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Data-driven printing campaigns

by Mike Herold

Three of the world’s most successful ad campaigns were pivotal in driving behavior change.

 And they appeared at just the right moment in time:

  • Nike’s “Just Do It” targeted people just when the fitness craze emerged.
  • Volkswagen’s “Think Small” hit when cars were becoming larger and larger, but people wanted to economize.
  • Apple’s “Get a Mac” drove up market share 42% at a time when home computer wars were accelerating.

We’re at a new moment in time — one, that as a printer, you can latch onto to grow your business by taking advantage of digital printing technologies and tools that address data-driven marketing. Precision marketing, transpromo, personalized communications — whatever you’d like to call it — has moved past merely applying variable data to black-and-white forms. Today, as print partners to our collective clients, we are now expected to use variable — or should I say valuable — data to build unique content that can change behavior patterns.

One of today’s biggest behavior patterns is driven by Generation Y and millennials. These young individuals are more accustomed to personal information being “out there” than were Baby Boomers, as an example. Today, it’s expected that their personal content and information is accessible to virtually anyone through social media and mobile technologies. Additionally, the vast information overload in today’s society makes relevant, variable content vital to a campaign’s success.

Printers have the edge when it comes to standing out with variable content. Why? Because you know print and you know VDP. People receive far fewer printed messages than they do electronic messages. In fact, the Radicati Group finds that 212.1 billion emails are sent every day. Contrast that figure to the 475 million pieces of mail the U.S. Postal Service delivers daily, and you see that printed campaigns can stand out from the bombardment of e-information overload.

Put those statistics together with personalized content and the emotional appeal of texture and color, and you have a powerful tool to make an impact on the intended recipient. The advent of digital technologies and campaign services positions printers to be prepared to handle this behavior shift in a strong place to grow their business.


Today, it’s expected that personal content and information is accessible to virtually anyone through social media and mobile technologies.

Today, unique messaging has moved from “exception” to “expectation.” Because of this, we must realize that variable data is no longer about simply names on invoices or energy statements. Today’s generations want relevant messaging, and you need to be equipped with the right technologies to manage and exceed their expectations if you want to keep your customers coming through the door.


Help your clients better understand how digital technologies can empower their customers with effective, variable content campaigns. Remind them:

  • Today’s inkjet solutions enable shops to print virtually any job, any way customers want. Do you have requests to change personalized content on the fly? The evolution of digital print technologies make these formerly painful requests a breeze.
  • Variable content, by definition, changes for each recipient. In fact, it could change mid-job. But that’s okay if you’ve got the right platforms in place to achieve these quick turnaround jobs and produce professional-looking, near-offset image quality.
  • You can help clients get their message out clearly, efficiently and memorably with a more targeted, customized campaign. Being confident that your customers know you’re equipped to take on this shift is crucial to your business growth.

Looking to the future, we can expect even more extensive use of variable content

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Mike Herold
Mike Herold is Director of Global Strategic Initiatives and Marketing for Inkjet Solutions at Ricoh Company, Ltd. with expertise in production printing technology. Herold has worked with printing solutions, ranging from print and color management and workflow software, to industrial printing solutions, and to a family of high-speed production inkjet solutions.