W.A. Wilde Builds a Better Mail Piece With Print on Demand

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Since acquiring its first iGen3 Docucolor Digital laser printer from Xerox last January for $650,000, personalized print-on-demand jobs have grown to account for one-third of W.A. Wilde Company's fulfillment revenue.

The Holliston, MA, direct marketing services company has offered various print-on-demand capabilities for years, having evolved from a small publishing firm founded here in 1868.

However, the iGen3 printer, when used in conjunction with Wilde's own database development services and Exstream's Dialogue variable merge software, lets Wilde quickly produce individually personalized, high-quality direct mail pieces.

Before acquiring its third iGen3 digital printer last month, Wilde already printed more than 2 million print-on-demand copies monthly. The company expects that number to reach 3 million to 4 million monthly now.

"We're trying to work with our customers to build a more relevant mail piece," said Ted Kulpinski, Wilde's vice president of operations. "Being able to utilize data to make the design more relevant to the recipient is why we run the digital equipment."

Plus, the iGen3's print quality is close to offset quality, and the mailings can be funneled into one postal stream from multiple market segments, thereby increasing the size of the mailing and reducing the cost per piece.

In the past, the mailings had to be broken into different, smaller lots that cost more per piece. Each lot needed the same print configuration based on information relevant to the customers in that lot. Today, every piece coming off the printer differs based on the data coming from the client and relevant to that customer. Various pieces of artwork may be reused many times yet never in the same context twice.

How this happens is that the printer, together with Wilde's software, uses the client's artwork as content and uses the data files to decide which pieces of artwork go together while the mailing is being run on the printer.

This setup is less advantageous for prospecting because the results get better as the data on recipients get better, Kulpinski said. And getting data on people who aren't customers is a tougher battle.

"Really where the leverage works is in improving mailings with your customers," he said.

Early adopters so far have been financial companies, which tend to have a lot of data about their customers, Kulpinski said.

Wilde's clients that are testing these mailings against a control group show greater profit with the print-on-demand campaigns, he said. Plus, they can analyze who didn't buy in order to fine-tune subsequent mailings and continuously improve future mailings.

Kulpinski thinks this type of digital print-on-demand service is the future of direct mail.

"I really believe that with the cost of postage and mailings, you can't be mailing to people who don't want to receive it," he said, "so the more businesses that understand the return on investment [of these types of mailings], the more businesses that will go that way."

Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters

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