Over the years Direct Mail Marketing or 1:1 Marketing has been one of the main marketing tools used by large business to target prospective customers. The problem with this process is the cost largely outweighs the potential returns, The Return on Investment or ROI.
The fact is that when these brochures, leaflets, flyers, catalogues or whatever other literature were sent out (and of course this is still the case) to their target audience they were or are really exactly the same, the only difference between each is an address label stuck on the outside, looking rather unprofessional, the rest of the information is utterly and completely the same! The reason for this is that the printing is done by lithographic offset printing on huge presses which cost enormous sums of money. Therefore, in order to be cost effective, many thousands had to be printed in one print run to bring the unit cost down to an acceptable figure.
That’s why it has always been too expensive for smaller companies to introduce this method of marketing with any success.
With the litho process, each colour requires a separate plate which itself is expensive and takes a large amount of labour time to set up, furthermore there is an amount of wasted prints early in the run whilst the printer attempts to get the colours to match, the alignment correct and so on.
Naturally if these costs were amortised over a small amount of copies the unit cost would be horrendous.
The biggest problem with this type of mass mail marketing is the ROI is about 1% to 2% and unless those turn into substantial business, the question has to be “is it worth it?”
Fortunately, with the advent of better quality Digital Printers and speciality software, it is now possible for companies to have small runs and sample runs prior to a full-scale roll out and to individually target by business type, authority or area.
Variable Data Printing Software in conjunction with Digital Printing increases the potential ROI to a very desirable 10% to 15%. Personalisation is the key. Not only can the sticky address labels be eliminated by printing names and addresses directly onto each printed item, but each can also have a different bar code, individually personalised message and even a change of graphics and the colours can now be different on each printed part.
Companies simply provide a database of names and addresses to the print company, the individual graphics are designed in the Graphic Design department and uploaded to the Rip Drive.
Rip stands for Raster Image Processor and is like a print driver but more sophisticated with many enhanced features. Once all the data is uploaded, the print job is ready to go and unlike the litho process there is no need to stop to change plates or waste many copies getting the print correct, all the changes are effected on ‘the fly’ by the rip, in other words whilst the job is running.
The advantages are obvious, by targeting prospective clients with the inclusion of more relevant data and with a more professional image it is more likely the recipient will read the information they receive rather than put it straight in the bin, also the labour costs are reduced as the printer runs the job non-stop and there is no need to set up individual plates or print large volumes which are not required. This type of marketing also means that it’s trackable and the success is measurable.
It allows the marketer to get the message across more directly.