World Vision stretches VDP to images, message

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Kaye-Smith first experimented with variable data print four years ago when it added targeted messages and graphics to the financial statements it produces. But the document services provider elevated its use of VDP last fall when it began putting out a complex marketing document that includes the use of 525,000 dynamically selected images.

As mailers have increased their use of variable data printing in recent years, it is no longer unusual to receive personalized black- and-white direct mail. However, the type of document that Kaye-Smith produces for nonprofit organization World Vision is unique because it is so complex.

"This is much more of a cross-genre statement and marketing document," said Jamie Harris, vice president of diversified services for Exstream Software, Lexington, KY, which provides the enterprise personalization software that Kaye-Smith uses. "It is complex because the images are variable, the text is variable and the message is variable based on the recipient's past history of giving."

World Vision is a Christian relief organization dedicated to helping children in poverty worldwide. One of its programs lets donors sponsor an individual child. The document that Kaye-Smith, Renton, WA, produces is a statement and accompanying newsletter that mail to 325,000 donors monthly.

For example, based on a donor's history of giving with World Vision, the newsletter might highlight an individual child in a specific location as well as a series of accomplishments achieved through donations.

As World Vision's work "varies greatly by country and because it reaches into so many countries," being able to include information that interests and touches a recipient is important, Mr. Harris said. "Direct marketing solicitations for funds are very common, and most of the time they are not very relevant." A visual component targeted at the recipient "is something that you can't possibly imagine how much it increases the response rate."

A recent newsletter featured a photo of a boy from Uganda and explained how funds from donors were used to construct six school blocks, award 273 students with school bags, notebooks, pens and pencils for academic excellence and complete and furnish three health clinics in the region.

The document can be personalized in other ways. It can be printed in English or Spanish, and some have Korean-language message boxes. Though World Vision's statements and newsletters contained basic personalization previously, Exstream's Dialogue software application lets Kaye-Smith produce a more complex document while reducing its processing time.

It takes three hours for the software to receive all of the variable data, convert it, create all the graphics and output the data to Kaye- Smith's digital printers, whereas in the past this document setup stage took 24 hours. Kaye-Smith is using Xerox 6100 printers.

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