Noel Ward is Managing Director of Brimstone Hill Associates, which specializes in marketing communications in the printing industry, including video production. He can be reached at 603-672-3635 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. His website is brimstonehill.com, and he has a YouTube channel.
Imagine you’re visiting the Facebook page of your favorite sports team or rock band. Suppose that, with a few clicks, you could create a totally personalized calendar—replete with photos of the team or band in action, the days of the month filled in with your own special events and friends’ birthdays, and other spaces populated with pictures from your Facebook albums.
All of this happens in seconds and the results can be sent to your desktop as a PDF you can share with your friends, who can in turn produce their very own versions of the same calendar. Or with another click or two, a printed calendar can ordered and delivered to your door in just a couple of days.
This is the vision and initial offering of Personera, a new firm that uses Facebook as the creation point for production of personalized calendars, photo books, greeting cards and the like. At the PODi AppForum last week, I talked with Sheraan Amod, co-founder of the nascent firm to get a sense of his technology, then talked with my friend Alin Jacobs to get his take. Take a look:
At the moment, a calendar will set you back about $20, but with some basic brand extension it could actually wind up being free. A baseball team, for example, might have a car manufacturer as one of its sponsors. It would be relatively trivial for the car company to pick up the tab for printing the calendar in exchange for having it’s logo on every page, along with a photo of different models in its lineup.
Such branding is critical these days, and integrating it into personalized products presents an enormous opportunity. Fans are the enthusiasts who buy the licensed clothing in sporting goods stores and stadiums. They typically have an affinity for anything related to their favorite teams, music bands, celebrities and more. When you consider all the ways branding can be attached to nearly anything that fans are eager to buy, it’s quickly apparent that Personera offers brand extension opportunities out the wazoo.
In my opinion, Personera is a slick, elegant offering that does something that has been missing in every other social media option—it monetizes social media for print. Moreover, it can work in any print market around the world. Amod is presently working with just a handful of print providers while working to expand the print network so fans of almost anything, anywhere will be able to take advantage of personalized print.
Social media is a pervasive, always-on wing of technology that is at once convenient, fun, annoying, intrusive, helpful and, sometimes, all but useless. I know print providers who swear it has brought in business—at least based on one or two highly targeted campaigns—and others who maintain it is a waste of resources and bandwidth.
What’s been lacking, though, is a way to monetize social media so that it drives print volume in as seamless a way as possible. Personera’s model is one way to do that and is simply one of the most elegant tools I’ve seen in a long time, even as it redefines the very idea of Web-to-print.