Another key benefit is the ability to aggressively test. Testing is the key to a marketer’s future. Variable data printing enables very robust testing. We all know speed to market with improvements over the control position is essential in driving performance. The variable printing is actually less expensive to utilize when testing. Small quantities can be produced for placement in multiple test cells. What may have taken a year to work through in traditional print processes can now be done in a month.
TM: What challenges did you encounter when implementing variable data printing, and how did you overcome them?
SZ: The biggest challenge is developing the targeting models and segmentations. In the former one-size-fits-all world, we needed a single creative and an excellent response model. Response models are not segmentations and typically do not drive a lot of insight for the purpose of creative development. In the past, that wasn’t a major issue. Today, the effective marketer needs to borrow from the traditional segmentation approaches, which are often deployed in product development or general advertising. We take these segmentations to drive the creative process and build response model segmentations from there. No longer is it one creative and one response model. The real work is for the marketer and their analytic resources.
TM: Do you have any tips for readers implementing VDP?
SZ: My advice is to seek out and build a rolodex of highly skilled and specialized service providers. Start with the segmentations and model development, then move to the creative process. I don’t have a direct agency working on my business. I do, however, have the best modelers, designers and copywriters working on my business. It is all on a freelance basis. Our job is to be the director of this sometimes complex orchestra.