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Interview with Michael Dillon from Meyers on how to Market Digital Embellishments



Kevin Abergel: Okay. Michael Dillon from Myers printing. How are you, sir?


Micheal Dillon: I'm doing well, Kevin, thanks for having me.


Kevin Abergel: Oh, it's a pleasure. It's a pleasure. I met you you were down at amplify I think. And we had we had some time together in Minneapolis. Tell me a little bit about your company and some of the stuff that you guys are doing right now.


Micheal Dillon: Yeah. So Myers is a, almost 75 year old family business. We're focused on packaging. So folding cartons, corrugate labels as well, but we also have a good amount of energy going into retail displays and a couple other specialty print areas.


Kevin Abergel: That's interesting. Yeah, the family company, man. I know how that goes.


Kevin Abergel: That's that's great. And you were recently just named, I think a chief revenue officer


Micheal Dillon: congrat. Yeah, thank you. Thank you. I'm feeling very fortunate to be able to be part of the family business and make a contribution at this level. So far so good.


Kevin Abergel: So listen Michael we're writing an article on digital emebellishment and for what they think we've been doing a series of the first one that I did was about how to design for digital embellishment and the obstacles that a lot of users were running into, that's one of the major educational aspects.


Kevin Abergel: And then the second one was about estimating for it correctly. And, if you estimate too high, you lose the job. You estimate too low you're commoditizing and how to thread that line and the theme of this one. And I think this is really where you're gonna be able to bring a lot of insights to us is gonna be really how to market your digital embellishment capabilities to your customers the right way.


Kevin Abergel: And I just wanted to open up the conversation with you on that, cuz I know that. You have a what is it a, you have a Ted speaker on your team as well. So you guys understand marketing, understand the ability to get the word out there. Tell me a little bit about what you're seeing work for getting the word out there on a marketing standpoint.


Micheal Dillon: Yeah, absolutely. First I say I'm a big believer in individualization and personalization. I know Adam is too Adam Peek you referred to earlier, who's done some great Ted talks. And so I think it depends a lot on the type of the brand that you're talking to. So you have your mass marketing and then you have, when you get a chance to do some better targeted marketing and it's really different for different groups, right?


Micheal Dillon: So sometimes. We're using it to, to show off what it's capable from, essentially the perspective of creating bling. So for a lot of groups, this is about catching somebody's attention from significantly, further away, down an aisle or across a store and getting them to come closer to pick up your package or to pick up your product.


Micheal Dillon: And give it a closer look. And of course, once somebody's holding that, that's obviously a really important part of the buyer's journey. And I think that digital embellishment helps with each piece of that. But, so we're talking about that differently when we're marketing to emerging brands.


Micheal Dillon: Who really need to catch people's attention and draw them in and get them to interact with that product and get to know that brand for the first time, then we're talking with established players who might have a particular product that they wanna highlight. Especially if they're say entering a premium space.


Micheal Dillon: To me it's really about providing something that's experiential. And I know when we talk about that, a lot of times people are thinking about being out and about in the world. You're out doing things, but one of those things that people are out doing is shopping, right? And sometimes you're doing that on a regular daily basis, but you have a chance to create a unique experience between your brand and that person who might even be in a retailer for a different reason and get them to have their first experience with your brand or a new product.


Kevin Abergel: I love that explanation and that's something I, I fully agree with. The question is when you have that conversation with your clients, Are they fully aware of that? Or are there a lot of it saying, walk them through the process of using embellishments and digital embellishments and what that can mean for them?


Kevin Abergel: Cause we just had this conversation earlier offline about label expo and how everything there is embellished. And we don't know if it's the buyers themselves who understand the value of embellishments or if it's the label printers who know how to push it. But tell me about that discussion that you have with your clients when you're in that meeting room and you're pitching them on embellishment.


Kevin Abergel: Do they fully understand the benefits?


Micheal Dillon: Yeah, there again, back to the personalization and individualization it really depends on not just the brand that you're talking with, but specifically the buyers. So there are still brands who are really dedicated to getting those buyers who have super deep print knowledge.


Micheal Dillon: So in that case, we're talking less about what it means to have a foil and more about what it means to have that, sculpted as they call it foil, where there's a lot more texture. And a lot more tactileness to the file, to, to the foil that you can get off of a lot of these digital embellishment machines.


Micheal Dillon: But that level of nuanced discussion is the type we have when we're dealing with a brand who's dedicated to very experienced buyers. They're understanding the value of catching somebody's attention. And now it's the difference between the foil that they're used to or even the gloss that they're used to, and the experience that you create here, which is completely different than when we're talking with. We're seeing more and more, especially with the hot emerging brands where they're hiring really smart young people who don't have the same level of print knowledge. And then we're talking a lot more about statistics and studies about, Hey, I just mentioned to you that you're gonna catch somebody's attention from further down the store.


Micheal Dillon: What do I mean by that? Let's look at some data and talk about how much more likely you are to catch somebody's attention from how much further away you are, how much more likely they are to pick something up. So in both cases we're getting deep into, it's just what are you getting deep into, is the concept of why this delivers or is it the difference between this and what they're used to seeing in other types of embellishment?


Kevin Abergel: That's really interesting. I think one of the issues with digital embellishment out there is that. And I think this is probably good for embellishments period.


Kevin Abergel: There's a true lack of real hard data of the actual results that it has in the field, because the brands don't wanna share that with their printers. Is that something that you guys are able to get from your clients or is a lot of it having just a track like reorder rates? If they order once with embellishment. 80% of the time after that they'll reorder with embellishments.


Micheal Dillon: Yeah no matter how good of a relationship you drive with a client they're always gonna have their own internal policies.


Micheal Dillon: So there's a lot of data that we wish we had that we don't always get back. But also the groups that manufacture the equipment do often have data. So that's where we've gotten some of the best data from studies that, that they've been able to run. So we're leveraging data.


Micheal Dillon: They were able to collect. You know what else I. What do you do? And bring something that's really nicely embellished to the meeting. And I set it down on the table and I don't mention it. And then once we're getting into it, I mention how many times they've looked down at it since I set it down and that's their own time.


Kevin Abergel: They touched it.


Micheal Dillon: Exactly. That's their own firsthand experience with that data, anecdotal, but it's its own type of data. Yeah. Yeah.


Kevin Abergel: I agree. That's a big one. So tell me something at Myers. First of all, what kind of digital embellishment equipment are you running right now?


Micheal Dillon: We're running a MGI jet varnish machine for our sheet fed digital embellishment.


Kevin Abergel: Okay. And how long have you been in that game? How long have you had the machine?


Micheal Dillon: I think just over a year now


Kevin Abergel: have you gone through some, I guess some changes in the way that you're marketing in that one year span of experience that maybe if you were looking back, you're like, oh man, I wish I would've done it this way or not that way. Is there any, like lessons learned in that, what year that that kind of stuck with you?


Micheal Dillon: I would say just spending time out, out in a store, getting familiar with who's already using gloss who's already using foils and thinking about how would this be different? Cause you're probably gonna come across times where somebody has embossed their packaging and then they've gone back over.


Micheal Dillon: To add something on top of it. And that of course can be a one step process. Yeah. And a lot of times what I think you might find is a smaller brand who could be paying, a pretty, pretty steep rate to have a relatively limited number of packages that are made this way through traditional.


Micheal Dillon: Who don't yet know about digital embellishment? So I think that's something important. And again, you gotta separate who this is a fit for. If you're talking about a very earthy health and cosmetics brand, this is not gonna be the same kind of a fit or at least not used in the same way as when you're talking about ultra high end cosmetics.


Micheal Dillon: Or a food or even a sports and outdoors company, they all have different ways that this is gonna apply to them. And that's one where with time and some trial and error and spending time out in store, looking at what's going on, you kinda learn how to better tailor that to these different audiences.


Kevin Abergel: That's great. So do you market this under your own brand? Have you created like your own side brand that kind of talks about this? Or are you just saying digital embellishment or are you just how are you referring to this when you're talking with your clients?


Micheal Dillon: Yeah, we're just talking about on this digital embellishment, it's really tempting to, to create our own branded offering in that space.


Micheal Dillon: And I think one of the things for us is that our clients all treat us as trusted advisors. So it's a delicate exercise. To make sure that they understand really what we're bringing to bear. What is, unique to us. We have a lot of things that we end up having patented that are truly unique to us as a business at Myers.


Micheal Dillon: And this is one of those things where we haven't made our own machine. We haven't created our own patented processes, so there's a lot for us to work through before we would end up creating a brand name for that for us. But there again, Every company's different and every brand is different.


Micheal Dillon: And I imagine branding that has been a really beneficial thing for a lot of printers.


Kevin Abergel: So I'll tell you the truth. It's a mea culpa. I went around for the past 12 years telling everybody to do that saying, Hey, listen, here's what you do. Come up with a really cool name, put your name in there, copyright it, what it shows up in the bid. It has to go to you. That was and it made sense at the time. What I'm realizing is that by pushing that line for the past 10, 12 years, it may have caused some sort of confusion at the brand or at the agency level because they have 20 different names for the same thing. . And so on one hand it was beneficial for the printer, but then, as we're trying to grow the pie, that's what we're trying to do at Taktiful is grow the digital embellishment pie by making this go mainstream. That's really one of the questions I ask myself. I go, maybe we confused the market? So the fact that you're marketing it as digital embellishment, May actually make much clearer in terms of what you're bringing instead of a very specific brand name that you bring to it.


Kevin Abergel: So I don't know, I think that's a good exercise to run through. But I think if you look at your average print buyer, just rate 'em for me, one to 10, one being like, I have no idea what digital em involvement is. And 10 is a, yeah, I do this all day long. Where does the majority of the brands and agencies that you work with?


Kevin Abergel: Where do they fall?


Micheal Dillon: I think mostly between three and five, when you're talking about the manufacturing world, a technology that's existed for, 5, 6, 7 years that's brand new to most of the print world to most of the packaging world. Yeah. Most of them are gonna fall between three and five.


Micheal Dillon: You always have your edge use cases.


Kevin Abergel: That's optimistic. I think everybody else was between two and three, so that means that there's room to grow. This is positive. And if we're at a two right now if we can get to a three to a four to a five in the next year or two years I think it'll be interesting to see how the market adapts with the ongoing education and speaking of education.


Kevin Abergel: Do you agree that a big part of growing this pie is educating your brands, your buyers and the designers as well?


Micheal Dillon: Yeah. There's a lot of education to happen in doing this. Cause again, most printers aren't three year old companies, right? So they're not used to learning everything from scratch.


Micheal Dillon: A lot of what they're doing. They're very good at it's a very refined process they've been doing for a long time. So you have an internal team. That's probably gonna have a decent amount to learn. You're gonna have designers where I can tell you, we, we went through a process. The team made amazing stuff, just really cool ways to leverage this machine to make beautiful print, but it took a lot of trial and error to get to the point where it was like, all right, that's it right. That's what we've been searching for. That didn't happen the first time. And I think that was a bit of interplay between both our design team and our operators.


Micheal Dillon: Now that's something that we're lucky to be able to have our designers so close to our operators, cuz we can make a fresh design from scratch, run it, have the designer go down, watch it. Touch it, feel it, look at it, discuss what they were going for with an operator, go back, make changes and do that same thing and iterate on it.


Micheal Dillon: So there's definitely learnings across the board for buyers for a sales team, for a marketing team, for designers, for operators. And honestly, I'm probably missing an area areas to where there's more to be learned.


Kevin Abergel: What an advantage you have weapons in your arsenal to be able to go.


Kevin Abergel: Having your own design team, your own marketing team, being able to seamlessly interact with your operators on the floor. That's the kind of stuff I think that really will set Myers apart from a lot of other people. Whereas, most people that I talk to are really frustrated when the file comes in.


Kevin Abergel: It's never set up, they always they're leaving like 90% on the table of how cool this file could actually end up being by being able to offer that as a service. You guys are probably not only being able to do the files right the first time and saving time and making some money on the design, but probably getting so much more out of the machine because you know where to push and where to pull.


Micheal Dillon: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you. And I think here again, I you just wanna know everybody that you're working with as, as well as you can. And this is part of what we do here is push boundaries. And, part of the reason we connect is that as we push boundaries, we wanna know people like you and your team to make sure that we're doing that as well as possible.


Micheal Dillon: I think there's a lot to be learned from other industries. I came out of the tech industry, right? So I think there's a lot for a print to learn from the tech world and for print to learn from other worlds. If you think about YouTube creators, if you watch YouTube creators that are engineering things and making, some, these incredible inventions, they're doing an extreme amount of iteration, they're trying things that's failing.


Micheal Dillon: They're trying again, is failing and they're coming up for air in the middle and looking for help on, Hey, how did other people do these things? So if your printer. If your packaging provider is a, keep it simple, but it will be very low cost, highly cost effective kind of printer. Keep that in mind as you go to work on this same thing with your design team, right?


Micheal Dillon: So if you're gonna be trying something new and trying to get creative, you wanna be working with designers, manufacturers, and others with this is their gig. Even then when this is our gig, even we ended up wanting to connect with groups like your team at taktiful . So it's just some, it's a part of doing something new and creative.


Kevin Abergel: I love it. I love you're approaching this the right way. You're approaching this in a fresh way. And I think this is the correct way. If you were to say, all right, who's responsible it who should be responsible for teaching? Your end users, your customers, the brands, the designers. Do you think it's their responsibility to go out and get this knowledge?


Kevin Abergel: Do you think it's your responsibility as their printer? Do you think it's the manufacturer of the equipment who should be going out there? To grow the educational part, to grow the digital embellishment pie.


Micheal Dillon: Responsibility is an interesting word there. I think it just comes down to what are the outcomes that you wanna achieve?


Micheal Dillon: When we saw these machines and thought what they were capable of, we knew that we wanted to be able to bring that to brands and help them understand how they could do things they weren't yet doing. So in that case, it's really on us at the same point, though. It took the people who create these machines, MGI and others to, to be in a position, to be able to explain to us, this is out here, and this is why it's different from what you're doing today. So everybody has their own part to play in that. And then. It, some brands are just not in the position to have people out exploring, whatever they're growing extremely fast.


Micheal Dillon: They're fine by the seat of their pants. This is part of the startup gig, or even a fast growth gig. If you're not at a startup, it's a different, it's a different position to be in than some brands that hire, very seasoned print experts and enough of them to have some of them know that it's their job to be going out and learning about these things.


Micheal Dillon: So I think everybody has a role to play. And if you wanna bring something creative and new to brands, whether you're a consultancy or a manufacturer or a design agency then it's on you. Cause if you wanna bring new things, you're gonna have to help, 'em understand the impact it's gonna have and why they should explore it.


Kevin Abergel: That's a great answer. So last question before I let you go, Michael, you said you come from the tech industry. I think one of the big challenges is. Right now there hasn't se or there doesn't seem to be a very easy way to design and pre-visualize and estimate and buy embellishment period on a web to print type of environment.



Kevin Abergel: Is that something that you feel once, something like that comes out will make a big dent in terms of the market demand or do you think what we have today is sufficient. What, how do you see that part of the market grow?


Micheal Dillon: Everybody likes things to be easier. People love things to be easier.


Micheal Dillon: So this is part of why Amazon is sometimes able to charge a nice price premium, cause they're very easy to work with. So this is something that I know Adam on our team is very focused on. He talks a lot about friction, and what does friction look like for us internally? What does friction look like for a buyer?


Micheal Dillon: So yeah of course the easier these things are to buy the better and what I would say to everybody else in the meantime is that lots of things are double edged swords, and certainly anything that's difficult if there's value there, which there, of course is in digital embellishment, everything that's difficult right now is equally an opportunity's just a question of whether or not you wanna do the hard work to get where things should be.


Micheal Dillon: Whether that's internally estimating or externally pricing. Because that those don't actually always need to be coupled. So when you have a buyer, who's really understanding the value of this and the impact it has on your brand, the better you know, about why that matters to their brand.


Micheal Dillon: The difference it'll make in how they're able to connect with their own consumers the greater you can decouple those things. And is that complicated? Yeah, of course it is. But that's where the opportunity is then.


Kevin Abergel: If it was easy, everybody would do it. I love this conversation, Michael, this has been a very eye opening for me. I think Myers is continuing to pave the road for the industry. And I think I think you guys sound like somebody I would like to do business with.


Kevin Abergel: So thank you very much, Michael. Really fantastic discussion Myers. How do I get to your website? Michael? We'll put a link in, in, in this video, but


Micheal Dillon: it's just myers.com, M E Y E R S dot com.


Kevin Abergel: Very good. Thanks again, Michael. Yeah.


Micheal Dillon: Thank you for your time, Kevin. Appreciate it. Bye.

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