Variable Data Printing… How Relevant is it?

This is my first blog, so bear with me whilst I find my feet.  What I really want to throw out for discussion is Variable Data printing or Variable Information.  It has had a few names over the last 10 years but i guess what I am referring to is a basic principle, that of personalisation.
Let’s set the stage, it must be over 15 years since the first mail merge applications where run by the pioneering printers of the time… Wait, lets not be so creative here, it wasn’t the printers or the designers but the office users who really started this trend, more out of necessity than from a value creation perspective, but it did create value.
So, what is my point here?  One thing we all hear a lot about today is how the relevance of print as a medium for communication is under threat, and how much of the marketing budget we spend on it and how we the consumers of the world do not have time for print, do not care for print and have a green conscience.  There probably is a degree of truth to some of these statements but only loosely.
As the economy rises and falls in these turbulent times what we spend our marketing budget on is ever more relevant, has ever more focus from senior management right?  So, what can we as printers, yes I consider myself a printer too, do about this.  Do we let one opportunity to reach out to our customers in a relevant, meaningful way slip us by?  Do we ride the wave of the new technologies like personalised Universal Resources Locaters (PURLS), utilise the power and coverage of the mobile telephone network with relevant text messages and fill the inbox of our future and current customers with e-mail?
The answer is yes to all of them.  Print has a place in our culture that will long outlast the current technology crazes. 
But how do we as printers utilise the technologies we have already, the technology of mobile communications and the ever growing power of the World Wide Web?
– JW

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  1. Roger December 8, 2009 -

    New technologies for adding value to a printers current VDP offering are here and, hopefully many more will be developed. Pre-converted stocks allowing digital printers to supply new products using their current digital box are one example. Post processing values like the Kern EasyMailer and GIC ModuForm provide other solutions for new revenue streams. VDP has a strong value however simple mail merging is not it. The power of VDP now has to be migrated to pair with other technologies creating a layered value.

  2. Craig December 13, 2009 -

    VDP has it’s place but the manufactures have beat it to death (just like “It looks like offset”). It’s not the end all be all in the digital world… unless your target audience has the grasp on the capabilities of VDP. Most will say they can just do a mail merge with their desktop printer when you bring up personalization.

    I agree with Roger’s last thoughts!

  3. JW December 14, 2009 -

    Yes, I agree with both of you. Many vendors have beat the drum too loudly whilst not quite making the point clearly enough. I also believe that the target audience can only know what full potential there is if it is explained and a value proposition given. The old saying, if you dont know what you have, how do you know what to use it for? I also agree with Roger that the unification of new technolgies will lift the power of the printed word and make the relevance of printed variable data even stronger.

  4. Craig December 30, 2009 -

    How do you present the “power” of VDP to the average small business or Mom&Pop shop so they can grasp the reality of it?

    My experience is that IF they have a database it is so bad it’s almost unusable. Or they have no budget to do the job in the first place so you just make it static.

  5. Marty Thomas May 6, 2010 -

    Just launched a new website to help connect Variable Data Printers with Customers: Its a free service. Comments and Suggestions welcome!

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