One-to-One Marketing: It’s All About the Data

I am the target of many one-to-one marketing efforts. Some very few are effective. Most are not—unless one gets turned on by seeing his or her name written out in the clouds or on the side of a New York City taxi. That’s clever, but it’s been done to death and lost its impact long ago.

One-to-one marketing “refers to marketing strategies applied directly to a specific consumer,” according to Wikipedia. Its goals are to “identify, differentiate, interact, and customize.” Accurate databases of customer interests and preferences are its heart and soul.

A bad database can be a problem. I immediately discard anything addressed to Box S. Hall because the sending company didn’t care enough to clean up the list it bought. Bad data can cause more than minor irritation. According to the Chicago Tribune, in what likely was “targeted marketing gone awry,”, the father of a girl killed in a wreck got an OfficeMax flier addressed: “Mike Seay, Daughter Killed In Car Crash or Current Occupant.”

Good data, however, is invaluable to a good one-to-one marketing campaign. Like most folks, I have a keychain loaded with little affinity cards from Kroger and any number of other businesses such as PetSmart or CVS. I get occasional semi-targeted marketing pieces from some of them but Kroger beats them all. Over the years they have tracked every single item we have ever purchased, and they send out a raft of printed product specific coupons for things we will actually be interested in buying—with a couple of free coupons for our favorite items.



I’m going to go out on a limb and speculate that most print service providers (PSPs) are not proficient at true one-to-one marketing. I’m not alone here. According to long-time sales consultant and Quick Printing contributor Dave Fellman, “I’m seeing lots of personalization, but really none of the sort of ‘customized-brochure-in-response-to-an-inquiry’ stuff that people were talking about a few years ago.”

QP columnist and consultant John Giles also noted: “I agree with Dave. Like Dave, I’m not seeing many printers selling the service where you personalize the marketing material for that person based on information you have. I have seen some personalization based on customer segmentation that considers gender, age, etc., but it is still to a broad audience. I think the issue as to why our market segment hasn’t been selling it is because of a lack of expertise in database management and an order taking mentality rather than a solution based approached.”

In other words, one-to-one marketing means becoming a marketing service provider (MSP). To gain some insight from the vendor side, I contacted Konica Minolta, Xerox, and XMPie for their take on the issue.


Get Into the game

“We are seeing significant interest in one-to-one marketing solutions especially in the print-for-pay sub-segment,” reported Gavin Jordan-Smith, VP of Solutions and Production Planning at Konica Minolta Business Solutions, “We sell solutions currently with our technology products that make it easy for our customers to enter this service offering at different levels—from basic variable data printing to extensive cross-media offerings integrated with print automation. Based on recent customer data, 37 percent of our customers acquire a one-to-one solution package through us.”

Shelley Sweeney, VP/GM Service Bureau/Direct Mail Sectors at Xerox agreed. “All graphic arts providers, including quick printers, are showing interest in one-to-one marketing,” Sweeney says. “It allows marketers to better identify their target audience. With the use of data, marketers can better identify what offers, products and/or services are right for the recipient. Data also can help with identifying the right time, as well as the right medium to use when connecting with a customer.”

Judy Berlin, VP of Marketing at XMPie (a Xerox company) also sees growing interest. “Our customers are very interested in one-to-one marketing because they recognize the high value of leveraging data to communicate effectively with their audiences, increasing Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI), and gaining deeper customer insights and improved customer relationships,” Berlin added.


Ready for prime time?

According to Jordan-Smith, those who are not adopting one-to-one technologies are still struggling to understand what services their end-users need. He said that despite a strong desire to deliver these marketing services, there are barriers such as the lack of a well-crafted strategic plan. “As a result, we are delivering extensive training and professional services, depending upon the customer needs and scale. We offer support that helps with everything from how to go to market, developing business models, sales compensation, and training.

“Another barrier to long-term success focuses on growth,” he noted. “Growth can happen quickly…with end-users demanding one-to-one across multiple channels like mobile and Web and asking for meaningful analytics to refine campaigns. This is a major transformation, and it’s important to note that even the most successful have struggled with this at the start.”

Sweeney pointed to the importance of being able to manage and analyze data, especially across multiple formats. “The biggest area of concern is in regards to data and being viewed as a solutions provider,” she said. “These concerns range from where to get the data, how to manage the data, and making it affordable. The challenge for graphic arts providers, including quick printers, is being viewed as a source for companies and/or organizations. It is imperative for any graphic arts provider to start with one of their best, most successful one- to-one marketing programs, document it, and share that success among other customers. However, they first need to ensure they have the infrastructure and resources—technology, data solutions, sales/marketing materials—to deliver one-to-one programs.”

“The first step to designing a one-to-one marketing program is having accurate data,” said Berlin. “Often, for those new to the industry, managing and utilizing data is a daunting prospect. However, only through targeting the correct prospects, learning their preferred communications channels and brand relationship, and offering them something that is personally relevant to them, can a campaign succeed.”

Noting that budget can also be an issue especially in cross-media campaigns, Berlin said that today’s technology is more affordable and the return on investment “of a well-executed, one-to-one campaign is much higher, which makes it a much smarter investment.”


Help is at hand

Like most of today’s major digital technology vendors, Konica Minolta, Xerox, and XMPie offer a variety of educational tools and tutorials.

“We offer everything from online tutorials to one-on-one trainings with field support analysts to onsite consulting and professional services that help our largest customers with complex campaigns,” said Jordan-Smith. “The technology moves rapidly and we recognize that this requires continuous training not only of our analysts but also to our customers. If our customers are successful, we will be too.”

“Xerox has a variety of materials to support customers in our ProfitAccelerator Business Development Resources Collection,” according to Sweeney. “With more than 100 resources, including our Clearly More Personal Kit and Profiting Through Personalization, we can help our customers pursue one-to-one marketing and use of variable data.”

“We have a wide range of materials and tutorials to help everyone to optimize their marketing efforts with XMPie software,” said Berlin. “This includes free access to a trial download of uDirect for print personalization along with the related tutorials. We also broadcast open-access tutorial webinars and other educational content which is shared on our website, blog, and social media platforms.”