Small Businesses Look Big and Get Huge Results with VDP

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June 19, 2012

Variable Data Printing (VDP), a printing method which allows the printed content to change within a single press run, is no longer cutting edge. So if you’re not using it now, then when?

With the ability to drive return on investment up to 30 to 40 percent, why not take advantage of printing different impressions on each piece without having to stop or slow down the press?

VDP Makes Your Small Business, Mighty

Gone are the days when only major mailers and Fortune 500 companies have the budget, staff and ability to leverage the personalization powers of variable printing. Today smaller businesses and online catalogers such as Big Dee’s, an online equine and canine catalog company, use VDP (variable data printing) as a tool for smarter campaigns.

When Big Dee’s wanted to launch a monthly mailing campaign to generate subsequent purchases from current customers, it decided to use purchase history to craft a VDP campaign.

Though Big Dee’s hadn’t previously used direct mail, it decided direct mail was the ideal medium to both thank customers for recent orders and create special offers on similar merchandise. Big Dee’s identified “people who bought this item also bought at that time.” With a database of more than 35,000 households, the cataloger hired a consultant to match individual purchase histories with a forecast of what else that individual might purchase.

Big Dee’s mailed an oversized postcard for the first cross-sell. The front of the postcard featured six products and their prices. The back of the card showed three more products and prices, and offered a discount for placing another order. A promo code on the postcard was required to get the discount—a process that also allowed Big Dee’s to track results.

After just one mailing, tentative results produced $40,000 in additional sales.

Here are the data points that fueled Big Dee’s VDP direct mail campaign:

  • Name data: The customer’s name was used prominently in the “thank you” on the front of the postcard and to lead off the message on the back.
  • Previous purchase data: The product purchased previously and its price point was used to drive the other featured products, making the up sell attempt more powerful and effective.

Getting Started with VDP

If the whole process of pulling together a variable data project has you overwhelmed, start by segmenting what you’ve already captured in your customer database or customer relationship management (CRM) software. If you think you don’t have data, consider segmenting your list by information that is almost certainly in your database:

  • Geographic location
  • Membership segment or donor contribution history
  • Name
  • Purchase history
  • Social media participation

After you segment, think what message you should craft to each target segment.  Craft a personal message in a way that is sure to boost your results. Proper targeting added with proper messaging and enhanced with powerful personalization equals better response results.

The beauty of VDP is allowing businesses of all sizes to speak to their customers one-on-one again rather than the less effective, highly wasteful method of mass marketing.

Source: Inside Direct Mail, November 2009

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