Image Personalization Adds Enormous Value to Marketing Materials

R&R Images has thousands of reasons to smile this year. The 11-year-old marketing solutions provider based in Phoenix recently used image personalization software to produce an eye-catching four-color postcard for the Phoenix Suns.

The promotion was initiated earlier this year by the basketball team’s marketing department as a way to thank all Phoenix Suns season ticket holders. More than 2,000 postcards were produced and mailed by R&R Images using DirectSmile image personalization software.

The postcard, pictured on page 4, consisted of the starting lineup of five Phoenix Suns players shirts hanging in the locker room, with a sixth shirt with the season ticket holder’s name digitally printed on it using DirectSmile technology afterward. Drew Swankie, the Web-to-print manager at R&R Images, explained, “With the DirectSmile software we were able to put the ticket holder’s name on a pro jersey—implying that you’re the sixth man on the team.”

Although there was no call to action on the marketing piece, the Suns marketing department received a dramatic response from ticket holders wanting to know how to get poster-sized images of the postcard. “The postcard became a keepsake because it generated an emotional response from people,” noted Swankie.

Ed Ickowski, director of business development and sales at DirectSmile, said, “With image personalization software, the person is drawn into the postcard and has a smile on their face as they look at it. There is no need for words. The image sells the product or service. The image is clearly worth a thousand words.”

Both Swankie and Ickowski agreed that the emotional response elicited from seeing your name displayed in the clouds, on the top of a calendar, or emblazoned on any product produces a reaction that cannot be matched by words alone.

A Personal Touch

The 35 employees at R&R Images are in the business of creating value-added materials for their clients to invoke a response from the end receiver. The company is standing strong this year because of its focus on personalized products.

“Our niche is digital variable data, and in a tight market like it’s been this year, we are focusing on highly personalized photo specialty products,” Swankie noted.

He went on to explain that R&R Images began its business as Arizona’s first digital photography studio. After buying scanning and proofing equipment, the company decided to sell print and quickly developed into a digital printer. “As we learned to market our services, we realized we could do it for others as well,” he noted.

The company now owns two Indigos and offers large-format printing as well as its successful photo books. R&R Images discovered the DirectSmile technology in 2006, and has built a solid customer base using the technology.

DirectSmile solutions are designed for true mass-personalization, allowing million-volume database-driven communication both in print and digital media with the ability to track detailed campaign feedback. The company offers standard software with 15 sets of images and clip art. The sets contain jpgs of generic images, such as clouds or a sports or gaming backgrounds.

“With your get started package, you just need to import your database and merge,” noted Ickowski. “There are tutorials on our site, free downloads, and case studies to help customers.”

For printers, designers and agencies, using DirectSmile opens up new profitable fields of business ranging from selling high-value image personalized print products to the end customer, and producing high-impact customized direct mailings to creating personalized response-tracking Web sites and establishing Web-to-print portals.

The company’s products for image personalization range from desktop products such as DirectSmile Creator Pro, DirectSmile VDP Studio and DirectSmile VDP Pro, to a server-class product for volume production—DirectSmile Production Edition. The products for variable data printing for the desktop are DirectSmile VDP Studio and DirectSmile VDP Pro. The server-class product for volume production is DirectSmile Production Edition.

They also offer a product for the creation and management of personal Web sites and e-mailings: DirectSmile Cross Media; and for image and document generation, the product is DirectSmile Online.

DirectSmile Online offers image and document generation for Web-to-print.