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Modern marketing magic

Aug 1, 2005 12:00 AM

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Print On Demand

Consider the tremendous task of managing the development, distribution and dollars of marketing materials to a nationwide network of 1,200 offices and more than 20,000 sales associates.

For GMAC Home Services (GMAC), one of North America’s largest real estate organizations, the solution came from an innovative printer. Darwill, a full-service printer in Hillside, IL, developed an innovative, self-service online system called ForSite, which completely replaced GMAC’s existing marketing procedure.

Founded in 1951, Darwill runs a 60,000-sq.-ft. facility and has more than 140 employees. Its new print-on-demand solution gave GMAC the ability to better organize its business by connecting multiple departments and functions into one system.

Using ForSite, GMAC has improved the process its network of brokers and agents use when customizing, ordering and distributing marketing materials—while streamlining inventory accounting for both retail and corporate materials.

Paper to Web
GMAC’s previous method for ordering marketing materials was a time- and labor-intensive, paper-based method. It required GMAC agents and brokers to page through a comprehensive catalog, pull out and complete an order form, and phone in the order or fax it to the vendor. This did not allow for customization, an asset GMAC needed to facilitate its extensive communications outreach.

Instead, GMAC representatives were limited to orders of generic materials, such as pocket folders, that were pulled off of shelves and shipped. Even with the use of set items, brokers would have to wait about three to five business days before actually receiving the marketing materials.

Confident it could make a significant difference, Darwill offered GMAC an innovative solution—its ForSite system for marketing materials on demand.

How it works
ForSite is a Web-based application that gives users full access and control of the creation, production and distribution of printed marketing materials. The template-based solution consists of a standard set of tools with a variety of customized options to manage and measure marketing campaigns and distribution procedures—with any Web browser, from any location, at any time.

The user-friendly interface permits convenient, remote access to create, order and send literature, direct mail and collateral. Up-to-the-minute status of order history, usage and inventory management helps brokers and agents manage their business more effectively.

Darwill’s Development and Integration Team conducts thorough research and testing to create a solution exclusive to each client’s unique needs. Each ForSite system takes approximately three to five months to design. The team also provides start-to-finish project management that includes ongoing customer service.

"Darwill’s breadth and quality of services allows us to provide our staff and strategic partners with the print communication tools they need to succeed," says Richard Gregory, senior vice president, corporate development for GMAC Home Services. "By effectively adopting the latest technology, Darwill has made our job a lot easier."

Today, hundreds of GMAC brokers nationwide are realizing the benefits of using this streamlined system. On average, Darwill processes 25 retail and corporate transactions a day for GMAC Home Services.

Fulfilling individual needs
GMAC reports the ForSite system has transformed the entire marketing process for its network of brokers and agents. ForSite includes preset tools that allow system administrators to control how materials are used, who uses them, how efficiently they are distributed and what message is conveyed. A budget-monitoring tool helps target specific groups and limit the quantities and types of materials or programs for different departments and marketing efforts.

"Users have their own ordering experience on the Web with account and order history, and they can manage their marketing program themselves," Pageau notes.

GMAC representatives report prompt delivery using ForSite. Items that don’t require customized printing ordered before 1 p.m. are shipped from Darwill that same day. Anything that is customized or digitally printed is shipped the following business day. Because Darwill produces all of the printed materials, the overall quality remains consistent.

Meeting top-level requirements
The GMAC corporate office also reports benefits from ForSite. The company uses the system for its daily internal corporate printing needs, such as newsletters.

Additionally, the system allows GMAC corporate staff to order marketing materials, charge the jobs to certain cost centers, and create drop shipments across the country to specific agents and brokers. The system provides accurate inventory accounting for retail sales while tracking in-stock marketing material availability.

"We developed ForSite to help businesses like GMAC manage themselves more effectively and efficiently," says Troy Van Dyke, Darwill’s vice president of sales and marketing. "Less processes, more efficient production and streamlined distribution equal lower costs."

About Darwill
When William Van Dyke Sr. founded Darwill in 1951, the company’s primary business was imprinting signs for Florshiem Shoes retail stores.

Van Dyke’s son, William Jr., assumed control of the company in 1980. In 1993, Bill Jr. died of cancer and his widow, Janice, faced the enormous challenge of filling his shoes. Although Janice Van Dyke often informally discussed the company with her late husband, she had no prior business experience.

In an interview published earlier this year in the Chicago Sun Times, Van Dyke recalled her rocky start: "With four sons, age 13 to 22, and a growing company with 80 employees and $10 million in sales, I found myself in a quandary. I knew how much the firm meant to Bill, and how many people—including 100 regular clients—were counting on some kind of continued leadership."

With help from Howard Van Dyke (her first cousin and Darwill’s president) as well as the company’s can-do culture, Van Dyke found her footing. Under her leadership, the company has more than doubled in size. Sons Troy, vice president of sales and marketing, and Brandon, vice president operations and technology, have played key roles in building the company’s digital infrastructure, including its ForSite online workflow.

Today Darwill is a 140-employee, 60,000-sq.-ft. company with $24 million in annual revenue. Recent additions to its pressroom include a MAN Roland 700 six-color hybrid UV press and a Xerox iGen3 digital press.