When it comes to innovation, Fenske Media VP Dave Fenske says it’s a lonesome journey that is to be embraced. “It’s a lonely journey; that’s what it means most of the time. If you’re going to innovate, you’re trying to do something very different, and it really puts you kind of far out by yourself sometimes and on a lonely trail some days,” Fenske notes.
But, the intimidation of being on that lonely trail didn’t stop the Rapid City, South Dakota-based digital printer and marketing solutions provider from embarking on a digital journey.
Established in 1957 as a commercial printer, Fenske Media operates today in a totally digital environment, providing information services across many different and relevant media channels, and is actively working to redefine the next generation of digital content through its interactive video experience platform, iVX.
The iVX platform allows for adaptive, sequenced content delivery based on data triggers that occur during an interactive video experience from third-party data. Triggers can generate new content dynamically, fire third-party web events and scheduled actions, or generate real-time SMS or email notifications.
“We wanted to come up with our own technology, and if you look at what we do with variable-data print and the amount of information we can put on a sheet of paper to make it relevant to the customer, we do the same thing with the video presentation,” Fenske says. “It gives us that digital connection that we can measure at the same time, too, so we get a measurable component of mail, and we also get a measurable component of the digital communication that feeds into an enterprise model.”
Having worked in the printing industry for most of his career, Fenske says he has seen what print can do for his customers and what it can bring to their businesses. But Fenske Media — which was an industry pioneer in one-to-one, cross-media marketing communications, and today operates high-speed Kodak Prosper 6000C inkjet web presses — wants to take things a step further and promote the idea of video connected to print.
“While we’re lucky that print is a great delivery method of direct mail into the mailbox, we’re also looking to take that same data that we put on a sheet of paper and transfer it into some form of an interactive or a digital model that we can go ahead and expand on that communication channel with,” Fenske says.
Of course, this platform didn’t come together overnight; it has been evolving during the past eight years, and has not come without its own challenges. Fenske notes that the truest challenge is not for Fenkse Media — but its customers because it truly is a learning experience for them. But once they do take the leap of faith, Fenske says clients have their “aha” moment.
“In reality, digital is disruptive, and so for the customer, sometimes there’s a reluctance for them to go ahead and accept this technology and to test it,” Fenske says. “It’s tough, because they don’t want to go ahead and disrupt their own flow. I mean, if you’ve got an environment where everybody is a shareholder, we have to be very careful that we don’t disrupt their business activities. But, at the same time, they have to be willing to accept the challenge of what this technology will help them do.”
Changing the Company Culture
Interactive video isn’t the only innovation for Fenske Media. It’s also actively evolving its company culture. Just over a year ago, Fenske Media was a tight-knit, family-operated business.
Now, thanks to being acquired by industry veteran and third-generation printer Allan Creel, the lead generation, brand awareness, and marketing analytics provider has been able to expand, and Fenske notes that he wants to give the younger workers the “keys to the kingdom” and allow them to flourish since they are the future of the industry.
“We’ve been a very closed family business for a long time, and our recent transition with Allan Creel and his team has allowed us to go ahead and really expand our younger workforce to help them gain experience and confidence,” Fenske says. “He [Allan Creel] has allowed us to extend our business opportunities and has really opened up a lot of new doors for us with great understanding and caring.”
To further solidify why the SOC 2 Type II-certified Fenske Media is a 2022 “Innovator of the Year,” Adriane Harrison, VP of human relations consulting at PRINTING United Alliance, notes, “Within the printing industry, Fenske Media was an early adopter of Design Thinking — an innovative approach to problem-solving that helped the company reimagine itself as an international, multichannel marketing firm. Fenske leadership recognized that gathering and integrating data would be a way to reach consumers through various media channels and build relationships between its clients and their customers.”