Patrick Donner, founder and managing partner of TraffiC in Brunswick, Germany, has been a multichannel communications entrepreneur right from the very start – and with a pronounced penchant for communications of value. For him, there is no either/or. He takes everything that makes communicating across media highly effective and capable of drawing strong response into consideration for his innovative solutions. That is why his company slogan “Print, Direct Marketing, Digital Media” has now become “Print. Online. Solutions.”.
Interview: Andreas Weber | German text version by click
Key messages and tips for successfully employing multichannel communications:
- Graspable: Tactile messages take on more value through digitalisation as they are strongly sensory and more eye-catching and extremely stimulating online.
- Acceptance: Reduce complexity, erase fears, strengthen the exchange of knowledge and interlinking, and create transparency.
- Flexibility: Multichannel communication is more individual, more interactive, more customer friendly and more market oriented than any other medial means of communication.
There are many definitions, some conflicting, for the term multichannel communications. What is yours?
Patrick Donner: We at TraffiC define multichannel communications quite specifically and very pragmatically: bringing communications from different media together with focus on print, e-mail, web and social media. The aim is to bring about emotional experiences that effectively deliver a haptic sensation via print as well as the speed and round-the-clock availability of digital communication. Here, individuality in the interlinking of print and online is the key to attracting the interest of the communications partner. To our way of thinking, multichannel communication creates effective personal experiences as opposed to the ‘one-for-all actions’ that are otherwise customary.
Is print an important pillar for you in multichannel communications?
Patrick Donner: Absolutely. Communicating only “digitally” is not enough. For online actions, print is quite a significant enhancer for making the multichannel experience the most ‘graspable’. Grasping in both senses of the word are mutually dependent, an evolutionary part of our existence that is characterised by the senses. Printed matter not only presents content attractively, it makes it a sensory and strong experience.
Based on your experience, what are the factors that inhibit the marketing of multichannel services/solutions?
Patrick Donner: Our focus on “Online. Print. Solutions.” permits us to use multichannel communication as a firm base for a customer- and market-oriented solutions business that achieves its greatest success through scalable campaigns in our customers’ dialogues with their customers. There are actually no real inhibiting factors. There are just doubts that are either reasonable or unsubstantiated. That is partly due to the differing degrees of knowledge in dealing with data. All too often, there are technical and legal misunderstandings that come up that make it difficult to clearly see what makes sense, what is allowed or not allowed. On the other hand, from the customer’s side, intensive interdisciplinary dialogue and the bringing together, for example, of print buyers with those responsible for online marketing is not highly developed if they are allocated to different departments within the organisation. Often the necessary IT interfaces are then not available which puts the brakes on the development of multichannel communication. A third factor is anxiety about the complexity of multichannel communication.
What do you do to fight this? Which success factors do you employ?
Patrick Donner: We provide the best possible transparency, clarity and flexibility, not least through the smart Marketing Cockpit of our XMPIe software architecture. Our demos and case studies are well-received because we do not just produce media products, but, as a solution provider, offer campaigns that can be measured in real time, thanks to clear technical structures and processes. We reduce or completely erase the fear of complexity because we offer value-added services. Customers feed us their content, as usual, and we transform it so that it can be used for multichannel communications. No additional time is spent by the customer and the costs are clear in advance, just as are the increasing chances of success. The art lies in being able to portray this and that is the great benefit of multichannel communications: there is lucrative potential in value-added solutions!
What added value do you get by employing multichannel communications?
Patrick Donner: We obtain greater response, in any case, that is well proven through sample campaigns as well as in the initial stages. As I said, our strength lies in the interlinking of print and online. Customers know from their own experience that in direct marketing, for example, e-mail marketing alone achieves little effect because so much is sent by e-mail these days. The receiver is overwhelmed. Multichannel communication campaigns permit the precise catering to specific communications needs and sensitivities. Campaign content as well as the time frame can be changed or optimised “on-demand” in order to achieve marketing objectives and develop them. We provide the measurement data for that.
Can you give us some examples from your experience?
Patrick Donner: A very good example are recalls in the automotive sector. These have to be carried out quickly and reliably. Moreover, it must be guaranteed that the vehicle user is not only informed, but also reacts. We have campaigns that provide recourse to the user’s vehicle per PURL [personalised website with protected customer data] and capture the reaction of the vehicle user. We then transfer the data to the IT system of the automotive firm.
Does your multichannel communications concept also work with new customer acquisition or for expanding regular customer business?
Patrick Donner: Sure! Superbly! My favourite example with measureable validated data is this: 40,000 policyholders were to be addressed by multichannel for prolonging their expiring policies in three phases: 1. Print mailing, 2. E-mail follow-up through PURL. 3. Thank-you to the policyholders. The result: More than 30%, or 14,031 policyholders to be precise, extended their policies. What was fascinating: Of those, 6,619 responses were ‘analogue’ by postcard, the others online through PURL. No one at the insurance agency had expected that; at first, they had wanted to do away with the printed postcard. Now everyone knows: in communications, it is best to let the end consumer have the freedom to choose between digital and analogue!
How will multichannel services change 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?
Patrick Donner: Our solutions are designed to meet the challenges of Industry 4.0. In the communications of our customers with their customers, everything is pretty much automated. Job, workflow and project management is all digital. The “fault” lies in the transformation of the content. There is already partial automation in this area, though. Likewise, the “automated” switching from analogue (via print) to digital (per web and social media), since with XMPIe software all content is already on file and automatically transformed.
What will remain and what will need to be rethought?
Patrick Donner: On the customer side, many companies will rethink the topic of multichannel communications, adjust themselves organisationally and technically for this and give multichannel communications a much higher profile in their own company. Multichannel communications will thus become more popular and gain in significance – because there is no either/or in communication! As far as print is concerned, we are highly stable and secure for the coming years, thanks to our innovative premium digital print solutions. Things are trickier when it comes to online. Because of the boom in mobile communications, there is a growing diversity of requirements for content design which is closely linked to the distribution and display on screens. We will certainly have to process some things manually for quite some time since current tools do not allow otherwise or since content still has to be thought out as before and edited to a certain extent. We are always on the ball, though, and right at the forefront!
Thanks for the great and inspiring conversation.
We’ll meet latest at drupa 2016 in Düsseldorf/Germany.
Traffic Print · Online · Solutions GmbH
Heesfeld 7 – 8
38112 Braunschweig | Germany
Telefon: +49 531 256 32 0
Telefax: +49 531 256 32 22