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Reflections on printForum 3

Dean Petrulakis     LinkedIn     Twitter

Senior Vice President, Business Development

Rider Dickerson

It’s been 2 weeks since our wildly successful printForum 3 event in Chicago.  We brought together nearly 200 clients and friends in the creative and marketing community for an afternoon of inspiration, learning and networking.  We had quite a bit of fun as well!

As I think back on printForum 3, a few key things stand out in my mind from our impressive group of speakers.  Trish Witkowski (@foldingfanatic), showed us how direct mail is still one of the most effective tools for attention grabbing, action sparking response driven marketing.  Direct mail, when done right, has a way of emotionally connecting with customers in a way digital just can’t.  It evokes feelings and inspires action.

Of course, what would a session with Trish be without some folding inspiration, as Trish walked us through her top 10 favorite direct mail pieces.  Trish’s session wasn’t all about the creative aspects of direct mail.  She shared hard hitting stats about response rates and covered key postal regulations, many of which have changed recently. Lastly, Trish drove home the point that all the cool and well designed direct mail in the world doesn’t matter if your list stinks.  Data. Data. Data.

Scott Stratten (more popularly known as unmarketing) honestly stole the show.  Scott had a room of 200 people laughing (in tears for many of us) for 1 hour.  I describe it as marketing meets stand-up comedy– more of an inspirational rant rather than a keynote.  Not lost in the hilarity of Scott’s talk was the overriding message:  we need to be smarter about how we engage with our customers.  The brand is not the logo (I’m laughing thinking about Scott’s logo rant!).  The brand is the experience at every touch point within our organization.  The sooner we realize that the better.  I think there was something in Scott’s rant about QR codes as well—I think!

Scott has a massive following on Twitter (@unmarketing), and he was one of the early adopters of what I now consider to be my favorite social media channel.  Scott talked about the power and the immediacy of social media, but he warned that if you want to play in the real time world of social media you better be prepared for a 24/7 job.  He also said that Twitter has no ROI.  Rather, being awesome on Twitter has an ROI.  Want to go viral—then do something or say something worth talking about.  That’s how you go viral.

Following Scott’s unforgettable rant we heard from an esteemed panel of Chief Marketing Officers as they addressed the balance of Art (brand awareness advertising) and Science (ROI driven marketing).  Our panel featured Megan Bueschel of Mario Tricoci, Michelle Spellerberg of Sikich and Kelly Shannon of Loyola University Chicago.  These 3 impressive women explained the challenges of running a brand while being tasked with driving and measuring numbers at the same time.  The audience had the chance to get inside the panelists’ minds and ask questions.  The insight shared was helpful to everyone.

We closed the afternoon with an interactive session led by the iconic Second City actors.  “Funny Business”, as the session was titled, was meant to teach us how improv can make us better marketers, better sales professionals, and better overall in our professional and personal lives.  We learned that listening is indeed an active skill (see a prior blog post I wrote about this—I firmly believe this).  We also learned how saying “yes and” completely shifts the tone and flow of the conversation and can spark a new level of creativity in our organizations.

printForum is truly is our platform for educating and engaging our customers.  The content we share in our event and throughout the year in our magazine, emails, webinars, etc.. is thoughtful and meant to challenge our customers to think differently.  We accomplished that goal with printForum 3, and we now look forward to printForum 4.

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Dean Petrulakis

Rider Dickerson

Senior VP, Business Development