TTMS fills color print-on-demand niche

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The Total Mailing System Inc., a direct mail production solutions provider, has no designs on becoming a commercial printer but it is filling the gap for short-run variable data jobs that many large printers turn away.

TTMS' clients are direct response agencies and commercial printers. Its specialties over the past 23 years have been data management, direct mail services, postal regulations and, more recently, black-and-white variable data printing.

"TTMS doesn't compete with commercial printers - they are our customers," said Jim Capanna, business development manager. "Their focus is runs of 50,000 pieces on up. When they have a customer who asks for a run to their high-profile customers of between 5,000 and 10,000 pieces, it isn't cost-effective for the printer to do it."

That's because of the costs associated with the plate changes needed to accommodate variable color and imaging. And this is where TTMS comes in. The West Deptford, NJ, company bought a four-color Xerox iGen3 Digital Production Press this year and can produce quality, short-run personalized color laser printing at an economical price.

"The direct marketing industry has turned to a low-volume, high-quality retention or loyalty one-to-one strategy in general," Mr. Capanna said, an observation that helped justify the seven-figure investment in the iGen3. "Years ago, we were a high-volume acquisition industry, but because of technology, marketers can now choose four-color print-on-demand that can compete with offset in terms of quality."

The number of color digital pages printed yearly is expected to rise from 15.1 billion letter-size impressions in 2004 to 80 billion in 2009, according to research provided to TTMS by Xerox. In terms of sales, digital color print-on-demand is to grow from $3 billion in 1995 to $49 billion in 2009. And while 33 percent of printing jobs currently have a requested 24-hour turnaround time, by 2010 all commercial printing jobs will be expected to turn around in 24 hours.

Fueling these projections is the lift in response marketers can see by adding color to a basic personalization campaign involving names and addresses, Mr. Capanna said. Color in documents improves awareness and comprehension by 80 percent. It can sell ideas up to 80 percent better than black-and-white type, get invoices paid 30 percent faster and speed learning and recall, he said.

TTMS can change per record variable color, images and any relevant database information. Though cost per piece rises with this type of printing, so does return on investment, he said.

Several industries have grasped the difference this technology can make in their retention and loyalty marketing efforts, including retail, hospitality, college recruitment marketing, real estate and financial and insurance statements, Mr. Capanna said.

To illustrate the capabilities of TTMS' color, data management and personalization technology, the company designed a four-color personalized invitation to an event called a "Colorful Fall Open House" last year.

The invitation used images of fall foliage and was personalized on the front with the recipient's name and company name and inside with the recipient's first name or nickname. Inside was a sound chip with a voice message and a seasonally relevant classic rock song, "Time of the Season," by the Zombies. The invitation was inserted into a fall color envelope, which was personalized with the recipient's name and address. The final touch was a U.S. Postal Service stamp showing fall leaf images.

The mailing cost $10,000, and the campaign has led to at least $100,000 in new billings so far for the company.

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