Earlier this year, DMA traveled west for the seventh installment of our Regional Roundtable series. What are Regional Roundtables? We’re glad you asked!

DMA Regional Roundtables are an initiative we launched in 2015 as a way to bring in-person learning and networking opportunities to our members in cities where we don’t normally host events – think Atlanta, GA, Columbus, OH, Denver, Colorado, and most recently Minneapolis, Minnesota. We work with member companies to select compelling topics for these events, while also incorporating a “roundtable” component where attendees discuss a relevant marketing challenge or opportunity with their peers. Oh, and there’s Happy Hour, too!

This time around, we teamed up with long-time member and friend of DMA Japs-Olson – a direct mail and commercial print specialist – for an afternoon of strong content, compelling speakers, and a room full of enthusiastic attendees. We kicked off with a presentation titled Digital Design meets Brick & Mortar Retail, featuring The Tile Shop. Founded in 1985, The Tile Shop is a specialty retailer of manufactured and natural stone tiles, setting and maintenance materials, and related accessories in the United States. Mary Hennen, Vice President of Marketing & Ecommerce, discussed the company’s desire to move the business forward in the digital world and create a differentiated experience. They knew they had to deliver design and product anytime, anywhere, in order to remain relevant. Enter Design Studio – a platform which allows Tile Shop customers to personalize and visualize how an entire room or a distinct space will look upon completion of a project. The new technology, Mary explained, is revolutionizing the design process by allowing customers, sales associates and any trade professionals involved with a project a collaborative platform to create customized 3D design renderings to scale.

Mary and her team attribute the success of their recent launch to an omnichannel, customer-focused, unified marketing approach reaching customers across 118 stores in 31 states nationwide. By keeping all promotional efforts in house, someone on The Tile Shop team could always ensure that every advertisement and commercial was written in a way that connected with shoppers. Once they knew who exactly they were talking to, the team focused on the customer journey. Revamping their website was critical, as they learned many people were interacting with The Tile Shop for the first time through their website homepage. By focusing on design, messaging and user experience, Mary and her team were able to craft a powerful welcome message that truly resonated with visitors to their page.

The integrated marketing theme continued throughout the day, and we closed with a panel discussion led by Paul Padratzik, Account Executive at Japs-Olson. The discussion focused on print and why it is still the must-have element in an omnichannel customer experience. Panel participants included:

Scott Gilbertson, Senior Manager, Local Marketing Strategy at Best Buy
Erica Templeton, Senior Print Buyer at Life Time Fitness
Wade Sedgwick, Owner / President of Pronto Heating & Air Conditioning
Jay Carroll, Co-Founder/Chief Operating Officer at SeQuel Response

Representing many verticals, these experts shared their perspectives on how and why integrating print and direct mail into their marketing strategies produces a powerful impact on their results. All agreed that mail is a conversion channel, and while many of their competitors have dismissed it as archaic, they’re using catalogs and postcards to reach people who have become fatigued by overused digital channels like email. SeQuel, for instance, has noticed that reaching millennials is surprisingly easier via mail. When they receive hundreds of emails a day, buy only three or four mail pieces, millennials are more likely to pay attention to the catalog in the mail. It’s also easier for consumers to forget about an email, Jay said. But it’s harder to forget about a physical mail piece that’s sitting on your counter.

In the end, all panelists agreed that the best way to reach customers and prospects is by using an integrated approach and capitalizing on both print and digital channels. If SeQuel mails a postcard, they’ll include a special URL pointing back to a special landing page with a special offer. If Best Buy sends a catalog, they’ll ensure the webpage matches up with the look, feel and creative of the direct mail piece they sent. This reinforces the offer, and conversion rates are much better. In a sense, the digital page becomes a part of the direct mail offer – and that’s the optimal use of both channels.

Don’t miss our 2017 Regional Roundtable line-up! We’re headed to San Francisco in February, Philly in April, Boston in May, Chicago in June, Denver in September, and November in New York. Learn more and mark your calendars!