Blog - directworx

2019 – Part 4: Future Proofing

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A Vertical Market Approach Can Pay Dividends

Realistically, marketers cannot do everything and satisfy everyone’s needs because resources will not stretch that far. Successful programs will target offerings toward customers that need and want their services, while setting aside the customers that do not fit that profile. This often involves a vertical market focus that concentrates on a specific type of business within a single industry. The benefits of embracing a vertical market approach are clear:

  • You get more attention within your market space: When you market to a specific group, it is much easier to get their attention. After all, you are talking about their challenges and their issues
  • You can become an expert within the segment: Being an expert in your field is a differentiator
  • The world of advertising is crowded: Expertise is equated to differentiated value-add in the minds of customers and prospects
  • More effective marketing to a targeted base: Once your marketing efforts become focused, your messages will sound right to the market segment

Prospective customers will view you as a partner that clearly understands them and their needs. According to a survey that InfoTrends completed in 2018, high-growth enterprises were more likely to have a vertical market focus. To differentiate themselves with a vertical market focus, savvy direct marketers are ensuring they understand the requirements of the industries they are selling into.

The Demand for a Broad Range of Services is Increasing

Enterprises are seeking to make the most of their communication budgets by working with a single provider that can offer the broadest range of services and access to a variety of delivery channels. They ultimately want one outsourcing partner that offers end-to end services and operates as a “one-stop-shop.”

Enterprises are seeking a partner with the skills, technology, and know-how to future-proof their communication strategies. Service providers must find a way to elevate their purpose beyond helping clients save money on commodities and delivery. As we move into the future, providers that can empower their clients to generate fresh revenue through communication innovations and an improved customer experience will be best positioned for success in today’s multi-channel market.

2019 – Part 3: Personalization Plus Print Proves Powerful

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Personalization Matters

Research consistently shows that personalization influences response, and often plays a key role on how consumers interact with transactional and marketing communications. Over 30% of respondents to a recent InfoTrends survey indicated that transactional communications sent via direct mail could be improved by making them more relevant, and personalization is a critical component of relevance.  

InfoTrends’ research has also suggested that the reader will invest more time reviewing personalized content than generic content. Surprisingly, this holds truer for younger consumers in the burgeoning 18-34 age group. In fact, this younger audience reported that personalized content was the key that inspired them to engage with direct mail as well as marketing e-mails. Personalization clearly catches consumers’ eyes and improves the customer experience. Savvy marketers will leverage the benefits of personalization to their advantage, especially when attempting to reach younger consumers.  

Directworx has intentionally remained at the forefront of leveraging 1:1 personalization to support successful marketing ROI for our customers. As an organization that values workflow automation to simplify the complex, we have a mature suite of tools that easily enable enterprises to engage consumers with personalized offers, incentives and calls-to-action in a controlled and measurable environment.  By integrating personalized print with digital touchpoints our systems provide the ideal mix for successful campaigns. 

Print Increases Customer Engagement…But It’s Not the Only Element!

As we’re well into a new year, more and more businesses will be relying on tried-and-true printed communications to drive customer engagement. According to a study conducted by the US Postal Service and the Center for Neutral Decision-making at Temple University, print outperforms digital ads in several key brain activity categories, including review time, emotional reaction, memory retention, and perceived value. The research concludes that physically printed ads are easier for our brains to process. Study participants spent more time with physical advertisements, showed more desire for a product shown in print, and were more stimulated by physical ads than by their digital counterparts.  

The younger “digital natives” still respond to print because our brains are simply wired to react differently to printed material than they do to digital media. In a study that gauged responses to physical and digital advertising pieces, the USPS/Temple researchers used brain imaging, biometrics (e.g., heart rate and respiration), eye tracking, and questionnaires to draw the following conclusions  

  • Study participants processed digital ad content more quickly, but they spent more time with printed ads
  • Printed ads triggered activity in a part of the brain that corresponds with value and desirability
  • Study participants had a stronger emotional response to printed ads and remembered them better

According to the same study, direct mail requires 21% less cognitive effort to process than digital media, suggesting that it is easier to understand and more memorable. In addition, brand recall was 70% higher among participants who were exposed to a direct mail piece versus a digital ad. Additional research confirms that consumer engagement can be fueled by several factors—including personalization, interactivity, dimension, and visual and tactile appeal.  

Print still plays a key role in driving customer engagement, but it is only one component of a truly immersive experience that must include a seamless combination of traditional, digital, social, and mobile interactions. The most successful marketers are reviewing their touchpoint capabilities with an eye toward adding more capabilities directly or via partnerships. When marketing a new or existing product, consider all the elements that can drive engagement for your campaign as well as the product itself.  

2019 – Part 2: Hunters, Farmers, and Automated Excellence

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Tailor your Techniques

Due to a wealth of information on the internet, increased competition, a rising number of decision-makers, and a focus on price as the primary differentiator, selling is harder today than it has ever been before. To further complicate matters, buyers’ expectations are changing. As a result, selling techniques must be refined. Smart business teams are actively examining the needs of today’s empowered buyers and structuring their processes and sales force to address changing buying practices. We understand that some buyers will recognize that they have a problem and may turn to us seeking a solution, others will need our knowledge and insight to highlight opportunities for improved results. These groups must be sold to differently.

In response to changing buying behaviors, more and more businesses may choose to implement a dual-focus sales team. “Hunters” and “farmers” have different skills and having access to both types of salespeople can be a critical success factor. The hunters would be responsible for tracking down new business or winning back past customers, while the farmers would focus on cultivating relationships with existing customers to expand their buying potential. The bottom line is that no salesperson can be all things to all buyers, so setting your sales team up for future success means establishing a team that is capable of selling the right solutions to the right set of buyers. Savvy businesses will tune their selling techniques to a variety of buyers’ expectations as they expand into new services and product offerings.

Automation and Operational Excellence

It’s time we acknowledge we are amid a new industrial revolution called “Industry 4.0”. A shift toward improved automation and operational excellence has been in the industry talk track for most of this decade. directworx has invested heavily in improved facilities, automation platforms and LEAN manufacturing techniques. Now that the infrastructure is in place, it is time to leverage the power of automation and build production workflows that automate as much as possible. At directworx we’ve intentionally focused on automation that make it easy to work with us while solving our customers problems. This has resulted in some wonderful solutions such as automated incentive fulfillment, “web-to-workflow” and “response-to-print” all of which help our customers grow their business with greater ease than ever before.

This direction is driven by numerous factors… The rise in data volumes and connectivity; The increased need for data analytics and business-intelligence to run a business as well as support customer applications; speed to market; the need for cross-platform integration and of course, customer experience.

Management personnel must lead the transformation in their businesses to achieve the levels of operational excellence that will enable their businesses to grow. Technologies that are evolving will continue to become more automated, so we must proactively embrace automation that eliminate touchpoints in the print shop. It is also important to minimize the spreadsheet-based management that can prevent operational excellence.

2019 – Part 1: The Right People on the Bus

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2018 is in the books and now is the time to reflect on and refine investments and innovations as we ramp up for a year of growth. From attracting new talent to creating automations and operational excellence, as well as launching value-added services and planning effective marketing activities, growth and fine-tuning should be everyone’s goals in 2019. It certainly is ours here at directworx.

The Graphic Communications industry is facing significant disruptions: new technologies; sales strategies and training; the evolving role of print in the communications ecosystem; and the importance of analytics in delivering personalized 1:1 communication. In the following weeks we’ll share what guided our business decisions, strategies, and plans at directworx last year and will continue into 2019.

Culture crushes everything

Getting “the right people on the bus” (Jim Collins – From Good to Great) has never been more difficult or critical. When employees’ values align with the company’s they are happier, more productive, and more loyal. The burden and benefit of adapting to the Millennial workforce ironically dovetails ideally into a more engaging work environment for all stakeholders.  Fostering and sustaining employee satisfaction through aligned corporate goals and values creates a culture that instills employee happiness which in turn leads to loyal customers.

The structure of all workplaces continues to evolve, and our industry is no exception. Many Baby Boomers have already entered retirement or are planning to leave the workforce soon, as Gen Xers and Millennials continue to reshape the business environment. Meanwhile, the oldest members of Generation Z are starting their own career paths. Each generation has its own unique set of characteristics and preferences, and businesses must change with the times when working to attract new talent. Corporate culture is important to everyone, the trick will be to remain flexible and sensitive to what matters to each generation.

As we move into 2019 and beyond, more Baby Boomers will be approaching retirement and more individuals from Generation Z will be coming of age and entering the workforce. Employers must understand these demographic differences and ensure that their company culture and onboarding process will be appealing to the next generation.  We welcome this change and our culture is one that celebrates the generational variety by recognizing the value of harmony in delivering great customer experiences.


Today’s businesses need a plan of action for training so they can develop the right expertise. Managers must educate their teams to set them up for success, and this starts with building a learning culture where each employee is held responsible for their own professional development. Ongoing training is vital to an effective management process. Training should cover the process, insight and skills, markets, and relevant operations or service offerings.

Too few businesses prioritize budget for employee training; something we’ve been guilty of at directworx in the past, even though the research proves it’s a great investment. Further, numerous generous government-sponsored training incentives are currently available to significantly buffer the cost of the investment.  Great leaders prioritize employee training that supports their growth year over year.

Next week’s topics: Tailor your Techniques, Automation and Operational Excellence

Happy Holidays from directworx!

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Holiday Hours:

Open until noon on Dec 24th, and closed Dec 25th and 26th
Regular hours Dec 27th and Dec 28th
Open until noon on Dec 31st, and closed Jan 1st
Regular hours Jan 2nd onward

Have a wonderful holiday from all of us at directworx!

BILLS, BILLS, BILLS! (and we love ’em)

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When describing the lines of business at directworx (Direct Mail Marketing, Bill Print and Distribution aka “billworx“, eGift fulfillment) I’m often asked how the billworx line of our business is performing now that everyone is going to eBilling. “Great question!” is my response, “we love that trend”. You see, the merit of our billworx product is not really in the commodity production and distribution of the bill but rather in the value of the bill image, thus making it “delivery-channel agnostic”. Let me explain…

Trust me, I’m (not) an expert

12 years ago we made the decision expand into the bill print & mail world as a natural next step for directworx. We’d already mastered variable printing, personalized messaging design, and certainly knew a thing or two about data programming for 1:1 marketing. So, armed with a strong IT team and encouraged by a certain enthusiastic customer we took the plunge into transactional mail. We’d been providing an array of direct mail services to this particular customer and had built strong bonds at numerous levels in the organization. But this would be different. There’s a whole other level of trust required for an organization to outsource such a critical aspect of its business…let’s face it, cash is king and an unhappy king usually means misery for the kingdom and nobody needs that!

After significant research and evaluation with an intentional focus on promotional messaging capabilities we selected a robust software language and platform on which to build our solution for this first billing customer. There were some notable complexities in our prospect’s billing data that in the beginning proved quite challenging (and a great testing ground – but that’s another story) so this platform needed to be flexible enough to handle some pretty ridiculous “spaghetti data”. Nevertheless, we worked closely with the software vendor and the customer to produce a proof of concept, met with VPs, presented to the CFO and finally won the contract. Soon after, we learned that the capabilities of the platform we’d settled on had been instrumental in our customer’s decision to go with us. They’d been as impressed as we were with the flexibility and capabilities of the package, including such features as dynamic messaging, eBilling and reporting.

Image is Everything

Although a steep learning curve, we were eventually able to generate timely, attractive bills that are user friendly, clear and contain relevant promotional images driven dynamically by the data and marketing rules. This, combined with the installation of enterprise-grade color inkjet printing technology that produces full color variable imaging, truly brought the documents to life.

eBilling was on our mind from the outset of this project as a Phase II that was soon rolled out. Calling upon the power and agility of our software, we built a process with a number of options ranging from attachment of the pdf image of our bill, to a simple link to an online “View My Bill” portal where that same image can be viewed, downloaded and paid online. Today, we send hundreds of thousands of eBills on behalf of our customers, the key being they all contain, or link to, a document image that clearly informs while tactfully promoting relevant offers.

A key to our success in this area was taking the time in the beginning to acquire the right technologies that would provide a high degree of branding flexibility thus producing effective bills. Our customer was thrilled at the branding exposure, a reduction of calls to their call center and noticeably quicker payment. In short they’d dramatically improved their subscribers’ bill/payment experience while improving cash-flow and sales!

The Lesson:

The true value of our billworx product lies in the bill image and how it improves the customer’s experience. How that image ends up in front of the consumer is simply a question of preference – a choice we’re pleased to offer!

Tax Statements Made Easy

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Tax season is upon us again! If you’re currently working to send out your tax forms before the February 28th deadline, consider directworx. Our company processes invoices, payroll stubs and statements on a regular basis. During tax season we also process tax receipts, slips and statements (T4, T5, RSP, RIF, etc) for numerous clients. We have the expertise to get your mailing done securely, accurately, and on time.

From Data to Delivery

We have the technology and software to work with virtually all types of data, no matter where it’s generated. Whether your files are ready to print PDF, or raw data in need of a dynamic layout, we can work with you to ensure your job is created to your needs and specifications.

Accurate and Reliable Fulfillment

directworx can generate and print quality-control markings on every page of your document in the form of a 2D barcode, which ensures 100% output verification.

A sample T4 tax form layout, showcasing the two-dimensional barcode used for quality control.

The barcode on each piece is read by our machine upon insertion. This allows us to identify and fix any doubles or missing documents in a job, as well as mid-stream errors. Most importantly, each scanned piece is archived and tracked, so jobs can be audited at any time to confirm correct output.

A snapshot of directworx' DRS report, which records each barcode upon insertion, to ensure reliable, accurate mailings.

The Result

With our flexible data processing services and reliable insertion tracking, we can ensure your next statement job will go smoothly. Give us a call today to learn more!

Bigger, Faster, Better Canada Post Neighbourhood Mail

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Coming January 2018:


Canada Post’s Smartmail Marketing delivers the brand experience directly to the mailbox, helping you reach and attract new customers like no other channel. Now they’re making they Neighbourhood Mail service even more attractive for brands who want to stand out and drive customer action.

Bigger, Faster, Better

Beginning in January 2018, Canada Post will increase the maximum size for Neighbourhood Mail pieces, to align with flyer industry standards. The new maximum for an Oversized piece is 12” x 11” (previously 9” x 11”) and the new thickness is 1” (previously 0.75”), up to 500g.

Canada Post is also getting Neighbourhood Mail to market faster, with a delivery cycle reduced to 3 days for urban and suburban addresses, 1 day to rural addresses.

Maximize Your Audience

Only Canada Post delivers to all 15.8 million addresses in Canada – including exclusive access to the four million apartments and condos in the country. That’s reach and coverage that’s 46% higher than community newspapers and 111% higher than daily newspapers. Neighbourhood Mail also reaches all 2 million addresses in rural Canada – often not served by other delivery methods. Grow your business by accessing all of these Canadian customers.

Stand Out From the Clutter

Protect your investment in seasonal and special events by ensuring your message is not lost in the clutter. With so many advertisers competing for share of attention in newspapers and flyer bags, it’s easy to get lost in the mix. Neighbourhood Mail gets noticed – in fact, nine in ten Canadians are most likely to read their mail the same day they receive it. What’s more, direct mail stays around the home longer; -advertising mail is kept for 17 days, on average.

Build a Smarter Holiday Retail Marketing Plan

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Black Friday and Cyber Monday kick off the holiday shopping season each year, and attracts the most shoppers in stores and online. For consumers, the expectation is that retailers will have sales on these dates.

During the holiday season, consumers see double the amount of advertisements than any other time of year. It’s more important than ever to have a successful marketing plan and stand out from the competition. To create a smarter retail marketing plan:
– Creating Unique Content
– Engage Shoppers in Meaningful Ways
– Strengthen Relationships
– Maximize the Benefits of Peak Periods

Creating Unique Content

Consider something completely original that helps your brand stand out from the rest. The best campaigns will also articulate what you stand for as a company.

The outdoor clothing store REI wanted to create a campaign that separated themselves from the pack, and articulated what they stood for. Contrary to all other retail stores, they decided on Black Friday to give all their employees the day off. While losing sales on that one day, they also started a movement with social media integration, while creating awareness, interest and buzz.

Holt Renfrew launched a printed gift guide as part of a multi-channel campaign. The 16-page glossy book was sent to a select group of 5,000 “Icon Privilege” members. The tactile experience of the printed booklet is a favourite for their higher-end members, who often keep the book as a collectable.

IKEA created a hand-stitched direct mail piece for some of their more valued customers, encouraging them to sign up for their email list. The piece was incredibly engaging, a unique combination of digital and physical, and holds true to IKEA’s brand.

Engage Shoppers in Meaningful Ways

Utilizing Direct Mail, you can create a campaign that:

– Helps your brand stand out. Consumers notice, open and read direct mail.
– Triggers an emotional response. People respond to physical mail with an inspired mindset.
– Generates a lasting effect. Recipients keep, display and share direct mail marketing.
– Influences Consumer Behaviour. Direct Mail is proven to effectively drive action.

Social media can also help complement your Direct Marketing campaign. Consider creating a movement where everyone is involved. This will not only increase sales, but also pique interest and create a buzz. Sending specialized marketing to bloggers and influencers is another great way to drive brand awareness.

Strengthen Relationships

Understanding your customers is the first step in communicating effectively with them.

The customer journey begins with Awareness. These people are prospects, and the marketing objective is introductory in order to create awareness. A neighborhood targeted flyer or postcard will result in visibility and recognition, and drive traffic to websites and social media.

They then move to Interest and Consideration as prospects. The objective now is exploratory, and the customer is introduced to new products or sales. Catalogues and postal code targeting are a great way to create interest and encourage shopping.

Once the interest is converted to sales, they’ve entered the Purchase phase. Marketing messages should be geared towards promotions, such as coupons or flyers. Use offers to strengthen purchase decisions, re-engaging customers and inspire prospects.

Once Purchases have been made, campaigns should shift to Retention & Loyalty. These are your ideal customers. Marketing should be used to build loyalty, drive repeat business, and show your appreciation. Now that you know your customers, Personalized Targeted Mail can be utilized to deliver personalized messages and loyalty rewards.

Maximize the Benefits of Peak Periods

The Holiday Shopper:

A consideration for the holiday season is understanding the Average Shopper versus the Holiday Shopper:

Average shopper:
– most likely to begin as a casual browser
– makes multiple website visits before purchasing
– possesses affinity for particular brands

Holiday Shopper:
– more likely to search for particular items
– more likely to purchase on their first website visit
– are driven by inventory and price, and have low brand affinity

Holiday shoppers tend to make purchasing decisions quicker if the item is at a fair price. Campaigning to them requires marketing that grabs people’s attention immediately.

Segmentation Strategy:

It’s never too early to start thinking about your targeting strategy:
– Begin capturing postal codes of your current consumers
– Derive a new list of postal codes that look like your current audience
– Rank markets with higher customer penetration
– Target a radius or drive-time from your physical location

Also consider the Recency/Frequency/Monetary model:
Recency: The freshness of shopper activity
Frequency: The total number of recorded purchases
Monetary: The willingness to purchase, and total purchase value

Ready to get started? Contact directworx today!

Design a Smarter End-of-Year Fundraising Plan

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October through December is always the busiest time of year for fundraising, with 50% of not-for-profits say they receiving a majority of their contributions in that time. Though it’s a great season to give, it’s also the most competitive. Canada Post processes 36% of its volume in Q4, and consumers view twice as many advertisement over the holiday season than any other time of the year.

This time of year, it’s more important than ever to stand out from the competition. To make the most of your holiday campaign, always begin with the Holy Grail of Marketing:
Right Audience, Right Message, and Right Time.

Right Audience:

Determining the ideal customers will let you know where to focus your marketing efforts. An important exercise to ensure greater donations, especially during the Holidays, is the RFM Model:

Recency: The freshness of the donor
Frequency: The total number of donations
Monetary: The total donation value

Other considerations include identifying high and low donation percentages in your database, or targeting postal codes that offer a high percentage of charitable donors. You can also leverage your donor’s characteristics to find similar audiences, based on the following information:

Demographic: Age, Annual Income
Geographic: Location
Psychographic: Lifestyle, Spending Habits
Behavioural: Connection to Your Cause, Previous Charitable Contributions

The more insight you have about your data, the easier it is to target “look-alike” donors with Postal Code Targeting.

Finally, don’t forget your top contributors. Typically, 90% of donations come from 10% of donors, so sending messages specifically for them will help keep them informed, engaged and feeling valued.

Right Message:

Direct marketing creates greater attention, heightened emotional engagement and strong brand recall. To ensure an effective end-of-year piece, consider utilizing the following words to prompt action and trigger an emotional response:
Special Reminder, Important, Official Issue
Immediately, Attention, Urgent, Requested
Please, Favour, Chance, Gift, Thank You

Different strategies can be utilized to engage your donors, including:
Giving Back: Thank your donors for their support through-out the year
Share Your Goals: Publicize your year-end goals and share it with supporters
Leverage Social Media: Feature your Social Media handle and utilize #GivingTuesday on campaign material. Also, showcase stories of fellow donors.

Right Time:

Giving Tuesday lands on the first Tuesday after Black Friday & Cyber Monday. It showcases the importance of not-for-profits, and the great work they do all year. It shifts the focus from getting to giving.

In 2017, Giving Tuesday falls on November 28. Engaging your donors in the fall will ensure you remain top of mind when they’re ready to give. 80% of donations generally occur within the first two to four weeks of a mail drop. Once you know your donation responses, timing your piece around Giving Tuesday can help maximize return.

Don’t forget to engage donors after Giving Tuesday as well. A thank you in the new year is a great way to follow-up with new donors. Recognition that people want to share via social media will also help create a new wave of engagement.

Why Donors Leave:

A big lesson for not-for-profits is understanding how vital communication is with their recipients. The following list adds up to 53% of why donors stop contributing:

Reasons Why Donors Leave


Create a Plan: Establish a clear objective, with your best target audience and a clear objective
Extend the Season: Start making your cause top-of-mind ahead of the holidays, and reinforce how they’ve helped post-season
Target: Ensure you have clean data, free from old and outdated addresses
Be Creative: Connect with your donors in a unique way. Make them feel good about supporting your cause

Ready to get started? Contact directworx today!