How Single-Source Software Solutions Can Up Your Marketing Game, Part One
“When seeking a software solution, don’t just think of what your best clients need; think of what your next clients need,” said DemandBridge Chairman and CEO David Rich. And he should know. With more than 1.2 million registered users and over 3,000 brands across the retail, health care, franchising, financial, energy and nonprofit verticals, his company’s successful platform allows distributors to service customers on many aspects of their marketing and sales efforts—from hard goods to full digital distribution of their content. Thanks to single-source software solutions offered by providers like DemandBridge, distributors can take cumbersome marketing efforts and enable those tasks through a user-friendly interface branded to their customers’ standards, thereby building true partnerships with end-users.
By adding that personal touch to the customer experience, print and promotional product specialists have been able to outwit the best attempts of major directs. But as Rich also pointed out, this isn’t the same business landscape as before. The conversations between distributors and marketing managers have evolved from low price to what he referred to as “Big Marketing.”
To better understand this concept, we started our own dialogue with the DemandBridge executive. In part one of this two-part series, Rich detailed the needs of marketing teams and how industry software solutions fit in.
What’s trending now in software solutions for the print and promotional industries?
David Rich: The focus starts with the goals and challenges of end-users. More than ever, print and promo distributors are selling to clients that are more omni-channel marketing-savvy, much more data-driven and time-strapped. Furthermore, they are being held to increasingly aggressive growth accountabilities, in some cases, for the first time. No longer is it enough for marketers to be judged on managing the brand and/or ensuring successful marketing events. Rather, being truly responsible for growth strategies in their companies. Thus, those who serve them need tools, technologies and capabilities that quickly help marketers make money, not just save it. That’s why it is referred to as “Big Marketing.”
And just as business challenges and customer needs are changing, at the same time marketing technologies and tactics are expanding at a more rapid pace. It’s nearly impossible to be an expert in all functional/technical facets of “Big Marketing.” Now, more than ever, marketers are facing business challenges that didn’t exist even five years ago ... as customers have the power to choose when, where and how they interact with a brand, as well as compare experiences not just with similar products and services, but those that are completely unrelated (e.g., Uber, Amazon, Airbnb).
Amid this customer experience (best practice) deluge, marketing teams are trying to gather and utilize more varied sources of insights to better understand customers—their needs, behaviors, buying patterns and preferences. And, they clearly need help reaching and delivering a consistent brand experience regardless of channel. As more print and promo specialists aim to evolve into true marketing services providers, the conversations they have with marketing managers is much different than ones they’ve had in the past—certainly, different than ones with procurement officials. No longer is it just about being low price and/or meeting quality and schedule commitments. Is it about how distributors can better help their clients attract and impress prospects? Or, create and track multi-level campaigns? And, ensure brand control and efficient management of digital assets? Perhaps, delivering analytics that make sense of it all?
Simply put, today’s modern marketing automation platforms must help answer these and other “Big Marketing” questions. And, we believe DemandBridge’s answers to those questions make us an ideal partner.
What are some benefits of adopting a single-source software solution? What challenges must distributors be aware of before making this type of investment?
DR: Forward-thinking distributors work hard to turn each client’s objectives into a measureable outcome. The journey can be challenging, but more than ever distributors can be in the driver’s seat. The DemandBridge platform allows distributors to provide omni-channel services to end customers—from hard goods to fully digital distribution of their content. Our platform is fully integrated, and enables users to expedite many of the time-consuming tasks associated with marketing through an easy-to-navigate interface tailored to brand standards. This helps build relationships and add value for customers, and in turn makes the distributor a trusted partner. What most marketing automation platforms are not able to do is ensure a true end-to-end, closed-loop process. Though it’s possible to link together best-of-breed technologies, that puts the distributor in the position of being the best technology integrator as opposed to just focusing on being the best marketing services provider. Which means you will have to triage problems as they occur.
A key benefit of partnering with DemandBridge is our eagerness to be that technology integrator so distributors don’t have to be. We’ve spent a great deal of time, investment and effort on integration. And, we make it our business to keep abreast of new technology capabilities. Today, our platform is a fully integrated e-commerce, ERP, sourcing and reporting/analytics toolset that can also be integrated (using our Flowpoint API connector) to third-party tools as well. We believe our modular approach will help you grow into our solution as the end customer’s needs and demands expand. Companies that already target C-level marketing leaders will be able to effectively tack on impressive tools for things like customer sentiment analysis, segmentation analytics, marketing campaign management, digital content management and more … so as to evolve into a complete, end-to-end, omni-channel marketing software-as-a-service. Thus, being the one true partner to rely on for software, training and support to enable your business to grow.
What’s next for the print and promotional industries as far as software solutions are concerned? Are there any clear areas for growth and integration that haven’t yet been explored?
DR: Data—acquiring it, working with it, using it in smart ways is big. Savvy distributors are winning business by talking about improving processes, not just products, and they’re starting to find ways to turn customer data into action.
Clearly, there’s growth potential for distributors who can help clients assess the effectiveness of their communication to create proper follow-up messages that elicit action, making them more responsive and their clients more successful.
Also, it’s hard to overstate the importance of cloud-based technology. With our platform move to Azure, clients have the freedom to deploy wherever they want, using the applications and frameworks of their choice. This cloud solution gives the industry access to advanced business integration tools and keeps them on the leading edge of marketing services.
Check back with The Press on Oct. 30 for Part Two of our discussion.
Elise Hacking Carr is editor-in-chief/content director for Print+Promo magazine.