At first, my design department sourced quotes. They ranged from $18,000 up to $33,000 for exactly the same product. I was fine with paying $18,000 but not so fine to find my normal printers quotation significantly higher at $33,000. It literally had me stopping in my tracks and evaluating what I was doing and whether it was worth it.
Then, as if someone was looking down on me, a company was referred to Marketing Eye to do some of their marketing. It was an online print automation company that specialises in reducing the cost of printing so that marketing departments can reinvest the savings back into their marketing campaigns. I personally worked on this account because I was interested in seeing what they did differently. In the end, I became as passionate about their business, as they became of ours. On top of that, they saved us 45% of our printing costs.
Today, I thought I would give the founder of this business, Mark Alioto a call to talk about what they do differently at ECM.
"We help companies do two things: reduce their costs and help them take that money and reinvest in growing revenue," states Alioto.
ECM's proprietary technology platform identifies the best way possible to procure and manage print, whether its print marketing, print operational documents or otherwise. It's not too dissimilar to when you are booking travel through a website like Expedia.
"We have software that is kind of like an expedia for print, identifying the most economical way to buy print."
Focused on large corporations that spend millions on print, ECM can in a matter of seconds look at suppliers from around the world and identify the best way to print a job at the lowest possible price - and all of this, in a matter of seconds. Predominantly working with companies in the US and Canada, ECM has recently completed a large job for an Australian based company. If the size of print jobs is sustainable, the company is easily able to service companies in any location around the world.
Alioto's vision for the business is to completely streamline and automate what is a very manual process. Even though we are in 2013, the process of procurement and print is still manual and not efficient. I for one can attest to the hours of time our people spend sourcing the best print prices for clients.
"The reason why that is is because every individual job is contract manufacturing, and it is very complex. The vision is to take something very complex and very manual and make it simple and efficient," says Alioto.
And Alioto has proof. Working exclusively with one of the largest grocery store chains in the U.S., ECM has been able to save the company 30% of its $300 million dollar print spend.
The biggest issue a business like ECM faces is its ability to get past the gate keeper; the internal print manager. Often its the supply chain manager who has built relationships with printers over a long period of time and therefore have a reluctance to make a change. A CFO or a CMO is much more interested in seeing their marketing spend stretch further with savings from printing going right back into investments in new campaigns and ultimately achieving more sales.
What made Alioto choose printing as a way in which to use this revolutionary technology is simple. "I have been in the industry over 25 years and I have worked with some of the biggest companies in the US to reduce their print costs. Customers kept asking for a way to automate and make it easier. Print can be up to 1 to 3 % of a company’s expenses. We created a whole new service level and something that clients were asking for. It’s not that I am a super brilliant guy, it’s just listening - listening to clients."
Companies don’t realise how much they spend in print because it can wind up in a number of departmental budgets. Firstly, they don’t know the opportunity exists to automate this process as this is still fairly new. Secondly, because it can be so complex particularly with marketing.
"Marketing departments are more focused on delivering revenue and they rely on a small group of suppliers to execute for them. They don’t have time to constantly vet the marketplace to see if there is new technologies and ways to improve the print process. They are more focused on print campaigns and outcomes."
"So what we do is 'give them their cake and eat it too'. It actually speeds up the process in which they can execute campaigns by using the software, at the same time guaranteeing the best cost model.
"The reason marketing departments love us is that they can reinvest the savings in more campaigns."
Mellissah Smith is a marketing expert with more than 20 years experience. Having founded and built two successful marketing companies internationally, she is well recognized as a industry thought leader and innovator. Mellissah started her career working with technology and professional services firms, primarily in marketing, public relations and investor relations, positioning a number of successful companies to list on the various Stock Exchanges around the world. She is a writer, technology developer and entrepreneur who shares her thoughts and experiences through blogs and written articles published in various media outlets. Brag sheet: #2 marketer to follow on Twitter (2003), Top 150 Marketers to Follow (2015), Top 10 innovative marketers (2014), 60K+ followers on Twitter with 97% authentic.
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