With so much “web centricity,” print design is a graphics niche not to be taken for granted at marketing agencies and design firms. There is ongoing concern within the print and design communities that graphic arts students are graduating with only basic print knowledge. “I graduated [from...
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Alexander is learning about dealing with data and VDP the same way. While variable data presently represents only about 10 percent of the studio’s work, it’s a growing area. “We definitely are pitching it more,” he added.
Family-owned A.C. Printing added an MGI Meteor DP8700 XL multi-substrate digital press in 2012, responding to increased client demand for more short-run color projects with higher quality standards. Since installing the Meteor DP8700 XL last April, AC Printing has taken full advantage of its new capabilities, with projects including 40-inch, fold-out brochures and full-color VDP. “The flexibility of the Meteor DP8700 XL really set it apart from the other digital presses,” said owner Greg Russell. “We loved that it could print on sheets up to 13x40 inches long, and the huge range of substrates opened up a whole new range of applications for us. It has also made our shop more profitable and efficient on our short-run, 4-color jobs while maintaining the color matching and quality standards of our DI offset presses.”
For most of its variable-data printing counsel, however, Reactor turns to two personalized direct marketing providers with more seasoned experience: Mail Print Inc. and ColorMark Inc., both in Kansas City.
Fourteen months ago, 60-employee firm Mail Print made news by purchasing the HP T200 inkjet web, which became operational last spring. The company’s $3 million investment included a new bindery line that can perforate and fold the marketing pieces as well as new IT infrastructure that can handle huge amounts of data. Founded in 1988, Mail Print became one of the first printers in the Midwest to acquire the T200. It continues to use its four HP Indigo digital presses, which combined produce about 5 million pieces of collateral a month. (The T200 can produce in excess of 20 million pieces of collateral a month.)
A typical Mail Print program is printing customized coupon booklets for a North American casino/gaming customer, which requires customized materials tailored to clients. The T200 press is expected to reduce production time by some 50 percent. “Being on the leading edge of technology can be a significant game changer for our clients,” said CEO Gina Danner. “The T200 technology is the ideal printing application for large mailers, advertising agencies, marketing firms, and corporate marketing clients.”
Danner also noted that many print providers are hindered by a lack of experience with variable-data applications. Many printers find that the intricacies of data mining, manipulation, and the more complex mailing process push the limits of their experience. “Mail Print has been a leader in variable data printing for over 18 years, and the addition of the HP T200 is simply the next step in our evolution. This press allows us to print longer variable runs in full color, where literally every piece of mail is unique, at a cost similar to traditional methods of color shells and black imprinting. Our clients know that color variable printing raises response and purchase rates,” she added.
Digital print competitor ColorMark knows firsthand, too, that VDP is a key technology in the production of unique and personalized products. By writing a prospective student’s name in the clouds using a DirectSmile-like program, ColorMark helped Missouri Western State University boost campus visits by nearly 3 percent with personalized direct mail. Personalized print is the key to efficient direct marketing, contends DirectSmile.
“By addressing different customers and target groups with tailored messages and layouts, you will increase impact and, thus, return-on-investment,” plugs the firm’s website. Its Adobe InDesign-based variable data printing software helps to master myriad personalization tasks. “Vary text, images, color schemes, font types, customer codes, even entire layouts – introduce QR codes and seamlessly include personalized images in one workflow,” the web text goes on. “Thanks to the integrated concept of your VDP solution, cross-media utilization of your variable data documents is simple: Make documents available for online configuration in your web-to-print and e-commerce applications. Let customers generate individual brochures as part of your cross-media campaigns. Or send variable data documents automatically as e-mail attachments.”