Authenticity at Touchpoint Media

When I reached Dave Jensen on the phone, he was on his way to the airport to attend the Clay Target League National Championships in Michigan. The USA High School Clay Target League is a client of Touchpoint Media, and Jensen is Touchpoint’s Senior Vice President. I knew that already, but I wanted to tell you because we need to catch up with Jensen who is quickly into an explanation about the growth of target shooting as a high school sport. He does this authentically and passionately, not with a salesman’s bent, and all while he’s looking for a parking space at MSP.  And in the spirit of authenticity, we couldn’t just take Jensen’s word on Touchpoint Media. We spoke later the same day with Jessica Disch, Director of Sales & Client Strategy for Touchpoint Media – “the quarterback of all our non-sports clients,” says Jensen. We merged the two conversations.

 Dave Jensen -- Senior Vice President at Touchpoint Media

Dave Jensen -- Senior Vice President at Touchpoint Media

MMPA: The Touchpoint Media Blog has a recent post about “authenticity.” How do you ensure this in content creation, and then repeat it?

Dave Jensen: We have an outstanding staff that does much more than just gather content and re-purposing for multiple distribution methods. We create original content that speaks directly to readers to meet the needs of our clients. We spend a lot of time putting together content that each client views as valuable. That’s been our focus from the beginning of printed pieces, and through print and digital today.

Jessica Disch: We make a big effort to actually speak with members and with readers to get their stories, to learn what’s important to them, and to discuss problems and solutions for them. Authenticity is being true to the brand and being honest with those who read and use the content we create for that brand. That’s what we do with a magazine we produce for Blue Cross Blue Shield, telling real stories about seniors and people who use Medicare. We worked hard to learn what these readers want, to get to know their needs and desires. So many others are just trying to put out content, they’re trying too hard to just deliver a quantity of information without focusing on what’s truly valuable.

MMPA: Can you measure authenticity?

Jensen: With digital we can, yes. We track a variety of analytics closely and can make adjustments as needed. And with print, we do surveys, and more. Several of our clients are member-focused associations, and this content is an important part of that membership. So we can gauge memberships in part as a measure of our content’s effectiveness.

 Jessica Disch -- Director of Sales & Client Strategy at Touchpoint Media

Jessica Disch -- Director of Sales & Client Strategy at Touchpoint Media

Disch: These content plans are often long-term plays for return on investment. It’s important for us to talk up front with our clients about goals for the content. We help them manage expectations through an honest conversation about objectives – whether the goal is overall branding, or sales, or something else. Some of these things are easier to track than others. Email marketing can give us great analytics quickly. But with a magazine and blog work, it’s a longer play. Then we communicate regularly with clients to discuss feedback and engagement, and we can adjust as needed.

MMPA: Is email marketing a hot topic for your clients today?

Disch: We find that targeted and specific email content works today, in a time when some people feel inundated with email content. We can tailor and create specific content within any campaign. Like with USA Hockey, where we can break a larger email list into specific groups and send them targeted content.

Jensen: All our clients are different. And we listen and provide different solutions to problems. That might be print, might be email, might be digital. Each client we work with is unique. There can be benefits to any type of distribution, but it all depends on client need.

MMPA: Shifting gears, why are you in this business?

Jensen: I absolutely love this business. We started as a niche publisher for USA Hockey, and Minnesota Golfer. And USA Hockey remains a client. We’ve evolved, combining digital with print. Today, we’re a marketing company that specializes in content. We give our clients custom content they use to reach their customers as it best fits them. For many of our non-sports clients, we sold them on the idea of content marketing and custom publishing. Because they believed in us that it works.

After I finished playing hockey (editor’s note: Jensen played hockey for the Gophers, and for the United States in the 1984 Olympic Games. He went on to play with the North Stars and professionally in Europe) I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, beyond sales. So I found this printing company, and they said they needed help with a magazine. We turned a small printing company into a publishing company, and I bought that business (TPG Sports), and helped build it into Touchpoint Media.

I’ve been with Touchpoint Media for more than 20 years. And some people might think, Oh 20 years with the same company. But I don’t look at it like that. Each day is something new. And we’re part of telling amazing stories, like this clay target event I’m heading to. We produce valued content that encourages and supports this activity that is making a difference in kid’s lives. Anytime you can help a kid feel like they’re part of the community, that’s special.

Jessica Disch was a huge addition to our staff beginning about five years ago, and she has done an outstanding job as quarterback for our non-sports clients.

Disch: I like the diversity of clients. One day I’m on a video shoot for Ecolab, and one day I’m talking with sources for thrive (the Blue Cross Blue Shield magazine). This makes it a real challenge and keeps it exciting. I came from a journalism and print background. A lot of our people did here, and we know how to ask questions and find the story. That’s very exciting for me.