At Ricoh, we are not just about production print solutions, we’re about people too. These are the men and women who work every day with you, our customers, to find solutions that best fit your needs. We know that a major part of your business includes those working for you, so we think you’ll appreciate an inside view at the people that are behind the products and services at Ricoh – the people that help define what makes Ricoh the company it is today.
Recently, Tim Vellek, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Ricoh Americas Corporation, sat down with Quick Printing to provide insight into his role within Ricoh, his goals within that role and his overall professional background. Shared here are a few pieces of that Q&A to give you a window into not just what we do at Ricoh, but who we are and how we think – information we feel will help you in your future decisions for a print solutions partner.
QP: How did you get involved with the company? What is your background before that?
Tim: I joined the Ricoh team via their acquisition of Lanier in 2001. At the time, I was the COO and president of Lanier’s EMEA group based in Brussels, Belgium, and I was responsible for all areas of the business for ultimately all regions outside of the Americas. My background prior to that is likely not what you’d expect from a marketing executive. In fact, I was pursuing oceanography at the University of Miami and eventually wound up in the US Air Force. Then, in 1978 I began working with Lanier. About six years after Ricoh’s acquisition of Lanier, I was asked to return to the US to incubate a new business initiative focused on production print. Ricoh had recently acquired Hitachi’s Printing Systems Division and wanted to create a business unit to serve the production digital print market.
QP: What do you consider your greatest achievement in this market to be?
Tim: From a Ricoh perspective, our growth in the digital production print business has been undeniably successful. When we began in 2006 we had no presence in this space: zero. And today, we’re ranked among the leaders across the board by industry analysts like Gartner, IDC, Forrester, InfoTrends, and others. Our accolades range from digital cut-sheet solutions up to continuous-feed solutions. It’s something I know Ricoh as a whole is incredibly honored by.
We attribute these successes to dedication, hard work, and determination, and especially being true partners to our customers. Our production print business has grown by internal expansion, acquisitions like IKON and IBM’s InfoPrint, and true product and services innovation. We took our time to create the production print business and launched our first digital product, the RICOH Pro C900 in 2008 and have been consistently innovating across the board ever since. I believe our dedicated focus on digital color and monochrome technology is an example of Ricoh’s unwavering commitment to the commercial print and production industry. We set out to become a major force as quickly as possible, and I think the feedback from our customers and industry influencers prove we’ve been successful.
QP: What is the biggest piece of advice you would give to printers and others involved in this industry?
Tim: Stay current with new technologies, developments, and innovations; listen to your customers and demonstrate a partnership with them that grows the relationship; and most importantly, have fun and enjoy the ride!
To view the full Q&A, please visit MyPrintResource (the online portal to Quick Printing) at: http://www.myprintresource.com/article/11359958/print-qa-with-ricoh-vp. To learn more about Ricoh’s Production Print Business and Ricoh executives like Tim Vellek, please visit http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/.
The shifting digital world is impacting each and every one of us in more ways than we can count, but one way that is obvious is changing customer expectations around how they receive information. A combination of mail, email and other channels is now essential to reach customers in a meaningful, captivating way. How do marketers and marketing service providers grapple with the changing media environment? I recently spoke with Digital Publishing Solutions magazine about just that. Here are some highlights of our conversation that get at the heart of how companies like yours are managing information workflows to successfully deal with the new marketing landscape and your customers’ demands for cross-media marketing (CMM):
”If used correctly, a marketer can utilize data to identify a customer’s purchases over time and offer up a targeted mail piece that touches on items that a customer might want a discount on, or a new item that would complement past purchases. That same marketer can use cross-media software to add URLs to the mailer for a specialized site that includes viewing offers”.
With the recent increase in postal rates and regulations the direct mail channel has changed. “In order to realize the best postal rates and not have overall marketing campaign costs skyrocket, mailers have had to meet stricter regulations in how mail is dealt with—from the original generation of the piece all the way to the delivery. New trackers need to be implemented to deal with returned and mislabeled mail,” explains Ricoh’s Konow.
CMM solutions attract marketers and MSPs. They include tracking and other important data handling tools to ensure that mail is organized, being used to its greatest potential, and comply with United States Postal Service regulations.
“Data can easily become a hindrance when there aren’t appropriate processes and infrastructures in place to control it. But that is where automated workflow, advanced reporting, data analytics, and digitized in-bound mail solutions often come into play,” continues Konow.
Careful attention must be paid to all campaigns leaving the print shop. Rate increases and stricter regulations mean it isn’t worth wasting money and time to create a CMM campaign that won’t go anywhere. Konow says that print and marketing service providers must evaluate all campaigns to ensure what they are saying and whom they are being sent to are indeed worthwhile.
Want to learn more about end-to-end solutions that can take your marketing capabilities to the next level? Read more about our 1to1Create Marketing Services; and how with this innovative solution, Ricoh helped Graphics Plus, a marketing support solutions provider in Illinois, harness the power of information to deliver double-digit results with a dynamic campaign for their customer: http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/services-solutions/1to1-create-marketing-services http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/about/press-releases/ricoh-launches-1to1-create-marketing-services-to-empower-small-to-medium-printers-with-tools-for-new
- Kurt Konow
Director, Vertical Marketing, Ricoh
Are you looking to increase return rates on your current direct mail program or trying to decide if direct mail will be an effective marketing tool for you? Well, you are not alone. Mail still plays a strong role in today’s communications; it has simply evolved like the rest of our industry. One route to delivering the desired results and success for you and your clients is to add an interactive layer to your direct mail campaign.
There are many digital tools available to you today that provide personalization and interactive content. So how do you go about taking steps to bring digital content into your direct mail program and which tools do you incorporate? Do you even know what your options are? Here are a few tips that can help start you in the right direction:
1. Know your audience – For some recipients direct mail will be the way to go, for others, they may prefer an email campaign. Understanding your recipients’ preferences can go a long way toward a successful campaign. If you aren’t already, conduct a survey – or obtain your client’s data – of your recipients’ communication preferences and habits. Analyzing this data will unlock valuable insights about which channels are most relevant to your users.
2. Develop a marketing plan – Before you begin, it is important to understand the goals and objectives you wish to achieve then plan accordingly. Here is where you will lay the groundwork for an interactive component.
3. Establishing a clear call to action – It’s important for you to instruct your targets on what they need to do to receive what you’re offering, e.g..: mail back this card to receive two free issues of our publication. If it’s not clear what you’re asking your audience to do, chances are no action will be taken.
4. It’s all about the data – Good data and effective use of that data are the key building blocks to delivering targeted content that ultimately leads to a positive ROI. It’s crucial to determine where you get this data from (i.e. collected directly from customers or other micro-level activity, or purchased from a list provider) and how you’ll use the data to build profiles to more accurately deliver mail in the form that the targets prefer to receive it.
5. Understanding mobile device significance – Once you have the data figured out, you need to figure out how to link your print and digital resources. Some of the technologies that printers and mailers can and are using to bring more value to content owners and consumers include:
• A pURL – a personalized URL that takes the recipient to a web site landing page that is built, typically on the fly, for that individual using data that has been collected or purchased to target the message. So for example, a pURL such as www.auto-ad-promotion.com/johnsmith would take Mr. Smith to a landing page which references his five year-old Chevy and invites him to visit his local dealer for a new minivan.
• QR Codes – can be personalized just like a pURL but because they are simply scanned with the mobile device, they provide easier, more immediate access to online content. Imagine targeted text along with an eye-catching QR code on an envelope. QR codes can provide a route to adding creativity and relevance to mail pieces. For example, adding a QR code that launches a relevant coupon when scanned.
• Hashtags – are most conducive to social media and are used to both tag and search for content. For example, a hashtag such as #mailtechnology, would be used to publicize related content and create a community of interest around it.
• Image Recognition (IR) – uses the mobile device to scan the image and link it to content on the Internet. It can be built from any image, a paragraph of text, a picture etc. and is seamlessly embedded into content.
• Digital Watermark – is an imperceptible and unique image pattern that is embedded in the content and can be used with both images and text. It can be personalized just like a QR Code and it supports variable interactive content based on the context of the image, such as videos or other promotional content
• Augmented Reality (AR) – offers more complexity and sophistication than the other tools discussed. With AR you get an augmented view of the printed content by placing your mobile device over the content. An example of this would be that the printed material shows an ad for a new car. This technology provides a great opportunity for direct mailers, printers, and their customers to differentiate themselves.
Another great feature of adding mobile devices into the equation is the additional data they create. Many of the above applications capture information (data) about customers so that you can get the right message to the right person and also the opportunity to introduce tailored content to the landing page. Ricoh has a long legacy in helping the print industry capture, manage and transform information about clients to produce relevant, targeted campaigns.
Always remember that the most successful campaigns stem from a marketing plan, offer a clear and strong call to action, and deliver high quality content across print and digital. Pull those aspects together and you will see results.
Want to learn more about tools for optimizing your print and digital communications? Visit Ricoh’s Production Print site at http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/discover/direct-marketing.
- John Hankins
Strategic Program Manager, Production Print Cloud Services, Ricoh
Guest Post from Phil Riebel, President, Two Sides North America, Inc.
Are you looking to increase your understanding of the benefits of print and paper? Or are you perhaps looking for information to help better inform your clients on why paper is, in fact, a valuable commodity? Our organization, Two Sides, can help with both those needs.
It might interest you to know that print and paper have been the primary tools used by our society to communicate (learning, creative, commercial) for well over 1,000 years. In other words, even back in the days of our great, great grandparents, print and paper were the go-to way people expressed themselves. But, in the past few decades, misconceptions of their sustainability have arisen, with many promoting the “going paperless” idea, putting what has been a mainstay of communications for many generations, at risk.
If you’re like many folks today, you’ve probably wondered: Isn’t digital more environmentally friendly than paper? Do I need to promote digital solutions alongside my paper ones to show my support for eco initiatives? Do I need to plan for a society that is using less paper? Interestingly enough, products and services that replace paper are not necessarily better for the environment. According to IT energy scholars like Peter Arnfalk, an associate professor of the IIIEE, the direct impact to the environment of replacing paper with digital products and services is far from negligible. It depends on multiple conditions: use frequency, source of energy, end‐of‐life management of the products, etc… Rather than asking which is better, paper or electronic communication, Two Sides believes we should be working to determine which combination of the two has the least impact on the environment while best meeting social and economic needs.
So how can we help you show your customers why print and paper are part of an eco-friendly future? Well, let’s take an example. One common myth is that creating paper is bad for the environment. The fact is that paper is recyclable and it is made from a natural resource that is renewable. And thanks to the U.S. paper industry’s advocacy of responsible forestry practices and certification, paper is one of the most sustainable products on earth.
This is where our organization, Two Sides, comes into the picture. We began with one goal in mind – to promote the sustainable future of print and paper – and give you a voice to promote the sustainable practices of print. And today, we have more than 1,000 members globally and we are present in several countries that help work towards this goal every day.
We do the research for you providing the education tools needed to show others in your industry, regulatory bodies, and of course customers the environmental and social benefits to print media. We do this while exposing the fact that the many misconceptions related to the sustainability of paper and print are just that: misconceptions. Our primary focus is to raise awareness about the life cycle of print and explain the real sustainability impact of the Graphic Communications Value Chain – looking at everything from forest management to paper mill production to the differences in carbon footprints between print and electronic communications.
Check us out at http://www.twosides.us to learn more about how we can work together to keep print communications thriving another 1000 plus years. If you are attending Graph Expo this September, come visit us at Booth #1074 in the GreenSpace and we can give you a live demonstration of what we offer print organizations like yours to address the ongoing challenge of validating print and paper in an ever increasing digital society. Or if you’re not joining us in Second City, but will be in Brazil for ExpoPrint in July, come look us up at booth 94G – 20th street.
- Phil Riebel
President, Two Sides North America, Inc.
How can I produce print signage that makes me stand out from the competition? How do I incorporate online signage that complements my more traditional offline offerings? What can I do to make sure my end products are eco-friendly and made with sustainable materials? These are likely just a few of the key questions signage companies and printers are asking themselves as they attend the ISA International Sign Expo show this week.
Given the broad scope of the signage industry, it’s competitive. That means if you offer signage capabilities, you’ll want to find ways to innovate and separate yourself from the pack. The good news is that according to International Sign Association (ISA) 2013 report (which is a survey of members and attendees during their annual International Sign Expo), 93% of companies expect their business to grow in the coming year and almost three-fourths of those surveyed expect double digit growth, while a third expect growth rates of over 20%.
So what are the areas your customers might look to you for help with? Interestingly enough they are not all that dissimilar to other areas of print. Some examples include:
• Multi-channel strategies – Companies need to know how to cost effectively provide a multi-channel signage approach (incorporating print, online, social media and more).
• Digital signage – It’s becoming more prevalent, but companies are looking for ideas around when and how to use digital signage – and want to know when the added expense is worth the business result.
• Relationship management and growth – A consistent customer becomes a partner. That partner drives more revenue than a onetime customer. What does this mean? Frequency equals profit. You must develop customer relationships that last in order to truly thrive.
• The green movement – As the world looks to make industries more environmentally friendly, incorporating eco-friendly practices and sustainable products into signage offerings without vastly increasing costs is important.
How can you stay current, remain competitive and address all of these trends to meet current customer needs and also grow your business? Look to campaign management. Given the increased role marketing trends are playing across all of print (including signage), it’s crucial for you to offer more than just an outdoor portfolio. It’s important to have a comprehensive set of solutions in place that allows you to offer customers a complete personalized marketing package that incorporates signage as one element of a print and digital campaign.
For the first time Ricoh will be attending the International Signage Expo (ISA) show and demonstrating how we help printers in industries ranging from healthcare to banking bridge the digital divide across areas like mail, critical communications and operational workflow. We want to help you grow new customers. At the show, we’ll showcase comprehensive print and marketing campaign solutions that we hope will do just that.
Are you attending the ISA International Sign Expo Expo this year? If so, stop by the Ricoh booth #479 and see how we can help you address the latest trends and issues affecting signage. To learn more about Ricoh’s signage solutions, visit Ricoh’s Production Print site at rpp.ricoh-usa.com.
How do you achieve document integrity and compliance while cutting costs? What channels are most important for you to address your customers’ critical communications needs? What is the future of customer communication management? These are just some of the questions we heard at Xploration14, a mainstay event of the electronic document industry which took place from March 25-27.
With more than 60 educational sessions on various topics ranging from data to industry applications to technology best practices, the conference was a gathering of leading print service providers, direct marketers and everyone in-between, all looking to address the latest trends and pain points in the ever shifting world of information communications.
It was evident that these marketers, service providers and technologists were seeking ways to work more intelligently and move our industry forward with innovation. The value of Xplor truly lies in being able to spend three solid days listening to experts in print address the industry’s most important issues and most pressing challenges, many of which often touch on very specific company needs. At Ricoh, we have been helping to revolutionize the workplace for more than 75 years, so we’re right at home sharing knowledge that can solve today’s and tomorrow’s challenges for the new world of work, where the only constant is change.
This year, I presented the session, “The Appropriate Document Factory 2.0: Budget vs. Compliance?” I shared the best practices that regulated industries (like healthcare and utilities) use to address ongoing challenges with proper tracking and reporting of sensitive data for compliance and accreditation. The Xplor audience responded well to tips and real world case studies on how to meet regulatory and document integrity requirements; maximize current resources to boost efficiency, cut waste and keep costs low; and avoid document tracking uncertainties. They also appreciated hearing some examples of how budget concerns are being trumped by compliance and business continuity.
Meanwhile, in a different session, marketing attendees heard from Kurt Konow, Director, Vertical Marketing, and fellow panelists on the current state of channel marketing – how to develop programs that work and can increase customer retention and satisfaction – including finding the most lucrative value-add services, leveraging Web-based portals for creating and delivering multi-channel campaigns and how to help customers extend their marketing content beyond print to email, Web pages, social media and more.
Howard Turetzky kept attendees up to date about the AFP Consortium and AFP Archive (AFP/A) Function Sets. This information is critical as companies attempt to retire older systems and printers and gain page independence through metadata tagging. This is a sample of the deep veteran knowledge that customers with newer staff need to make smart moves when designing their new infrastructures.
The icing on the cake for us was sharing an Application of the Year honorable mention award win with one of our customers. Making information work isn’t always easy – but together, CCS Printing and Ricoh were able demonstrate by integrating new solutions with legacy ones, that printers like CCS can meet both traditional printing and forms management customer requirements, while expanding to also handle client communications document integrity from the print process to mail insertion. This honor, and our own Harry Lewis’ acknowledgement as the recipient of the Brian Platte Lifetime Achievement award made for a humbling experience – and one of many rewarding experiences over the three days that we spent speaking with people in the industry face-to-face.
Did you attend Xplor? Have any questions or comments about the show or hot trends you’d like to address? Please share your comments!
- Paul Abdool
Director, Production Workflow Automation Practice
It’s time once again for the annual National Postal Forum (NPF) – approaching this March 16-19 – and everyone from in-plant and commercial printers to in-house corporate mail departments will be gathering to see what new solutions might be out there to help solve the ever-changing pain points of mail . With the mail industry changing rapidly every year, we know you are looking to discuss the most important mail issues of today, and learn about solutions to make your information work for you tomorrow.
Whether you’re interested in reducing postage costs, meeting regulatory compliance, implementing end-to-end tracking, or managing data, we can help. All you have to do is visit us in booth #1711.
Curious about how to streamline your current processes in order to reduce cost and become more efficient? Well, this year we will debut our unique interactive digital workflow wall at the show. This wall will enable our mail experts to draw up a custom workflow to illustrate how Ricoh can apply new workflow functions to meet your mail challenges. Or if best practices are what you’re looking for, you can spend some time with our customer case study video wall, hearing how real life customers have addressed their mail operation problems, making them more efficient and effective. Often, when we hear company employees say “there has to be a better way,” there is – and at Ricoh, we specialize in making information work for companies like yours.
Ricoh experts will also showcase top ideas for solving all your mail in mail out and everything in-between pain points at the following panels:
With more than 130 educational sessions and workshops scheduled for the event, you’ll feel like a kid in a mail solution candy store. So why not come see what is on the horizon for the industry and how you can start turning your communications pipeline into business solutions that mean increased productivity, reduced cost savings and peace of mind for knowing you can address what is coming tomorrow?
Will you be at the NPF this year? Stop by Ricoh’s Booth #1711. We hope to see you there!
Manager, WW Software Alliances, Ricoh
As a reader of our blog, you might already be familiar with the questions used to determine if your organization is in need of Critical Communications solutions:
Every day, you deal with the pain points related to these questions – the stumbling blocks that keep your business from running as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The latest version of the Critical Communications solutions suite, answers those questions and addresses your pain points with three key new features. Here’s how:
The common thread of all these new features? Using the information contained in files, barcodes, databases, and other places to efficiently control your workflow and ensure your communications are accurate, relevant and on-time. Whether, you’re a book printer, an in-plant printer dealing with employee marketing, or a university alumni relations office, the latest updates to the Critical Communications can help you. Companies like CCS Printing have used Critical Communications to achieve new levels of efficiency. You can read more about the Critical Communications solutions suite here: http://rpp.ricoh-usa.com/discover/critical-communications.
Ricoh will also be discussing the most pressing topics for mailers and showcasing our Critical Communications solutions suite at the National Postal Forum (March 16-19), so stop by our booth to see it action and talk to our experts. Stay tuned to our blog here, @RicohProPrint on Twitter and our Facebook page for the latest.
- Christopher Reid, Director, Software Product Marketing
A new year means that your organization is likely planning to make new purchases for software, hardware and services solutions. And if you’re like most, you know that making the right decisions can mean the difference between success or being plagued with the headaches and mishaps that result from a bad choice. In the latest issue of Mailing Systems Technology, I share insights and strategies on how you can avoid the common obstacles that stand in the way of making the best purchase for your organization. Here are the main takeaways of the article (and many of these don’t just apply to mailers):
For a more in-depth look at strategies for making the best purchases, read the full article in the January/February 2014 issue of Mailing Systems Technology (Page 26-27) here: http://issuu.com/rbpublishing/docs/mst_janfeb/27?e=2333928/6456471.
And if you’re attending MAILCOM (February 10-13) or the National Postal Forum (March 16-19), be sure to check out my Ricoh colleagues at the show, where we’ll be speaking about optimizing your mail, using workflow to reduce costs, measuring mail workflow and more.
Vice President Solutions & Services, Ricoh
The phrase data rich applications is something one might hear in passing during discussions of a publishing print portfolio or a publisher’s book printing goal for the next five years. But many may not even know what we really mean when we talk about data rich applications, nor understand why they are so significant in a publishing organizations growth planning.
So let’s break it down. Data rich applications (or variable data printing – as the industry usually refers to this topic) open up the potential for companies to go beyond books only and significantly expand revenue potential. These applications can include versioned content for books, course packs and custom manuals, as well as personalized marketing collateral, direct mail and regulated corporate communications that require tracking and accountability.
What this means to organizations focused on the publishing industry is that by having variable data printing capabilities, they can broaden their portfolio of offerings, going beyond simply book printing and providing custom printing options at affordable cost breakdowns. For example, a printer could offer an academic institution or commercial association that publishes book length journals, a two-color version journal with geographic-specific advertising. This would offer these organizations a method of printing that provides new, ongoing revenue.
At Ricoh, we understand that having solutions that allow for variable data printing is crucial to the future of the publishing industry and as such have designed hardware and software technologies that allow companies to accept, transform, organize, manipulate and repurpose data that comes from multiple sources in multiple formats – all crucial steps in the variable data process. A good example of how this all fits together can be seen in our work with Frederic Printing in Denver.
Frederic works within several different sectors of the community, including education, government and marketing segments, all expecting to produce high volumes of content on a quick turnaround. Back in 2010, after looking at many solutions to meet their demanding customer needs, Frederic determined to go with Ricoh’s InfoPrint 5000 due to its versatility and support of sustainable and cost-effective print practices through a system that offers a compact size, operational efficiency, low power consumption (one of the lowest in the industry) and use of water-based inks. Over the next few years, Frederic installed additional InfoPrint 5000 machines, seeing an opportunity to not just meet their current customer needs, but use the flexibility of Ricoh’s solutions to grow their business into new markets and revenue opportunities. By strengthening their ability to provide clients with high volumes and quick turnarounds, Frederic has been able to meet and exceed the growing and ever-changing needs of the markets they serve.
Our work with Frederic Printing is just one example of Ricoh’s commitment to providing what companies need to address the growing rich data requirements of their customers. For more information on variable data printing and data rich application trends go to http://bit.ly/1dwU2y4
- Rob Malkin
Business Development Executive — Inkjet Technologies, Ricoh