Welcome to the family Courier Post

We’re excited to share that today (1st October 2020) Excel Digital is moving courier delivery to CourierPost. This is a change which we believe will deliver significant extra benefits to our customers. These benefits include:

  • Increased ability for system integration and automation for our customers
  • Increase in system and technology options across the supply chain
  • Increased reach and scale using New Zealand’s largest delivery network delivering to over 1.94 million delivery points. This means:
    • The ability to deliver to Post Office Boxes
    • The ability to deliver to Private Bags
    • The ability to deliver to 220,000 rural addresses using the CourierPost network rather than rural delivery through a third-party provider
  • Ability to track rural parcel deliveries with 24/7 access to online parcel tracking for all parcels
  • Removal of penalty charges for unmarked rural deliveries
  • Removal of all residential delivery surcharges
  • A commitment by our courier provider to sustainability including a commitment to being carbon neutral from 2030 and on-going investment in their electric vehicle (EV) delivery fleet

We look forward to bringing these increased benefits to our customers. Please let us know if you have any questions.

Phone: 04 499 0912

Email: info@exceldigital.co.nz

Highlights from the Excel Digital – Perception Group Merger

Celebrating Excel Digital’s First Birthday

On the 2nd of September we celebrate our ‘first birthday’ – it will be one year since the Excel Digital and Perception Group merger. As the saying goes ‘time flies when you are having fun!’ We want to take this moment to thank all of our customers for being with us on our journey so far. Here are some of the highlights from the last 12 months, some thoughts on what the COVID-19 process has taught us and some insights into what is coming next.

The highlights

There have been two standout highlights over the last 12 months: the first highlight has been offering our customers so much more as a combined business, and the second has been the shared energy we’ve experienced as a larger team. Many of our customers are now benefiting from system improvements or making use of a wider range of printing services. We’re now a much larger team, in fact we are now one of the largest ‘cut sheet’ digital printing companies in New Zealand. For a list of our services please check out this link. 

What the COVID-19 process has taught us

It’s an understatement to say this year has brought a lot of changes to the way we all work. One of the learnings from the COVID-19 process has been to re-assess how we stay in touch with our customers. Our tagline as a business is ‘together, let’s excel’ and we really want to live up to that through the way that we communicate with our customers. As well as the value of communication, COVID-19 has emphasised for us:

  1. We should value each day and not take things for granted
  2. The value of family
  3. We can get through things together

Where we are heading

Over the coming months Excel Digital customers can expect to hear from us more often as we commit to improving the way we service our customers and communicate. You can also expect to see further improvements to our customer-facing systems. As always, we would love to receive feedback if you have any suggestions for how we can improve things for you or your organisation.

Feel free to reach out to us in whatever way is easiest, whether that is through an account manager you work with or through the following means:

Email: info@exceldigital.co.nz

Phone: 04 499 0912

Paper is a sustainable choice

Paper is a true renewable resource and can be a sustainable choice for those wanting to ‘go green’ or reduce their environmental impact.

Paper is a true renewable resource and can be a sustainable choice for those wanting to ‘go green’ or reduce their environmental impact. Around New Zealand many companies have joined the paperless office trend. There is an implicit assumption that digital media is more environmentally friendly than print. At Excel Digital we see paper as being part of the environmental solution rather than the problem. Here are some pointers that will help you disseminate fact from fiction and enable you to make informed choices about your paper use.

Paper pointers

Here are a few facts showing how using paper can be an environmentally friendly choice:

  • Paper is one of the most recycled products in the world
  • Paper is made from wood, a truly renewable resource
  • Forest certification ensures we can make informed choices about the paper we use
  • The paper products and printing industry is one of the lowest industrial greenhouse gas emitters

The impact of choice on our environment

As consumers and businesses, we have the power of choice. Choice means that it is us who have the power to influence outcomes around us. Businesses can choose to adopt sustainable practices, and consumers can choose to make environmentally conscious purchasing decisions. Choice becomes the key to answering whether we should adopt digital media over paper. Rather than favour one above the other, the answer lies in choosing a product or provider who has a sustainable mindset and is focused on reducing their environmental impact. Like any industry the printing industry is conscious of the impact its practices can have on the environment.

Checklist for choosing a sustainable print provider

Here are some questions to ask when choosing a print provider:

  • Do they have an environmental policy?
  • Do they actively engage in practices designed to reduce their environmental impact?
  • Do they have environmental accreditation?
  • Do you know where their paper comes from and does their paper have environmental accreditation?

Excel Digital and sustainability

At Excel Digital we only select paper from suppliers who demonstrate their paper is from renewable resources. We are committed to reducing our environmental impact through waste reduction and through adopting sustainable practices. Our production facility engages in large scale recycling of production materials and products. Excel Digital is also an Environmark Gold Certified Partner.

Further information

For further reading on the positive impact of paper on the environment please consider the following article:


National fundraising – A changing landscape

Nonprofit fundraising in New Zealand.

Recent discussions I’ve had with nonprofit organisations across New Zealand show that the fundraising landscape in New Zealand is changing dramatically. The landscape is changing but the principles of fundraising are not. Donors are still willing to give time and money to make an impact in the lives of others and society in general. What is changing is the way donors expect nonprofits to communicate and interact with them.The strategic challenges facing nonprofit organisations include:

  • Rising costs of postage in a world where posted direct mail has been the backbone of fundraising success
  • Financial institutions ceasing to offer and process cheque payments which have traditionally been a major channel for fundraising donations 
  • General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) impacting how nonprofit organisations gather, store and use donor data and information 
  • Rising ages of donors revealing that nonprofits have a majority donor base of older donors and struggle to attract younger donors 
  • Capturing all interactions with contacts to convert them into donors 
  • Conversion of current one-off donors into regular givers using direct debit processes 
  • Communicating with donors in the right way using the right channels in a multi-channel, physical and digital environment 

Nonprofit organisations must align their marketing and fundraising strategies with donor expectations. Donors expect to:

  • Know how their personal contribution is connected to the impact an organisation has 
  • Be thanked and acknowledged for their personal contributions
  • Understand how to make payments in the most convenient and secure way possible 
  • Be assured that their personal information is kept secure and safe 

Nonprofit organisations require strong marketing and fundraising strategies to deliver these outcomes for donors. While the landscape can look confusing and challenging, attention to the fundamentals of marketing communication will stand nonprofit organisations in good stead to deal with these challenges. Here are some pointers to ensure fundraising success:

  1. Be inquisitive – know your donors, understand who your donors are, how and why they donate and what their donation patterns are 
  2. Be human – address each donor individually in the right channel in the right way and let them dictate their own fundraising journey 
  3. Be engaging – communicate with your donors on an ongoing basis and don’t make it all about fundraising 
  4. Be thankful – thank each donor personally for their individual contributions 
  5. Be transparent – show donors how their personal contributions are creating impact

To deliver these for donors nonprofit organisations must leverage technology and automation. An automated approach allows nonprofits to deliver, track and measure fundraising communication activity.

For strategic advice on national fundraising please feel free to get in touch:

Jono O’Grady

+64 27 811 8286

Case Study – Helping Dementia Wellington drive donation revenues

Perception Group helps Dementia Wellington increase their donations by 14% through a personalised cross-media campaign.

The Challenge

Dementia Wellington is a not-for-profit organisation that supports people affected by dementia in the Wellington Region, along with their family and friends. It also offers education on brain health and the effects of dementia to community groups, businesses and the wider public.

A large portion of Dementia Wellington’s funding is raised through donations and public appeals. To support this, Dementia Wellington posts quarterly newsletters containing donation requests to previous donors.

Dementia Wellington wanted to bolster their donation efforts from traditional marketing strategies by adding a new element to their campaign. However, they also needed to ensure that any changes to the campaign were cost effective as well as maximising returns. Additionally, they wanted to track true results, which is something they struggled to do in the past with their standard methods.

How we solved it

Perception Group partnered with Dementia Wellington to create, build and execute a multi-channel campaign to increase the number of donations received, increase the average amount of donations received and increase campaign return on investment. The campaign was a multi-channel communications campaign with e-mails, Personalised URL (PURL) landing pages, a payment gateway and personalised, printed direct mailers.

The campaign had two elements: one group of donors received the traditional direct mailer. For the second group, a personalised, targeted email was sent with a message that directed respondents to a Personalised URL (PURL) that displayed personalised copy and imagery.

The results

The number of donations received from people who were recipients of the digital campaign was 14% higher than for a traditional direct mail campaign. Additionally, the average donation value per donor was 48% higher.

To read a complete case study of this campaign, go to: perceptiongroup.co.nz/case-study-dementia-wellington.pdf

A marketer’s most valuable tool – a printable whiteboard

Gather together a whiteboard, plenty of coffee, a group of people with open minds and some free time and you have the ingredients for so

Yes, I know. The image that’s accompanying this post has absolutely nothing to do with the title of the post. But if you read my previous post, you’ll see that I have recently taken a dislike for stock photos and have made a decision to only ever use photos that I’ve taken. As I can’t find any photos in my collection that relate to whiteboards, I thought that I would use this instead. I took this photo whilst cycling in Palmerston North recently. It tickled my fancy.

Anyway, back to the topic…..

Any marketing professional worth their salt will always present their clients with fresh new campaigns, not cookie cutters from previous marketing activities. Yes, you must always learn from your past experiences – what worked and what didn’t – but it would be a huge mistake to assume that a campaign strategy that worked for one client will work for another.

Even slight differences can ensure that a campaign that has previously been wildly successful at one moment in time, turns out to be an embarrassing flop when it is regurgitated to be used elsewhere.

However, it is an arrogant marketer who believes that at the click of their fingers they can come up with marketing campaigns by themselves without assistance. An effective marketer will draw on the expertise and inspiration of others So, go ahead and gather together a whiteboard, plenty of coffee, a group of people with open minds and some free time and you have the ingredients for some impressive creativity. You have a workshop!

A workshop is truly an ideal way to come up with the spark of an idea for a marketing campaign.

Putting it simply, a workshop is an opportunity to harness the power and creativity of a group of people in an environment where there is no hierarchy and minimal control. In a perfectly run workshop there are no egos, no agendas and no cliques. Of course, reality can get in the way of perfection, but that doesn’t mean that you cannot strive for it.

There are rules around how to run a workshop, but this post is not about that. There are plenty of blogs that will help you with this.

You should not seek to walk away from the workshop with a fully crafted and scripted campaign; you’ll just be setting yourself up to fail. All you should try to achieve is a theme, maybe some key-words, some imagery, some challenging thoughts and possibly a rough map of how a journey may look. If you can achieve all or some of these, you should consider your workshop a success.

Who should you invite to join you in a marketing campaign workshop? The simple answer is anyone. They could be a colleague, your client, a designer, a techie or even someone from the shop next door. What you are seeking are ideas and ideas can come from anyone.

Who shouldn’t you invite to join you in a marketing campaign workshop? Again, this answer is simple. Anyone who is negative, anyone who is likely to belittle people and anyone who is not open to listening. In other words, anyone who will likely sabotage your workshop. There is no room for them.

We always workshop ideas for our clients, regardless of how straightforward a campaign may appear. You are always seeking that extra spark of creativity and something unique and a workshop is an ideal way to get this.

And the printable whiteboard? This is an absolutely invaluable tool to ensure that all the gems that you have captured do not disappear when you leave the room and go back to your daily routines.

Our Changing World – isn’t technology great?

The impact of technology on the way we communicate, collaborate, learn and think has been nothing short of game-changing to the world of marketing

I’ve spent the last couple of days at the 2018 Industry Training Federation (ITF) Conference. The theme for this year’s conference is “Skills in a Changing World” and the focus is on how learning and education in New Zealand is changing and will continue to change and that educators and the government need to embrace this change.

The conference has several big-hitter presenters, including Chris Hipkins, the Minister for Education and MPs Paula Bennett and Shane Jones. I have to congratulate Josh Williams, the CEO of the ITF, for bringing together so many inspiring speakers, including a key-note speaker, Dr Soon Joo Gog from Singapore, who has the wonderful job title of Chief Futurist.

It has been fascinating listening to the panel of experts discuss how the world of education has changed so rapidly over the past 20 years and how the rate of change is accelerating at an ever-increasing speed.  And it has been heartening to hear how people in the room are welcoming the changes to come.

Having time to do nothing but listen and learn is very rare for me, so it has got the creative juices flowing. In particular, I’ve been thinking about how marketing has changed over the years and the influence of technology on this change. When I did my degree many years ago, the marketing bible was Kotler & Armstrong’s ‘Principles of Marketing’ which preached about breaking down the barriers towards reaching your target audience. (It’s interesting to see that this book is still going strong and is now in its 15th edition).

I believe that this basic premise of marketing has not changed over the years. At its core, marketing is about placing your product or service in front of your target audience in a way that they welcome it. It’s also about removing any barriers, physical or otherwise, that could prevent them from viewing your product in a positive light. This is the same today as it always has been.

However, although the fundamentals of marketing are unchanged, there has been a revolution in marketing over the past 20 years or so. The impact of technology on the way that we communicate, collaborate, learn and think has been nothing short of game-changing to the world of marketing.

For me, one of the most notable impacts is the ability to aim marketing messages directly towards specific groups of people and to adapt the marketing content to suit each unique person. This marks a turning point in marketing. No longer do you need to waste your marketing budget on the spray-and-pray techniques of the past and hope that something will stick. You can now design your marketing message directly for those  you know are more likely to buy your product, with a unique message that resonates with them.

And once you have developed that connection with a person, todays technology enables you to strengthen that relationship and even leverage off it to connect with their friends and peer groups. You know that you have done a good job when your marketing messages go viral.

What am I, a marketing professional, doing at a conference on education? Perception Group is a supplier and partner to most of the Industry Training Organisations at the conference and we are a conference sponsor. So, I’ve had the privilege of representing our company at it. It has been a real treat for me.

BTW – Lately I’ve developed a dislike for stock photos, so from now on will always use my own photos in my blog posts whether they are relevant to the topic or not (far more interesting). The feet in this photo are my own. At the time the photo was taken I was having a rest after having cycled into the Tararua Ranges near where I live.

Becoming data ready

Tidying your data for direct marketing automation

You’ve probably heard the adage information is power. If you’re like me, you would have brushed it off as hyperbole but in our current world of technology and automation information really is power. To connect with customers in a personal way brands and businesses need accurate information. From a direct marketing perspective accurate information results in having the right message in front of the right person at the right time. Having accurate information on customers always begins with sound data.

There are various tips and tricks as to how you should go about tidying up your data. We’ll mention a few of these as we go along, but the most important thing is to start like you mean to go on.

1.       Create a data plan

Identify where your data is going to come from. Most of us treat data as an added bonus – something we find ourselves owning but we don’t know where it came from. If you don’t know where your data comes from you have no chance of using it to engage with your customers. The two ways to source data are to purchase it or gather it.

2.       Be clear about your purpose

Why are you gathering data in the first place? Data can only be used for the purpose you have gathered it for. If you’re unclear how you are going to use the data you gather, your customer isn’t going to want to give it to you.

3.       Communicate your purpose with your customer

You might understand why you are collecting data on your customers but if your customer doesn’t understand then you’re bound to have troubles. If your customer doesn’t know why you’re collecting data on them then you can’t do it. Simple.

4.       Get rid of the question marks

We all have data hidden away in a database that we have questions marks around. ‘Did they really agree to our weekly email blast?’ If you’re unsure then just get rid of it. Uncertainty around data leads to uncertainty around what you can and can’t do with it.

5.       Store your data securely

Data storage and data security go together. Your database becomes your central point for all automated marketing activity. There are plenty of database options that allow for safe storage of your data. Your choice of database will impact your ability to automate your direct marketing activities so find a database system that will enhance your direct marketing rather than create road blocks in the future.

Becoming data ready is the first step in a multi-channel marketing approach. Once your data is accurate you’ll be able to turn your data into information on your customers.

Did you really go for that ride?

About 15 minutes’ drive from my home a mountain-bike track snakes up a hill into a large area of untapped native forest.

About 15 minutes’ drive from my home a mountain-bike track snakes up a hill into a large area of untapped native forest. This track is perfect for a person wanting to spend time on their bike in solitude away from the rest of the world. Last Sunday I loaded my bike onto my car and set off for a ride. However, to my horror, when I unloaded my bike from the car at the start of the track I realised that I had left my phone at home.

It wasn’t the lack of communication that caused my angst, but the knowledge that I was going on a ride without using Strava (for the non-cycling people out there, Strava is a sports tracking application. You can check it out at strava.com). How could this possibly happen? I was so annoyed, that for a brief second I even considered turning around and going home to get my phone.

The very act of going for a ride without strava-ing it (yes, it has become a verb) was almost a sacrilege. How would the rest of my Strava ‘buddies’ know that I had been for a ride? What if I was on the top of my game and beat a Personal Record? It wouldn’t be recorded! How could I live with myself? It brings to my mind the conundrum about a tree that falls in a forest without anyone around to hear it? Did it actually make a noise?

Did I actually go for a bike-ride if I didn’t leave an electronic trail behind me?

My little story is one of millions of similar stories that people face each day. How many people in your office are currently wearing a fitbit, that is faithfully recording their daily steps? How many have gone the step further and are wearing a GPS enabled device that not only counts the number of steps, but also tracks, records and stores their exact movements?

If we were compelled by our government to wear tracking devices, we would (quite rightly) rise up against such a tyrannical state; but we quite happily spend a lot of our own money on devices that allow private companies to keep track of our movements and even our deepest thoughts. And none of us really have an idea about how these companies use this data.

As I have discussed in a previous post, data is king. If a company holds data on you, your habits and your preferences, they can use this data to make money in any number of ways. Strava for example, “anonymizes and aggregates” data they collect about you and resells it to city councils so they can better plan their urban environments.

You can think of this as a win-win-win-win-win situation:

Win 1 to Strava:

You pay Strava a premium to use their app (Strava makes money)

Win 2 to You:

You get accurate records of how your exercise is tracking (and can show off to your friends)

Win 3 to Strava:

Strava sells the aggregated data to a city council (Strava makes money)

Win 4 to Everyone:

The city council gets to better plan their roads and paths based on how people actually use their city, rather than a best guess

Win 5 to You:

Your urban environment is better suited to your lifestyle

Five wins! Is that such a bad thing?

Coffee card? You can do better!

If you have read my other posts, you may notice a recurring theme is that I implore you to make sure that you personalise your marketing messages.

If you have read my other posts, you may notice that a recurring theme is that I implore you to make sure that you personalise your marketing messages.

This is relatively simple if you have lovingly kept your database up to date and are tracking all your customers’ transactions and personal details. But unless you can afford a team of data crunchers (and keep them supplied with coffee) it is highly likely that your database is somewhat lacking. How can you possibly personalise your messages if you don’t have a good list?

I’ve previously mentioned that you can buy a mailing list from one of many organisations such as NZ Post or Data Zoo. But no matter how good their lists are, they will never be as valuable as a list of your own customers. So what do you do?

Simple – take a deep breath and begin the journey. It’s never too late to start capturing customer data.

70% of consumers are willing to share personal preferences to receive more relevant email.

If you can offer your customers some value (and don’t get greedy and seek too much from them), you may find that your customers are happy to give you some personal information that will help you kickstart your customer database. Below are a couple of ideas to consider:

Own a Cafe and still use Coffee cards? you can do better than that!

The ubiquitous coffee card has finally leapt into the 21st century with the advent of The Goody Card: a phone app that replaces stores’ loyalty cards. Instead of filling their wallets with tatty coffee cards, your customers load the Goody Card app on their phone. With every coffee purchase, you scan a QR code on their app and Bob’s your uncle – they get an occasional free cup of coffee without having to carry a card with them – you get their purchase history and the ability to send customised emails that are relevant to the recipient. It’s a win-win situation.

Trades People – trust me, QR codes can work for everyone.

Are you a plumber and want to build a loyal following of customers? How about sending the occasional email, text or card to people in your area? But to do this, you need their contact details. One suggestion is to put a QR code on your van, invoices, signs etc, offering a 10% discount on your standard hourly rate. To register for this offer, all someone needs to do is scan the code and enter their name, address and email into a simple form accessed through their phone. Again – win-win. They get a discount and you get the chance to have a loyal customer.

These are two simple ideas that don’t require a lot of work or expense. You know your business and your customers. It should not be too difficult to come up with an idea that suits your business. If you are lacking in ideas jump onto your computer and see what others are doing.

Once you start your database you need to keep working on it. Constantly add new people, update details and generally keep it fresh and clean. If you wait to do a spring clean once a year, you may find that your list quickly becomes stale and ineffective.

@ 2020 Excel Digital