More than 450 Canon Solutions America (CSA) production print customers, solution partners and print industry experts gathered in Boca Raton, FL last week for the second annual thINK Conference. This conference offers an opportunity to network with peers, share best practices and learn from industry leaders and solution partners. Having attended the inaugural thINK Conference in 2015, my expectations were high for the 2016 sophomore effort, and I was not disappointed. This year’s event offered a great mix of educational sessions for both beginners and those already experienced using full-color variable-data inkjet.
Sessions focused on both technical aspects of using inkjet devices―such as color, design and maintenance―and how to best use the flexibility of these machines to support multichannel marketing campaigns. Participants in the sessions were engaged and asked presenters questions right up to the end of the hour. The one “complaint” I heard about the sessions was that they were too short and should be extended to allow even more interaction with the assembled experts.
My Favorite Keynotes Focused on the Influence of Direct Mail and Risk-Taking
There were four amazing keynote speakers who addressed a wide array of topics. As a certified Direct Mail Geek, my favorite was Jonathan Margulies of Winterberry Group, who spoke on “What a Decade of Disruption Tells Us about Direct Mail’s Future.” Despite the changes in the last decade, Margulies noted that direct mail remains “fundamental” for marketers to reach their customers and prospects. He noted that while mail is now one of many channels in multichannel, data-driven marketing campaigns, it “has evolved in a way to complement (or even lead) other channels.” He went on to describe data-driven direct mail as the “alpha channel,” where customer relationship management (CRM), targeting and segmentation got their start and as the channel with the most expertise and knowledge in the marketing world.
I also appreciated the thoughts of tennis champion Chris Evert on the drive and focus that’s needed to succeed in a competitive environment. She observed that sometimes taking risks is necessary to thrive, describing how she had to adjust her style of play in order to finally beat Martina Navratilova. She commented, “I would have kept losing if I had continued playing my game.” She urged conference attendees to continue taking the risk of moving into new technologies, like inkjet, when that is what’s needed to stay ahead of the competition.
I was especially proud of my colleagues Mike Ertel, Debora Haskel, Dave Johannes and Mike Todryk, who spoke at the thINK Conference. They covered topics from selling the advantages of inkjet, to the value of data and how to manage and utilize it to drive successful marketing campaigns, to advice on the best techniques for managing color in an inkjet environment. They really demonstrated how much we’ve learned in recent years about effectively using inkjet in the direct mail channel.
thINK 2016 was a busy few days full of networking, expert advice and access to a wide range of paper, software and equipment vendors. Anyone who is involved in the inkjet industry, especially if you are using (or even thinking of using) Canon equipment, will find it time well spent. I know I’ll be one of the first in line to register for the 2017 event as soon as details are announced.
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