Commentary & Analysis
FREE SPECIAL: Award-Winning Print
During last night&
By David Dodd
Published: October 29, 2001
During last night’s opening session of Xplor 2001, Xplor International honored Clarica Life Insurance Company with its 2001 "Innovator of the Year" Award. Clarica is a Canadian insurance and investment company with more than 90 offices in Canada and the United States. Xplor International’s "Innovator of the Year" Award honors a company, individual or organization that has made a significant achievement in the electronic document systems industry by creating or providing an imaginative application, tool or advancement of a current technology that improves the capability of the industry and helps society communicate more effectively.
Clarica won this prestigious award by using document systems technologies to develop and implement two powerful one-to-one marketing efforts. The first program was a highly successful and innovative personalized direct mail campaign. The data used to create the direct mail pieces came from three different databases and included a photograph of the agent who would work with each prospective customer. Once the direct mail pieces were designed and links were created to the appropriate data, the pieces were printed on an IBM Infoprint Color 130 Plus, an AFP full color digital printing system. This direct mail campaign far exceeded Clarica’s expectations. It generated a 9.5 percent response rate, with 86.7 percent of responses resulting in appointments, and 11.5 percent of responses resulting in sales.
The second program implemented by Clarica involves highly personalized insurance brochures that are customized by specific insurance needs, sales contact, customer information and language. A web-driven program allows Clarica’s sales force to choose from a variety of these customized brochures that are available on Clarica’s intranet. The sales force can place orders on-line for color brochures in small quantities for niche markets. The agent’s photograph, name and contact information are pulled from a database and printed directly on each brochure. These brochures are also printed using the Infoprint Color 130 Plus. Clarica achieved several positive results from these customized brochures. Most significantly, this program caused a dramatic increase in the number of brochures ordered by Clarica’s agents. In fact, in one six-week period, agents ordered almost as many brochures as had been previously used in an entire year.
Clarica’s innovative one-to-one marketing programs provide one striking example of how progressive companies will use and produce printed material in the future. Notice first that these materials were highly customized. Personalized communications with customers and prospects will be a core part of the marketing and customer relationship management programs of most customer-focused enterprises. The second important characteristic of these documents was that they were "data-driven." The production of customized documents requires a production workflow in which data is used to populate pre-designed document templates. The third important characteristic of Clarica’s programs is that the printing of these marketing documents was done (and is being done) internally by Clarica personnel. Because of the close connection between sensitive data and printing that is often inherent in the production of customized documents, business enterprises may see significant advantages to producing such documents in-house. This may be (and probably should be) unsettling to the owners and managers of firms that operate in the graphic arts industry. But, both the kind of printed materials used in Clarica’s marketing programs, and the process that Clarica used to produce those materials are and will be important parts of the future of print.