Rematas top two technical specialists attended the XMPie Users Group Conference in Miami in the US, where they gained valuable insights into the rapidly evolving print and communications industry and how to apply it to the local market.
While they agree that the local market is unique in some aspects and lags behind the US market, the message was clear that relevant, personalised communications dynamically published via several channels will differentiate printers in an increasingly commoditised space and bring much-needed services to agencies.
Over time printers have painted themselves into a corner, harnessing the manufacturing mindset that margins can be cut while volumes are grown to produce profitability, said Annemarie Burger, director at Remata. But printed volumes are now shrinking in the digital era, the number of products printers must offer is growing, and it can be extremely difficult for some printers to get the returns they need, particularly considering the high capital investment in equipment.
Personalised, relevant communications via social media channels are gaining massive traction in the US which makes delivery via mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, and traditional computing such as desktops and laptops, absolutely critical to modern communications specialists.
The total communications solution, however, includes variable data, cross-media, analytics, and portals. Traditional printers only fulfill one component of that broad arsenal. Advertising agencies also suffer for their inability to provide analytics on adverts placed in print, on radio, TV and in cinemas.
Years ago, we noticed the changes were just beginning to take shape across all forms of communication and so we aligned ourselves with the future through high end global technology solutions and creative minds to stay relevant and influential in an ever-changing market, said Burger.
Today, unquantifiable returns on investments are a relic of the past, she said. Considering the lean times, most companies are reducing their marketing and advertising budgets. You can see it in the consistent drop in advertising spend, across TV, radio, print and cinema in South Africa since 2007, going on figures from the World Outdoor Research Council.
Printers are the logical choice to fill the gap. They are experts at producing a spectrum of marketing materials, they have decades worth of experience working with agencies and corporations directly and they have designers and developers on tap. With their investment in high capital infrastructure, they are ideally placed to deliver the technology foundation that underscores variable data, cross-media, analytics, and portal services in a seamless package. While they can never replace agencies they must become invaluable partners delivering a wider range of products and services.
XMPie has grown up through operational deployments over almost a decade and has the capability and capacity to support unique solutions for a range of communications and dynamic publishing requirements.
Employing XMPie produces a number of outcomes, said Burger. Firstly, there is generally far less volume. Youre not spraying and praying as with traditional media advertising, pamphlets, e-mails, brochures and others like those, which means less production cost. Secondly, youre customising the message for each person and delivering it to them in a highly visible format, which means the conversion ratio climbs enormously.
Thats why we invested at the beginning of 2010 already in the XMPie Platinum Suite, said Burger. Its the only solution on the market that covers all the bases in one solution and to the depth of detail in each sphere that is necessary to deliver a sophisticated, professional experience for our customers. Rematas technical specialists are supported directly by XMPies own international technical development team.
Having direct access to the guys who are already writing the code for the next generation, and who wrote the code for the current generation of XMPie, means that we can create detailed customisations to support the most sophisticated marketing operations available in South Africa, she concluded.