Transpromo Printing — The Message Is the Medium

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.

Nothing says that transpromo printing can’t be done on the black-and-white and spot color digital printers that produce the vast majority of these pages. There’s no question that color does sell, though.

The latest generation of high-volume, color ink-jet printing devices are being positioned by the vendors as enabling this application because of their speed, resolution and cost per page. Océ North America, Kodak, InfoPrint Solutions, Screen (USA) and Agfa Graphics have commercialized solutions they’ve been actively selling, and HP is also targeting the transpromo sector with its soon-to-be-released ink-jet web press. RISO sees its entry-level ink-jet printer as suited to this application, as well.

The big machines are priced in the $1 million to $5 million range, which is a daunting investment under any circumstances, let alone in a down economy. Meeting a client’s needs via a partnership can be tricky, but may be an option that transactional printing operations with limited color printing capabilities will consider.

Outsourcing pilot transpromo programs, while building sufficient volume to justify investing in a color press, is a much lower risk way to enter the market. Also, the ROI benefits of segmenting the target audience by customer value, and investing more in the group that accounts for the most revenue, is another lesson learned in selling data-driven marketing programs. Platinum credit card holders, fliers in the highest airline mileage category and the like may warrant employing higher production values, also potentially through outsourcing, in the communications sent to them. Once marketers get involved with these documents, production quality demands are only going to increase.

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