Variable Data Printing Represents a Game Changer for Printers

It all comes down to information. In today’s highly competitive, ever-changing climate, the power of information – who has it, who can get it and how – can be the difference between success and failure for any business in any market segment.

“It is somewhat like the chicken or egg story. You have to have the work to justify the investment, but you have to have the capability if you are even going to be offered the work,” said David Gilson, president of Gilson Graphics.

That’s what makes the evolution of variable data printing (VDP) such an important tool for printers that are adding the service to their production arsenal. The world of consumer demographics is changing – daily, it seems, by some accounts. And in the continual battle to keep up with who’s buying what and why, and how they prefer buying it, having a tool that can help a business stay in step with the game is vital.

Ask those printers that offer VDP, and they’ll tell you that the intricate balance of acquiring data effectively can be a godsend to an industry that continues to seek ways to redefine itself.

Not too long ago, Lee Rady, founder and president of 360 Digital Print in Carol Stream, Illinois, received a marketing piece at his home that grabbed his attention. They flyer was addressed to the previous homeowner, who hadn’t lived there in 15 years. “They were a bit behind with their data,” Rady says.

“Today, I think you can make a strong case of this statement, ‘you’re only as good as your last list,'” Rady adds.

Rady, whose company has made the foray into variable data printing, says there is a certain amount of know-how needed to develop the kind of mindset it takes to make the process work. “At first, there were a lot printers who were intimidated by it. But to embrace it, you just have to take a step back. The process is not a one-time deal. It takes time to evolve. If you can get a customer to look at how it works, they will see the benefits of how it all comes together – how the mining of information can work to their advantage. Any printers that isn’t using it is missing out on a great marketing opportunity.”

There is no doubting how VDP continues to significantly change the landscape for designers of direct marketing pieces. The days of crafting one-off pieces that marketers hope appeal to a broad range of potential clients are fleeting fast. Today, thanks to variable data printing, they can utilize data captured from emails, web pages, surveys, phone calls and in-person interviews to create individualized direct marketing pieces that more accurately target the needs of their clients.

Paul Marnell knows this. As manager of the Technical Center for Inkjet Presses at Fujifilm, Marnell knows what the power of information can do for today’s printers. One of the pieces at the disposal of Fujifilm customers is the J Press series, which includes the J Press 720 and J Press 540W. Both of these devices have the capability to offer short-run and variable data capabilities – helping to create new opportunities for a growing number of applications requiring these particular features.

“With variable data today, the customer is limited to the type of devices that can product it,” Marnell says. “The J Press has the ability to produce data in every realm – every sheet can be different at the same higher-level quality of an offset press. That’s the real game changer. It opens a door of opportunity for printers by giving them the chance to expand their offerings.”

Marnell says most printers today don’t do variable data printing outside basic address changes – jobs that typically are done on a folder or insert machine. But the ability to do it upstream, on a press, and to be able to change anything they want on a given page, is becoming more intriguing for today’s printer. “When a customer comes in for a demonstration, and they can actually see the quality and the ability to produce a different sheet, one after another, on the the J Press, they are flat-out amazed.”

In Part 2 of this article, learn the steps you need to take to get into the Variable Data Printing game.