PLAYING EUCHRE WITH GRAMPA AND A 13-YEAR OLD INVESTOR
My 13-year old son finds ways of accumulating small amounts of cash through odd jobs. He’s not a …
My 13-year old son finds ways of accumulating small amounts of cash through odd jobs. He’s not a spender, so over the years, he’s created a little nest egg. He sets goals for himself, and then when he reaches them, he sets new ones. The first few goals were relatively easy to achieve. It just takes a sweet babysitting gig, an occasional snow shovelling job, or umping a few baseball games to get there. His goals are getting bigger, so the other day he started asking me about investing. He wanted to know how to make his money grow. So this set off a whole discussion of different ways of investing your money and balancing risks for potential reward. A fun discussion with a 13-year old!
When it comes to financial communications, we’re in risk-reward discussions ALL the time. In the last couple of weeks, I’ve been approached by a few clients that want to break through to another level in areas like customer acquisition, paperless communications, customer retention and growth. However big or small, each of these clients have achieved a measure of success in the area, but they’ve now established new, ambitious goals, and are trying to figure out how to get there. And these goals are always beyond what the current approach will achieve. That’s when you need to do something different. Sticking to the same approach will not get you different results.
Enter, the risk-reward discussion. At Blue ID, this is where our agency creativity and our consulting practicality meet. Wearing our creative hats, we present a range of alternatives that are revolutionary, cutting edge, out of the box, or just plain edgy. Wearing our consultant hats, we weigh the options and measure the opportunity and risk. Then the fun begins to figure out which option offers the biggest bang for the buck while fitting in with the risk each client is willing to take. Communications re-engineering always involves some risk.
My son gets his ‘real life’ risk-reward lessons from his Grampa every time they play cards. Grampa appears to take big risks, and more often than not he wins big. What he’s learning to appreciate is that his risks are well planned, and the reason Grampa seems to be a high roller is because everyone else at the table is playing it safe.
TIME FOR A DIET
A couple of weeks ago, the US Postal Service announced it’s new 2nd Ounce Free pricing. This is …
A couple of weeks ago, the US Postal Service announced it’s new 2nd Ounce Free pricing. This is a program designed to “add value to the mail”. The press release talks about how this promotion will help mailers have a greater impact by using higher quality paper stock, larger envelopes, and combining more promotional material in transactional materials, aka transpromo.
I’ve been stewing about this for a couple of weeks, so today’s post is a little longer than usual.
Transactional documents like bills and statements are important communication vehicles. Unlike ad mail, these envelopes almost always get opened, and the time we typically spend looking at the contents is measured in minutes. These are regular monthly appointments with every customer. They are expecting them, and they read them. What an opportunity! This is the opportunity that lies at the heart of many of the services Blue ID offers. Handled properly, promotional messaging in transactional documents can have a tremendous impact.
I try to avoid using the word transpromo. First of all, it tends to be an industry term that few understand – I’m all about having our clients understand what we’re talking about. Secondly, too often it is used to describe what USPS is suggesting we do with that second ounce…throw in more buckslips! Or, using intelligent insertion, throw in more of the right buckslips!
Is that second ounce really going to improve your customer experience? I don’t know about you, but I don’t want more buckslips with my statement. I think we need to put most of our mailings on a diet. The typical mailing needs to shed some wait, not gain it! The secret to the bills and statements I receive is that they are filled with relevant, personal information that I require to take action. I would prefer to take our mailing threshold and figure out how to make EVERYTHING in the envelope relevant to me. When it comes to marketing effectiveness and customer satisfaction, the payoff comes when you design a document that presents itself as something that was written for you. When promotional messages appear ON the document you are reading, and it is placed there because it is connected to a known affinity you have, that’s when you will read and act on it. Adding more to the fat, insert-filled envelope you rescue your statement from before discarding is not where the promises of personalization show up.
This IS possible. At Blue ID we build documents like this all the time…but that’s a discussion for another day.
In the meantime, let’s say we put our mailings on a diet and put that 2nd ounce on hold.
WHEN PAPER AND PAPERLESS COLLIDE
If you’ve ever seen a pianist in performance, there is a unique art to managing the paper on …
If you’ve ever seen a pianist in performance, there is a unique art to managing the paper on the music stand. There is the challenge of turning a page while both hands are supposed to be busy making music. While some of us from Blue ID attended a Classical Revolution concert on the weekend, we noticed that pianist Lara Downes not only mesmerized the audience with her music but also her unique approach to managing paper. All the music for the hour-long performance was on her iPad, with the page turns controlled by a wireless foot pedal. Wow! What an innovative way to solve this age-old dilemma. It changed the entire experience – for the musician and the audience.
We are all trying to reduce paper. It’s clear that statements are delivered quicker and cheaper when everyone chooses to go paperless. So why don’t they? There’s a dependance on paper, and a process that each of us has making that envelope in the mail a trigger for a number of activities. While the reasons to switch are obvious, many organizations forget to look at the customer’s experience. For Lara, it would be like putting her music on her iPad, but leaving out the foot pedal. It would remove the clutter and make the traveling life of a musician easier, but when it comes down to the performance, she’d still be swiping at the iPad in between page turns.
Most paperless communications programs are missing the foot pedal – a natural connector between the physical and the digital world. For several years, marketers around the world have been anxiously waiting for QR code technology to be that foot pedal for changing the way we interact with transactional documents and marketing messages. We’re getting close. A recently published study by Chadwick Martin Bailey showed that while 21% of US Internet Users had heard of QR codes, 81% knew what they were when they saw one.
We are seeing the QR code almost everywhere, from magazines to billboards to t-shirts. For now, 41% of scans are out of curiosity. If it doesn’t go somewhere meaningful and usable, that curiosity will die down soon. If the page of music only flipped 9 out of 10 times Lara tapped her foot pedal, she wouldn’t be using it. But, with a consistent and relevant experience, the QR code could be our foot pedal to our e-migration dreams.
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COMMUNICATIONS RE-ENGINEERING – WE’VE GOT TO THINK DIFFERENTLY!
So with my belly full of turkey and my body recovering from a fun Winter vacation in Winnipeg, …
So with my belly full of turkey and my body recovering from a fun Winter vacation in Winnipeg, I found myself sitting on an airplane watching the movie Moneyball. I got pretty caught up in the storyline. Coming off a disappointing post season loss to the New York Yankees, and losing several star players to free agency, the Oakland A’s are faced with the challenge of rebuilding their team to be competitive. To make matters worse, GM, Billy Beane has a third of the money to work with than the New York Yankees.
The scene that captured my imagination happens early when the GM meets with his scouting team and they talk about how they are going to replace the star players. The GM responds by “We’ve got to think differently”. He proceeds by building a team on the premise of on base percentage (OBP). There are trials, but in the end, the theory is vindicated with some amazing results.
In this economy, when it comes to communicating with our customers, “We’ve got to think differently”. We spend most of our time defending and executing things the way we always have. Many of us spend all kinds of money to kill trees and send out material that our customers don’t want and don’t read. It doesn’t have to be that way. We can reduce costs by moving financial communications and transactional documents online. We can improve the customer experience by streamlining what we send out, making it relevant and interactive.
For Billy Beane the game changed when he used OBP to measure the value of each player on his team. In the same way, we begin to think differently when we take stock of our communications and bring a relentless insistence that every piece have a measurable purpose. When we identify and prioritize the opportunities this presents, it changes the game…completely.
Happy New Year from the team at Blue ID.
THE BIRTH OF BLUE ID
It has been an absolutely amazing last number of weeks here at Blue ID. While some of us …
It has been an absolutely amazing last number of weeks here at Blue ID. While some of us have been busy keeping our current projects on track others have been working on launching Blue ID.
There are still some loose ends, but we are ready and excited to “go public” with the changes we’ve been working on. As Blue ID, we are now ready to build on our history and move into the following areas in a more focused way:
1. Saving you money by re-engineering how you communicate with your customers. In the context of your business goals, we develop strategies to eliminate, consolidate, and go online with your communications.
2. Making an impact by transforming your transactional documents into effective communication tools.
3. Building solutions that make the promises of personalized communications come to life.
Our clients and partners in the banking, investment, and insurance industry are as excited as we are.
Check out the press release and the rest of the website for more information.
Welcome to Blue ID!