We are surrounded by data. In fact, I think I hear my iPhone 6+ buzzing as I write this. As communicators, the question is how much data are you using to develop relevant, engaging and accurate communications?

As part of both the printing and marketing industries, it seems like data has been the topic of conversation for many years now. How many people have heard of TransPromo or transaction and promotion slammed together? In 2015, TransPromo is still relevant as a concept, but has lost the ability to capture the industry’s attention as a term and methodology. Ironically, at its heart, TransPromo was a play to leverage the data you already had about your customer and then deliver a targeted and relevant promotional advertisement right on the statement in the free whitespace.

Some of you out there are saying that TransPromo isn’t a great example. One of the challenges was linking the variable data through rules to the production of the customer communications. In a way, especially in the printing industry, the complexity of data and connecting the systems of record left a sour taste in peoples’ mouths. However, using the data within the organization to affect customer communications isn’t as difficult as it might seem.

In our industry tracked and collected data is trending upward just because of the way technology is advancing. Consider these systems and platforms that help companies from SMBs all of the way to Enterprises know what their customers and prospects are interested in:

Email Systems
• Required for opt-in/out management, open rates, engagement (click-thru)

Web Analytics (e.g., Google Analytics)
• Track and Measure registered users on your website and general traffic and interest

Marketing Automation
• Understand and measure your marketing activities and the effect on the sales funnel

Customer Relationship Management (e.g.,
• Tracking, planning and forecasting based on data coming in from other systems in the organization.

Social Media Monitoring
• Leverage the conversations (mentions, comments, etc.) from your target market on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.

This is just the Top 5 – there are other areas like your archive system of record, historical sales data (whether in or out of your current CRM), win/loss analysis and more. How do you bring it all together and leverage—especially if you are an SMB?


This is where as a printer of any size (really, a business of any size) you need to leverage the idea of Buyer Personas. This idea isn’t exactly new, but in the mainstream it was locked away behind closed doors and used as a tool by ad agencies. As the marketing and customer communications world continues to be more technologically advanced, and self-serve, the personas have become more targeted. You might recognize the term as psychographics.

Persona are super important and they are easier to create than you might think. For example, if you are a commercial printer in the southern part of the East Coast and service mainly midsize businesses that print brochures, posters, guides, and similar work, then you want to look at these things:

  1. Historically, who is your buyer (title, pain points, driving need)?
  2. Who is the decision maker (has the money and is responsible for the purchase)?
  3. Who are the influencers (who’s recommendations typically carry the weight to make the deal go through)?
  4. What is the revenue range of your target customer?

Some business and their markets require only a couple personas, while others require four or five. Once you determine the answers you can start mapping your personas to content (printed, electronic and linked together) that fits the buying stage. What drives this? You got it: data. Your data; data you already have that you might not be considering based on a strategic view of the target customer.

Give it a try. The best part of data today is that you don’t have to “Run” immediately. If you nail your customer personas using data your organization is already gathering, then move to variable and intelligent customer communications that serve the right value proposition, look and feel and experience will not only be less complicated, but more successful.

Now is the time to remove the Albatross and start drinking in the data.

Jonathan McGrewjonathan-mcgrew-print-media-centr spent his formative years being exposed to Xplor and the Enterprise Output Management & Customer Communications Management (CCM) industries (read high-volume transactional printing). Today, Jonathan is Marketing Communications Manager at Crawford Technologies and responsible for Worldwide marketing. His experience spans data management, branding, print (hardware, software & design), graphic design and marketing communications with specialization in Business to Business (B2B). Jonathan completed his MS in Marketing from the University of Colorado at Denver in December 2013 and was awarded his EDP certification at the Xplor Conference 2013.


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