Taking Chances with One-to-One Communications
For printer and customer, taking a chance with variable-data digital printing made all the difference in the world.
In the fall of 1998, Discover Color (a prepress, image management and print firm based in McFarland, WI) found itself amidst all the "buzz" about variable-data printing. Discover Color was not alone in its speculation about what the future of personalized printing would hold. Suppliers and print buyers were curious about the viability of variable-data-generated print-on-demand documents.
It was in 1998 that Jim Sullivan, president and CEO, Discover Color, began to ponder the idea of providing personalized print services for his customers. Sullivan realized that the process, if successfully implemented, would represent the pinnacle of one-to-one marketing. The uncertainty for Sullivan, however, was: Would the technology allow his firm to properly execute customized documents?
Taking chances on technology
"(Variable-data printing) allows the advertiser the ability to communicate with their customers on a one-to-one level, in contrast to mass marketing," Michael Woodring, Discover Color's vice president of sales, points out. "Research has revealed dramatic increases in response rates when one-to-one philosophies are used."
Putting it to the test
Woodring recalls a partnership Discover Color formed with one of its large catalog customers: "(They're) an automobile company (that) leases 500 cars a month. They know, from market research, that if they start a dialogue with their lease customers three months prior to the lease's end, they have a significant chance of securing a new lease with that customer."
The customer, Woodring adds, was receptive to experimentation. The retailer had compiled a comprehensive, demographic library of data in Microsoft Access. The database included fields for lease dates, auto make and model, and the type of car that individual may purchase when the existing lease expired. The retailer hoped to use the data to generate a variable-image, personalized self-mailer.