Building a bridge between the physical and digital worlds: Why we acquired Vizibility

By Editor September 4, 2013
Susan Jacobs, ASL

Susan Jacobs, ASLBy Susan Jacobs, director of marketing and client services, ALL-STATE LEGAL

My company, ALL-STATE LEGAL, is the nation’s leading engraving and printing company. Since 1946, we’ve built our reputation on helping professional services companies, including many of the country’s top law firms, manage their brand across their stationery, business cards and other marketing material. So why did we acquire the digital startup, Vizibility, after they made a splash in the mobile business card space? Because ALL-STATE LEGAL recognized that we needed to build a bridge between the physical and digital worlds and create a third side of the business card.

If you think about it, business cards are a type of mobile marketing—maybe even the original form. Business cards provide the first impression of a firm and individual. A high-quality business card tells the recipient more than the contact information it contains—it begins to form a perception, which is why people spend time choosing the right logo and thinking about the design of the card. But until recently, business cards were static and extremely limited in the information they could communicate.

Vizibility leveraged existing technology—QR codes—to allow business cards to serve as an entrée to the mobile digital space, and then developed a comprehensive solution that enables professionals to engage with people through a digital business card that provides easy access to downloadable vCards, common contacts on LinkedIn and Facebook, customized Google results, and other online assets to showcase videos, thought leadership pieces, professional expertise, and much more. By developing patented features and a user-friendly digital interface, Vizibility made it easy for firms and professionals to control, manage, and share their online identities.

That’s why ALL-STATE LEGAL started working with Vizibility well over a year ago: recognizing that the world is moving toward constant mobile digital connectivity at a rapid clip with smartphones outselling PCs two to one, we wanted to offer our customers a way to bring print and pixels together in one seamless solution. ALL-STATE LEGAL quickly became Vizibility’s top reseller in terms of volume, and the more we worked together to deliver a one-stop solution, the more the prospect of an acquisition made sense.

Professionals have been moving toward embracing technology to manage their identities for years now. These days, people Google prospective business associates before working with them, and now more than ever, they’re using mobile devices to conduct those online searches. Offering clients a mobile identity management solution was our primary motivation for partnering with Vizibility, but as we worked together on key accounts, we found that bringing our organizations together on major projects produced synergies that were extraordinarily beneficial for our customers.

Working with Vizibility—first as a partner, then as an ALL-STATE LEGAL division—allows us to restructure the identity packages we offer customers. It provides new options for individuals and firms, linking our printed cards with digital vizCards, which are personalized mobile microsites that can be shared via a QR code (printed on the business card), text message, email, mobile wallet card with NFC, and Apple Passbook.

For customers, this means new contacts can instantly download vCards no matter which mobile platform they use, share common contacts on social media, and present contacts with handpicked search results to build professional credibility. Firms can connect all their professionals’ vizCard microsites into a mobile directory to illustrate and promote their breadth of expertise, and they can use powerful tracking features to gauge the contacts of their professionals. Our printed business card customers will be rewarded with complimentary vizCards for their professionals with the option of upgrading this free offering.

Customers could take advantage of these features before the acquisition, but with the synergies our coming together as a single company created, we can offer them even more, like a fully integrated online portal that allows them to manage all facets of their individual or firm identity in the print and digital space. ALL-STATE LEGAL customers can now create and update mobile and print business cards with QR codes—all in the same place.

When a company that’s been around for more than 60 years acquires a startup, the move generates a lot of curiosity, especially when one company has a long-established leadership position in the print world and the other is a digital innovator. But in our case, bringing ALL-STATE LEGAL and Vizibility together made sense as a way to bridge the print and mobile divide. It’s a win-win for ALL-STATE LEGAL and our new Vizibility team members. But most of all, it’s a win for our customers.

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Susan Jacobs is the director of marketing and client services for ALL-STATE LEGAL. With over 18 years of marketing experience, Jacobs, who is also a member of ASL’s executive team, leads the marketing team in strategic development and tactical implementation for ASL’s marketing initiatives encompassing all sales channels, direct marketing, catalog, tradeshows, sponsorships, and sales lead generation, as well as product management. Jacobs also leads an in-house call center comprised of inbound, outbound representatives and account managers. In 2011, Jacobs served as President of the Metropolitan New York Chapter of the Legal Marketing Association, whereby she formed a collaborative relationship with the New York Chapter of the Accounting Marketing Association. Jacobs has also served as a board member of the International Engraving and Graphics Association.