. You can be sure that the cross-target programmatic marketing was behind that direct mail drop.
Want to learn more? Contact us and we’ll show you how our technology provides solutions that deliver impactful, relevant and personalized communications.
Photo by Franki Chamaki on Unsplash.com
You’ve been hearing the terms VR and AR thrown around at the water cooler and probably mentioned in headlines quite a bit in the past year. Do you know the difference? And have you thought about using either one of these fairly new technologies in your marketing efforts? If not, you should and here is why.
Virtual reality (VR) means blocking out any visual sense of the real world and puts your audience in the middle of a new one – think of a VR headset. It is on track to be the next big wave in tech. Augmented Reality (considered to be a kind of VR) offers a nice blend of both the virtual and real worlds – think of the Pokemon GO app.
Simply put, Augmented Reality (AR) was created because it gives people the opportunity to experience extraordinary things that would be impossible otherwise, or very hard to achieve at the very least. So why not use it to do some good?
VR and AR, often combined with a social media channels, can open the door to exciting ways to encourage donations and grow non-profit organizations.
1) Using the VR experience to help children:
Pencils of Promise builds schools in developing countries. Their goal was to increase donations at an upcoming gala. Using a VR experience with headsets, they virtually took attendees to Ghana and showed them what it was like to attend school there, which in turn created an incomparable emotional connection that inspired higher donations. Watch it for yourself. Be sure to drag your mouse across the screen for the full picture.
- Pencils of Promise was able to raise $1.9 million at their gala, way more than anticipated.
- The video was viewed nearly two million times on their Facebook Page, greatly increasing awareness of their program.
2) Using AR and social media to watch a coral reef thrive or die:
Paper Triangles created a unique AR experience in conjunction with Los Angeles Industry Gallery, with the proceeds going to The Hydrous nonprofit. This exhibit used real-time tweets to either create or destroy a coral reef complete with swimming fish. Tweets containing hashtags like #recycling or #conservation made the reef thrive, while tweets with #coffee or #brunch created trash in the reef, destroying it. What do they have against coffee you might wonder?
Well, the goal wasn’t to call out food or our morning java as a culprit for destroying the oceans, but instead, it was designed to make people consider — on what — their online conversations are focused.
Paper Triangle says we “swim” in data every day, but we don’t always do something with it. This experiment not only raised money, but it also provided an opportunity to visualize data by experimenting with a new way to display the white noise of content and the endless information. Really cool, right?
3) Using just social media to celebrate heroes:
DoSomething.org used Snapchat to publish a series of snaps to promote their Everyday Superheroes campaign. “Snapchatters” were encouraged to send a card to someone who makes the world a better place. The experience begins with a story of Ricky looking for a special way to show his appreciation for Puppet Sloth. Step two: He is encouraged to download an Everyday Superheroes card and give it to his Puppet Sloth. Finally, Snapchat followers were enticed to be a part of the story and to join the campaign themselves by making a card to depict someone who is doing great work in their community as a superhero.
- DoSomething.org is staying top of mind with younger generations on their turf. (86% of Snapchat’s users are between 13 – 37 years old.)
- It reinforces DoSomething.org is a cool and creative brand.
- The organization increases its database as followers join the campaign.
- Exclusivity and urgency are leveraged since snaps disappear within 24 hours.
- Participants share the campaign with their friends – creatively.
Looking forward, VR is sure to play an even bigger role in our lives from everything to choosing the right furniture for our space to dramatically improving our healthcare. Now time to imagine what you can do with this fascinating technology! RRD is doing some really cool stuff with AR; let me know how we can help you along this journey.
Would you like to help the planet by encouraging customers to plant seeds – via the mail – while communicating your message at the same time?
Well that’s exactly what we were able to do for one of our environmental/political clients with some creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. Not only did our team help create the campaign, but we were able to design a self-mailer to send the seeds directly from our facility.
With our in-house mail shop, projects ship quickly. It’s our business to know mailing regulations like the back of our hands, and we do.
Backed by parent company RR Donnelley and our relationship with the USPS, we have the depth of resources to support any project need, like this one. Our internal team prides themselves on sharing insights with all of our clients, easily taking a consultative approach to solve a problem or tackle a marketing challenge. Our clients trust our judgment when it comes to advising them.
Most of all, Mount Vernon is no stranger to tight budgets and tight deadlines! Political projects often need to be completed in 2-3 days – and that can include highly-personalized data-driven direct mail pieces.
Our customers rely on us to properly manage their data files, a task we take very seriously. Armed with this data, we can produce any personalized direct mail piece that helps you – our customers – create a conversation with your customers or prospects.
In case you didn’t know, we also carry the Union Bug. So if your project demands specific parameters like the ones above, give us a try! We are here to help make your tight requirements feel like you have all the time in the world.
Photo by Benjamin Combs of Unsplash.com
As you know, we often talk about how we wouldn’t be the company we are without our great team. Our employees are exceptional and have so much passion for what they do. They make Mount Vernon Printing who we are.
As such, I’d like to introduce the lead pressman on our 6-color printing press, Dennis Larkin. Like many of our employees, Dennis has a long history – 27 years – working here and producing quality materials with his press expertise.
Dennis always enjoys a challenge, especially when a customer has a unique project that requires extreme color consistency across multiple parts of a program. As those in the print world know, this can often be a difficult task, as not all materials within a campaign or program are produced at the same time, on the same press. Dennis’ attention to details ensures that those color specifications are met at every step of the way.
When Mount Vernon purchased our new six-color press with coater, Dennis embraced the changes that keep Mount Vernon up-to-date with the latest and greatest technology. He’s never put off by learning something new and approached the new challenge with the same passion he applies to everything. In fact, he set the bar high and set our customers’ expectations even higher.
Over the past 27 years, he has many favorite memories, one of which was the day that we moved into our current location – a brand new state-of-the-art facility! He recalls he couldn’t wait to begin working every day.
He also appreciates working in a union print facility that has helped so many people and industries over his tenure, and through the 100 years Mount Vernon has been in business.
When Dennis isn’t working, he keeps busy by spending time with his wife Carrol, three sons and five grandchildren. His other passions include playing baseball, experiencing new wines, and watching NASCAR.
Thank you for all that you do, Dennis!
When your marketing projects call for a tight deadline, it’s critical to make sure you choose the right partner who can deliver quality pieces on time – especially when your communications are for political candidates and organizations where lead times can easily be just a few days.
Here are some questions to consider as you identify a print partner:
- Can they use variable data? Personalization is important these days, and it can really make an impact when the direct mail is tailored to the recipient.
- Can they act as a consultant, advising the best, quickest, and most economical methods to deliver your message?
- Do they have an in-house mail department that can literally get your communications in the mail as soon as they come off the press?
- Can they track ROI? e.g. Walk literature or fliers usually mean multiple pieces of collateral need to be delivered to the right voting precincts requiring data extraction, automation, and collation.
- What do you really need in a partner? Consider the character and experience of the team that will assist in getting your project done. Choose a company that fits your immediate needs, but also think about your longer-term needs.
- Does your work require a union bug?
Mount Vernon Printing can help you check off all of those boxes! We recently completed a unique project that I want to share. Perhaps it will help generate some ideas for your next communications piece.
Variable door hangers can be tricky! Not just anyone can run a door hanger through an inkjet machine and have them look ok. We accepted the challenge of printing and mailing four door hangers per polling location in a three-state area. Correct separation was critical as those door hangers were dropped at constituents’ doors and described different issues depending on the district. These types of pieces often need to be delivered within a very specific timeframe. Our quantities ranged from a few thousand to over 100,000.
We were able to accomplish this in a matter of days! Yes, I said days. Mount Vernon can print, collate and stagger mailings so the projects reach their intended recipients on time.
If you are looking for a partner to exceed your campaign needs, please contact me.
Photo by Brooke Cagle on Unsplash
Believe it or not, the US Postal Service is still setting records. On Dec. 18, 2017, more than 37 million packages were delivered (the most packages delivered in a single day) in the postal service’s more than 200-year history. Yet, USPS continues to suffer from falling losses for 11 years straight.
Why? Well, USPS has had to cut costs for years in an effort to pre-fund its retiree health care program – often at the expense of the service it provides. Essentially, these obligations prevent the organization from investing in the infrastructure that so critically needs attention.
Welcome the Postal Service Reform Act of 2018.
This reform act was written by a bipartisan group of senators, and the bill would address many problems that have been hindering the postal service as mail volumes continue to decline. The proposed bill has the following in store for USPS:
- The government will do away with the existing statutory payment schedule, along with any outstanding payments, and will amortize payments over 40 years.
- Restore half of the temporary rate increase while freezing further rate increases until a new rate system can be put in place by the Postal Regulatory Commission.
- Create a new Postal Service Health Benefits Program within the Federal Employee and Retiree Health Benefits Program administered by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management.
- Introduce new non-postal product and services, like shipping wine or spirits, as well as creating partnerships with state governments.
- Improve transparency of results, meaning that performance for both retail and delivery would be very visible and easily accessible, for all to see.
This new legislation has received support from some printing and mailing industry organizations, however the House of Representatives rejected the bill. The Postal Regulatory Commission is on a mission to stabilize the USPS this year by raising postage stamps to 64 cents over the next five years. Time will tell how the government will ensure affordable and reliable mail service for all. We’ll provide updates here as things progress.
Photo by Gemma Evans on Unsplash
The debate over the life of print has been happening since the beginning of the digital age, and yet at Mount Vernon we see companies that still rely heavily on magazines, newspaper, billboard and direct mail ads.
Every year, marketers consider how many resources to put towards print verses all of their digital options, or whether to eliminate it altogether. The experts have their thoughts on the future of print advertising, and so do we.
- Print is a target-specific channel. It will continue to be valuable in places of customer presence like events, in-store marketing, or a waiting room – where people still like to kill a few minutes flipping through colorful, tactile magazines or brochures that give actual weight to a message or an ad.
- Augmented Reality. AR will give advertisements the opportunity to be part of a seamless omnichannel experience. As your audience becomes more desensitized to digital ads, advances with AR and image recognition can be a real differentiator for your brand.
- Successful print already encourages a digital interaction. Using a strategy that incorporates print into digital campaigns has proven to be more effective than digital alone because it engages your audience even further to interact with your brand online. Or, try both and entice consumers with a physical interaction, like this Indiana University Day “Super-Secret Decoder Message” direct mail piece (see pic). What could be better than sending recipients rose-colored glasses encouraging interaction in which putting them on reveals hidden text launching a clever fundraiser campaign?
- Print media will re-engage consumers via influencers and offline methods. Even though print is in the process of an evolution (or revolution, as I like to say), I believe that the outcome will lead to greater levels of engagement. If funding your print strategy is in question, you should consider testing the waters of offline partnerships to see if this can work for your brand. As newspaper and magazine production continues to decrease, direct mail might still be the best way to reach your audience.
No matter what you think about paper, the key is to find the right balance between digital and print for any given campaign using the omnichannel approach. We would love to help you with that!