All posts by John Toepfer

John Toepfer is CEO and Co-founder of Synthesis Technology. He is a technology entrepreneur, investor and business owner with a 25-year background in building and supporting communication solutions for the financial services industry. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two sons.


Print is Dead, Long Live Print!

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The value of high quality print literature and printed fact sheets Print Is Dead

I’ve been in the computer-driven publishing industry my entire working life. For better or worse, that’s going on 30 years and six firms worth of experience building and selling systems to support the print (or print-like) communications needs of large businesses selling or supporting high-value goods and services. I’ve worked with Airlines, Pharmaceuticals, Auto Parts, Reference Publishers, Military, and Financial business. All have significant data-and-rules driven content publishing needs, including well-designed print artifacts. Supporting publishing in the financial services world makes up a majority of this experience, but we gain wisdom by understanding similarities and differences between multiple business sectors and markets.

For 87.3% of my long and illustrious career in supporting print communications, people have taken the position that Print is Dead… or soon will be. While there are specific examples and versions of this narrative that are true, I’m here to talk today about where and why it is not true!

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The Scaling Problem in Investment Management Marketing

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How to Scale Investment Management Marketing

I had conversations this week with two new prospective investment management clients. Each expressed a “scaling problem” with marketing efforts as being their chief reason for looking into document and data automation.

I very much like that phrase. It’s straight out of my pitchbook on how a solution like Synthesis solves problems with scaling investment management marketing.  I usually define a scaling problem as:

The point in time in which either the number of documents, users, staff required, or variety of documents to meet the communication needs has passed some tipping point.

My takeaway from these two conversations is quite interesting. Although each firm was experiencing valid issues, the firm profiles and the scope of their work was vastly different. The key to efficient and profitable growth is scalability.Read More

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What is the Highest and Best Use of Your Marketing Staff Right Now?

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Best strategic use of marketing for asset management

The current environment is forcing marketers to think strategically about how to retain assets and drive new business. Sales travel has seen major cuts and there’s a new nature of client meetings. In response, marketers are scrambling to understand the new normal and make strategic decisions about their firm’s messaging, market approach, and tools.

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Build or Buy: How to Decide?

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Build vs. Buy for Financial Services: How to Decide When You're Considering Automation

When looking at content automation and sales enablement solutions, firms are often confronted with a tough decision: To build or buy? Over the past 20 years, I’ve participated in many of these discussions and seen it go both ways. Sometimes the decision is successful and other times it ends up a costly mistake. On one hand, it isn’t always less expensive nor less risky to build software as opposed to buying commercial solutions. For example, when application development projects are initiated with the intent of justifying and maintaining the technology team. Then, unfortunately, they never get off the ground because they can’t be supported technically or economically. What then happens, after all the internal effort and expense, is a new commercial solution is procured to replace it.

On the other hand, sometimes the technological or business needs are so pertinent to operations that they cannot be outsourced. In these circumstances, there’s a good case for insourcing as opposed to outsourcing if the board of directors approves. Also, the IT organization must be truly committed to the budget and vision. At the end of the day, the success or failure of development efforts should be measured against the same criteria. When weighing the decision to build or buy, I recommend using these six criteria:

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