Canon hosted its first-ever virtual Future Promotion Forum this week (14th October 2020). The event welcomed close to 600 brand and marketing professionals, creative and media agencies, print service providers and corporate print departments from across Europe. Now in its third year, the annual Future Promotion Forum has built a reputation as the must-attend event for marketing professionals looking for new and innovative ways to maximise customer engagement.

The overarching message was clear: customer experience, or the way a brand makes you feel, is the most important differentiator in marketing. In today’s digital world, brands need to be reminded that their customers are more than just data points. By blending technology, behavioural science and data, brands now have the power to hyper-individualise their omni-channel marketing campaigns. In doing so, marketers can make an emotional connection with their target customers and lead them from awareness to purchase, yielding a better return on investment. 

This is good news for print, dubbed as one of the only marketing tools that has been proven to provoke an emotional customer response and have lasting impact. Couple that with print’s ability to deliver omni-channel campaigns to reach the customer with just the right message, at the right time, marketers have a powerful method to reinforce digital elements of their campaigns.

Kicking off the online event, Dutch author and EMEA Marketing Director at Smartly.io, Mark de Bruijn highlighted the importance of delivering exceptional customer experience by keeping the balance between technology and people. Mark commented: “The title of my keynote says it all: Customers are people too! As marketers, we spend a great deal of time and resources analysing and manipulating data to engage our audiences and cause an action, which we hope will lead to conversion. But the value is in understanding the consumer behind the data. The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst on data-driven marketing and we need to be agile with the resources and data we hold to be able to tap into human emotions, build trust and make a more authentic connection with customers.” 

Mark’s keynote was followed by inspiring insights from Colin Strong, Global Head of Behavioural Sciences at Ipsos. He works with a variety of brands to humanise data, interpreting customer information and creating new growth opportunities by remembering that context is everything. He shared with the audience: “Data has promised so much in terms of understanding consumers. But the limits of working with data alone without an understanding of the context in which it is generated can be problematic. Data cannot tell us what we are thinking or feeling. And there is so much more that can be developed in terms of our understanding of humans. You need people who understand both data analytics as well as human behaviour to partner up to interpret patterns in this data. Only by doing so can we influence behaviour change. It’s important to start with a clear understanding of what the behavioural challenge is, what the psychological dimensions are that act as barriers to the desired outcomes and then designing interventions to change the behaviour.”

Delving deeper into how it all comes together, attendees were given strategic advice on how they can implement user-centric personalisation based on data-driven marketing from Gregor Wolf, Sales and Business Development at Smart Digital. Not only are technology platforms key components to implementing and managing data-driven marketing campaigns, but the right teams, skills and processes must be in place too. By making better use of their data, companies were shown how they can deliver true, real-time personalisation at scale by delivering the right message, to the right person, at the right time, via the right channel.

To demonstrate this in practice, attendees heard how Group Joos is using transaction and marketing data combined with Canon technology to deliver personalised print in real-time to enhance its customers’ marketing campaigns, with the opportunity to create completely individualised one-to-one communication. As part of the behind-the-scenes look at how the Canon ProStream technology delivers this, Alex Joos, Chairman and CEO of Group Joos said: “The importance is to get the right blend of digital and analogue elements in the marketing mix as they’re not as effective when used in isolation. Print can enhance touchpoints along the buyer’s journey and a good example of this is what we’re able to achieve for our retail customers. Using the data from online (transactional) activity, we’re able to produce individualised coupon books and customised offers, tailored to the spending habits of their customer.”

Lastly, Angela Medlar, Vice President of Operations and Product Technology at Enthusem, spoke about how brands can easily integrate personalised print into a customer journey, interlinking the online and offline worlds by seamlessly connecting marketing automation tools with print production. Enthusem is the plug-in that connects all those dots. This concept, known as programmatic print, helps brands to automate the print process for a more efficient operation and improve marketing ROI.  

Wrapping up the event, entrepreneur Richard Askam chaired a panel of experts who reminded the audience that, due to the COVID pandemic, there has never been a more important time to create an emotional connection your target audience.  He concluded: “Hyper-personalisation is the key to influencing behavioural change in our data-driven world. Let’s elevate the status of print in the marketing mix and omni-channel channel campaigns using programmatic print technology.  It’s now up to the print industry to work more effectively with brand marketers to play on print’s many qualities and its ability to build an emotional connection with the customer.”    

Commenting on the first ever virtual Future Promotion Forum, Peter Wolff, Vice President, Production Printing Products (PPP), EMEA Commercial Printing, Canon Europe, says: “Participants have already commented on how the Forum was not only inspirational, but also a wake-up call. This year in particular, COVID has changed the landscape. We have all experienced an overall boost in digital communication, and an increased acceptance of it has put even more pressure on marketeers to be efficient in what they do. On the other hand, there has never been more discussion about how the consumer perceives brands and how marketeers really need to home in on consumers’ values. So, marketeers really need to maximise efficiency using technology while maintaining that human touch.”

Wolff concludes, “One of the advantages of being able to host a virtual event is that we can open the discussion more widely to exchange knowledge and ideas that fuel innovation. What we all acknowledge is that we need to put the ‘person’ back into ‘personal’. We hope the real-life examples of how targeted print elements can be woven into a wider campaign, demonstrated at our event, shows brands that digital is not their only approach and that print can be just as efficient and agile, as well as deliver the ROI they need. Building an emotional connection with customers will be key to safeguarding existing customer relationships and winning new business.”

If you’d like more information about the event, please click here: http://canon.sm/fpf2020blog