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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Document Management for Small Business

Has it ever occurred to you that small business is the perfect client to adopt a certified Document Management System? Who needs more resources for growth and less capital than a small startup or single or double agent business?
Consider Jane Smith Insurance. (Not her real name.) Jane had worked in the health insurance industry for over 20 years in administration for a big corporate provider. She noticed there was a real need for small business health plan counseling that often went unnoticed by the larger companies. With her husband close to retirement, Jane began her own agency focusing on those companies. With two computers in their home office, a few file cabinets and a small scanning copier Jane began Jane Smith Insurance. With Jane’s industry background and her husband’s great personality and talent for answering customer inquiries, their insurance practice began to grow.

Soon customer service began to slip. Keeping track of documents and providing immediate answers to inquiries presented a problem…It was time to open an office and hire assistants to keep track of the activity associated to their growing practice…or was it?

With a small business implementation of DocuWare and a back file conversion of existing files Jane and her husband were able to grow their client portfolio to over 400 businesses. They decided to hold the line at 400, as that was the sweet spot where they could continue to provide excellent customer service and manage their client base without adding employees. Frankly they liked the control they had of their business and quality! Their investment in scanning, software and copiers was less than $5000.00. That system today can be leased with a buyout at term end for less than $125.00 per month!

Today Jane and her husband are really retiring. Their practice is worth double the amount of a similar practice because every bit of intellectual, marketing, payment, enrollment and claim information is safely contained within their DocuWare system. They are building a luxury condo in South America, and passing the torch to another entrepreneur. 

Still think Document Management isn’t for small business?

Let us at the Northwest Group (CTX, QBSI, Pinnell) assist you with workflow optimization.

Monday, March 12, 2012

New Opportunity for SMBs - TransPromo

The question is one that many SMBs (small to medium sized businesses) are asking themselves – how do I use advertising in the current climate?  The most tried and true method for SMBs to get people walking into their front doors is by sending out “coupons” in colorful direct mail campaigns.  Check your kitchen drawer full of pizza coupons to prove that.  

But the average household now sifts through 41 pounds of junk mail a year – and only 5-10% of it is EVER read by the intended recipient.  Why should an SMB invest hundreds or thousands of dollars in a marketing campaign which may not reach event 10% of the intended audience?

And when you think of it, “junk mail” is really a misnomer. It’s not junky looking – it’s usually quite slick and impressive looking (especially if it’s been printed on a Xerox). It's just that it’s often very BAD mail – mail that should never have been sent to someone in the first place. Mail that asks someone to clean their carpets when they have hardwood floors, for example. Mail that offers them dog walking when they have a cat.

Mail that looks great – it just isn’t for the person to which it’s been sent.

But there is one type of mail that is ALWAYS for the person it’s addressed to – Bills and Statements - otherwise known as Transactional Documents. It’s no wonder that over 95% of all transactional documents are opened and read by the intended recipient. Ever not open the light bill for a few months?

For the last few years, large or enterprise companies have come to believe that the easiest and most effective “advertising” they can accomplish is to advertise to their current customer base by combining these two types of mail – and that’s called “TransPromo”. The term TransPromo originates from the practice of combining both transaction and promotional marketing elements in one document.

Who hasn't received bank statements, invoices, informing them of performed transactions, or other informational documents in the mail? And who haven’t received coupon advertisements or glossy 4x6 full-color adverts addressed to “your name or current resident” in their mailbox? Effectively combining these two different documents in to one is what TransPromo is all about.  

Major corporations are using TransPromo every day to garner more and more business from current and past customers.

For example, in that stack of “junk” mail, right behind that direct mail coupon for carpet cleaning in someone’s “hardwood floor only” house, a major home renovation retailer sends a coupon for a Hardwood Floor Care system with a monthly credit card statement.  The retailer had drilled down into the data of the customer’s previous purchases and sent them a coupon that was specifically for them, based on their past purchases.

My NEW Hardwood Floor Care System is great, by the way.

Many SMBs who “get” TransPromo think of it as something that can only be implemented within large corporations. However, there are thousands of small- and medium-sized businesses that send out bills and statements each month that can reap the benefits from implementing TransPromo into their communications strategy, from doctors to local auto repair shops. According to the market research firm, InfoTrends, these documents represent almost 32 billion customer touch points and cost these companies about $120 billion per year.

Here at the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell), we possess the technology and the expertise to assist our SMB clients with TransPromo. Our technology is second to none in our industry – hardware and software provided by the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell) can create TransPromo documents that really effect change in our client’s own marketing campaigns. But it’s not enough to just create “Great Looking” advertisement.

At the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell), we know that color has been proven to increase participation, enhance learning, and increase a consumer’s willingness to read. The proper use of color in our customer’s TransPromo documents requires an understanding of why and how color works. Too much color can be distracting and make a statement look more like an over-the-top advertisement. Not enough color and one misses out on its attention grabbing advantages. Hardware or software can’t tell you how much or how little color a TransPromo mailer needs – only our Production / Marketing specialists can provide that value.

Additionally, when collected and used correctly, data can be a powerful tool. Understanding the data that drives TransPromo, and the resulting personalization opportunities, is imperative to campaign effectiveness. When it comes to data-mining and collecting the right data to use in TransPromo, the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell) Professional Services can provide real insight into those golden nuggets of data hiding in back-end systems.

So at the end of the day, what advantages do TransPromo documents offer the SMB?

  1. Guaranteed reading:  More than 95% of transaction documents are opened and read each month – far more than any other type of direct response effort.  In comparison, standard direct mail has a readership rate of about 7%. A TransPromo document ensures in a better way that the included promotional message will be read.
  2. Interest: With TransPromo, SMBs can develop personalized offers with a high degree of relevancy. That’s the secret ingredient in TransPromo success. Many SMBs have data-systems with actionable information on the purchasing histories and preferences of current customers. Using this past purchase history data, SMBs can make their advertising “interesting” to the intended recipient.  In companies that engage in TransPromo, customer response to TransPromo mailers are up to 20 times higher than with regular direct mail campaigns.
  3. Impact: When SMBs use TransPromo, they can generate impressive results. Research from the Forrester, TAWPI, Corporate Insight, Bancographyand, among others, indicates that relevant TransPromo content in a marketing campaign can boost year-to-year annual revenue over 36%
  4. Cost benefits: SMBs already must send invoices or other transactional documents. Including promotional messages in these documents instead of sending them separately is a tremendous cost advantage. More than 75% of the cost of mail is attributed to postage. TransPromo can significantly reduce mail costs because SMBs can aggregate direct marketing messages or notifications with documents that are already going into the mailstream.
  5. Customer loyalty: SMBs can build long-term loyalty by providing valuable information and advice to customers on a one-to-one basis. Helping customers understand key issues and make sound decisions increases their sense of trust in a relationship. Studies have shown that customers that receive TransPromo can be counted on for up to 30% more revenue than customers that don’t receive TransPromo.

TransPromo is an application ripe for the SMB.  Here at the Northwest Group (QBSI, CTX, Pinnell), we can help doctors, auto-repair shops, bakeries – any SMB – to begin to reap the benefits of leveragingwhite space on the "must read" documents they already send out to their customers every single day.