IWCO Direct, a Chanhassen-based direct mail and marketing business, recently announced its plan to invest $50 million in its system. The announcement followed company board approval on June 2.
Marketing, advertising and consumer behavior are changing, said IWCO Direct Chief Marketing and Solutions Officer Mike Parker. The 50-year-old company, which employs 877 workers at its Chanhassen facility, saw an opportunity to invest in a number of key areas to help it remain a market leader.
A significant area of investment is in the company’s print production capability. Historically, the printing industry turned to conventional, litho printing machinery. However there is momentum building toward digital printing, which is faster, more efficient and personalized, Parker said.
Personalization is a big part of digital printing’s power. When marketers have relevant insights about consumers, such as their geographic location, interests or even the kind of car they drive, marketers can tailor communications that reflect that.
Following printing, there is an insertion process, where pieces are assembled into a package that is then mailed out. IWCO Direct is investing in new technology that accelerates and automates a number of components of the process.
“The combination of state-of-the-art digital press and state-of-the-art insertion technology ... we think that's a great way to kind of respond to the needs that the marketers have today,” Parker said.
Another large portion of the investment will go toward the company’s production platform. Technology and software programs play an increasingly important role in the business, Parker said. Technology enables the company to take content and data from marketers and turn it into mail.
“We have some great technology already, but we're going to continue to invest and expand and build the role that our technology stack plays in kind of enabling marketers to effectively do direct mail,” Parker said.
The company also plans to continue investing in its marketing services capability. At one time, the company’s focus was on the direct mail printing and production business. Now, clients are looking for strategic partnerships and ideas on how to improve their marketing program to garner better results, Parker said.
ROLLING OUT CHANGES
IWCO Direct plans to move rapidly with its expansion. The company will start receiving equipment in September and its new capabilities will be available to customers starting in November. The acquisition of technology and equipment will continue into 2022, but it’s roughly a 12-month plan, Parker said.
In a competitive industry, marketers are looking for every advantage to drive their businesses, Parker said. By engaging with their customers, the company saw it had an opportunity to respond to their needs. COVID-19 added a sense of urgency for the company. Marketers have to consider how consumers are behaving differently and need to make changes to meet their objectives.
“We can really stay out in front of the pack ... by making some of these investments that I think are going to lead the industry,” Parker said.
The company wants to partner with their customers and help them meet their goals. With the investment into its system, the company will be well positioned to do that with a combination of state-of-the-art printing and production capabilities and a talented strategy and services team, Parker said.
“Our intention is to continue to grow as a business and take advantage of the opportunity we see,” Parker said.
IWCO has received positive feedback after announcing its largest investment in the history of the company. Customers are happy to see our leadership and ability to be proactive, Parker said, adding they are excited about the company’s ability to do personalization at greater speeds with better results.