A Personal Approach-How We Created This Week's Cover

You might have noticed something a little different about the cover of this week’s issue. It had your name (or your company name if that was what we had on file) on the cover, along with a personalized URL to a page where you can update the information we have on file for you, get more information about the partners you’ll see mentioned in this story, and get more information about specific topics we cover here in Printing News. But how was it done? What steps did we take to complete this project? And can you repeat it in your own shop, with your own clients?

We started talking about this project several months ago, sitting down with XMPie and Xerox to talk about what we would want to do, how to do it, how the logistics would work, etc. We spent a few conference calls hammering out all the details. Since we’ve never done anything like this here on our magazine, it was a whole new experience. Just like most clients, we had to figure out what data we had, clean it up, organize it, and then decide how we wanted to use it to get the most proverbial bang for our buck.

We decided, ultimately, to go with a set of four different covers, each personalized based on the subscriber information—your name and/or company name—we had on file. We sent out a survey to all the e-mail addresses we had this past spring asking a single question: What would you like to see more of in Printing News? (This is why you should visit your pURL and make sure we’ve got your e-mail address for future projects!) There were three possible answers, which corresponded to article sections on our Web site: Adding Value, Market Trends or Where’s the Money. A fourth cover was introduced for those who didn’t respond.

If you did take the survey, then the cover you’re holding in your hands is a direct result of your answer. Your pURL will have more articles about the topic you selected. For those of you who either didn’t respond, or who’s e-mail we didn’t have, originally you were all going to get the control cover, but we decided along the way to do a random sample pulling from different parts of our database. So, with the design down, and the data taken care of, it was time to print the covers.

Mercury Print Productions Inc., Rochester, N.Y., took the files and did the coding to take the static covers to the personalized-ready state. They then printed the double-sided sheet, every one different, and shipped them to Publishers’ Press in Kentucky, who handles Printing News’ production on a weekly basis. From there, the covers were tipped on to the printed magazines, and mailed out as usual. Since the personalized covers were tipped on, Mercury also handled all of the mailing addresses and coding that needs to be on the magazines as well, making it a challenging prospect to ensure everything got done correctly and quickly.

“Working with Printing News to showcase the power of XMPie-driven personalization is an extraordinary opportunity,” said Karin Stroh, vice president of marketing, XMPie. “The objective was to not only personalize the cover but to provide relevant content to each subscriber. Leveraging XMPie’s Adobe-based tools for VDP and cross-media, Mercury and Xerox created a compelling, multi-channel, one-to-one application that gave Printing News an opportunity to learn more about subscribers’ topics of interest, then use that information to provide a personal cover and Web site. This is a great example of how print and e-communications can be blended to generate attention and drive response for relevant and targeted interactions.”

While the printed covers were being created and produced, the personalized URLs were being created as well. Danielle Hueston, account manager, Xerox SI Lab, handled that part of things, creating the amazing page you’ll find when you visit your own link. Not only did she pull together the personalized elements, but you’ll find the information we already have about you pre-populated in the form, making it even easier to simply update or add what’s new or has changed.

“One-to-one marketing is most powerful when utilized across a multi-channel, integrated campaign. The cohesiveness of the overall campaign elements—in this case on a printed magazine cover and a Web site—creates fluidity, drives brand equity and reinforces the message. Marketers shouldn’t forget that pURLs are also a great tool to validate existing data and collect new information from their target audience. The idea is to enable marketers to paint the most complete picture of their customers in order to properly address them and have meaningful two-way conversations,” said Hueston.

In the end, a lot of disparate parts all came together to form the amazing project you’re currently holding in your hands. It couldn’t have happened if our partners hadn’t been not only willing to work with us as we felt our way through the steps, but were also willing to offer suggestions based on their own experiences of what works and what doesn’t. It was a great example of how a shop can take an idea and really help a client create something amazing and eye-catching.