Heidi Tolliver-Nigro noted in a recent posting that 1:1 print jobs are rarely repeated. Let’s think about that for a minute. First, what do we mean by 1:1?? Name and address with a customer loyalty coupon? Some real estate post card application? Those are nice, but they have little or nothing to do with the notion of TransPromo. These 1:1 jobs are one-off projects, simple promotional mailings usually composed in a PostScript of PDF creation tool and printed on cut-sheet machines – usually color. Transactional printing on the other hand is done in huge volumes using AFP/IPDS. When promotional messaging is integrated into these kinds of document you get a whole new thing. First of all you have the opportunity to dump all of the blow-ins, inserts & generic coupons. The result is something currently called TransPromo. TransPromo and 1:1 are two distinctly different kinds of print jobs for two distinctly different markets and different types of customers.
A well developed TransPromo messaging strategy is NOT a one shot deal. We have watched an aggressive, targeted, TransPromo campaign being done by one of our customers for one of their financial customers escalate beyond anything we could have anticipated. When they brought their high-speed Océ inkjet press on line they began with a modest monthly print volume of 30 million pages, but within the first 6 months they had doubled that number. The volume is now so large that an additional machine is going to have to be ordered!! Why the increase, you ask? Really?? You don’t know the answer?? Come on, guess!
Our customer and their customer are engaged in a long term project to integrate variable promotional elements in their transactional messaging. The variability is based on both the consumers’ buying habits and some very sophisticated demographic segmentation. Our customer’s customer is delighted with the results and has no intention of going back to the old way of doing things. In fact, they want to double the volume again in the next 6 months.
TransPromo involves a complete redesign of a company’s entire messaging structure. Corporations do not invest the kind of money it takes to stand up a serious TransPromo project lightly, e.g., $100K in software, $150K in professional services, $XXK in document redesign, etc… These projects are not for the faint of heart. They require a solid C-Level commitment These are marketeers that are convinced that they will generate the kinds of increased top-line revenue that these implementations have been proven to produce. Notice that I said top-line revenue not bottom line cost savings. TransPromo is a money maker. These implementations are developed by professional marketers and mathematicians who apply sophisticated strategies and arcane analytical measurement tools to guide them at every step.
Let’s touch just quickly on validation. The statistics that we all learned in undergrad Stat 301 (and quickly forgot) are woefully inadequate to conduct a proper inquiry into success metrics. TransPromo is first and foremost a data driven environment. Instincts, hunches and marketing experience are incapable of cutting through the noise, finding the actionable data, and linking the correct recipients with the relevant offers. The truly effective programs begin with clearly defined business objectives that typically come from the Marketing department, e.g., improving back-to-school sales, cross selling additional services, launching a new product, increasing the lease renewal rate, blowing out under performing inventory, etc.. [Hint: cost reduction is hardly ever a sufficient reason for TransPromo]
The final result is called Behavioral Targeting and gets much of its horsepower from integration with CRM systems to provide the necessary 360 degree view of the customer. Add the insights provided by CRM to a well conceived business objective and you have a potent revenue generating marketing program.
You will know you are ready for TransPromo when basic mathematical marketing concepts like net promoter scores, RFM, CART, CHAID, LTV and brand equity come like second nature to you. Just remember back to one of the basic tenet of Six Sigma: if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
Finally, our experience at Océ has shown us that companies that engage in TransPromo on a large scale basis do not want to talk about it and they don’t want us to talk about it. Non-disclosure agreements are always part of the deal when we help a customer implement one of these programs. We beg them to allow us to do case studies, but it never happens. They think of these projects as highly proprietary in nature. They think of them as the competitive advantage that gives them the edge in winning new customers and retaining their old ones. The word “system” doesn’t even begin to describe what really goes on. These implementations are environmental by their very nature and affect practically every aspect of a company’s structure.
After months of preparation the first trial run will a test that is limited in scope – one of many – and it will be run time and again. It will be constantly analyzed, revised, and refined. The willingness to keep going back to evaluate the process over and over again is implicit in the design and implementation process. To abandon something with that kind of scope after just one outing is ludicrous.
So, when I read that Heidi says 1:1 print jobs are seldom repeated I am really not too terribly surprised. Without the underlying C-Level commitment, professional design, data modeling, and the exhaustive analytics these 1:1 print jobs are destined to be one-offs. Variable data printing continues to evolve but when we compare 1:1 and TransPromo we see two different markets, two different kinds of print jobs and, two different marketing models driving them.