Commentary & Analysis
Integrated Prospecting Variable Print Engines
By WhatTheyThink Staff
Published: March 29, 2007
--- Special Feature Integrated Prospecting Variable Print Engines A New Competitive Weapon for On-Demand Acquisition Marketing by Steven A. Couture March 29, 2007 -- Some of this you know, some of it you don't. At a strategic and tactical level, companies are striving to drive additional revenue by expanding their customer base while maintaining the loyalty of existing customers. But it's not simple. Increased competition from both traditional and nontraditional sources, coupled with more sophisticated and more demanding consumers, define a need for more intelligent and targeted marketing. At the same time, businesses and consumers are being bombarded with a clutter of generic marketing messages, driving the need for more intelligent and relevant customer contact incorporating color images and more innovative techniques that cut through the clutter. Beneath it all is the displacement of mass media marketing by more focused and targeted activities that have proven to increase response rates. Integrated Prospecting Variable Print Engines (IPVPE's) are now offering corporate print clients the opportunity to prospect and acquire new customer's in real time. On the client side, corporate print customers have a number of marketing communication options that were not available a decade ago. Traditional offset printing options are being displaced by web-enabled digital printing, the Internet and wireless SMS (short messaging service) technology. Marketing communication tools are increasingly enhanced by digital distribution, personalization, and on-demand printing. Even the print buying process itself is changing rapidly as e-procurement, strategic sourcing, and other technologies eliminate geography and time restrictions. That you already know. So how can print providers compete? Changing the playing field Leading on-demand solution providers are aiming to change the acquisition marketing field using these advanced technologies. Cutting-edge on-demand solutions such as Integrated Prospecting Variable Print Engines (IPVPE's) are now offering corporate print clients the opportunity to prospect and acquire new customer's in real time. Not just any customer, but prospects that share the same profile and buying propensity as their past customers. The impact on the marketing field is game-changing. Some of the ad dollars once channeled at mass media are now being redirected towards targeted marketing channels that utilize digital color and integrated, web-based, targeted solutions that innovative on-demand providers cater to. Through a client's branded print portal, users are linked to a branded high performance leads-prospecting engine which allow them to gather consumer and/or business lists from national databases in real time. The few advanced digital printers that are beginning to offer IPVPE's are designing true end-to-end on-demand solutions (i.e. prospecting – print customizing - ordering processing-printing-mailing). IPVPEs These real-time, IPVPE's allow clients to search for both consumers and businesses. Through a client's branded print portal, users are linked to a branded high performance leads-prospecting engine which allow them to gather consumer and/or business lists from national databases in real time. Users can simply select a geographic area via radius, zip codes, city, state, or SCF locations, and find/target people using selected search attributes from many hundreds of demographic and behavioral criteria. They can then narrow or broaden their selections to increase or reduce the count and pay with a credit card at the end of the prospecting stage. The list is automatically integrated in predefined fields within the VPE templates, and after the user performs on-line customization via templates, the files are sent from the enterprise order platform to designated printing facilities. The whole process from prospecting, printing, to insertion of digital print into mail-stream typically takes place within a few hours. For example, I recently executed a national marketing campaign from my local Starbucks. From my wireless laptop, I was able to search for several thousand specific-type individuals in the U.S., create a customized postcard using pre-defined templates/digital assets and placing the integrated order through a Standard Register POD fulfillment facility where the order was promptly printed and shipped, all while sipping my coffee in a single ten minute session. Corporate print customers win because IPVPE's provided by digital printers offer the unique competitive weapon to drive their revenue and grow their client base Corporate print customers win because IPVPE's provided by digital printers offer the unique competitive weapon to drive their revenue and grow their client base, especially for customers that have distributors, multiple branches or store fronts, or large sales forces. They have the tools necessary to acquire, expand, and retain their customer base--and with centralized marketing control with decentralized technology use. The Win On-demand document solution providers/digital printers win because they provide automated, high gross margin value-add services with a measurable ROI, as well as successfully driving substantial digital color print to their presses. Let's face it, the majority of marketing ad spend is geared towards expanding the customer base rather than customer retention or cross-selling. Why let other businesses that cater to mass media reap all the ad dollars directed at expanding the customer base? On-demand document solution providers can eat their lunch with acquisition technologies that can be integrated with today's print technologies.