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Time to Get Personal —Sherburne

March 2007
IN JANUARY, I had the opportunity to attend the first annual conference for the new XMPie Users Group. It had an amazing attendance of 160 people from 90 companies, plus XMPie and sponsor attendees. This great turnout is a reflection of the coming of age of variable data printing, and attendees were anxious to learn more about how they could leverage this technology to differentiate and grow their businesses. The conference had both marketing and technical tracks, with about 60 percent of attendees choosing to focus on the technical side.

An interesting trend came out of the general sessions and marketing track that I wanted to share with you. We, of course, have been talking about variable data printing and all of its potential for well over a decade now. But it has never seemed to have gained critical mass. We always hear lots of reasons—the data isn’t good, the customers don’t understand, it is too expensive or complicated. . .I could go on. But it appears that a significant shift is finally under way.

In a general session conducted by Jacob Aizikowicz, XMPie’s president, and in a marketing track session conducted by InfoTrend’s Barb Pellow, the concept of the next generation of variable data was introduced—dubbed integrated marketing campaign management. While this concept has been around for a while, and generally refers to campaigns that utilize multiple channels, such as e-mail, print and the Web, it is now evolving into a much more interesting space with a much broader scope.

If you consider marketing executives as your primary customers, which you should, it is important to understand their needs and requirements—what keeps them awake at night—and work to find ways you can help them better meet their business objectives.

In my column last August, I shared results of a survey of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) that identified many of their key concerns, and that is worth reviewing again as you plan your strategy for adding value to the world of marketing executives.

But it is also interesting to note that, according to executive search consulting firm Spencer Stuart, the average tenure of a chief marketing officer is less than 23 months, and only one in 10 keep their jobs more than three years. The firm goes on to say: “Just because a marketer was successful in the 1980s, where big image and even bigger advertising ruled, does not mean he or she will be a good fit today, when successful marketing requires a much more complete, integrated approach.” And accountability is definitely in for the marketer. Herein lies the key message for print service providers in today’s rapidly evolving world.

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