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Variable Data Printing: Focus on What Matters Most


Here at B Direct, we like most dogs.  On the other hand, we love Blossom, Zydeco and Princess Grossman. 

Send us direct mail with a picture of some random schnauzer and we'll say "Aw, how cute!" ... right before we throw it in the trash. 

But, send us direct mail with a picture of one of the beloved personal pets cited above and you've captured our attention — as well as our hearts.

This was the inspiration for a variable data print program we worked on for a chain of veterinary clinics a few years ago.

If you have a pet, you're probably familiar with the annual or semi-annual postcards vets send. Typically, they have a stock photo on one side with a fairly generic headline "Reminder ..." or "Time for a check-up." The address and message side often includes your pet's name and the vaccinations for which he or she is due. The typography, if you're the kind of nerd who notices (like we are) is usually fairly primitive. It practically reeks of "PET NAME HERE."

Luckily, the client (we partnered with another agency on this one, we served up compelling creative to leverage their data and production expertise) was willing to do something a bit more imaginative — and a lot more personal. 

Working with their "patient" database, we built a digital asset library of photos, including more than 200 dog breeds and 30 cat breeds, as well as rabbits, reptiles, and exotic birds. When the pet's data was pulled for their reminder, the appropriate image was pulled as well. So, the owner of Dito, the pug, received a postcard with a picture of a pug. The owner of Pebbles, the Siamese, received a picture of a Siamese. And Boogalie the dachshund's owner, received ... you guessed it ... a photo of a dachshund.

A picture (especially one that looks like your pet) is worth a thousand words. But, we improved upon the words as well. First of all, rather than send the reminder to the pet's owner, we sent it to the pet him-, her- (or its-) self. We encouraged them to have their human call and make an appointment. We included a helpful "Pet Care Tip," as well as the patient's information. And we reserved some valuable real estate (right above the recipient's name and address) for a promotion (like a discounted added service) or an ad from a supplier.

Did it take longer to set up this system? Yes — but only at the beginning. Thereafter, each vet clinic simply sent their list each month and cards were printed automatically. The new system was more expensive, but the added investment quickly paid for itself:

• Reminder compliance improved by 8% — meaning less re-mailings and revenue generated sooner

• Average office visit revenue increased 15% — thanks to the additional services promoted

• AND, a new source of revenue was uncovered as clinics used co-op dollars and sold ad space on the cards

The new and improved campaign was a hit. One of our favorite examples of creating meaningful and memorable direct mail, it was an adorable application of VDP technology. And it generated healthy results all around.

Mailbox Monday
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