Print catalogues: Why they are irreplaceable for retailers in their marketing mix

Print catalogues: Why they are irreplaceable for retailers in their marketing mix

In the last two decades, marketing has focused primarily on the digital world rather than physical print, but that doesn’t mean print marketing is obsolete. In fact, catalogs are essential for marketing, and studies indicate that they’re more effective than many other forms of advertising.

Now more than ever, catalogs are effective because of technological innovations that enable companies to target customers based on their interests and buying habits. Here are some of the reasons why you need to begin implementing or bolster your current catalog marketing.

Why Print Is Often More Effective Than Digital

Every day, the public is overwhelmed by constant marketing. People see ads on their internet browsers, emails, phone applications, and televisions, and with this constant exposure to digital marketing, people are quick to dismiss ads without paying close attention.

What sets catalogs apart from digital advertisements is that you can’t ignore them in the same way. Instead, a catalog may sit around a consumer’s house for months, creating more awareness for your brand. So even if they make the conscious effort to throw the catalog away, you’ve already reinforced your products and brand multiple times before that occurs – and stimulated future purchases.

The Science Behind Why Catalogs Work

Catalogs are more effective in leaving a psychological impact than digital advertisements. When a consumer flips through a catalog, they’re more likely to imagine themselves possessing a product, which increases their likelihood of making a purchase.

Neuroscience also corroborates that physical ads are often more effective than digital. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Postal Service Office of Inspector General and Temple University, physical advertisements stimulate an area of the brain, which causes potential buyers to consider the product’s value and whether they want it.

Catalogs also stimulate more senses than digital ads. For example, digital advertisements reach consumers on an audial and visual level, but catalogs can be seen, felt, and may even have a subtle print smell. According to USPS and Summit Research, these different senses create more emotional associations, increasing the likelihood that someone will make a purchase.

Additionally, USPS and Summit Research indicated that people are more likely to connect positive emotions to catalogs because people frequently flip through them for entertainment and relaxation. Catalogs even reduce the anxiety associated with receiving a bill in the mail.

Although physical mail has shown to be highly effective in many demographics, they’re especially effective in attracting millennials. The same study conducted by USPS and Summit Research indicated that millennials care more about physical mail than other demographics and are more likely to spend time reading their mail, including catalogs. Millennials are a critical target age demographic, so appealing to them through catalogs is essential.

Catalogs Work Even Better in the Digital Age

One common reason why companies don’t utilize catalogs is the cost of printing and mailing advertisements. However, the digital age has enabled companies to reduce costs associated with sending out catalogs. Before the internet, companies would frequently send out catalogs without a specific target customer in mind, which was particularly expensive because of the large number of prints and their associated mailing expenses.

In the digital age, companies can send targeted catalogs to customers that are more likely to purchase their products. Online databases contain unique consumer information, including their interests and spending habits. Because of this, companies can determine who will be more likely to buy their products and market to them specifically. Additionally, it reduces expenses by avoiding sending catalogs to people who are less likely to make a purchase.

You can even use customers’ past purchases to shape how you market to them going forward. For example, if your company sells many different products and some only buy clothing, you can send out clothing catalogs to that targeted group. Personalized marketing through customer data greatly enhances the likelihood that someone will purchase your products.

Using Catalogs in a Multichannel Marketing Approach

When your business utilizes catalogs in tandem with other marketing channels, you can increase your conversion rate by reaching potential customers in different mediums For example, customers who receive a catalog may be prompted to visit your website and purchase online. You can also track your catalog’s return on investment with mail dates, customer codes, and source codes.

Utilizing catalogs in your multichannel marketing strategy is a highly effective way to reach new customers and engage your existing customer base.


How Automation Makes Print Production Successful

How Automation Makes Print Production Successful

Print is not dead! In a world where the flood of ephemeral online ads is quickly seen and forgotten just as fast, the humble printed catalog or flyer can have a long-lasting effect on the consumer. This is not just a matter of personal preference. A report in Scientific American recently concluded that “reading on paper still boasts unique advantages” over screens.

Suppose a printed catalog is well designed and produced. In that case, it is far more likely to remain on a table or counter, a reminder of the retailer’s brand and an open invitation to browse calmly at one’s leisure. The same cannot be said of an online or email ad, which is swiped aside forever in an instant by the next frantic, on-screen interruption. As publishing pioneer John W. Seybold once said:

Print speaks to us, quietly and patiently.”

Production depends on various data sources

Catalogs and brochures depend on the correct functioning of some systems and data sources during production, which makes the process prone to errors. Each one is described by a whole table of data. The data include (but are not limited to) the following information on each product:

SKU number Manufacturer ID number(s) Make and model
Full product name Abbreviated name Short product description
Long product description Version number Size or dimensions
Color(s) Material specifications Component parts
Relation to other products Manufacturer Purchase history
Overall inventory quantity Store location(s) Warehouse location(s)
Projected availability Item price Item cost
Gross margin Rebates and discounts Sale pricing guidelines
Product reviews Marketing campaign history Shipping information
Warranty information Disclaimers And more…

Of course, not all these data points will make it into a catalog or flyer, but many will. The others are all relevant to planning every campaign – AND they are typically scattered across many separate databases. If you multiply all those data points by the sheer volume of individual products advertised, then you’ll get an inkling of the formidable challenges every marketing production manager faces.

Each printed marketing piece includes an array of products selected by the marketing team for their importance to the company’s bottom line. Item pricing strategies offer specials on desirable but price-sensitive items while charging normal prices on other products to make up the difference. Campaigns differ by geographic region and demographics, meaning that each printed piece must have multiple versions. Print versioning makes it even more critical to have a production process that reliably maintains a solid connection to all data sources during the design process.

Automation offers enormous advantages
With so many time-consuming variables, and so many chances to make costly errors, the only solution is to automate the process. As Home Depot, Lowe’s, and other large retailers have learned, there are enormous benefits to automating the print and media marketing process:

  • Greatly reduced user intervention at each step in the process, accelerating time-to-market and targeted volume of marketing campaigns
  • Greater and more efficient collaboration among siloed departments within a large organization
  • Sustained cost savings, among other things due to less cost-intensive error sources through automated correction cycles
  • Greater return on marketing campaigns that can be targeted and measured with greater accuracy

Automation applies to everything, from planning the marketing campaign to producing well-designed printed pieces and their umpteen versions. Only by automating the tedious, repetitive tasks can a production team find time to design. Moreover, once tasks become streamlined, other departments are freed to pursue nonroutine tasks, such as SEO strategy and mobile development. Only with a single, controlled chain of events can a marketing production manager and peers survive, and even thrive, in this ever-changing, data-driven world. Here’s how it plays out:

Start with the planning stage. Single product and product line marketing teams spend their time visualizing the next campaign and turning it into practical steps. The goal is to produce an attractive campaign, and track its progress and improve future marketing efforts. Even though they know their products intimately, something is always changing. For example:

  • A new version of the product may be imminent.
  • The product’s availability, price, or margin may have changed.
  • The product’s photos or descriptions may have changed.
  • A supply chain problem may affect delivery for some stores.
  • A specific color or size may no longer be available.

These and a hundred other changes may affect which products to feature prominently, if at all. However, marketing teams need access to data in real-time and in one place to make the best possible decision.

Visualizing the printed piece is the next step. Using a web-based whiteboarding environment, LAGO also gives marketers the ability to place high-value products where they belong in a catalog or brochure. For any selected product, all the related data is connected. When the marketing team hands the project off to designers, each product “block” automatically connects to the current product data, images, and any other information the designer may need.

Designing and producing the printed piece is equally automated. The designer receives an InDesign template file, automatically including all the marketing team’s decisions. Thanks to a LAGO plugin for Adobe InDesign, the designer is free to do what they do best – create a memorable design concept – without having to hunt down all the related data from various PIM, DAM, and other databases. If any data elements change during the design process, like an updated product image, the layout is updated in real-time until the piece is sent to be printed. For example, if a regional or demographic version is called for, the system maintains all the common elements while allowing the designer to customize the new version.

Review and approval can be a tedious, largely manual process. Fortunately, LAGO also provides a real-time, bi-directional, and auditable process for marketing teams and designers to identify errors, communicate changes, and verify the final layout before printing.

That’s not the end. LAGO is still at work once the catalog or flyer and multiple versions have gone to print. The data for that particular campaign can be automatically exported to online and mobile advertising channels. Also, since the data for each advertised product is automatically tracked, the marketing team can gauge the success of each component to help them plan the next iteration.

The Smell of Success

Automated, integrated, and multichannel campaigns have enormous potential, not just to relieve the burden placed on marketing production managers. They can also increase profitability exponentially. Printed materials play a vital role in that success. In a New York Times article on the resurgence of catalogs, retail strategist Bruce Cohen remarked, “It’s a pronouncement in favor of what all retailers are recognizing – that there are moments when people want to slow down, and there’s still an important place for the catalog.”

Print is not dead. It is alive and effective. Thanks to automation tools like LAGO, that prediction is now a cost-effective reality in a data-driven world.

Ready to see how Comosoft LAGO can automize the marketing efforts for your retail chain?


Why brochures are valuable

Why brochures are valuable and how your retail chain can simplify their production process

Retail chains continue to rely on printed and digital brochures when it comes to distributing their advertising budget, as these are still one of the most valuable and reliable ways to reach consumers.

Why are brochures so valuable for retail chains?

Research shows that weekly circulars are still a key driver of shopping decisions. In fact, according to a Brandspark 2020 U.S. Shopper Study:

  • 66% of consumers study circulars, promotions, and discounts before they go shopping
  • In 2020, 87% of shoppers read circular the same amount or more than they did in 2019
  • 74% of shoppers consulted their grocery print circulars in search of lower-priced specials

According to the September 2020 Shopper Behavior Monitor Survey of 1,000 primary household grocery shoppers:

  • 30% of respondents were using digital store sales flyers ad digital coupons even more than they were earlier in the pandemic
  • 27% of respondents said they used store sales flyers more often than during the beginning pandemic
  • 28% said they were using digital coupons more often

The brochure production process

When it comes to creating the most promotional leaflets, design is crucial. In addition, retailers need to create multiple versions of the brochures. These are additional factors in an already complicated process.

For example, at a large grocery chain, the production process begins with the marketing department, which is in charge of the high-level planning of the circular. Then, category managers locate offers and determine whether an advertisement should be available, globally, nationally, or in a specific region.

Next, the design team lays out the circular, including copy and pricing, to create the regionalized variants from global and national offers. Once complete, the digital files go back to the category managers to review the ads and identify any necessary corrections. The design team implements the corrections and then sends them back to the marketing team for approval.

This entire process can be particularly hectic when creating multiple versions for different regions, languages, and other demographics or if the team needs to pull product assets from various data sources.

Simplifying brochure production

LAGO retail circular production software makes the entire process effortless, from concept to production. Here’s an example of how LAGO can simplify every step of print or online circular creation:

  • At the beginning of the process, LAGO Whiteboard helps the marketing department determine how much space to allocate to each page.
  • The marketing department can send the page layout to the category managers via the workflow engine. They can use LAGO Whiteboard to search for each offer and then drag and drop it directly on the page.
  • At the same time, category management can select whether an offer should be global or local. LAGO's version optimisation automatically synchronises global offers and takes regional differences into account.
  • Once planning and version optimisation is complete, LAGO automatically converts the planning into an Adobe InDesign file with its exclusive LAGO Layout InDesign plugin.
  • Designers receive a pre-planned InDesign file with all necessary information from the LAGO PIM and DAM, allowing them to create pages more efficiently and avoid errors. Once the layout is complete, a correction document is generated and passed to category management for review via the workflow engine.
  • In LAGO's integrated proof module, all correction requests from category management and marketing are noted directly in the proof document and passed back to the design team. The design team can see the desired changes as soon as they open the pages in InDesign and implement the correction requests.
  • The implemented corrections are displayed in LAGO Proof via the workflow engine to Marketing and Category Management for checking the executed corrections.
  • With a few simple clicks in LAGO Proof, category managers can check all changes made.
  • Any price or text updates are automatically imported so that last-minute corrections do not cause unnecessary stress or chaos.

Ready to see how Comosoft LAGO can simplify circular production for your retail chain?


Accelerate the production of brochures and leaflets in InDesign

No Compromise: Accelerate the production of brochures and leaflets in InDesign – WITHOUT sacrificing good design.

Adobe InDesign is undoubtedly the luxury SUV among layout programmes. First released over twenty-three years ago, Adobe’s “Project K2” replaced PageMaker and eventually displaced the then reigning champion QuarkXPress. Today, Adobe InDesign can do practically everything a designer’s heart desires, and thus much more than just design print pages.

This is precisely where the challenge lies. InDesign now offers a very wide range of functions that can turn a simple design into a complex project. This is especially true for data-driven content. This content is a challenge for print designers whose job it is to create visually appealing and accurate material for a retailer’s most important channel – Print.

The Catalog Conundrum

Printed catalogs and circulars are far from being a dying medium. Even formerly digital-only retail marketers are turning to print, according to RetailDive, using paper catalogs “to break through the ‘noise’ of the online world.” Consumers also trust printed catalogs (76%) far more than digital media such as mobile phone ads (39%), according to a MarketingSherpa survey. There are good, scientific reasons for this. When test subjects were exposed to advertising in either digital or printed form, “their brain activity indicated greater subconscious value and desire for products or services advertised in a printed format,” according to a joint USPS/Temple University study.

Brochures contain very detailed product information. This product information ranges from sizes to colours to prices (which vary depending on the version) and a number of other attributes that are contained in a PIM (Product Information Management) database. On top of all this product information, there are large amounts of image data associated with the products, all stored in a Digital Asset Management (DAM) system.

As a result, the designer needs to collate multiple pieces of information for each product in a brochure or leaflet, as specified by marketing, creating a consistent, visually compelling brand experience. Most retailers also need multiple regional versions of each printed copy – and the same content again to populate their shopping apps. Adobe InDesign, as the most widely used layout programme, includes features for a wide variety of layout design areas. Despite the many useful functions that Adobe InDesign offers, the manual effort to create a layout is extremely high; only the connection to a PIM and DAM system creates the greatest possible efficiency.

The Automation Advantage

The solution to this tedious process is to automate repetitive tasks so designers have more time to actually design. Such automation is possible through third-party plug-ins, thanks to InDesign’s architecture. Comosoft has used this environment to develop LAGO Layout, which combines the complex, specialised worlds of PIM and DAM data with the features and design power of InDesign.

LAGO Layout is the answer to inefficient design processes and enables fast, cost-effective, high-quality design and production. It also allows designers to integrate into any process, from campaign planning and data access to proofing, approval and final output, without compromising on good design.

On the surface, LAGO Layout is simply a plugin for InDesign that adds functionality without leaving the designer’s familiar interface. But once installed, LAGO Layout makes many different tasks easier.

  • Workflow automation between marketing and design production teams. LAGO users on the marketing side can select the products to promote based on margin, availability, and other factors, using a whiteboarding process. These decisions are automatically conveyed to the design team as InDesign templates. Marketers can even track the results of their original campaign plans.
  • Data integration with PIM and DAM systems and the designer allows them to drag-and-drop products and into an InDesign layout. The two-way link remains live and updateable until final output.
  • Proofing and approval cycles are easy, automatic, and fully auditable.
  • Multiple versions of each piece can be generated and managed efficiently, allowing regional marketing needs to be met while maintaining the retailer’s brand image and data accuracy.
  • Digital output for online e-commerce and mobile apps is automatic, ensuring that all retail media channels contain the same content.

Of course, there is a lot more to the plugin and to the LAGO system as a whole. But for the production designer, the main benefit is time. With so much of the busy work on autopilot, the designer now has time to take full advantage of InDesign’s exceptional capabilities – and create print channel content worthy of a retailer’s brand.

In a world of multichannel marketing, print remains at the forefront and the need for compelling visual content has never been greater. Adobe InDesign is the best tool for the job, but it can’t handle all the variables for complex brochures and leaflets on its own. Automating the process streamlines page creation, preserves data accuracy, and ensures consistent branding, while allowing creative flexibility.

Learn more about LAGO Layout, our plugin for Adobe InDesign that will accelerate and automate your entire design and production workflow for circular ads and brochures. Or book a demo to see for yourself.


How retailers are gearing up for growth with a DAM system

How retailers are gearing up for growth with a DAM system

Covid plus the supply chain crisis has put retailers on the ropes. But agile marketing departments and their creative directors, however, have already taken on the challenges of commerce. One of the most important roles in modern retail marketing is played by data – specifically, the data in the digital asset management (DAM) system.

The DAM challenge

These database systems are nothing new in Retail Marketing. DAM has been around for thirty years. However, early systems were complicated and were usually stored on local network servers. Present-day, most DAM systems reside in the cloud or are heading there but pose no fewer challenges for the creative directors. Here are some of the obvious challenges:

  • Consistent Usage – According to a McKinsey report, 19 percent of users still spend their working time searching for and collating data! The savings potential through the integration of a good DAM system is very large but is crucially conditioned by consistent keywording of images. This potential can therefore only be fully exploited through consistent use of the DAM by employees.
  • Metadata Madness – The key to any database is its metadata – technical and content related image information. Metadata is the basis for making images findable in the DAM.
  • Integration – To be efficient, a DAM system must work seamlessly with many other systems, from product information management (PIM) to marketing campaign planning and production. The fact is that most legacy DAM systems do not play well with other systems/applications.

The evolution of new marketing channels and the intense competition for people’s attention have worsened the situation. In a marketing campaign, a picture may be worth a thousand words. However, getting the right version of the right picture, at the right instant in time, and for the right channel is a major challenge. Traditional DAMs cannot do it alone. A DAM must be much more than a filing system and must be consistently integrated into the IT system landscape.

The ever-growing multichannel world dictates that digital assets must be accessible in real-time – all the time. As a result, accurate and dynamic data are more critical than ever. So, having all your assets in one place – and easily accessible to every person and marketing-related system – is vital.

As a recent article in MarTech put it, “Digital asset management can play a vital role in your marketing organisation, unifying online and offline marketing channels and leading to more efficient marketing resource allocation.”

But not all DAMs are the same

Many DAMs exist in a world of their own, designed to meet the needs of one channel or workflow. Traditional DAMs are cumbersome in the extreme when used for other purposes or channels. They are also not always easily accessible across departments or regions. An InDesign user creating a print or online campaign, for example, may have to exit their design software in order to hunt through a DAM manually to find the photo or description of a promoted product. Hoping that they see the most recent version, they then download the file, thereby creating a duplicate and placing it in the layout.

Multiply that scenario by the number of regional variations in a campaign – and the number of media channels involved – and you get a cumbersome process, slow to market and highly subject to human error. It’s every creative director’s nightmare to discover – too late – that a catalog or brochure error caused the company thousands of dollars.

The LAGO DAM solution

But there is a DAM system designed for today’s multichannel marketing world. Comosoft’s LAGO DAM allows marketing departments to consolidate digital asset management into a single, unified repository – distributing assets to team members across the enterprise through a centralised platform.

LAGO’s automation and integration with other product databases assure that the correct version of the asset for a particular channel will be found immediately. In addition, if a new version of the asset is created, it can be automatically updated throughout the campaign.

Creative designers, photographers, and art directors especially benefit from using the LAGO DAM through an Adobe InDesign layout plugin. Allowing the DAM to manage assets in the background automatically will enable them to focus on what they do best – design and collaborate – rather than waste time searching for the right image.

Category- and product managers also benefit greatly from using the LAGO DAM system. Comosoft is highly adept at integrating DAM, PIM, and other critical databases with its expert planning tools, so that each campaign can use just the right products to feature – even if there are multiple regional variations to consider. Furthermore, the marketing manager’s decisions are automatically conveyed to the InDesign user, including product size, type, color, pricing, regional variations, and the myriad of other details that used to make campaign planning so difficult.

Once a campaign is in motion, LAGO data can be automatically exported to websites, mobile apps, or other digital channels – eliminating the manual process that traditional, channel-specific DAMs can impose..

Every creative marketing director understands the necessity and urgency of having a reliable DAM system – one that is integrated with every step in the marketing workflow. LAGO’s DAM solution grows and evolves with the company – and with the ever-changing, multichannel world.

Learn how Comosoft’s LAGO DAM solution can transform your retail marketing workflows and book a personalised demo with our experts.


Bring Multichannel Shopping Experience to Grocery Retail

Bring Multichannel Shopping Experience to Grocery Retail

When it comes to grocery shopping, customers increasingly expect an experience that allows them to shop how they want, when they want. To keep up with the competition and meet customer demands, retailers must provide an online shopping option that is easy to use and integrates well with their in-store offerings. Businesses can improve customer loyalty and drive sales growth by delivering on this multichannel promise.

Grocery stores are changing because of the pandemic. With more people focused on health concerns and avoiding crowds, grocery shopping has become an enjoyable experience through multiple channels like online ordering or delivery apps. Supply chain issues are also making inventory a more significant variable for change. Stores now must keep inventory updated constantly to ensure customers have access to a real-time account of what’s available at the store while shopping.

What is Multichannel Retail?

  • Multichannel retailing provides a customer-oriented shopping experience across digital and physical channels while maintaining brand consistency.
  • Multichannel retail is all about giving customers the best experience possible.
  • To better serve the needs of their customers, retailers must be able to create interconnected systems that share information and support people throughout all stages of a journey.
  • Successfully done, multichannel approaches can boost online sales and encourage more in-store visits.

Benefits of a Multichannel Approach

100% Transparency

Real-time inventory systems have helped retailers track the movement and availability of their products between stores, distribution centers, and home delivery couriers. In addition, with multichannel integration capabilities, it is now possible to offer customers more transparency about their orders when purchasing online since orders are tracked automatically.

“You Can Look, but You Can’t Touch.”

Online shopping has been growing exponentially, but one drawback is that customers cannot physically interact with food before purchasing. At traditional brick-and-mortar stores like Walmart or Target, shoppers or store pickers can choose specific steaks from the meat counter. They can also feel how ripe an avocado or banana is by touching them firsthand. This personal touch isn’t possible on eCommerce sites like Amazon because everything is ordered online and delivered straight to your doorstep.

The multichannel approach enables retailers to bridge the gap between online and in-store shopping by giving customers flexibility. For example, customers may opt for home delivery or pick up items on their weekly shopping list and then create a second list for in-store visits for perishables, meats, and vegetables.

Customers Spend More

According to new research from Symphony RetailAI, multichannel grocery shoppers spend on average 20% more on purchases and shop more frequently than those who visit the store. The convenience and speed of online are hard to beat. Furthermore, it is easier for customers to create grocery lists and remember items they might pick up during a regular in-store shopping trip.

Customers who purchase products online and do curbside pickup aren’t exposed to traditional in-store marketing efforts. Therefore, having a cutting-edge flyer design that integrates with your website features makes it easier to sell products and offer those impulse buys.

Is Multichannel Retail the Future?

With the rise in online grocery shopping, retailers are looking for ways to make their stores more accessible and will continue to do so going forward. As a result, the adoption rate of e-commerce will continue climbing among all types of grocery retail as this gap between an offline experience and one on continues to widen.

Comosoft’s LAGO software automates and optimizes multichannel marketing activities, significantly cutting production time and costs. LAGO has been a reliable multichannel marketing solution for over 25 years for RetailGroceryAgencies, and more.


2022 Marketing Trends: Why print marketing is making a comeback

2022 Marketing Trends: Why print marketing is making a comeback

Alongside many retailer tech-first approaches over the years, putting ad spend toward something more analog: the print catalog, sent alongside a slew of other direct-mail products, offers an incredible opportunity to deliver rich, tactile shopping experience targeting prospects as well as existing customers.

Cutting Through the Clutter

As advertising has become increasingly dominated by Facebook and Google, it is easy to write off print as a relic. Just look at Sears: the once-iconic catalog retailer is a thing of the past. But, more retailers and grocery giants are rolling out catalogs and flyers to hook prospects and keep existing customers loyal. Startups like Everlane and Greats and more traditional retailers, including Williams-Sonoma and major grocers, are evolving their multichannel approach to print and digital utilization of circulars. Even Amazon has launched toy catalogs!

With digital becoming more and more crowded, here are the top reasons to add direct mail or print marketing to your marketing mix as a retailer:

  • Print marketing is a very powerful tool in the hands of retailers and can be used to influence customer purchase decisions. According to the Catalog Age magazine, about 70% of people who receive catalogs either buy or respond to them within six months. Catalogs influence purchase decisions by making it easy to locate what you’re looking for and then conveniently delivering it straight to your door!

 

  • Printed advertising media such as brochures and direct mail are often consumed differently and more consciously by the recipient than digital content. In contrast to constantly available digital advertising, the consumer takes time at home to study the advertising in a familiar atmosphere. While the stream of digital advertising is often only marginally noticed in the everyday life of the modern consumer, a well-designed print brochure is a pleasant, decelerated exception.

 

  • It is an effective tool that provides marketers with the ability to reach, engage and influence consumers throughout their entire purchase journey. Catalogs and print circulars are often used as a launchpad for multi-channel purchasing journeys by delivering great offers, building brand awareness, and driving traffic to retail storefronts (or websites). The catalog production and print circular strategy is constantly evolving to meet consumers where they are at both digitally and physically.

Combining Print with Data

Marketers are armed with a plethora of information on customer transactions and regional buying behaviors. Some retailers are using print catalogs and direct-mail products to reach those who spend more or are likely to spend more. It also becomes a more intimate and less crowded form of advertising than Facebook, Google, or email. Some retailers use print circular placement in weekly mailings with regional-specific offerings. That amount of data and print production takes tools to make teams work efficiently without being bogged down with manual processes.

Turning the page on a multichannel mix, print catalogs or retail circulars and online activity are not separate experiences.

Knowing that retailer catalogs and grocery print circulars are important sales drivers with increasing marketing ROI, more companies are turning to multichannel marketing software to simplify production workflows and digital output of their print materials.

Comosoft LAGO optimises marketing print production and multichannel implementation for retail, grocers, agencies, and more. At its core, LAGO is a PIM, DAM, and marketing production solution with an Adobe InDesign integration for checkpoint-based design, collaboration, versioning, optimisation, proofing, and digital output. Click here to see LAGO in action or to schedule a brief demo.


The Best Digital Tools Used By Successful Marketing Agencies

The Best Digital Tools Used By Successful Marketing Agencies

The holiday season is a time for marketing agency owners to take stock and plan for the future. As this whirlwind of a year begins to wind down, agencies can expect a surge of new 2022 campaign initiatives. Unfortunately, that means dealing with one item that is always in short supply: enough time to get things done!

The day-to-day schedule of a modern marketing agency is like living inside a pressure cooker. A client’s “meal” is cooked thoroughly in less time than if they did it themselves, but it’s not a pleasant experience for anyone inside. As a former ad agency manager once put it, “If I wasn’t willing to come in and work on Saturday, then I could forget about working on Sunday.”

One of the chief worries for modern agency owners is retaining the best people while still meeting the insatiable time demands of today’s multichannel market. The pressure builds with each new channel – from personalised print to social media to data-driven websites and mobile apps. Of course, each has its own set of excellent digital tools, but sometimes those very tools are part of the problem.

The Planning Paradox

Every marketing agency has various planning tools to select the product information they need and map out what a new campaign should include. Unfortunately, these tools are seldom connected with the data sources a client uses to track product details. In addition, their planning tools may provide the specs for a printed or online piece, but they rarely give the production designer a head start. As a result, each new piece must start from scratch, with the designer interpreting the marketing manager’s plans.

Unlike traditional planning tools, Comosoft LAGO entirely integrates with the client’s many data sources, including PIMs, DAMs, and pricing and inventory databases. LAGO’s whiteboarding function allows marketing managers and ad planners to select featured products based on margin, availability, and other relevant product information with each layout decision. After campaign planning, LAGO produces a layout within InDesign with all the PIM and DAM information in place as a starting point for the designer to finesse the final appearance.

The Data Dilemma

Adobe InDesign revolutionised the production of high-quality design and layout of the printed page. The problem is, InDesign can do more things than a single designer has time to do! For example, with retail and manufacturer catalogs, there are almost too many different content components to keep up with manually: PIM data, images, DAM descriptions, and so much more. A designer cannot hope to do an excellent job manually and still meet the crushing time demands of a complex catalog. In the past, marketing agency owners had to make some tough decisions. Either hire more designers (rarely an option) or sacrifice quality, accuracy, or both.

LAGO includes a powerful InDesign plugin, allowing entire “blocks” of product information to import all at once, including the necessary product information, images, and descriptions. It also provides a two-way connection with the PIM, DAM, and other data sources. So, catalog and circular ad layouts automatically update if information in those data sources change. In addition, if the designer makes changes that would affect the underlying data, an authorised manager is notified to review the change. Because this process automates a host of tedious, manual tasks, designers can focus purely on the design itself. As a result, there’s an overall reduction in labor costs, and designers can take on more projects.

The Versioning Vortex

If you thought a page designer’s life was stressful creating one catalog, imagine how much more it is when every store needs a customised version of that week’s catalog or circular ad! However, print is not the only stress multiplier. Websites and mobile apps also demand the same images and data, usually with even more frequency. As a result, agencies are at risk of not meeting the insatiable needs of their clients to fill every marketing channel with fresh, customised content.

One of LAGO’s most compelling features is its ability to create and track multiple versions of a single marketing piece. For example, it starts with the base version of a catalog or circular ad and then makes an unlimited number of regional or store-specific versions. Each version is driven by the company’s integrated data sources and planned by the regional marketing managers. Thus, a catalog version for stores in the north could feature a sale on snow shovels while the southern version could feature outdoor patio furniture – all using the same base layout. LAGO even allows the data used in a printed catalog or circular ad to automatically export to a mobile shopping app or other digital channels.

The Revision Redaction

The traditional process for checking a marketing piece for accuracy and design quality is sending out a proof to the decision-makers, both within the agency and to the client. Although digital proofs (usually PDF files) have replaced hard copies, the review-and-approval process is still cumbersome and time-consuming. Online proofing systems do exist but generally are not integrated with the overall planning, data management, design, and production system.

Fortunately, the LAGO system provides just such a proofing solution. A designer can generate and submit an online proof at any point in the production process, routed to the appropriate decision-makers. Once notified by the system, they can review the piece in question, approve or add comments or instructions, and let the designer get back to doing their jobs. This review and approval process provides a clear audit trail, eliminates a major bottleneck, and dramatically improves the agency’s time-to-market for multichannel operations.

Seeking a Sane Solution

Comosoft began working with PureRED, an Atlanta-based digital marketing agency in eleven U.S. cities. PureRED’s client, home improvement giant Lowe’s, struggled with the problems described above and needed a comprehensive data and workflow solution. As detailed in a recent case study, PureRED was able to precisely do that (and much more) by implementing LAGO for the company’s multichannel campaigns.

The challenges facing marketing agencies are not likely to abate any time soon. The opposite is true. For agency owners currently enduring the pressure cooker of multi-version, multichannel marketing campaigns, a truly integrated workflow solution offers relief – and the freedom to be truly creative. That solution is Comosoft LAGO.

Contact us to learn more about the PureRED/Lowe’s solution, or for a demonstration of how LAGO can automate your print and digital retail marketing content production.

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The Designer’s Dilemma

Designers have more to do than hunt for images and product information. But when their printed and online designs involve complex data, they need tools to stay productive.

Graphic designers have powerful, unprecedented digital asset management solutions at their disposal. Tasks that once took days or weeks now take only minutes. Instead of waiting for specialists to deliver retouched images and typeset copy, a designer can do it all within sophisticated design software.
It’s a mixed blessing – especially in high-volume, product-intensive design projects. Think about catalogs or retail flyers with versions customized for multi-location retailers. Just because you can create infinite versions of a complicated piece doesn’t mean you have the resources to do so. The more complex a project is, and the more product and price variations each version requires, the more likely it is something will be missed creating more versioning reviews for marketing departments.

The High Cost of Data Handling

For B2B and B2C graphic designers, print and digital promotions very often involve products. Each piece features not only high-quality picture(s) but also descriptions, reviews, sizes, colors, pricing, and/or promotion details.
Now, multiply that by the number of products per page, the number of pages, the frequency of each promotion, and the number of local variations. With so much information to juggle, there’s a real risk of turning talented designers into data-entry operators. Hiring more designers is seldom cost-effective, especially if they don’t have enough time to design! It’s an endless cycle.

Just developing and finding images also consumes a percentage of a designer’s time. One study found that designers can spend 20 to 30 percent of their day looking for the right images – or the right versions – to use in a layout.

Cost of labor is only one factor. Data selection errors – the wrong image or price for one of many versions of a catalog, for example – can result in reprints, refunds, and even legal liability. Not only do designers have less time to design, they are increasingly prone to costly mistakes.

Real Automation to the Rescue

In the early days of desktop design, product and marketing information was available from many sources—often random and disorganized. The rise of Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Product Information Management (PIM) systems began to slowly change that. Designers still had to frequently search online databases and hope that they have the most up-to-date data.

Additionally, product information is very often a collection of related data from multiple sources. Making sure that every detail was correct—and current—was time-consuming, prone to errors, and left production racing to meet go-to-market deadlines.

Fortunately, real process automation between multiple data sources and the designers toolkit is now possible, also outlined in our Modern Day Hunting and Gathering blog covering the power of the LAGO plugin for Adobe InDesign. Using a collaborative workflow, marketing managers can pre-populate an InDesign template with all the required PIM and DAM data, leaving the designer free to design and produce multiple versions of a piece.

Creativity Within Constraints

A templated design workflow may seem like a contradiction in terms, but it’s not. With fewer hours chasing and entering data—and hoping it is accurate data—designers can focus on making the piece attractive and compelling. There are also important design decisions that cannot be automated. In fact, they are made easier because of automation. In the LAGO example, a template may contain a “block” of related data for a particular product, including more than one image for that product. In that case, the selection of just the right image, including color, orientation, and composition, requires a designer’s eye. Since the designer is not overburdened with chasing data details, they are freed up to focus on decisions affecting quality and messaging.

While automation can make the designer’s life easier and more productive, it can never replace their innate and valuable talent.

It’s All About Communication

Since the first cave paintings, designers have sought ways to communicate important ideas visually. Technology has enabled them to do so to a mass audience and, more recently, in a way that relates to each individual. Today, complex data are more relevant than ever. But whether the final medium is in print or on screen, the message always requires the skills of a visual communicator.

Using advanced systems like LAGO’s production capabilities to wrangle the data simply lets the designer focus on the skills that make their communication effective.


6 Workflow steps you really need to efficiently manage your print publishing as a retailer

6 Workflow steps you really need to efficiently manage your print publishing as a retailer

Print brochures (inserts/flyers) continue to be an important part of a retail chain’s marketing, as has often been mentioned. They are an important orientation for the shopping consumer. If they are created by modern software designed for this purpose, they can even provide real-time information and offers for digital formats.

The process for creating these marketing pieces can be complex, tedious, and expensive. Layout planning can be done on handwritten notes, separate Excel spreadsheets, or both. Asset management and page design can be just as laborious – manually finding, opening, or placing images and text in InDesign, using a separate server with no DAM. Proofing and approval can consist of physical proof output and markup, accompanied by long email and phone conversations. The final product can then consist of individual PDF files for each version, and so does not yet have a link to the retailer’s online advertising space.

Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are six highly automated workflow steps that can eliminate manual drudgery.

1. Campaign Planning

Retail product managers and designers are often scattered around offices worldwide, especially with the recent rise in remote working. Comosoft LAGO provides a common whiteboarding environment for all stakeholders. Marketing managers can easily select the products to be featured based on profitability, availability, and other factors, and designate where they should appear in the circular. They can also insert store specials and other variables. The data for these decisions are available instantly from the retailer’s integrated Product Information Management (PIM) system, Digital Asset Management (DAM), and related databases. Once a campaign is underway, the marketing manager can track the success of a particular product or group of products.

2. Asset Management

In LAGO, the marketing manager and designer do not have to manually locate and update the many images, descriptions, SKU numbers, and countless other variables associated with each retail product. Instead, LAGO’s integration with DAM systems pulls in and allocates all of these elements – plus special offers – as “blocks” of related visual pieces for a designer to finesse in Adobe InDesign. If a product image or other component is replaced or changed in the DAM, it is automatically updated in the layout until shortly before printing.

3. The Production Process

Adobe InDesign is the most common software for designing and editing print products, but manual editing is resource-intensive and prone to errors. In the design process, retail brochures are prone to content inconsistencies because each product on the page contains many related text and image elements that must be transferred from other systems. LAGO provides you with a design management environment that automates manual tasks and reduces errors. Related product information and images stay connected to their respective data sources.

4. The Proofing Process

Manually created proofs and disconnected markups are a thing of the past. Instead, LAGO can automatically generate a digital proof of any project (and its localised versions) for online review and annotation. Timestamped comments and corrections can be easily found, creating a reliable and secure audit trail. The user-added correction marks are linked at the offer and/or page level and overlaid directly on the document in InDesign. Change requests are easily and automatically conveyed to the production designer.

5. The Approval Process

During the proofing process, it is normal for more than one person to review the product with all promotional components for accuracy and approve proposed changes or corrections. In the past, this was an extensive process that was passed from one person to another – even for digital documents. With LAGO, the approval process is parallel and highly automated. Authorised managers are notified of pending page reviews and can approve or modify them from anywhere in the world. LAGO’s integrated, visual approach reduces the time required for approval and significantly shortens the overall time-to-market for multiple flyers and their regional or branch-specific versions. In addition, the status of each component of a campaign can be tracked and easily monitored so that potential bottlenecks can be easily identified and resolved.

6. Production Output

Print runs for multiple versions of a complex retail brochure have been a logistical challenge. Retailers spend many resources customising the various product offerings based on regional and individual input – with each manual edit introducing the possibility of errors. Comosoft LAGO automatically creates and manages an unlimited number of versions of each brochure. Each version is tailored to the needs of a region or branch, while maintaining a solid link to PIM and DAM data. Thus, a designer’s work in creating a flyer is automatically reused for multiple, region-specific versions, all under the control of the company’s marketing strategy.

Printed circulars also have an online companion – the retailer’s mobile app or browser-based content. Each offer in a circular or version must also have the same offer online, with the same region- or store-specific variations. Fortunately, this does not have to involve “re-inventing the wheel”. LAGO campaign data for printed circulars export to an online mobile app – including product availability and location in a particular store.

Working Smarter

The drudgery of creating circulars and other retail marketing material is a costly burden for any organization. Thankfully, manual labor is significantly reduced via intelligent integration of a company’s data sources with the workflow automation available in Comosoft LAGO.

Contact us for a demonstration of how Comosoft LAGO can multiply your efficiency in producing print and digital retail marketing content.

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