Knowing Which Marketing Tools to Use With Your Print Project Will Make Your Job Easier and More Profitable
[dropcap]A[/dropcap]s variable data printing, or 1:1 print marketing, achieves wider adoption, there has been an explosion of interest in these applications. But it’s important not to shoehorn marketing programs into them, even if these jobs require personalization or high levels of customization. VDP is only one of many tools that can be used to achieve similar, but non-interchangeable objectives. Matching the right tool to the job is critical.
Let’s look at four applications that appear to offer similar (even competing) approaches, but actually fit very different niches.
Sometimes also called “customization,” this is the process of creating unique marketing documents, not for individuals, but for different retail outlets, branches or other locations. Take the circular for a grocery store chain. Instead of running a single circular for the entire region, the chain might want to create a circular for each store, with discounts “personalized” to the store based on its inventory. Instead of printing a run of 100,000, the chain might print 20 runs of 5,000, based on each store’s individual needs.
Niche: Targets a specific demographic or geographic region, but doesn’t require 1:1 dialog. Often involves low-dollar items.
Branded Web sites allow retailers, distributors, affiliates, even corporate departments, to access forms, advertising templates, brochures and other documents, and personalize them for their own use. A distributor might “personalize” a brochure with the products most relevant to his customer base, for example, while a financial advisor might create a newsletter that looks like it is coming from his office, with his picture and contact information, even though it’s printed at corporate headquarters. These applications are similar to micro-versioning, except that instead of being centrally controlled, the control is in the hands of the individual users. Some Web-to-print solutions now allow true 1:1 print personalization as well.
Niche: Web-to-print programs are often implemented as part of a larger Web-to-print document management solution, including inventory management, cost control and brand management. Customization and personalization occurs locally, but only within the limits set and monitored by the corporate headquarters.
This form of 1:1 print personalization starts with mailings that assign each recipient a unique URL that takes them to their own, personalized Web page where the marketing message can be personalized and the responses tracked. Because of the immediacy and feedback loop provided by the Internet, personalized URLs can be particularly effective for prospecting and gathering information for beefing up databases. When one regional theater wanted to boost its patron base, for example, it purchased a mailing list of key prospects, who were asked to log into a personalized URL in exchange for a chance to win free theater tickets. Once on the site, respondents provided key information, including e-mail address and performance preferences, which were automatically fed back into the theater’s marketing database and used for future campaigns.
Niche: Personalized URLs offer high value for prospecting and information gathering when little else is known about the recipient. (Successful programs generally involve some kind of incentive to respond, such as a free gift or sweepstakes entry.) Many require respondents to fill out a survey before the incentive is given. Responses can also be tracked and leads qualified in real time, alerting salespeople immediately when recipients log into the site. High-value leads can be followed up immediately.
With so many other options, where does more “traditional” 1:1 print personalization fit in? It fits where you want to make a personal appeal based on something you know about the recipient. A private school might increase donations by creating letters that address the specific funding needs of parents’ children by name, grade and school activities, for example. A college might increase enrollment by printing brochures and admissions information based on the individual interests and desired majors of applicants. An automotive dealer might increase service revenues by sending out tune-up reminders at the appropriate times, based on the model and purchase date of their customers’ vehicles.
Niche: Use 1:1 print personalization when the offer or marketing pitch is directly tied to something known about the recipient. Companies often use these programs for high-value products or requests, such as automotive, financial services or nonprofit donations.
Know Your Tools
These descriptions are given as a brief overview of the benefits and differentiators only. There are many subtleties that you should discuss with Arkansas Graphics before determining which of these approaches is right for you.