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Episode 7: “Reflections on a 40+ Year Career in Communications” with Barb Pellow

Drawing from her more than 40-year career in communications – including senior roles at IBM, InfoTrends, IKON Office Solutions, Kodak and Xerox – Barb Pellow shares her experience and wisdom with podcast host Matt Swain on a variety of topics, including the evolution of “transpromo” (statement-based marketing), the biggest communication challenges facing organizations, and what the future holds in this market.

The Evolution of Transpromo: “People really are beginning to understand the value of adding marketing messages to transaction documents because these documents actually get opened and read by a consumer. In fact, there are a number of different data sources that indicate the average consumer actually looks at a transaction document between two and five minutes, and people understand that transaction documents must be read. We're beginning to truly see enterprises incorporate transpromo.”

Biggest Communication Challenges Facing Enterprises Today:Enterprises need to make communications part of an overarching customer experience, which relies on data and personalization. They need to make sure their documents are secure and compliant. Last but not least, the communications need to be affordable. Enterprises need to be able to take advantage of every single touch point with the end consumer. That really is a big challenge that enterprises deal with today.”

Making Communications Affordable: “First of all, companies typically focus on increasing their paper-turnoff rate to save costs. There are a number of tools – like email and mobile interfaces – that can increase e-adoption rates. Even shifting a small share of your customer base away from paper delivery can provide an immediate and tangible financial benefit. We’re also seeing how companies want to do more with less. If they can make a communication multipurpose and use it to convey bill information, as well as other customer communications, ranging from marketing messaging to customer service information, the enterprise can save money. The last thing is there's a movement toward outsourcing for critical customer communications. Companies have learned that it's less expensive to keep up with the latest technology, as well as the skills to deal with data, security, production, and distribution, by finding a great partner to outsource to. In a number of instances, enterprises have gone to the outside to more cost effectively find the skills, resources, and expertise to do what they can't do well. That expertise and technology advantage actually saves them money in the long run.”

What’s Coming Next: “You need to be a data savvy, cross-media communications provider; that means organizations really need to start with a deep understanding of their customer. Enterprises need to look at the demographics of their customers so they can communicate the way that their customer wants to be communicated with; you know, Baby Boomers have different communication requirements than Gen Z-ers.  The other critical component is that those communications must be data driven. For example, if I'm a Gen Z-er, I won’t even open a communication from you if it appears that you don’t know me. There’s a level of personalization that's expected in the marketplace today. Also, I don't believe the market is going to continue to be tolerant of the types of security breaches that we're seeing; I think companies will lose clients. Finally, when you step back, I really believe that the migration to outsourcing, because enterprises won’t be able to keep up and do it affordably themselves, will continue. Companies are going to be looking for partners that can help them get it right.”

Parting Words of Wisdom: “Understand your customer's channel of choice and make sure the messaging is personal; if you can't do it right, find somebody who can do it for you.”

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