The Flash, the Promise and the Space Between

By | July 13, 2010

The digital print revolution- and more so the advent of multi-media marketing that combines print, email and push messaging- has changed the way business speaks to its prospects forever.

 That the days of producing 20,000 of the same message, checking addresses for the longest record, sprinkling a few seeds into the list, reviewing one piece for quality and pushing the send button are numbered is a prognostication we’ve all accepted. For over a decade vendors have been extolling the virtues of variable data and one-to-one marketing with demos that often seem as miraculous as a Las Vegas magic show. And yet, the old one-size-fits-all direct marketing lives on in spite of the increasingly obvious shortcomings. The majority of the effort to sell marketers on variable data marketing has been focused on gimmicky creatives that spell a prospect’s name in shells to advertise a beach resort travel package.

 The exercise of bridging the gap between a flashy demo and putting a process in place that gives the marketer confidence that Joe didn’t receive Jane’s creative, or that the VIP pricing wasn’t pushed to the entire list, is rarely discussed.  Such questions as those below are rarely included in demos and many service providers end up wrestling with these as they move from demo to deployment:

  1. How should information be gathered and managed?
  2. How does a marketer proof variable data marketing?
  3. What needs to be done to validate information?

 It’s often at this juncture between the flash and the process that variable data marketing fails or succeeds. Not surprisingly, it’s also where the most innovation is required and the hard work has to be done if variable data marketing is to become a trusted tool for majority of direct marketers.

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One thought on “The Flash, the Promise and the Space Between

  1. Nick Pride

    Kevin, this is spot on. It’s a particularly difficult challenge if you’re a service provider, because the best way of addressing _all_ the questions you raise is by being involved at the very beginning of the campaign. Instead of the old sequential and hierarchical sequence of a project (strategy – creative – client buy-in – production), effective data-driven (variable) marketing needs an iterative collaborative process that involves everyone from the very beginning. It’s no harder to do than the old way, and it takes just the same amount of time. As long as the client understands …

    A lot of my work is helping the client to see what’s possible, and to learn how to make it work – and _then_ you can start talking about the deployment.

    It’s a prize worth fighting for.

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