Preparing for Successful VDP
First, the same list providers mentioned previously will take the list of names you have and append data they are tracking on these people gathered from census information, existing mail order buyers/subscribers, real estate records (deeds/tax assessors), voter registration, magazine subscriptions, survey responses, etc. The data can be demographic facts, psychographics (the use of demographics to study and measure attitudes, values, lifestyles and opinions for marketing purposes) or behavioral characteristics with respect to the customer.
The second option is to create a relational data–base by linking relevant data to a specific field from the original database, adding data to the personalization of the known data from the original database. For example, if you know what year someone graduated from high school or college, you can track significant events/dates/accomplishments that happened during that year. If you know the home state where someone was born, you can link to the state bird, tree, flower, etc. This could even be specific to a given topic like the type of pet they have and related facts to that breed of dog or cat.
Most grocery stores now use a discount card for weekly specials. They have a tremendous amount of information on the customer's purchasing behavior. Knowing one or two specific pieces of information about an individual or company, it becomes possible to create a large number of relevant text and images in the variable data piece.
When you think about managing the data for a variable data job, 500 or 1,000 records are pretty easy to manage and correct problems that you might find. What if there are 50,000 records or 100,000 records though? You have to learn how to work in the database and clean up typical mistakes that would not be corrected (it might not even pass CASS) in the mailing programs—things like a trailing space after a name or address, missing gender indicator, city, state or ZIP code, misspelled words (steet or aveneu instead of street or avenue), improper state abbreviation and inconsistent filling of fields (e.g. some people input the P.O. Box in the first address field and the street address in the second; others transpose these items).
John Leininger is a professor in the Department of Graphic Communications at Clemson University. He has been at Clemson since 1986. He has taught courses in flexography, lithography, digital printing, inks and substrates, as well as the department’s management class dealing with estimating, planning, equipment purchasing, cost analysis and plant layout. Currently, he is focused on the digital printing and variable data market. Contact him at:email@example.com