In last month’s column, I asked you to think about what it means to be a Marketing Services Provider. Most printers, I think, are banking on technical competence to help them to make this transition that much of the industry is talking about—in other words, being technically able to produce a PURL or VDP project. I, on the other hand, think the key to success will be marketing imagination and creativity, and I promised to write more about that this month.
Before I go any farther, though, I want to provide you with a reminder and a caution. First, the reminder. VDP is an acronym for a term that is an element of industry jargon. Print sellers may know what variable data printing means, but the evidence indicates that most print buyers really don’t get it. Personalization is a much better term, and I’m still pretty proud of the term I’ve coined—extreme personalization—which has proven to be more understandable to most buyers and gives you a more interesting story to tell.
Now the caution. Stop talking about PURL programs, as in: “We just did a PURL program for one of our customers.” Beyond the jargon issue, you’ll be a lot more successful in this Marketing Services Provider thing if you understand that what you did was a marketing program, which happened to involve PURLs.
Okay, so you (hopefully) know what a PURL is. In order to be an effective Marketing Services Provider, you have to know what it can do, and a PURL can do basically two things. It can lead to a place where a prospect or customer can get personalized information, or it can lead to a place where a customer or prospect can provide personalization information. (Please note that a Uniform Resource Locator is technically an address. What’s important in marketing terms is the landing page defined by the address. In other words, it’s not a PURL program, it’s a marketing program utilizing PURLs to get to landing pages.
Let’s say that you have a restaurateur as a customer, and he owns four restaurants, each with different menus and each in a different part of town. With nothing more than a basic mailing list—names and addresses—you could develop a marketing program using postcards and PURLs that could take people to a landing page where they’d see the menu for the restaurant closest to them.
If they 1) read the postcard, 2) enter the PURL into their browser, and 3) like what they see on the menu, they might go to the restaurant. (Please note that they might be more likely to do all of those things if there is an incentive involved. Free dessert anyone?) I think you’ll agree that if enough people follow that process, Phase 1 of the marketing program would be considered a success.
Don’t Lose the Picture!
But let’s not stop there. Getting people into the closest restaurant provides two opportunities. First, to impress them with the food, or the service, or the ambiance, or any combination of those, creating a desire to return. Second, to capture information to use in Phase 2—which I would see as a marketing program to get the customers of each restaurant into the others.
What information? Eventually, I’d like to know things like age, income range, favorite foods, and favorites among other things, but for immediate marketing purposes, I think we only need their email addresses. Why? Because with that information, we can open up an entire new channel of communication.
This is where many printers lose the picture. “I don’t want them doing their marketing by email,” one of my clients told me. “I don’t make any money on email.”
“Let me rephrase that,” I told him. “You haven’t in the past, but you can in the future. And beyond that, you can make money developing the marketing plan in the first place.”