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Dean Hart, President MWIDirect

How MWIDirect Streamlined Workflows and Adapted to New Technology with the Power of Inkjet

By Cindy Cumings on May 18, 2021

Dean Hart, President
Lincoln, Nebraska

MWIDirect is a direct mail execution company dedicated to helping customers capture the maximum ROI on their direct mail investment. They execute direct mail programs for companies throughout the United States and specialize in financial services, retail, nonprofits, healthcare, and other industries.

In August of 2020, they installed a new Canon Prostream 1800 and the business has been running color inkjet ever since.The Prostream was their very first introduction into color inkjet work.

Benefits of using Inkjet

One of the biggest benefits to inkjet for MWIDirect is that it gave them the ability to consolidate multiple work centers. Before implementing the new press, they were pre-printing shells and then going to another offline set. But with inkjet, they can print all graphics and variables at one time, consolidating the operation.

“We’ve also been able to increase our capacity about 50% without increasing labor,” said Dean Hart, President of MWIDirect. “That was a huge benefit. Scalability is much greater with a color inkjet device than conventional workflows. For our clients, they’ve seen benefits from us getting more variable data-driven content which will benefit their ROIs.”

Another advantage they’ve seen has been a significant cost reduction. Expensive plate changes, wasted shells, obsolete inventory — All of that goes away with color inkjet, causing clients to pay for the names and records that they mail rather than excess print. 

“We’re also able to turn around projects quicker because we have less work centers,” Hart continued. “It’s allowed us to close the window on production times.”

In many cases, the business can reduce postage costs by consolidating streams and providing discounts. In the past, they needed to treat different streams individually, but now they’ve consolidated into one, leading to a win-win for both MWIDirect and their clients.

Approaching the conversation of adding an inkjet press with MWIDirect customers

To educate customers on what inkjet capability could achieve for clients, MWIDirect met with them directly in the beginning of 2020. They listed benefits they had already discovered by using the technology: the quality of this generation of color inkjets has reached the point where it could tackle any commercial project.

“We communicated with each customer at length to tell them how they’d drive content and target individual personas,” Hart commented. “Wherever their demographics may be, we can target them. At minimum, we’re reducing waste with print. That’s 100% loss where you don’t have any chance of benefiting. We had a client who ended up wasting over $95,000 in wasted forms, but with inkjet, that waste is running at 0.”

Unique projects made possible with inkjet

MWIDirect has been able to produce standout work with inkjet. A recent example was when they worked with a large, national retailer. After informing them of the cost savings they’d have with inkjet, they conducted a deep dive on their data to help them extract all the information they had on their clients and process in order to launch a new campaign.

The retailer wanted to be content, data, and persona-driven. Their proposal included roughly 100 changes in graphics. Before MWIDirect implemented inkjet, they needed to change plates when changing graphics, but inkjet eliminated the need for plate changes. MWIDirect was able to easily change graphics and personalize QR codes for the retailer’s microsite. 

“We tested it on a smaller audience and the results were incredible,” Hart said. “Now, we’re rolling it out to several hundred-thousand. Our goal is to maintain that benefit. It’ll be eye-opening to our clients because we can target better, mail fewer, and make an enormous impact. It’s not about what they spend, it’s about what they make.”

Getting creative with the sales process

Since 2020, MWIDirect has adapted their sales process to “the new normal” of conducting business remotely. They knew the year would bring a seismic change to their business, so they decided to become more formal with their sales approach to expand their current client base while capturing new customers.

“We revamped our sales process in the way they go about attracting new customers,” said Hart. “We implemented a new CRM system; subscribed to a new lead generation database. There’s a lot more outcome-based goal setting and more structure. It’s paying dividends now because we’re able to execute that sales process where we weren’t as formal before.”

The new protocol they implemented led to more accountability and a better process. They had an opportunity to promote inkjet and recognized that prospective clients understood that inkjet is new, different, and will help their businesses. In that way, they were able to put a unique spin on how they engaged their leads and clients. 

Recommendations for switching to inkjet

For companies looking to switch to inkjet, Hart recommends vetting different inkjet manufacturers and to find a company that fits best with current work with the ability to help companies expand their markets.

Once they find the right vendor, the selection must be heavily focused on how well they can do with training and ongoing support. Those are critical factors, especially if this is their first time diving into inkjet.

“You’ve got to be aware of the magnitude of change within your organization,” Hart said. “The tools we use now are dramatically different than what we had as a conventional print environment. I can’t under-state that we knew there would be an impact to various departments, but we couldn’t estimate how big the impact would be.”

Inkjet has a robust finishing line with software that’s capable of driving large PDFs to a printer. MWIDirect had a variety of software that needed to be upgraded. They also needed to change the room to accommodate for the new press. For companies looking to make the switch, MWIDirect recommends taking into consideration that work needs to be done in the right environment.

How Hart rallied his team to build new workflows

Adjusting workflows is a process MWIDirect has been working on for the last 3-4 years, thinking and planning on the migration to inkjet and waiting for the technology to be good enough to be acceptable for commercial clients. When it was, they pulled the trigger and brought their team together to build solidarity.

“We communicated this to our whole team that we are doing this to remain relevant and stay in the game,” Hart commented. “It was really well received by our people. Although some people accept change more than others, we had opportunities come up that made our team receptive.”

In March of 2020, many of the business’s clients stopped in their tracks out of fear, uncertainty, and doubt. Although the company experienced a slow time in Q2-Q3 of 2020, it allowed them to focus on training for new workflows, professional development, and hardware.. This helped energize their staff.

The future of inkjet

In regard to production inkjet, MWIDirect understands that the future is already here and that more companies will see that the technology delivers high quality content that’s commercially acceptable to large clients.

“As an industry, we struggle to stay relevant,” said Hart. “This technology allows us to take marketing to a new level. Direct mail marketing works for some but not all, but this allows us to expand our markets. We’ve got to help our marketers get better results. It’s imperative to do that and we’re here to help them. The future is bright for them.”

The business also sees the need to adapt. With high-tech platforms and computer-driven technology, the pool of people MWIDirect serves is wider than ever. They’re also able to consolidate operations so that they can do more work with fewer people. This is a catalyst for production inkjet.

“I’ve been in the business for 35 years and this has been a game changer.” Hart continued, “You’ve gotten better targeting where you know what your buying habits are. With inkjet, variable marketing doesn’t cost any more. The direct mail marketing industry has some exciting times ahead. This is the biggest game-changing technology that I’ve seen in the 35 years I’ve been in business.”