Simplifying complex, personalized print

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John Sisson
John Sisson

You want to strike a chord with your customers and prospects. But as you can imagine, the more complex the personalization, the harder it is to put it together. Don't be deterred. Let me make the complex easy for you with these three steps:

1. Have data. The more complex the personalization, the more complex the data—the key is to have data that means something for all the decisions that are going to be made within the output.

Think of it this way. If you want to change a design element based on a person's age, you need to have the age of every recipient in your data. You're not just looking for their name and address; you're looking for appropriate data points to personalize the material.

2. Have content. Highly complex variable data print needs highly dynamic content. Take the example above, in which you may use age to change an image. Instead of having one image, you may have five, depending on how you segment your list.

It's not just about images either. If you're going to change the language within the piece, you'll need to have logical pieces of content for each different potential outcome.

3. Have a key. This last step is the one that's most often overlooked. Once you have the data and content, the real secret to making complex variable data work is a key; i.e., a map to all the moving parts of the printed piece. This key (click the image above to enlarge) is a proof of a piece with all of the changing content elements identified.

The key also contains all the business rules identified for why a particular piece of content is going to be used. Each element and rule is clearly identified so you can build the template and establish all related decision-making and data connectivity processes and activities.

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