Why is Data Still a Four-Letter Word?

on Oct 2, 2018 11:19:34 AM

Highly personalized and customized print communications that drive customer engagement have won awards and been featured in highly acclaimed case studies for decades.  Marketers have experienced response and conversion lift when they leverage variable data. This phenomenon has been documented many times.

Why are so few of these campaigns executed? Most direct marketing programs do not leverage the demonstrated power of data. What is it about variable data that keeps marketers from using readily available technology to their advantage?

One contributing factor may surprise you, but it could explain why you can’t convince more of your customers to dip their toes into the realm of personalized variable data printing.

Why You Can’t Sell Personalized Campaigns

Many creative people are actually averse to using data. They don’t want to talk about it. The first mention of terms like data management or Excel spreadsheets can make the creative crowd uncomfortable. It is almost as if data is a swear word they shouldn’t utter in mixed company. Fear of data, at least among this group, is real.

creative fear

For years, smart print service providers have been trying to convince their agency clients to execute more complex print and direct marketing programs. They’ve had limited success. Often the individuals print salespeople engage in those conversations are print buyers at an agency or a creative person involved with an account. These people aren’t responsible for data and they have no stake in the results of the programs for which they are buying. Their focus is getting projects done fast and at reasonable prices.

So how can print service providers encourage creative types to talk about digital print opportunities without scaring them off? We suggest focusing on the results instead of the process. Agency people love seeing samples of innovative printing techniques produced with technologies like inkjet. Print service providers need to translate data opportunities into visual samples that show the power and visual appeal of documents based on data – without talking about how it is done.

Leave Data Conversations Back at the Shop

In general, agency people don’t know what data to collect. The prospect of storing and manipulating data mortifies them. Creative people understand about targeting customers via demographic profiles or buying history, they just don’t want to discuss the details. They have read about data breaches in the news and are wary about taking responsibility for sharing customer data that hackers could access. 

When speaking to creative types print service providers should consider re-framing theirbig data offerings. Remove technical-sounding phrases from your sales presentations. Instead of discussing data manipulation, show prospects samples of targeted communications you can produce for them. Consider avoiding the “D-word” altogether. It is unnecessary to show them how you make the sausage.

When creatives and agency people see the visual impact of data, they will understand the power of personalized campaigns. When they get excited about the new opportunities for print, others will join the project team. Often the designer or print buyer can then refer service providers to the person in their organization who can assist with accessing the data necessary to do personalization.

Reduce Data Fear and Sell More Print

Agency creatives and print buyers are important contacts. Print service providers need to demonstrate the value of data, personalization, and the power of print without discussing the intricacies of data processing. Everyone wants to see, feel, and understand cool new print applications. Defer the data conversation until the customer is sold on the results you can provide. Educate customers about the power of print and new digital applications during the sales presentation.

The benefits of personalization and variable data application in marketing are clear, but most campaigns don’t make full use of available data and technology. By showing creative people samples of materials targeting groups and individuals with highly relevant messaging and images you can sidestep an obstacle that may be holding you back. The solution may be as simple as saving the data conversation for later.

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Topics: variable data printing, agencies, print buyers, Deborah Corn, Print Media Center, creative

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