Web-to-print technology: More bang for your buckGary NemcekMortgage marketing technology To make your marketing efforts as successful as possible these days, you must address an ever-growing set of challenges. You face a world full of changing media and communication channels, not to mention all of the pundits spouting, "Print is dead!" and, "The Web is the future!" Buyers are becoming increasingly skeptical of many traditional forms of advertising and, at the same time, they are quick to shun promotional content in new places, like popular sites and communities on the Web. What's a person to do? The key to success is relevance—a meaningful message delivered the right way at the right time. Unless you're a psychic, that can pretty hard. But with the right tools, you can make it a lot easier. In a survey conducted this summer by CSO Insights, respondents said direct-mail marketing was the tactic with the highest return on investment, beating out e-mail marketing, events and trade shows, telemarketing and more. So while it's always good to use multiple channels and integrate your efforts, direct mail and other print collateral is probably a good place to start. The cost is reasonable and quite controllable and, as this survey indicates, the results often speak for themselves. But on top of the ever-present marketing challenges like choosing communication channels and reaching your audience, you're also likely to face the consistent challenge to be as lean, mean and cost-effective as you can be. You'll need the tools that can help you be lean and mean without sacrificing your goals, which are generating leads, nurturing them through a sales cycle and closing deals. Take advantage of the power that Web-to-print technology provides. A Web-to-print document management platform will let you create flexible, dynamic document templates with an unlimited amount of variable text and images, putting the power of one-to-one marketing to work for your business. The technology makes controlling costs and maximizing results a little easier and a lot more efficient. Web-to-print technology gives you a strong, flexible set of tools for collateral management and document customization that lets you make the most efficient and profitable use of your mailing list and prospect database. Because they're Web-based, these tools are available anytime from anywhere, and you have a wealth of tracking and reporting functions that will help supercharge your marketing. A customized Web interface will let you create and store document templates, customize pieces prior to ordering and even arrange to have the finished pieces prepped and mailed. Mortgage lenders can easily create automated, micro-targeted mailing campaigns, using flexible digital printing techniques to produce letters, self-mailers and postcards that are rich with customized data. Creating, managing, distributing and tracking your marketing materials can be a drain on your marketing resources. The keys to success are flexibility and efficiency. Bring your marketing campaigns into the 21st century, by putting technology to good use. The right tools can help you: • Create personalized, one-to-one marketing materials on demand; • Maintain consistent branding on all marketing collateral and promotional items; and • Print dynamic brochures, pamphlets and newsletters on demand to drive traffic to your Web site. Web-to-print technology can save many tedious hours of creating and managing individual marketing campaigns and make your sales efforts more cost-effective. Materials can easily be branded and customized with local content, such as addresses, contact information or images. Imagine brochures printed just for Jane with pictures of the home she's looking to buy, a refrigerator magnet with the local sales rep's contact information or postcards that point the recipient to a Web page created just for him. With on-demand printing, you can also eliminate worry about using out-of-date or otherwise irrelevant materials. There will be no more ordering static documents by the thousands and hoping to use them all. Now, each piece can be customized and printed as you need it. It might sound daunting, but print-on-demand technology makes it all easily within reach, even for the smaller businesses. While larger lending organizations can reap the benefits of better control over brand identity, streamlined proofing and order review processes, and inventory tracking, smaller businesses have just as much to gain. Save time with quick and easy template-based document creation and ordering. Save money with smaller, targeted collateral. In many cases, Web-to-print technology is put in place by print shops interested in making your print jobs easier and more efficient, so they often bear the small cost of using the technology. As if that litany of benefits weren't enough, consider this: As the business landscape becomes increasingly competitive, individual brokers and large organizations alike need to find as many meaningful ways as possible to differentiate themselves. One way to differentiate your business is through "social responsibility"—being part of the community, donating to charities and making your business more environmentally friendly. That's another area in which efficiency-encouraging Web-to-print technology can help. Despite the fact that print marketing is almost exclusively based on products that come from dead trees, making those print efforts more environmentally conscious is not too far a stretch. As aforementioned, Web-to-print technology helps make marketing efforts more efficient and effective, delivering more bang for your buck (or more bang per page, if you will). And, if you're working with a spread-out sales force, for example, a Web-to-print network can completely automate the process of finding local printers to cut down on transportation (and burning gas and exhaust), not to mention save shipping costs. Efficiency, effectiveness and environmental friendliness ... Isn't technology wonderful? Gary Nemcek is co-founder and president of the networks group of Four51. He may be reached at (952) 294-0451 or through his company's Web site, www.four51.com.