Why Designers Don't Buy Variable Data Printing
If I had a dollar for every time the subject of variable data printing (VDP) came up over the last few weeks, I’d be a happy woman indeed. And never more so than at GRAPH EXPO, where vendors and PSPs alike were touting the possibilities of this powerful digital printing option. Still, I have yet to find a designer OUTSIDE GRAPH EXPO who A) knows what VDP is, and B) is eager to embrace it.
While slapping my name on the cover of your brochure in some unique way might be a fun gimmick, the bigger question is why? And while we’re at it, why don’t designers see the possibilities and beat a path to your door to get their next job VDP’d?
1. Designers are control freaks. The idea that every piece of mail, every brochure and every postcard looks different—and might potentially not look perfect—is a scary prospect for self-styled perfectionists.
2. Designers do not care about the technology behind VDP. The best way to turn any creative away from VDP is by talking about the technology, the software, the database it requires to perform its miracles. While this might all be fascinating to you, their eyes will glaze over and they will mentally move on to their next big idea. They’re not really "wired" to care about what goes on "under the hood"—that’s why they’re creatives.
3. Designers seldom see VDP used tastefully. A print of each person’s "name in the sand."(Believe me, this doesn’t get better with explanation.) While this was fun initially, there was a distinct whiff of the "Let’s Write Your Name on a Grain of Rice" boardwalk gimmick about it. A more sophisticated demonstration of the technology would go a long way toward getting designers excited about this admittedly powerful tool.
A brochure that reflects the car make, model and color...I have seen online, perhaps? Or a demonstration of the way in which I can create a brochure for a client and substitute a specific image based on the location of the recipient? Maybe even an "if you like this you might also like this" approach that Amazon has so perfected in the online world? In short, show me how I can make it personal to benefit the recipient and my client...without turning it all into a Coney Island novelty.
p.s.: I am sure you have worked on some more sophisticated VDP campaigns. Unfortunately, I am still receiving "my name on the cover" pieces...So please tell me about your projects and let us find a way to reveal to designers everywhere just how effective this technology can be.
Sabine Lenz is the founder of PaperSpecs.com, the first online paper database and community specifically designed for paper specifiers.
Growing up in Germany, Sabine started her design career in Frankfurt, before moving to Australia and then the United States. She has worked on design projects ranging from corporate identities to major road shows and product launches. From start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, her list of clients included Oracle, Sun Microsystems, Deutsche Bank, IBM and KPMG.
Seeing designers struggle worldwide to stay current with new papers and paper trends inspired Sabine to create PaperSpecs, an independent and comprehensive Web-based paper database and weekly e-newsletter. She is also a speaker on paper issues and the paper industry. Some refer to her lovingly as the "paper queen" who combines her passion for this wonderful substrate called paper with a hands-on approach to sharing her knowledge.