It’s worth a visit to the beautiful Emmental region of Switzerland. Here I met up with Renato Vögeli in his family-run business. Vögeli AG has firmly established itself as a solutions provider for “marketing production and printing”. Their expertise in multichannel solutions and print in the communications mix attracts interest beyond just Switzerland. Renato Vögeli focuses less on disruption than on a careful step-by-step process to take customers along on a journey, keeping in mind their sensitivities and their needs. I call that quite simply first-class “communications empathy”! —
Interview: Andreas Weber | Click for the german text
Key messages: Fulfil customer wishes. Create trust!
- In focus: Fulfil customer wishes, create individual experiences.
- The particular: The target group is taken along on a journey in a mix of online and offline that offers various points of contact.
- The result: Multichannel communications ensures optimal customer connectivity, creates trust and brings the personal relationship with the customer to a higher level!
There are many definitions, some conflicting, for the term multichannel communications. What is yours?
Renato Vögeli: We understand multichannel communications to be the individual addressing of the target group across various channels in order to reach the individual wherever he or she may be. With that, we can take the target group along on a journey in a mix of online and offline that offers various points of contact.
What are the consequences of that?
Renato Vögeli: In a certain sense, we are always thinking of the target group and their sensitivities. To fulfil their wishes, we accompany interested parties through multichannel communication who engage in it on the basis of trust and their actual needs. This has to happen at the right time, in the right way and on the right track. Unlike in advertising, we do not want to create any needs, but rather specifically address latent ones.
What are the prerequisites for this form of “communications empathy”?
Renato Vögeli: There are three decisive factors. First, you need to know exactly where and how to reach your target group. Second, this is not about advertising products, but about creating added value, the enrichment, that is important to the customer. And third: you cannot and should not tempt people with offers that do not make them happy or that are not even necessary. Even if you could earn a lot of money from it. Mutual success is what matters and in our opinion multichannel communications is the appropriate way. The more so, as we can better control and measure the success.
Based on your experience, what are the factors that inhibit the marketing of multichannel services/solutions?
Renato Vögeli: The crux is that whenever we offer new clients our innovative solutions, we always attract their interest. But new and complex things also cause anxiety or raise doubts. Many feel uncertain. Then comes the question: What are others doing?
… and why is that?
Renato Vögeli: Initially, innovations are very abstract and fulfil their purpose only if they can be individually employed. Citing examples of others may be inspiring, but are rarely suitable for oneself. After all, there are many possibilities and channels that can be employed. Successful teamwork is therefore difficult at first to reconstruct, especially since you have to bring together many parties on the customer’s side. Here’s an easy example: Marketing relegates a task to IT who has too little background knowledge as to the purpose and objectives of the action. The art is in being able to bring together the right project team from the beginning based on a concrete common objective. It is easier for us to bring together the right decision-makers as a homogenous group so that everyone is pulling together in medium-sized companies than it is in large firms or corporate groups.
Can you give us some examples from your experience?
Renato Vögeli: The following was a tricky case. In a banking company, they wanted to know immediately if similar innovation projects were being conducted in other departments in the same building. That means that in large firms it is difficult to develop an overall strategy to generally answer the question that leads to success through multichannel communications: How can we jointly manage to address our customers individually across all channels?
Very open to multichannel communications are basically all sectors that, due to their customer structures and faster sales cycles, are heavily reliant on innovation, particularly, for example, in trade. Here we no longer talk in the beginning about how one can do something, but rather the benefits that come from new solutions. That changes the task of sales enormously. Focus is on optimisation, efficiency and a change in thinking. You cannot sell multichannel communications as a product off the rack. Targeted solutions are what count.
What does that mean for the marketing of multichannel communication?
Renato Vögeli: Marketing multichannel communication means that you have to listen, analyse and advise to arrive at a specific solution. For us, that means initiating processes that pique curiosity and stir up enthusiasm. We have employed sales specialists who do not come from a traditional sales background for print or media products, but rather who deal with marketing issues. We spread knowledge about multichannel communication early on through seminars and presentations. Today, we approach customers in a targeted way with workshops that are geared specifically to the needs of that customer in order to work out possible solutions.
With regard to the digitalisation of all business processes that is inevitably fast-forwarding us into a new dimension via the Internet of Things and Industry 4.0: What remains? What needs to be rethought?
Renato Vögeli: Digitalisation is clearly charting the course, but at the same time is a natural part of multichannel communications for minimising effort. Up to now, we have focused on reproducing our customer’s marketing processes in B2B portals that we call marketing portals. In the end, they are web shops, developed also in conjunction with third-party providers, for standardising ordering processes and making them more flexible.
How will multichannel services change?
Renato Vögeli: Individual projects will increasingly turn into perpetual, integrated communications campaigns that permanently promote customer connectivity. The web shops we create, for example, can be optimally combined with multichannel communications activities. Events, for instance, are predestined for this. Focus is on the when, where and how that we can individually augment with images, maps created through geo-mapping, etc., to enthuse the person invited in a multimedial and very personal way. From the sending of invitations, an interactive campaign is then established that offers great benefit through extended communications possibilities that can also be continued after the event…
… are you technologically equipped for that step?
Renato Vögeli: Thanks to our XMPie software, we are fully equipped technically for that. Our strengths lie, among other things, in that we can integrate customer addresses from ERP systems to be combined in the mix of print mailings with PURLs [personalised websites with protected customer data], e-mails, text messages, etc. for a package solution. Everything that happens in the dialogue with the customer can be immediately measured, documented and evaluated to be of use for subsequent activities. This occurs automatically and reduces effort significantly.
That means we decisively help our customers in that respect to intensify the contact with their customers over the long term so that emotions and expectations are sustained. In the end, it is all about the personal relationship, not just the administration of contacts in databases. In B2B particularly, that is the key!
Thank you for the great conversation. See you again soon, maybe in the beautiful Emmental valley. Or lastest at drupa 2016.
Contact:Vögeli AG Marketingproduktion & Druck
T. +41 (0)34 409 10 10