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Digitally cool

October 31, 2011

Variable-Data Printing

Xerox (Stamford, CT) challenged 35-year industry veteran Roger P. Gimbel, president of marketing consultancy Roger P. Gimbel & Associates (Melville, NY; www.rogergimbel.com), to demonstrate the power of multi-channel variable-data printing (VDP).

His firm delivered a fully integrated set of personalized multimedia communications for the “Digitally Cool Seminar Tour,” in each recipient’s native language, to attendees of the seven-month, 19-venue, 12-country traveling seminar.

Gimbel has a proven track record of leveraging XMPie and Xerox technologies to stage successful selling events for high-profile clients. These programs have utilized multichannel, personalized and customized communications to deliver exceptional results for one-time events. While the award-winning campaigns were highly extolled, Gimbel wondered how his firm could take this model to the next level. The answer? Employ the flexibility and extensibility of XMPie one-to-one solutions to create a cross-media program campaign once, then replicate it in a cost- and time-efficient manner to promote each of the 19 events in the series.

Xerox and XMPie planned to develop, promote and execute a seminar tour that would attract an average of 50 highly targeted attendees per event, where presenters would show how Xerox and XMPie VDP technologies can help printers expand services to their current clients and attract new clients.

To differentiate this program and ensure its success, Gimbel proposed that all seminar elements—invitations, promotions and on-site fulfillment packages—be produced as personalized communications pieces, utilizing the multichannel technologies featured at the event. This strategy would demonstrate the validity of cross-media personalized marketing and provide attendees with a powerful firsthand experience of its ability to connect, inform, motivate and deliver relevant content.

The scale and schedule of the “Digitally Cool” seminar series demanded a highly streamlined, flexible and integrated cross-media workflow. Each element of the communications program became increasingly unique and relevant—and therefore more complex—as the campaign progressed. The targeted invitation list required the production of more than 13,000 personalized invitations, or approximately 680 unique invitations per session. This entailed the production of very targeted short runs, in rapid succession.

Adhering to time and budget guidelines was imperative to support the seminars as they quickly spanned three continents. Strict corporate branding and consistent messaging required tight integration of data, design and business rules for each recipient and each media, flexible proofing options, rapid response to last-minute changes, and impeccable output quality.

Roger Gimbel & Associates had identified the perfect project—and challenge—to test the “create once, replicate multiple times” model. Each Digitally Cool seminar would, in itself, be an informational event as well as a proof of concept.

XMPie solutions make it possible
Gimbel assembled a team of experts with years of experience in developing multichannel, multitouchpoint, personalized communications with XMPie PersonalEffect. It uses the design capabilities of Adobe InDesign and links to external databases utilizing copy in any font and language, making the production of localized programs easy. Gimbel worked closely with XMPie pioneer Bruce Kielar, senior vice president and executive creative director for Roberts Communications, Inc. (Rochester, NY) and Gavin Jordan-Smith, director of marketing, strategic business development, digital services and information technology for Toppan America (Somerset, NJ). This three-firm team created an ambitious communications program consisting of five key elements.

First, invitees received a vibrant, personalized poster in a mailing tube with a full-color, personalized mailing label. The poster was designed to show off the Xerox iGen3 digital production press’s largest paper size (14.33 x 22.5 inches). It featured the recipient’s name, company and seminar details in his or her native language. The poster also included a Response URL (RURL), which incorporated the recipient’s name and pointed to a personalized Web page that was created on demand by XMPie uProduce, the server component of PersonalEffect. As the first touchpoint of this campaign, an impressive 41 percent of all personalized invitations prompted a visit to a personal Web page.

The personal Web page—a second touchpoint —welcomed each visitor by name, provided seminar details in his or her native language, and featured the convenience of a prepopulated event registration form. This also provided Gimbel an opportunity to collect additional information of value, including e-mail addresses that were unavailable previously. As an additional incentive, the prospect was invited to select from three raffle prizes that would be awarded at the seminar.

Upon submitting the online registration form, each recipient immediately received a customized confirmation Web page and e-mail that confirmed the registration information and venue details, and displayed an image of the prize they had selected.

On the day of the seminar, each attendee was greeted with a fourth element of the campaign—a customized Xerox DocuCard agenda, which contained 10 variable elements including the attendee’s name and company, RURL, chosen seminar topics, and a perforated raffle card highlighting the selected raffle prize.

Finally, each seminar venue featured program information and signage produced in the local language.

Throughout the seminar communications campaign, each element leveraged different communications channels—print, Web or e-mail—to connect with prospects. XMPie PersonalEffect made it possible to utilize each media option for its specific advantages: impact, convenience, interactivity, or immediacy. These elements combined to deliver a compelling multitouch, multichannel campaign with customized messaging that convinced 1,375 people—26 percent of all recipients—to preregister to attend a “Digitally Cool” seminar. Seamless collaboration
Because the strategy, design and print teams were separated by hundreds of miles, XMPie’s distributed workflow—and a dependable online proofing and review process—were essential to keeping the project on time and on budget. XMPie’s WYSIWYG previews within the design tools allowed for the real-time preview of customized files prior to production. This approval process afforded a fast and efficient response to last-minute changes.

The team’s creative strategy provided unrestricted design expression while streamlining the production of each print or HTML page in a time- and cost-efficient manner. Using the XMPie PersonalEffect uCreate component, Roberts Communications created a single XMPie-tagged Adobe InDesign file for each print piece and single master file for each Web landing page and HTML e-mail. Bruce Kielar and Roger Gimbel teamed to develop the variable data and programming rules that facilitated this automated process.

The documents then were populated automatically with customized text and graphics for each person, venue, country and language. XMPie uProduce was at the heart of the campaign output, coordinating the integration of the data, business rules and design for each recipient, document and media throughout the entire seminar series. All of this was accomplished while providing Kielar’s team the design freedom to work with their preferred off-the-shelf design tools.

Gavin Jordan-Smith lent production expertise with his knowledge of XMPie software and the Xerox iGen3 digital production press. uCreate and uProduce ensured a fast, accurate and seamless transfer of design files for consistent color output. Doris Brown, vice president of marketing for Pantone , was one of the seminar speakers. She highlighted digital technologies and tools that designers can use to faithfully reproduce corporate brand colors in a digital print and VDP production environment.

Tight deadlines
The team had just six weeks to define the program elements, develop the variable database, finalize creative design and complete quality output tests. After that, all communications had to be distributed on a regular and unwavering schedule that mapped to the seminar dates. “XMPie PersonalEffect afforded us extremely fast turnaround, because we never had to start again from scratch,” says Gimbel. “It was truly scalable and perfectly fit the define-once, repeat-often model.”

PersonalEffect software, along with extensive font support in Adobe InDesign, saved significant time in the localization of materials in six languages, including English, French, Spanish, German, Dutch and Portuguese. The software offers a variety of copyfitting options to automatically accommodate text length variations that are inherent in producing different language versions. As a result, all text boxes were populated correctly. Kielar was particularly grateful for this feature, which reduced errors and kept guesswork to a minimum for his team. “This is a testament to the flexibility and versatility of XMPie’s phenomenal software,” says Gimbel. “Once we had the program template in place, we were able to scale it up to accommodate more cities and maximize the value of the program.”

Impressive gains
Working with XMPie VDP solutions helped Roger Gimbel & Associates exceed Xerox’s goals and achieve many of their own. In total, the seminar series attracted 1,600 attendees to 19 events. Drawing between 40 and 200 guests per seminar, they easily beat the targeted average of 50 attendees per venue. The response rate impressed even the seasoned VDP experts on the team.

“Digitally Cool was a great program that utilized variable-data printing and a cross-media promotion campaign just like we encourage our customers to do because of the opportunity for exceptional results,” says Jerry Murray, vice president of production product marketing for Xerox. “The ‘Digitally Cool’ program delivered outstanding results, with over 1,000 percent ROI, and it contributed to our worldwide success in production color last year.”

Lasting impressions
By all accounts, the “Digitally Cool” seminar tour was a success. Roger Gimbel concludes, “In the future, we will not be measured by the quality of the output, we will be measured by the quality of the outcome. These seminars provided a very compelling demonstration of how printers can harness the power of Xerox and XMPie customized communications to generate new business, new customers and greater profitability.”

And that is very cool, indeed.

Xerox acquires XMPie
Xerox Corp. (Stamford, CT) agreed on October 3, 2006, to acquire XMPie (New York) for $54 million. As this issue goes to press, the transaction is expected to close by early November.

XMPie specializes in software that allows graphic designers, marketing companies and print providers to create marketing pieces with an individual’s name along with information and images based on buying preferences and personal interests. In addition to creating targeted print communications like brochures, direct mailers and catalogs, XMPie software can automatically generate related e-mails that drive customers to Web pages filled with information specifically designed for them. These integrated marketing campaigns rely on digital printing systems like the Xerox iGen3 digital production press to produce customized, high-quality marketing collateral.

According to industry research firm InfoTrends, the market for variable-data printing that depends on software like XMPie’s to personalize applications is projected to triple in the United States at a compounded annual growth rate of 26 percent from $5.3 billion in 2004 to $16.6 billion in 2009.

XMPie’s award-winning image personalization software, called uImage, helps marketers extend the capabilities of personalization. Personal information can be embedded within documents, photos and designs on other objects. The XMPie software suite is compatible with industry-standard printing technologies from companies such as Adobe Systems Inc.

XMPie will maintain its brand name and function as a standalone software unit, continuing to serve the entire graphic arts market and supporting current customers and business partners as well as Xerox. Jacob Aizikowitz, a founder of XMPie who has served as its chairman and chief technology officer since April 2005, will head up the unit.

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