To paraphrase Barb Pellow in an article, posted last June 23, The quality is good enough and the presses are fast enough. The software is robust enough and the costs are in line. Printers are implementing JDF, VDP and mailing and fulfillment services and marketing executives and print buyers are talking 1:1 marketing and integrated marketing (my addition). Does that mean the stars are aligned and we will all go happily into the warm sunset glow of success? Maybe not but this year's On Demand did deliver some new and innovative ways to get there.

The exhibit hall flowed seamlessly from On Demand (production) to AIIM (software and IT) to the Digital Marketing Symposium (strategies for integrated digital customer communication). That is, if you didn't wander a little too far south in the Javits Convention Center and get lost a maze of glittering booths full of satins, silks, feathers, and leathers (the International Fashion Fabric Exposition). Oops  back to where we belong! The integration of the three exhibits into one delivers an important message: marketing is clearly not separate from IT and/or production.

Xerox's Anne Mulcahy, Chairman/CEO, kicked off the Expos with a keynote describing the Big I,' Little T' in which she said that the focus has shifted from technology to information. Ms. Mulcahy also noted that documents are becoming smarter with the addition of personalized information, targeted content, and powerful graphics.

In Monday's second keynote, taking this concept to its logical  or knowing his penchant for looking at things differently: illogical  conclusion, Seth Godin (founder and CEO of Yoyodyne, an interactive direct marketing company, which Yahoo! acquired in late 1998) talked about purple cows in his rapid-fire, slightly frenetic way. Why purple cows? Because if there were such a thing, they would be remarkable, that is, worth making a remark about. Marketing is not about saying boring things in clever ways, but is about making something worth talking about. And then talking to the prospective customer in the way they want to be talked to  in an anticipated, personal, and relevant manner.

Hmmm Anticipated, personal, and relevant Now that sounds suspiciously like the message I heard in a Digital Marketing Symposium session titled Three Men and a Baby presented by Michael Nelson and Joel Hoefle (president and executive vice president, respectively, of Digital Marketing out of Minneapolis), Mark Schlief (senior partner and managing director of e-marketing at OgilvyOne Worldwide) and Janice Reese (president, NetworkPDF). Please note that there were indeed three men on the panel; however, I can attest, no infants were present!

The context of the presentation: it takes cooperation to implement a sophisticated, personalized marketing program that delivers the right product to the right customer, at the right time, for the right price, and through the right communication channel. Sure seems like the definition of anticipated, personal, and relevant, doesn't it?

Let's talk tech

You can have all the great marketing strategies in the world, but if the underlying technology won't support short runs, quick turns and variable data printing, you're limited in your ability to create personal and relevant print communication.

JDF Tour

Crowded around the stops on the JDF Tour, viewers were walked through imaginary print projects produced using technology from Creo, EFI, HP, Objective Advantage, Printable, and WAVE Corporation. The tour integrated various workflows and produced output to the EFI Fiery and Xerox DocuColor, Creo's Spire Server and Xerox FreeFlow, and an HP Indigo. A total success and crowd pleaser!


Creo's integration of Xerox's FreeFlow Print Manager as an option in the 2.2 release of Prinergy workflow management system got a lot of attention. The result is a single interface to both digital and offset presses that can direct jobs to the most efficient press for the job. Darwin 6.0, Creo's variable data printing application, includes all the features required to design, author and manage personalized variable information documents to increase differentiation, stimulate business growth and generate increased revenues. Can you say anticipated, personal and relevant?


Another company with a list of products, solutions, and equipment as long as your arm, EFI's demonstrations of improved workflow and powerful variable data printing solutions included EFI PrintSmith 7.0 and PrintSmith Site, an e-commerce add-on module.

An extremely well-kept secret is the power of Fiery controllers to support variable data printing. While there are more than 1,000,000 Fiery servers installed, probably 999,000 users of those servers don't know that they already have a solution that could support an extensive range of variable data output languages, including PPML and Fiery FreeForm, to produce high quality, full color, variable data documents on high-speed digital printers at rated speeds  up to 2000 pages per minute!

If you didn't pick up your copy of the “ABCs of VDP,” a guide to help printers successfully implement a personalized printing program by choosing the best authoring tools and digital printing servers and engines, get your copy at EFI's web site by clicking here.

More next week!