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August 3, 2023

The Inspiring Growth of DG3

# Sales and Marketing
# Transformation
# Data/IT
# HP PageWide

DG3 has transformed from a commercial printers to a true marketing solutions provider that offers advisory, data, technology and marketing services

Although the company prints billions of pages weekly from its global locations, some of DG3’s clients don’t even view the firm as a "printer." Today, the DG3 team is passionate about helping clients make money, not just save it, and they're showing what it takes to be a true marketing solutions provider.

On a cold, snowy February 2022 morning in Jersey City, NJ, Steve Babat hears news that warms his heart. A hot prospect, a large pharmaceutical firm based in the Northeast, has just decided to award DG3—Diversified Global Graphics Group with a substantial three-year contract.

Steve is DG3’s Worldwide President and CEO, and he quickly celebrates with a colleague. To them, this is the best part: The contract isn’t just for printing. It also includes advisory services, project management, data/technology and marketing services."

This is great news because we’ve been trying to focus on program-driven, data-driven opportunities," Steve says. "We’d much rather get these kinds of deals than try to sell each job individually."

Other progressive, brand-focused printers can relate. More than ever, they’re winning major deals because their clients regard them as business partners, not just print providers. The reality is that thousands of companies can put ink on paper and deliver high-quality projects on time. But how many of them are truly positioned to also help their clients find, win and keep business?

DG3 is a prime example of an important evolution occurring today in the print industry — the shift from helping brands save money to also helping them make it. The industry’s digital transformation is shining a spotlight on teams that can talk about dashboards and data, not just speeds and feeds.

"Ultimately, we want to help our clients execute on whatever objectives they have. Their goals automatically become our goals."

Steve Babat, Worldwide President and CEO, DG3

Moving Away From Transactional Thinking

DG3 is one of the largest commercial printers in North America, and prints billions of pages weekly from its global locations in London, UK; Manila, Philippines; Tokyo, Japan; Sydney, Australia; and Hong Kong. But ask any of DG3’s 360 employees about what the company does, and you aren’t likely to hear product-based answers like "brochures," "direct mail" or "annual reports." Instead, they shift the point of view to their clients with phrases like "capture attention," "improve the brand journey" and "boost demand." Many of DG3’s clients now view the printer as an extension of their marketing teams.

"Historically our business was very transactional, but we’re moving away from that approach," Steve says. "Ultimately, we want to help our clients execute on whatever objectives they have. Their goals automatically become our goals."DG3 has a longstanding history of offering reliable, on-time printing, especially for clients in the financial sector. In addition to extremely high capacity, the company boasts one of the largest binderies in the Northeast, complete in-house mailing services and other print-centric capabilities designed to accommodate numerous markets.

Reliability, quality and on-time delivery are still important, of course, but to end users those traits become expected table stakes. Sure, a printer with a healthy mix of capabilities generally saves clients time and prevents sourcing headaches, but more brands seek strategic solutions that may or may not include print in the first place.

DG3’s sales breakdown bears this out. A few years ago, print accounted for about 80% of the company’s annual revenues; it’s now about 50%. At the same time, DG3 has grown by increasingly creating and deploying digital programs that build awareness, foster engagement and boost lead generation — all backed by data analysis, analytics and reporting.

"There’s a saying that every hammer looks for a nail," says Joe Lindfeldt, DG3’s President of Technology and Advisory Services. He’s responsible for much of the firm’s non-print work, including consulting, design services, marketing technologies, content management solutions and custom communications. His background is in strategic development and corporate finance. "Companies in our industry can fall into a rut of treating everything the same based on knowledge and experience. But our real job is to listen, and listen very well. We need to understand what each customer’s real objective is."

‘Clients Want to Know More. They Want to Hear More’

Today’s marketing leaders are time-strapped and battle-worn. They need ways to cut through the communication clutter and impress prospects. To engage clients and keep them loyal. To appease the boss with ROI numbers and meaningful analytics. And to accomplish all of those things while keeping their heads from spinning.

That complexity has presented a great opportunity for printers who offer marketing services. For DG3, it has also led to a new tagline: "Measurable Outcomes." 

Says Joe: "The obsession is really over what our customers require. Our company is being led by the thinking of our customers. And what we’re seeing now is, they want to know more. They want to hear more. That’s a novel concept for the print industry compared to just five years ago. It’s a major marketplace shift."

Today, when a new prospect wants to talk strategically, Joe says, they expect to talk to intelligent people who can consult with them about their objectives, business communication and marketing options, and data security and accuracy. "That requires a different level of person than they might find in traditional printing companies. Having expert specialists in-house is a big deal to anyone aiming to become a true marketing solutions provider."

That’s why DG3’s Custom Communications Group is so important. It’s an assemblage of "really smart people and really great technology," Joe says. "It’s all organized to help our clients connect with their audiences more effectively."

To one client, "more effectively" might mean higher response rates from a seasonal campaign. To another, it might mean better brand visibility for a new product, or the ability for DG3 to integrate with a customer relationship management system. 

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"Having expert specialists in-house is a big deal to anyone aiming to become a true marketing solutions provider."

Joe Lindfeldt, President of Technology and Advisory Services, DG3

Whatever the client’s main goal, getting to the heart of that objective isn’t always simple. Doing so often necessitates deeper conversations, and a significantly longer lead time than print salespeople are used to. After all, helping clients design and plan a strategy is different than helping them execute one.

Another complicating factor: For many printers, the shift toward marketing solutions makes sense, but it’s often a hard-won transformation to turn those efforts into dollars and cents. For example, what should a printer charge for end-to-end campaign delivery? How do you price in-house graphic design, or web-to-print modifications, or data analytics, or project management?

"There are many unintended consequences beyond the initial thinking that can send a program off the rails if they’re not carefully considered," Joe says. "Our job is to think, ‘Someday this client might need X, so let’s talk about that now and build it into the plan upfront.’"

The challenges of becoming a marketing services provider is well worth it, he says, because most brands absolutely value (and will pay for) both the operational efficiency of their programs and the efficacy of them. "You just have to be able to continually prove that you’re delivering results," Joe says.

Investing in HP PageWide Technology

"We have always managed to find the right balance in defending our core business, and also transforming and growing that core business," says Pat Caragliano, DG3’s Executive Vice President, Operations. He oversees the company’s manufacturing operations, including digital and offset print, finishing, mailing, hand assembly and fulfillment.

Continual innovation and technology upgrades are an important part of that balance at DG3.

To that end, the company upgraded in April 2021 to the HP PageWide Web Press T250HD with Brilliant Ink. The technology has led to increased versatility for the company’s high-volume printing. Direct mail campaigns and other projects that incorporate strict quality and color requirements can be produced in very short turnaround times.

"For us, the combo of the brilliant inks, greater paper selection and color consistency has allowed us to offer new products and grow our multichannel offerings," Pat says, adding that a new in-line coater from Harris & Bruno and in-line scoring/folding equipment has made for a complete solution.

"The fact that we don’t have to go near-line for our coatings, slitting or cutting has reduced about 30% of the operation costs from the process," Pat says. "We’re able to get much faster-to-market for our customers."

That’s critical to DG3’s clients in its two biggest verticals — financial services and pharmaceutical, for which the company is producing post cards, personalized letters, statements, transpromotional printing, annual plan reviews, advisor communications and more. Even some short-run work previously produced on cold-set web presses has transferred over to the T250HD. 

Says Pat: "We’re now running near-offset-quality work in-line at lower page counts, so we’ve started to experience less labor costs and higher speeds."

Always Moving Forward

"Over 40 years of experience has made listening carefully to our clients’ challenges part of our DNA," Steve says. "We believe trust is earned in the details, and we have an expert eye for them."

As DG3 continues to evolve and advance with solutions that embody the company’s "Measurable Outcomes" motto, one thing that will never change — its commitment to exceeding client expectations.

"We have a team that I think is unmatched in this industry," Steve says. "Together, we’ll continue to listen, continue to innovate and continue to prepare for the market demands of tomorrow."

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