Stop the evolution — I want to get off!

I just released updates to two reports — “Personalized URLs: Beyond the Hype” and “1:1 (Personalized) Printing: Boosting Profits Through Relevance” (both cover dated April 2009). As I did so, I was thinking about how frequently I’ve updated these reports and how it’s not frequent enough.

There is enough change in this industry that I could probably update every one of the reports in the series every month. It’s exhausting sitting around, drinking coffee, and making observations from my arm chair. Gotta tell you, my heart goes out to the printers and marketing firms who are actually implementing these things.

What’s new this round? I wish I could say it’s nit-picking things — you know, updating for the sake of updating — but you tell me

In personalized URLs, the convergence of Web-to-print, 1:1 printing, personalized URL, and multi-channel marketing technologies is a game-changer. If you’re not thinking multi-channel, you’re missing the boat. There are a lot of marketers out there still being successful with standalone personalized URL campaigns, but for how long? That’s not where the long-term growth and success — on either the marketer or printer side of the aisle — will be.

In 1:1 printing (whether personalized URLs or any other type of personalized print), we’re now dealing with the evolution of higher quality inkjet printing, more sophisticated personalization on the outside of envelopes, and competition from other forms of personalization such as real or simulated handwriting (I can’t believe my Expert Business Source column on this topic has been reprinted in hard copy  publications twice — who’d think?).

Then there is the continued evolution in user-friendly database analytics (can we even say that?) and the ability to do basic analytics in Access and Excel, along with new Internet-based interfaces for simplified customer profiling from companies like Accudata, which are also game-changers in their own way.

Data analytics isn’t just for big companies with IT departments anymore, and in this economy, do you really want to throw your marketing dollars down the tubes? All the personalization in the world isn’t going to help if you’re marketing to the wrong customers, at the wrong time, and in the wrong way. Marketers need to understand that.

Sometimes, I’d like to stop the evolution and just get off for awhile. But the truth is, I can get off anytime I want. The evolution is just going to continue to go on without me. Any one of us who dares to try to step off just needs to make sure that when we want to get back on, we’ll still be able to catch a foothold.

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5 thoughts on “Stop the evolution — I want to get off!

  1. Emily Palmer

    Hi Heidi,

    I am interested in the article about real or simulated handwriting, but the link doesn’t seem to be working. Can you send me another link to where I could find the article?


  2. Robert

    Evolution, more like de-evolution. I’m afraid we will all be wearing flower pots on our heads singing “whip it, whip it good…”

    Rampage Systems that came up with all sorts of really cool innovations sadly has started to lay people off. They are seeing the end of a really good run. It was the last of the small innovation companies and now – it’s all off the shelf and no room for creativity.

    Friends – are job is done.

  3. Skip Henk


    You are right, the evolution or revolution, will continue with or without us and we need to figure out if we want to participate. Someone once told me that if you “send the right offer to the right person at the right time, you will have a 100% hit rate” and it certainly makes sense.

    Database analytics is powerful in helping target the right person. The right product you have to believe you have … the right time is another story. Effective database analytics can drive revenue and reduce costs.

    As we strive more and more to drive revenue and decrease costs by better targeting prospects is there a line that we need to visualize or when that line gets too blurry, do we jump off?

    Keep writing … keep the thoughts going.

  4. Wrich Printz

    Well said Heidi (or…well written, I suppose).

    The fact is, change is happening so fast that the market place cannot hope to keep up. I was on three calls yesterday with Marketing VP’s, and I still had to explain what PURLs where to all three of them….considering how long they have been out…the level of education that still needs to be done on that technology (let alone all the others coming out) is staggering.

    No rest for the wicked….

  5. Marty Thomas

    Hi.. I have been doing some market research lately on the number of PSP that offer VDP. I started with a list of 500 random PSP across the country. I had my research team call each one. The results are that 197 do offer VDP, and only 78 even knew what PURLs were! Less than half of PSPs that that offer VDP, know what PURLs are!? This was surprising to me. Wrich.. your right on. There is still a considerable amount of education that needs to be done to Marketing VPs and PSPs alike.

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