Using Variable Data Publishing to Move the Needle

I recently had the privilege of attending the PINE Digital Forum in Massachusetts. The all-day event was well attended by a variety of local printers, and included presentations from local vendors, consultants, and happy customers.

A popular topic of the day was variable data publishing (VDP). There were a lot of case studies and statistics presented. There were also a lot of questions from the audience on how to do it successfully.

One of the speakers said a phrase that has stuck with me ever since. They said, “Don’t use VDP because you can. Use it to move the needle.”

Why We Cannot Just Hit the PLAY Button

In the worlds of print and marketing (okay, maybe all “worlds”), we often get excited about trying something new. Our excitement may cause us to dive right in, and set aggressive deadlines for us to accomplish a project with our new shiny toy.

For many businesses, variable data publishing may have been that shiny new toy over the past few years.  However, due to a perceived lack of success on those projects (perhaps the response rate was less than ideal, or the time invested while going through the learning-curve left a bad taste), variable data publishing has not really been used to the extent many once thought it would be.

Moving the Needle

If we think of VDP with the goal of  “moving the needle”, we may indeed re-ignite passion and excitement among employees and customers. We also will be able to find ways to launch successful efforts.

For example, displaying a person’s first name and company name on a printed piece may no longer excite us. We must also  realize that approach may not excite the recipient either. Thus, we must truly find ways to analyze the data we have in order to deliver eye (and wallet)-catching personalization on our materials.

Once we know what we have for data, we must commit to brainstorming creative ways to present it.

We must analyze our ideas to see if they truly will compel someone to take the next step — whether that is to visit a personalized URL, a landing page, to place a phone call, to send a text message, to scan a QR Code, or whatever other response mechanism we want to use.

Then, we need to test!

Don’t be afraid to take the time to split your list and test multiple offers.

Technology has made it easier than ever for us to create variable data printed pieces (and landing pages), and then to measure the success of each variation. Yes, technology helps to make effective VDP possible…. but it can’t do it alone.

To have success, we need to commit to truly putting VDP to use, to its full capabilities, beyond Dear [FirstName].

The Sweet Sixteen and Marketing Teams

March Madness was a hot topic throughout interlinkONE’s office last week as the NCAA Tournament came to a close. All employees took their best shot filling out a bracket at the beginning of the tournament, and we kept score as each round came and went.

I filled out a bracket as well… Hovever, working in an a office that is made up of a lot of sports-crazed men, the chances of me beating them was slim to none. But I gave it a shot and hoped for the best.

Last Tuesday morning I strolled into the office as if it was a normal day. However, I could quickly tell that people were looking at me and treating me differently. I sat down at my desk and opened my email. There were a few emails regarding the latest March Madness stats. Shocked and amazed, I, Michelle Jollymore was in first place! The email subject lines stated “Congrats!!!”, “LOOK WHO BURSTS INTO THE LEAD!!!”

Was I just lucky? Was I a secret college-hoops fanatic?

In all honesty, I did have help from a friend filling out my bracket. Why did I ask for help from a friend? Because I wanted a chance to win, and I knew that I needed to rely on an expert for the best shot.

How does this relate to Marketing?

Sometimes in Marketing you tend to take on more than you can handle. You might take on a huge campaign and hesitate to ask for a helping hand. You may try to prove to yourself and others that you can juggle ten different tasks at a time. But if you want to get the best results out of your campaigns, you have to ask for some help.  Some people are experts on design and creative. Others are experts on writing. We all have special skills and talents.

If you learn to rely on others for help, everyone will benefit. This includes your business, but also the people that are targeted in your campaigns.

In regards to the NCAA brackets, I finished in 3rd place. Congratulation to Ms. Ginny Ciampa for coming in 1st place!