Recently, the agency re-activated an existing relationship with Rabobank, one of the Netherlands’ largest cooperatives with nearly two million members, to handle the production of its members magazine Rabo & Co.
With 3,740 pages, 1,500 layouts, 85 editions, and 300+ editing users creating four issues per year, this is an intensive creative production process. We sat down with Robbert Jan Blekemolen, product owner of client-facing IT tools, and talked to him about this specific project, how content orchestration is helping the agency stay competitive, and how agencies need to be thinking about technology to win new business.
Welcome, Robbert Jan. Can you tell us a bit about your project with Rabobank?
Yes sure. This is a particularly interesting client due to the scale and complexity of the project. The magazine is a crucial touchpoint for member communications, and being relevant locally is one of the key initiatives of Rabobank. So there are three levels of each quarterly edition. One-third of the content is national, one third is regional, and one third is local for each bank branch. Altogether around 300 people work in WoodWing Studio to create the content. And the print run is between 1.2 and 1.5 million copies.
That sounds like it would be a complex workflow!
Yes, it is quite complex – 3,740 pages over ten weeks, on a tight deadline. We create the magazine in three steps - national, regional, and local content. Several of our content creators - writers and people in charge of graphics, are all working with Rabobank, and we do a final check on all pages to make sure it’s complete, ensure image quality is hi res, and so on. We also have a live ticketing system to help content creators with any issues they have. The content creators are not specialists in the field of magazine creation, but do this in addition to their own jobs. So we keep things as simple as we can in terms of layout and editing choices to avoid confusion.
Can you talk to us about how you won the business, in terms of what pain points you solved?
Before we took on the business there was an agency creating the magazine in a traditional agency structure with minimal use of automation. This involved a larger number of people, with a lot more communication, and due to this, it was quite inefficient and more expensive. We have been working with Rabobank for over 20 years, so they asked us what we could offer.
Working with WoodWing partner PubliQare (now Qonqord), we offered WoodWing Studio as a place to create content, and hit the ground running. There was a high level of learning on the job with a very complex production run, but in the end very successful. For example, with their old way of working it would take weeks to change a template, but now we can change templates in a matter of minutes.
There was another big advantage to the technology solution and new workflow - it meant we were able to be more efficient in our processes, and because we could do more with less, we could also be competitive on pricing.
We had a far smarter solution, and being smarter means you are more cost-effective.
How does an organization such as a bank look at the technology you were offering? Were things such as UX important considerations for them?
The live preview of the edited pages and highly configurable user rights were convincing. As banks don’t tend to have a lot of knowledge of content creation and publishing technology, what helped was when we were able to show them the advantages. We explained the system, and they could see that it is easy to use, has an easy search functionality, is cloud-based, and users log in with a personal password and username so all changes are logged. Building trust by explaining and showing was helpful.
On that note, how important do you think it is today for agencies to be innovating on the technology side?
We are in a competitive business, especially with the retail side of our business. The pricing models we used to work with, where we added a mark up on buying prices, are not future proof anymore. Other agencies are facing the same issue where they used to charge a margin on top of media buying, but that doesn’t work anymore. So we all have to find smarter ways of doing things. For example, with this very complex and large scale collaboration with Rabobank, we are managing it with only a few people thanks to being able to adapt technology solutions to scale our workflows and help us work smarter. It’s the only way to go.
And do you think it helps win new business?
Despite the Covid situation in 2020, we believe that this case is a change maker. Where most clients are still used to working in a more traditional workflow, we believe that the power of Woodwing Studio will amaze clients and prospects. It is price competitive and makes life much easier for clients.
Final question; what is next in terms of the relationship with Rabobank?
Things are going very well with Rabo & Co in terms of the current process, but there are plenty more efficiency gains to be made. Currently, they are publishing 85 different PDFs online, which takes a lot of time and of course, is not ideal for the reader. As it is a very important communication channel for members, they really want the experience to be good. We are discussing using WoodWing to publish the content to digital channels.