by Kevin Craine
Companies spend millions of dollars to send millions of customer statements each and every month. While the stats and numbers can vary, let’s assume that it costs your company approximately one dollar to print a simple, one-page statement. Then add to that the cost of an envelope and the postage; another dollar or so, give or take. Now multiply that $2 by the number of mail pieces that go out the door each month and my guess is that your company now has invested a significant amount of money into this routine customer communications process. So the question becomes: is that investment simply a lost cost, or are you wasting an important opportunity to build revenue instead?
Customer Bills and Statements Get Noticed
Customers are bombarded with thousands of marketing messages each day through the internet, television, radio and social media. Most of those messages are ignored as part of the endless chatter of today’s media. But monthly customer bills and statements get noticed and often rise above the clutter or competing communications. Indeed, analysts tell us that plain old paper is experiencing a comeback; especially when the content is directly relevant to each recipient. In other words, people most often open and read their monthly statements — you can’t say that for many other forms of customer communication.
Don’t Waste the White Space
On any typical statement there exists open “white space” that does not contain any text or images. Depending on the design of the document and the content included, this white space can be significant, often leaving potentially valuable real estate on each page unused. In many document designs, especially those associated with legacy output, there is fixed space that is intentionally left open, such as the area in the header or footer. This can be used for branding or advertising. Other areas of white space are available only when dynamic content does not fill the space. For example, the area left at the end of a page or end of a document set that is unused and open for your marketing message. Some leading organizations today are even working with space created dynamically between line items, or sections of a form, to place relevant information based on that particular item or service.
Leveraging Wasted Opportunity
Companies already invest the time, money and effort to create recurring monthly customer statements. Why not leverage each “customer appointment” by including relevant and targeted messaging for additional products and services? It costs six times more to gain a new customer than it does to sell to an existing one, so leveraging unused white space on transactional documents that are already being sent just makes good business sense.
There are a variety of factors to consider in the proper use of white space and some very important strategic and technical issues that must be addressed. The good news is that there a number of next generation document composition tools to consider to get the job done. How should you move forward? Look for providers and partners that provide the right mix of experience, vision and advanced capabilities that will help you make the most of your wasted white space.
Kevin Craine is a guest contributor and the author of the book Designing a Document Strategy and a respected authority on document management and process improvement. He is the managing director of Craine Communications Group. For more information visit CraineGroup.com.