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Episode 15: “Translating the Value of Communications” with Pat McGrew

As Senior Director of Production Software and Services at Keypoint Intelligence–InfoTrends, host of "Print Sample TV", co-host of the podcast "Is Print Dead?", and overall technology and communications evangelist, Pat McGrew offers her advice for improving communications – from tactical workflows to future strategies.

Translator of Value: “I typically work in a job that sits between the technology and the print service provider or the in-plant, and act as a translator. Evangelist is a good title because often what I'm trying to do is convince members of staff that this new technology that has just invaded their life is okay; it's safe and it's reliable. The other thing is to try and help them find ways to make money with this technology that they've invested in… The thing that is very consistent about the kinds of customers who invest in new technology is that they're all optimists. They are not worried about writing that check because they have their staff on-board; they know what applications they're going to drive; they know where the cost savings are going to be; they believe that they've got their arms wrapped around their workflows. They've got it covered. About six or eight months into the adventure with the new technology, no matter what the technology is, there's typically a bump in the road. They’ve handled the low-hanging fruit, and they start to understand they are missing an opportunity. I come in as a neutral third-party and help them.”

Mastering Workflows: “If you're an omni-channel provider, that changes your workflow and it changes it in big ways... If you built a master workflow correctly, you should only need one workflow, and it should be able to handle any new output environment. If you're going to start adding augmented reality or explainer videos to your bills and statements, all of that should be contained in one single master workflow. As more and more workflows are involved to deal with augmented reality and personalized videos, I think there's still a lot of work to do. I think that all the major workflow vendors are still sort of scrambling to understand how it is they're going to become a link to a digital asset management system.”

The Facts of Life: “Print is essential to life, and that's just a fact of life. International Paper did a study that said one-third of people would never give up paper; one-third only wanted online communication; and one-third wanted both. Beyond regulated communications, direct mail goes up and down with the tide a bit, but it is still a powerful means of communication. It has to be well designed, well thought out and part of a campaign, but direct mail marketing is still very, very powerful. Print is a very powerful essential medium. I just don't think it's going to go away. I think we get smarter about it. We may find new applications, new types of communication that we want to do in print because we are linking it to other digital assets.”

Take Pat’s Advice: “The very first piece of advice I give to anyone in this business is to understand what you're doing today. Understand what customers you're serving today, understand their needs and try to identify the gaps between what they need and what you're providing. That will give you a pretty clear path around what you should do next. Understand your customers, understand their needs, and understand what services you want to be providing into the industries that you serve. Very often, that work is done when a company is formed or when a new generation takes over a family-owned business, but it's not revisited on a regular basis. That ought to be a once-a-year conversation with the executive team.”

To dive into these topics and more, check out our podcast, Reimagining Communications.