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Transpromo Printing — The Message Is the Medium

August 2009 By Mark Smith
Technology Editor
IT’S LIKE déjà vu all over again. With apologies to Yogi Berra, some expressions become cliché for good reason. They encapsulate a truth so well, it’s hard to resist falling back on them time and again.

The printing industry seems to keep looping back a year when it comes to certain major developments. This is particularly true for digital printing, come variable data, which was the “next big thing” in the industry for about a decade before the adoption rate even started to approach the robust expectations.

Combined transactional/promotional (transpromo) printing is the latest case in point. It burst onto the graphic arts scene a couple of years ago and was quickly christened the “next big thing.” Jaw-dropping numbers have been tossed around as the market potential for this new business segment.

And so it has gone in the printing industry each year since.

There is a compelling financial case to be made for tranpromo, to be sure. As with incorporating variable data into direct mail, though, presenting even what would seem to be a no-brainer ROI far from guarantees that a prospective user will, or can, buy into the concept.

Adding a promotional/marketing component to data-intensive, transactional documents or statements, can be thought of as the mirror image of exploiting customer databases and variable data printing capabilities to enhance the marketing in direct mail. It brings similar business potential and all the same challenges, plus some more.

Accuracy, legibility, timely delivery and lowest possible cost are the key drivers of statement printing, although the ability of the recipient to comprehend the piece has been given greater weight with improvements in technology and dramatic growth in the number of people receiving financial reports for their investment and retirement accounts. Security, to ensure privacy and identity protection, is a paramount concern at all production stages.

Don’t Pass Over IT Folks

One of the early lessons learned in selling corporations on the variable data marketing concept is the importance of starting with high-level marketing people, but bringing the prospect’s IT department into the discussion as soon as possible. The added challenge here is that there are established transactional printing specialists that are going to have the inside track for capturing transpromo opportunities.

While not impossible to overcome, the barriers to entry for new players are steep in the traditional statement printing sector. Where the more accessible opportunities may lie is in potential outsourcing for higher-value color printing and expanding the definition to include more types of business documents.



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