Is the concept of combining a transaction-based document with a promotional document realistic? In theory AND in reality! When I first entered this industry in 1985 as a programmer and attended Xerox’s training programs, Xerox was lauding transpromo THEN, as the wave of the future. Here we are 27 years later and transpromo is still being promoted. What does it take to make transpromo work? The answer is simple – DATA and INTEGRATION!
Let’s tackle the first aspect, DATA. For the longest time, the print industry has struggled to track, capture and manage consumers or investors tendencies. In the 80’s, databases were in their infancies and to build one, manage the intricacies, intra or inter-record relationships and extract the data practically took a mainframe computer or at least a mini-computer. Not to mention understanding the complexities of and INTEGRATING all that data into the print stream.
There’s the second aspect – INTEGRATION. Frankly, integrating, not to mention building and extracting the data, was beyond the scope of printing an invoice or statement. Third party outsourcers or even the largest processors were having trouble developing and launching the transpromotional document. Instead, variable messaging was launched as a step in a forward direction. Simply stated, variable messaging involved keying on data elements within the print stream and changing the message content to the targeted audience – the end recipient. It didn’t go far enough and transpromo lingered.
Fast track to the present. The PC or personal computer has been in existence for over 20 years, software integrators have become more sophisticated making databases prevalent in every aspect of our life and third party processors are beginning to understand the power of data. Data is at everyone’s fingertips and solution providers are working with their clients in building analytic models of their consumers, their buying trends and overall demographics. But transpromo still lingers, why? In the biller space, the solution could be as simple as getting the marketing department to work with the accounts receivable department. The complex answer is most likely, determining what message to integrate into the transactional document. While data is prevalent in everyday life, billers are still struggling with what message fits best within their image and specifically which message targets the end user.
Transpromo is a real achievable target and integrators are working behind the scenes to implement sound solutions. But in looking at the third party landscape, I think it’s important (at least from an old programmer's point of view) to identify those firms that understand both sides of the equation – the marketer and the biller. Integrating a sound solution will most likely drive revenue, increase your consumer’s product awareness and promote social awareness, but a failed solution will end up being just a fancy way of launching variable messaging. Is it worth it? I think so. In today’s competitive landscape, I think it’s important for firms to build consumers or customers for life and with transpromo and variable message you have a chance to effectively achieve that goal.