CUNNINGHAM GRAPHICS INT'L -- A Digital Prospectus
However, digital printing's growth will not come without some effort, Mays concedes. "You can talk about variable data printing and one-to-one marketing, and at the concept level people understand it," he notes. "But when you get into the tactics of executing a program, it becomes much more challenging. You have to change some business rules in how you promote services to clients."
As chief technology officer, Hood says a big part of his job is educating CGI's production and salespeople on how to take advantage of digital capabilities. He also gets involved with customers' variable data programs. "The biggest obstacle we've run into in selling programs is the cost. Clients are used to paying direct mail prices of a few pennies a piece," Hood reveals. "For example, we produce full-color, variable data post cards that cost around 20 cents, versus the two to three cents clients are used to paying.
"While cost is a stumbling block today, I expect that to change in the next 24 months. We are just starting to scratch the surface of what can be done with creative, variable data projects," he continues.
One program the printer currently is handling involves the production of 100,000 post cards per month for a major rental car company. The color cards are personalized and feature targeted marketing messages that promote the rental service and offer special deals. Hood believes post cards are a popular format for variable data campaigns because they are easy to produce, minimize mailing costs and are effective.
Besides the cost issue, Mays says another obstacle that often must be overcome is the shortcomings in clients' existing list and document management activities. Customers need to know how to design for variable data, be able to manage document versions and have a database of the target audience that can be effectively segmented, he explains.