Transpromo—the combination of transaction and promotional that allows companies to piggyback promotions or advertising on transaction-related documents such as statements, invoices, and bills—is grabbing printers’ attention as an area of increasing opportunity in an industry always in need of one.
When it comes to transactional documents, a commercial printer “may currently be printing the shell statements and leaving large areas of white space where the transactional data will later be added by the client,” points out Marie-Luce Delaune, program manager, Inkjet Printing Systems, Eastman Kodak Company. “The printer may also be printing the inserts that are added to the document that is being sent to the end customer.”
Transpromo is useful, says Mike Fox, president of Screen (USA), for “anybody who’s printing a statement—anybody who’s doing a lot of mailings, either direct mail or transactional type printing. They’re going to want to sell real estate on their statements in order to offset the costs, so they’re going to be looking for quality and four-color to grow their business.”
Make It Work
How to take best advantage of transpromo “is a broad question,” notes Mike Bryant, worldwide practice leader, strategy and marketing analytics, for Ricoh Production Print Solutions. “I would say that a different way to approach it is, do they have customers who want to receive relevant information? Like all these other terms that we use in marketing—transpromo, relevant marketing, target marketing, marketing analytics—to me it always comes down to what I would call customer marketing versus acquisition marketing, where you actually know a little bit about these people you’re communicating with. It’s different from a pure prospect, where you’re looking to acquire them into the mix.”
According to Bryant, transpromo hasn’t changed much, if at all, over the last several years. “Again, I’ll throw it back into the marketing bucket with these other terms. These disciplines have been around for a long time.” The credit card and financial services industries, he points out, “have been doing it for 20 or 25 years. What has developed is the interest and the understanding—especially in the commercial printing vertical—in having a seat at what I’ll call that strategic table. That’s where that conversation takes place around, ‘What is it that we’re printing? And what is the end outcome that we want these people who open our stuff to act on?’”
In the past, Bryant explains, commercial printers have served as what he labels “a means to the end on that campaign execution.” Today, however, “they are in a position where they can have a different conversation. They have a seat at that table and can be a part of that campaign, not only in the fulfillment part of it, but the more analytical. The more relevant they are in providing content, and color, and imagery, [the more] it all combines to help make a better mousetrap for the end customer.”
Best prospects for transpromo are companies that send regular communications to their customer in order to formalize a relationship, says Delaune. “Typically, it is financial institutions such as banks and insurance companies, gas and electric utilities, telephone companies, and any other service providers that are sending monthly invoices to their customer base. They are looking to establish a relationship with the customer beyond a standard service, and are interested in up-selling services or products to their customers.”
Bryant believes printers marketing their transpromo services ought to be seeking out those firms “who want to send relevant information, something meaningful, to the end customer.” Very often, he adds, those are firms that deal regularly with customer data.
The development of inkjet technologies, Delaune feels, has enabled printing of high-quality documents at the high speeds required by transactional customers. Depending on the application, she adds, printers “can vary the color coverage and quality, thus controlling the cost of printing—resulting in a variety of service levels and price points for the transpromo client.”
Over the last few years, Fox says he has noticed printers who do transpromo “going to a lot more color, and higher quality color. Turnaround times have gotten shorter. It’s much more competitive because of postal rates going up and variable printing increasing. Also, the number of impressions has been doing down. It makes it much more competitive for the printer.”
Commercial printers who plan to begin marketing transpromo “really have to start asking a different question,” says Bryant. Rather than having the more conventional conversation about print quality, customer service, and “the type of legacy checkpoints that a commercial printer is measured on, they really need to start migrating into a more consultative conversation with their customer around what the outcome is that they want this channel to fulfill.”
Ahead, says Fox, the bar must inevitably be raised. “I think you are going to see faster speed printers, higher quality printing, new types of stocks that are going to be less expensive to print even higher quality. We’ll also see printers getting more innovative, with in-line finishing in their print operations.”
When it comes to finding new opportunities for revenue growth, no empty spaces should be left unexamined.